At midnight, he invited me back for curry, and I am a sucker for shy excuses. He never turned on the lights. We never had curry. I heard the scratching then but ignored it. I was drunk and wanted his pants off.
I screamed, waking at dawn. A clear plastic tunnel ran over my head, around the room, and through the walls. Looking down at me was a penis with sawed-off teeth.
“Naked mole rats,” he said into the pillow. He’d brought home that many women.
I threw up again this morning.
This hasn’t happened in months, but the burn feels the same as it always does.
Last night’s sandwich spurts, then drips, out of me: a fire that runs on it’s own because my eyes are shut tight, shoving out the light.
Wish it was a hangover.
Or food poisoning.
The flu, something I could cure.
I was a senior in high school when headaches forced themselves into my daily life, when I woke up with a little bit of the night before’s food stuck to my lip because the pain secured its place again. Caused me to perish. Succumb. Stay in bed. Cry. Run to the bathroom. Vomit. Sit with my legs crossed and stretch my arms over my head. Close my eyes. Focus on the pounding. Let it create a symphony made of pain, one that played only in my ear drums.
I’d think of the the pain, feed it like an addiction.
It reminded me to feel.
Feel deeply. (more…)
“He snickered disagreeably. ‘Me, no,’ he said, ‘me, I don’t hang around here after dark.’ Grinning, satisfied with himself, he stood away from the car … perhaps he will keep popping out at me all along the drive, she thought, a sneering Cheshire Cat, yelling each time that I should be happy to find anyone willing to hang around this place, until dark, anyway.”
Shirley Jackson, The Haunting of Hill House
There will always be a Dudley the caretaker dispensing unwanted advice, undermining your resolve to go on that year-long safari, or ignore those travel advisories from the State Department, or explore that haunted house—give up your job, your apartment, and just take off without telling any friends. Maybe you consider your friends much too cautious, or have no friends you care about. You’re drawn to the dark. You crave the unknown, the thrill of finally leaving the ordinary behind.
You’ve been invited to Hill House by some paranormal researcher you don’t know, your monstrous mother’s finally dead, you’re free to go. You’re haunted too. You’ve been having dreams where you run up and down stairways, out of breath, corridors twist and turn and you’re completely lost, no way to retrace your steps. You quicken your pace and your heart begins to pound. Whispers from the empty elevator shaft are getting louder. Is it your mother, come back from the dead? You peer down into the darkness, swaying on your feet.
When you accepted the invitation to spend a week with strangers, you were thinking a real haunted house might dispel those dreams and memories. Or maybe you weren’t really thinking, just obeying your instinct to escape now that the door to your cage was open.
It was red through and through. I reached my hand deep in the inner leaves. An ant crawled across my knuckles dragging a broken leg. I tried to help by pulling the leg off, but I broke the ant in half and its two pieces went round and round trying to find each other. Red ones are the sweetest. This one was a little soft in the middle and the sweet was almost rot. I fed a piece to the dead ant.
White at the top below the green. A few hard green growths. I asked Mother to slice them off because I didn’t like their look. She slid the thin knife quick and quick and quick again. She didn’t cut her fingers like the time she peeled the squash and shook spots of blood on the wall. The hard green growths stared at me like poked-out eyes. They tasted sour at first, then ice or cucumber, then sour again. A sour end.
Lazlo the Bear was kicked to death one night by three men half his age, but he didn’t let that define him. Instead he swallowed the unfortunate incident whole and washed it down with cider and thick fingers the next morning.
It was unfair, of course: he owed no one. None of that shit, he would tell them, everywhere. But nothing is fair, his grandmother whispered, and he knew she spoke the truth. For she was sly and strong like him, and hung neatly around his neck.
He didn’t go to the funeral, but he watched. Little robin Lazlo in the bushes: what a joke. Only the strangers came – skulls bared, eyeing him carefully where he hid. The priest spoke tight English sadnesses and knew nothing of him, but his kind heart beat so loudly that it was enough for Lazlo. He left his last tall tale on a hook by the chapel door and slipped out.
So, Lazlo is dead. Those faces at the centre would be so surprised now by his liberties, his open plans, his hollow bones. He should slide through the secure doors and peck at their papers, just so, just to show them. Sign here, sigh there, Lazlo the Swift. (more…)
The Avalanche Effect
The story of the suitcase was true, but the painting wasn’t in it. Oh, well. Things progress when there’s a mistake. The next 48 hours are going to be crucial. Don’t mess with women who are into gore. I haven’t the slightest doubt that my own relatives planned to kill me. It’s too awful here. Yesterday we heard something that sounded like rocks being unloaded from a dump truck. Those were gunshots. I stepped outside to take a look and saw descendants of Marcel Duchamp selling snowballs on the street. (more…)
What time is it?
I don’t know.
It must be late.
They sat in the living room and the clocks didn’t think it was any time at all. She leaned back in the dusty armchair, he pressed against the painted doorframe. (more…)
The bottle on the table between them is almost empty. As soon as the man consumes his cigarette down to the filter, he lights another. His hand trembles so that the ash spills onto his fine woolen coat.
In contrast to the coat, his face is unshaven, the skin dry, the hair unkempt. His bloodshot gaze darts about incessantly, settling hungrily on the woman before flitting away again.
He’s there again, he says, indicating slightly with the cigarette.
Instead of looking behind her, the woman stares at his yellowed fingers. Her face is compassionate, although, just for an instant, her mouth twists.
You clamp my head and say, “Demon, be gone.” You shake me and scream, “Come back, princess.” You flap your arms and dance madly. Your face flames; your eyes steam. My demon is sticky. How you must hate me. When my demon finally leaves, I leave with him. (more…)
I lazily point towards the remains of the buildings. W/ every fibre, atom, sinew and ounce of meat…. I mea(n)t it, Lord god. I felt their fear and anger a(n)d I wanted to hurt them all in the name of some-other’s big nothing.
Meanwhile W bottles nebulas and plans to smuggle the ghost of T through customs. A wink wink at the security guards. A strange feeling passes through the buildings. Legs tired on the escalator. The milky coming of day.