Revolution Meat (Last Part)

After cleaning up the kitchen, Marsella Blume stood out beneath the carport with a cigarette and three fingers of whiskey in an iced glass. She exhaled toward the heavens and laughed to herself. “What a fool I’ve married,” she said, her thoughts lighthearted at first but then she suddenly deeply regretted most of what she had done with her life, and she almost started to cry. “I live on a planet of murderers and I’m the only one who seems to care. Rubbish.” She tossed the glass out into the street and listened for the glory of the scattering smashing.

The record store downtown was open late on most nights because it was the cool thing to do. The sidewalk there was dirty, and rebellious teens loitered about talking loudly and laughing and playing music out of their cars. Marsella pushed on the door of silver metal and heavy smudged glass and went in. The place smelled like the smoking of marijuana. Loud music blared from hidden speakers. She went over to the area where they had the alternative rock, post-punk indie music CDs. S, S, S, she was looking for something that began with S. Then her fingers hit on it. The Smiths. The album was titled Meat is Murder and she pulled it from its place and looked it over. “Hmm, this used to be one of my favorites,” Marsella mumbled to herself aloud. “How strange that I had forgotten about it for all these years and then suddenly it comes back to me… Memories do tend to return to find you and shake you at the most unexpected times in our lives.”

Marsella went to the counter and presented what she wanted to buy. The young man with blue hair and piercings that made his face look like a pincushion looked at the CD and then looked at her. He made a weird face with his already weird face.

Marsella gave him a playful smile. “Don’t you get it, Johnny? It’s for me.” She handed him the money, took her change and bag, and walked out of the store and to her car.


Marsella drove fast and in complete disregard for the laws of the prickly electric night. She had the windows rolled down and the volume of the stereo was turned up high to overtake the whoosh of the air blowing in. She had track 10 on repeat, and the lyrics of Meat is Murder burrowed into her head and stoked the flames of her disenchantment with human beings and the world in general:

Heifer whines could be human cries
Closer comes the screaming knife
This beautiful creature must die
This beautiful creature must die
A death for no reason
And death for no reason is murder

And the flesh you so fancifully fry
Is not succulent, tasty or kind
It’s death for no reason
And death for no reason is murder
And the calf that you carve with a smile
It is murder
And the turkey you festively slice
It is murder
Do you know how animals die?…

“Do you know how animals die!?” Marsella screamed out as she brought the car to a stop in the nearly empty parking lot of the grocery store. She got out of the car and went around to the back and popped open the trunk. She reached inside and pulled out the can of red paint she had pilfered from her husband’s work shed, set it on the ground, and undid the lid with the screwing end of a standard screwdriver. She dumped some of the paint on the ground and watched it pool and slowly spread like a wound. The unnatural smell of it drove up her nose. She took a breath, and then she went inside the store.

The lights were bright, and they hurt her eyes as they buzzed and dazzled above her. The place was mostly empty except for the lone cashier flipping through a magazine, the young night stockers tossing boxes around, along with a few zombified customers perhaps craving a midnight pot pie. No one paid her any attention as she strolled down the cereal aisle with an opened bucket of red paint. When she got to the meat department, it was barren as a midnight graveyard in western Oklahoma. She heard wolves howl. She heard people chittering and giggling somewhere off in the distance. The music up above was sterilized, vomit-inducing ass hat glitter pop.

The custom meat case was empty, the animal flesh now removed, and the area behind was dark and quiet. Marsella looked around again before setting the paint can down and kneeling beside it. She dipped two fingers deep into the paint like it was a woman spread wide, pulled them out, and then wrote Meat is Murder, Don’t Ya Know? in a crooked, dripping scrawl against the exterior plexiglass of the meat case. She stood and looked at her handiwork as it continued to slowly bleed on itself, a very fitting touch to her art she proudly decided.

