1. It’s not that easy to say out loud, ma says. But I’ll always be there for you to comfort you with a cigarette and an ice-cold six-pack.
2. I’d rather be locked in a baseless basement, I tell ma, and forge a pact with pushy aliens.
3. Michael Jackson is an alien.
4. We are (usually) born with 5 fingers just like there were only 5 Jacksons.
5. What about Jesse Jackson, ma asks. Doesn’t he count? And Latoya?
6. If I ever find an orange long-sleeve satin shirt with a red heart in the center of it, I’ll be in heaven.
7. Not New Haven, CT, ma says.
8. Ma got a CT scan last month.
9. She now has something new in her body that is alien. Something like a pirate without a ship but just as deadly.
10. Her lungs are lungs burdened by soot and something that looks like a baby’s sock.
11. It’s a tumor, ma says. A kind of growth that is like an unkind village.
13. I want to tell ma that it will be alright, that I’ll fill her heart with joy and laughter, that I’ll protect her with the sincerity of a mother/father-daughter/son pact, and that I’ll be there for her with a cigarette and an ice-cold six-pack.
14. But I won’t.