Disease Complex by Matt Weinkam

Disease Complex

I checked in even though I wasn’t ill. Marcus was covered in mucus and I wanted to be near him. He was my son and I loved him and his body, sickly or not. He was playing poker with seven sorry lads when I found him.

What do you have? he asked sloppily.

They’d attached a trough to his chin to collect the goop. You could tell he was trying his best to keep it under control, but the cards were covered in it. They made stringy plays.

A serious case of Stress Fingers, I told him, holding them up.

The others introduced themselves: Ear Heat, Eye Stools, Testicle Behavior, Spleen Sink, RIP Syndrome, Black Hole Headache, Cancer of Cancer. Here maladies were currency and you could tell who was cool by how bad they had it. I suddenly wish I’d said something worse.

Marcus wouldn’t look at me but Eye Stools kept staring.

After a week, Marcus successfully stuffed up his runs and was released on good healing behavior. I was forced to stay since my fingers looked the same. Still too restless, my doctor said after another rock-paper-scissors test. I’m sorry, but you’ll have to stay until the end of the year. He was just salty his fist had lost to my flat, steady hand. They reapplied the mittens and left to lock the door.

That whole winter I heard nothing from Marcus, too much from Pupil Poop, and though I begged every breakfast, every bedtime, not once did they open me up and examine my heart.


Disease Complex


Matt Weinkam’s work has appeared in Denver Quarterly, New South, Sonora Review, Split Lip, Quarter After Eight, and DIAGRAM. He is prose editor of Gordon Square Review and a founding editor of Threadcount.


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