Next, she went over to the display case where they had all the packaged meat and she gripped the paint can in two hands, cocked it back and thrust it forward repeatedly as she haphazardly splashed the glossy red all over the chicken and their bones, the ground beef, the roasts, the steaks, the lamb, the porkchops, and all the groaning loins they had stacked there like genocide bodies.

“Hey!” someone suddenly yelled out from somewhere behind her. “What the hell are you doing there!?”

She turned just as the man got to her and she threw red paint on him, took the can by the carrying handle and whopped him upside the head with it as hard as she could. He made a pain-filled grunt like ooomphhh, then slipped and fell. She dropped the can with a clank and dashed down the soda aisle toward the front doors. For a woman of 39, she flew out of there like a wild bird, got into her car and sped off just as two other grocery store workers came hustling out after her screaming and yelling and carrying on as if she had just possibly committed a felony.

Marsella Blume sat in her car at the end of her block with the engine purring. She blew cigarette smoke out the open window as her eyes fixed on her house that sat like a morbid shell down the street and to the left. The air around the neighborhood was salted city orange and misty. The Smiths were still bubbling out from the stereo, but quieter now for she didn’t want to wake anyone. She took a final puff and then threw the butt out the window like she was Josey Wales cool. She pulled the shifter back into the D position and stomped her foot on the gas pedal. The car shot off surprisingly fast and Marsella gripped the steering wheel as she aimed the engine block straight for the corner of the house where her husband was hopelessly waiting beyond the brick and glass.

The impact was more violent than she expected, and her body snapped back and forth as the car drilled into the house. And it looked like being in an automatic car wash, she thought, with that suffocating blizzard of water and soap blotting out the windshield, the weighty thunder of the mechanical mops as they molested the filth away, the quaking turbulence of the high-powered dryers as one’s vehicle slowly emerged from the wash tunnel like a turtle’s head checking to see if it was safe out in the world.

Through the chaos she saw her husband’s startled face as his body was thrown back as if by a poltergeist, the bowl of buttered popcorn just moments before in his lap now curling high in the air and scattering its contents like youthful mischief. And then she watched as the debris rained down all around her in dust wallowed slow motion, bricks and glass and splintered wood hitting the car, and the sound came like ludicrous hail, and Marsella felt like she would soon be buried alive by the burdens of her own madness.


When Marsella opened her eyes, the butcher was sitting in a chair beside her hospital bed. There was something wrapped in fancy paper on the bedside table. She didn’t recognize him at first without the hair net, but the eyes were familiar. Those unsettling eyes were very blue as she recalled, almost a fake blue.

“Hello,” she managed to say. Her eyelids fluttered to batter away the stinging light.

“Hi. Do you remember me?” the man said, leaning in closer.

“You’re the butcher.”

“That’s right. How are you feeling?”

“Not terrible, but far from wonderful,” she said, and she tried to sit up more. “How did you… Why are you here?” She looked around the room trying to establish more thoroughly where she was.

“I read all about it in the newspapers. I just knew it had to be you,” he said. “The policeman let me in to quickly visit.”

“The policeman?”

The butcher turned his head and nodded. “Outside the door. I’m afraid you’re under guard.”

“I did something bad, didn’t I?”

The butcher sighed but tried to smile. “You made a terrible mess of my meat department. I’m afraid in your attempt to save the beasts, however, you inadvertently cast most of them off to the trash bin… So, in that effort, it seems you failed. But that’s really the least of your concerns considering the other charges.”

“Other charges?”

“Felonious assault. Aggravated homicide.”

“Aggravated!?”

“Don’t you know you killed your husband in a very terrible way? They had to pull him from the rubble piece by piece.”

Marsella shook her head in denial.

“They didn’t tell you?”

“Perhaps someone did. I can’t remember much… Just the cigarette and the grainy light and the music and the sound of the engine beating faster… And then it was just like a terrible storm but then bright like heaven.”

The butcher beamed at her with a gentle butcher-like smile. “Maybe you escorted him part way, hmm?”

“Huh?”

“Your husband. To heaven.”

“I do doubt it,” Marsella said. “He was a terrible person. He really was.”

“We’re all terrible people who do terrible things at times. We are after all, merely animals.”

“But I must have loved him at one time. I mean, real human love. Don’t you think?”

“Doesn’t appear that way, now does it, considering your present-tense situation,” the butcher with blue eyes said coldly. He glanced up at the black and white clock on the wall. “I’m afraid my time is limited so I must be on my way. But there’s a present for you there. I don’t really know why I felt you deserved a gift; I suppose I’m strangely sentimental like that. Hopefully you can do something with it before you go off to jail.”

She looked up at him, puzzled. Then he drew closer to her, and she jerked back when he bent to grasp her hand and shake it. “Good luck,” he whispered. He made himself upright again and looked down at her. His eyes were taking pictures.

“You aren’t really a butcher, are you?” Marsella said as her gaze crawled up his body and to his face.

“We’re all butchers,” he said, and he turned and walked out of the room without another word.

Marsella drowsily sat up on the edge of the bed and reached for the present on the bedside table. She shook it like a curious child, and then carefully peeled it open. Inside was a package of meat — a flank steak. It was the color of a broken heart and lightly marbled with thin rivers of greasy cotton. Some blood pooled in the white tray. She drew it closer to her face and studied it and her soul shook like grass in the dawn of spring.

She poked a hole in the plastic wrap with a finger and stripped it away. She lifted the meat out and held it in her hands. It was cold. It was wet. It was heavy. She opened her mouth wide, moved her head forward, and clamped her teeth down hard on the animal flesh. She fiercely strained and pulled until a piece tore off. She chewed on it slowly, ingested it, and went in for another bite… And then it was another and another and yet another until the whole cut of the meat was gone from the space in front of her and slowly sliding down into her belly in various shaped chunks.

She went into the bathroom and turned on the light. Her animal reflection stared back at her from the other side of the mirror. She barely recognized herself. An ugly murderous stain bloomed around her mouth like a pink flower. She grinned at herself; a thin film of red juice was still collected on her teeth. Then the screams of all the beasts she had ever known crawled up from her bloated belly and into her head. And there they stayed and got comfortable, always calling to her until the death chamber of man snuffed her out forever like a quick puff of breath on a flame.

END


The King of Genitalia Street (TWO)

My mother got up to answer the door, cradling Maine, and touched at her hair with one hand to set it in proper place before going out of the room. She always had to look proper, no matter what. It was the outside that mattered to her, rarely the inside of a person. I guess that’s why I failed her so much — I wasn’t proper on either side.

I stood back in the swallowing shadows of the big house biting my nails as my mother opened the door. Emily and Frost began to step in and then suddenly stopped when they saw her holding the baby.

“Mom?” Emily asked, her face scrunched in confusion. “Are you babysitting for someone? Whose kid?”

“We’ll talk about it, dear. Please come in. Hello there, Frost.”

Their voices were distant to me, like in a dream. I saw Frost lean in and give my mother a fake kiss on the cheek. Then their voices bloomed and became an uncomfortable gathering upon me.

“Oh, hello Everett,” Frost said when he noticed me lurking as he shed his fancy coat and placed it over one arm. “It’s a surprise seeing you here. We had no idea. Are you planning to stay for the weekend as well?”

“I don’t know,” I said, and I moved forward to shake his perfect hand. His grip was cold, crushing. His cold blue eyes drilled into me. He had a look of winter about him, and so his name fit him perfectly — Frost. Frost Bennington of the Benningtons. Prick.

Then I looked over at my sister, the dear Emily. My older sibling. Intelligent and oh so intelligently cool, cold, frosty like her lover. She acted uncomfortable and brushed wispy blonde hairs out of her face, her evergreen eyes avoiding me.

“Hello Emily,” I said, and I awkwardly hugged her. It was a short-lived embrace that she quickly pulled away from.

“Hello Everett,” she said, her words nervously stumbling out. “It is quite a surprise to see you here. If we knew you were coming… I suppose you could have ridden with us from the city, but I guess neither of us knew.”

“No. I hadn’t planned on it.”

“So,” Frost broke in, “Where’s Edward? I brought him a bottle of some fine brandy.” He held up a surely expensive bottle to show it off.

“I think he went off to his study,” my mother said. “Why don’t you go and say hello? I’d like to speak with Emily in private. Everett, go wash yourself up, you look like you could use a long, hot shower, and I think it would be best if you stayed the night. You can sleep in your old room. There are some clean linens in the closet upstairs. Well, you know where it all is. Go on now.”


Evelyn led Emily to the quiet of the obscene chef’s kitchen in the back of the house. She spoke to the house maiden who was busy polishing glasses with a white cloth. “Eliza, please take this baby into a quiet room and soothe him while we talk.”

The house maiden smiled. Her light brown skin brightened. “Oh, he’s something,” she said as she came closer. She took him into her arms and immediately fell in love.

“Yes, well, don’t get too attached, Eliza. He may not be with us long,” Evelyn said to her like a cold breeze.

“Yes, mam,” Eliza said, the brightness of her face turning to night again. “I will be in the sitting room.”

Evelyn nodded to her and she turned to look out the big windows into the large, perfectly kept yard bleached with winter.

“Mother?” Emily began. “What’s going on? Whose baby is that?”

“Oh, my dear daughter. We have trouble in this house today. I think your brother has totally gone mad. He just showed up with that baby in a pillowcase. He says it belongs to some tramp he met in the city and she up and left. Just took off is what he said and just left the child behind. I just don’t know what to do about Everett anymore. I’m just sick about it. But that child. That poor, innocent child stuck in the middle of all this.” Flustered, she stepped away from the window and frantically started going through cabinets. “And I don’t have anything for a baby to eat…”

“Mother,” Emily said, trying to slow her down and make her pay attention. “Stop and listen to me. I have great concern for Everett. I don’t think he’s well, I mean, mentally.”

A clock on the mantle above an unlit fireplace in another room chimed four times before Evelyn spoke again.

“What’s wrong?” she asked. “Did something happen to him in the city?”

Emily shifted her eyes. “Everett came over to our place, it was back before Christmas. He said you had visited him that same day and he started talking very strangely to me about when we were young and living here in the house. He seemed very confused and troubled.”

“Yes. I did go see him. I had met some friends for brunch.” She sighed. “He was sitting there all alone in that awful apartment. It was so dark. Dirty. Sad really. Very sad. I thought maybe stopping by with a bag of leftovers might cheer him up. I gave him some money, too. But despite the typical grayness of his life when I saw him that day, he seemed fine. Is there something else I should know about?”

“Like I said, when he was at our place. Frost was off doing something important most likely and so we were alone, Everett and I, in the kitchen. Just trying to talk. You know how awkward that can be.”

“What are you trying to tell me?”

“He kissed me.”

Evelyn froze for a moment, and her eyes began to quake with nervous twitches behind her glamorous glasses. “What’s wrong with a brother kissing his own sister?”

“It wasn’t that kind of a kiss, mom,” Emily softly spoke. “He kissed me, you know, a real kiss… He forced himself on me.”

Evelyn stepped back, coughed, and adjusted the same glamorous glasses. “Oh please, Emily! Such talk. You must have completely misread his intentions.”

“No. I didn’t.”

“He must have been drinking then,” Evelyn strongly suggested.

“No, mother. He wasn’t drinking. He knew what he was doing… Or he didn’t. I don’t really know,” she said, hands in the air as she paced the polished floor.

“My God, Emily,” Evelyn moaned. “Why would he do that? What on earth would possess him to do that?” She scoffed in frustration and embarrassment almost. She waved a hand in the air. “I don’t believe it. I refuse to believe such a story.”

“I think he needs a doctor,” Emily stressed to her mother. “A good doctor. A psychiatrist. He may even need to go to a place that specializes in whatever is wrong with him. Frost and I know some people who may be able to help.”

Evelyn bit at her mouth with worry. “This is all too much,” she moaned. “But how are you? He didn’t hurt you, did he?”

“No. He didn’t hurt me at all. I was just shocked, and I pushed him off and told him to never do it again, that it was inappropriate… But then what about this baby now? This definitely proves there is something seriously wrong with him.”

“It’s very odd indeed. I think the child is sickly and I’m not surprised. That fool boy knows nothing about taking care of a baby. And that girl who dumped him, I can just imagine what a piece of work she is. I just don’t understand why Everett can’t find a nice girl. He’s not a bad looking young man, he’s just …”

Emily finished her mother’s sentence, “Incredibly strange.”

“Why don’t you help him out and introduce him to some of your friends? You know plenty of well-educated people. Good, decent people too. He needs to be kept away from common street trash — like that poor child’s mother.”

“I would, mother, but I don’t think Frost would have it. You know how particular he is about everything. And it’s no secret that he doesn’t like Everett.”

“Does he know what happened?”

“Yes. I told him, and he wasn’t happy about it at all. No surprise. He went ballistic. It took everything in me to calm him down enough to even come this weekend… And then pow, Everett is here, unbeknownst to us. I could almost hear Frost’s perfect teeth grinding to dust.”

“Yes, I suppose he would be upset. I can’t blame him. He’s a fine young man, very driven, bred from fine stock, and well positioned to take care of you financially. That’s very important. So even if things go sour between you two, always consider that. And another very important thing is the fact your father is more than fond of him.”

“I find it strange that daddy takes him on like that and then treats Everett like he’s not even his son.”

“Well, your father has always been drawn to highly successful people. I’m afraid Everett has greatly disappointed him.”

“That’s sad,” Emily said. “It shouldn’t be like that. You should love and support your kids no matter who they are and what they do. That’s the way I want to be.”

“You’ll be a fine mother some day,” Evelyn assured her daughter as she gently tapped the back of her hand. “As far as Maine is concerned, I’m going to convince your father to let me keep him here — just for a day or two until we can figure this all out,” she said. “In the meantime, I want us to have a nice family gathering this weekend. Cozy and warm and perfect. Will you help Eliza with dinner?”

“Of course,” Emily said.

“And do you think Frost would mind running Everett over to the store to get some things. For the baby. Diapers and such. I’ll make a list.”

Emily made a face. “Well, he may not like it, but he’ll do it for you.”

Evelyn smiled. “Good. I like it when he does things for me.”

TO BE CONTINUED

The first part of this story can be read HERE.


BumBuna O’Brien and the Evolution Oven (End)

They brought the boat aground on the far side of the island where there was a small cove and a cold, soft beach. Pierre hoisted his supplies over his shoulder and BumBuna O’Brien carried the stone head of Saint Pedro. They made their way into the trees along a footpath worn down by Pierre over time as he came and went. BumBuna O’Brien looked up, and the tops of the trees seemed so very far away to him — the light of day could barely break in as the canopy was so thick.

“How far is it?” he asked Pierre.

“Not far. Is the head heavy? Do you need to rest?”

BumBuna O’Brien lied. “No. He’s just being restless in this bag.”

The path wound on and on, into the deepest parts of the island, and then the trees retreated a bit and the ground opened and that is where BumBuna O’Brien saw the crooked little and gray-washed island hovel, crooked and shiny like ice in the mist.

“I know it doesn’t look like much,” Pierre said as he set the sacks on the porch. “But it’s comfortable enough. Quiet and peaceful, too. That’s the way I like it.”

BumBuna O’Brien stepped onto the porch, but Pierre held him back with his large hand.

“I think you should leave the head outside. I don’t feel good about bringing that thing into my house. It might be bad luck.”

“I’m not bad luck,” Saint Pedro said. “But I would like to be out of this sack. It’s itchy.”

“Where should I put it?”

Pierre pointed to a stump at the edge of the clearing.

“Put him there. I suppose he won’t be able to run off.”

BumBuna O’Brien carried him to the stump, set him free from the sack and set him upon the flat surface.

“I don’t like it here,” Saint Pedro said. “Why can’t I come inside?”

“Not now,” BumBuna O’Brien said. “You heard Pierre. He doesn’t like you too much.”

“What about you? Do you like me?”

“I haven’t decided yet. I guess that’s up to you.”

“You know, I could send you to hell if I wanted to,” Saint Pedro said to him, seriously.

BumBuna O’Brien blinked at him, then his head dipped, and he thought about how derailed his life had become. Even in the midst of trying to be good and peaceful and not stir up trouble, trouble always seemed to find him, get attached to him, like glue or magnets.

“I’m already in hell,” he answered, and then he walked away and went into the house, and there he saw a cozy little place, a bit worn down, but Pierre had made it livable.

The man was busy in the kitchen area, filling cupboards with cans and boxes and little bags by the light of a lantern. There was no electricity, only candles and the lanterns, and there was a wood-burning stove that was already beginning to glow, and now the fire crackled, and the place was getting warmer.

“Do you want some coffee?” Pierre asked as he prepared the pot.

“Yes. And I’m hungry.”

“Well, then come in, sit down. Make yourself comfortable.”

BumBuna O’Brien sat down at a round table in the middle of the room.

“Do you have any carrot cake?” he asked.

“No. But I have something better. Just picked it up fresh today. How do you feel about liverwurst sandwiches?”

“What’s liverwurst?”

“It’s liver sausage. You spread it on bread. I like to refer to it as the poor man’s pate. Here, try it.”

Pierre set down two plates at the table. BumBuna O’Brien stared at the bread, then he peeled the sandwich open to peek inside.

“It looks disgusting,” he said. “Like someone had a nasty blowout in there.”

Pierre laughed out loud, took a big bite of his own sandwich and chewed. “Nonsense. It’s delicious.”

BumBuna O’Brien took a small bite. He nibbled carefully. The taste and texture did not sit with him very well. He set it back down on his plate.

“I can’t eat this. Don’t you have anything else?”

Pierre was somewhat offended. He got up to pour himself a cup of the coffee. “You’re welcome to hunt yourself a fish or a squirrel if you want. Otherwise, it’s liverwurst. I’m sorry, but I have limited options. It’s a peaceful life, but not always easy and convenient. Perhaps you’d be more comfortable back where you came from.”

BumBuna O’Brien sensed that he had hurt Pierre’s feelings and so he got up and walked outside. Saint Pedro whistled for him to come over.

“What do you want?” BumBuna O’Brien asked.

“I just wanted to talk. What’s wrong with you?”

“I’m afraid I offended our host by not eating his disgusting sandwich.”

“That wasn’t very nice of you.”

BumBuna O’Brien snapped. “What the hell do you know! You’re just a stone head.”

“I know enough that it’s rude to complain about the food when in someone else’s home. You should apologize.”

BumBuna O’Brien sighed. His stomach grumbled. “I’m just not myself when I’m hungry.”

“I don’t like it here,” Saint Pedro whispered. “I don’t trust him. I say we take his boat in the middle of the night and leave this place.”

“We can’t do that. He’d be marooned.”

“Would you really care? Face it, you’re not the nicest animal in the world.”

“Why did you call me an animal? Do I look like an animal to you?”

“Every man is an animal. You’re savages. Pigs. The world has fallen because of you — you human animals.”

“You used to be human,” BumBuna O’Brien pointed out.

“I rose above it,” Saint Pedro answered. “Wait. Be quiet now. He’s coming.”

They saw Pierre Moose moving toward them. He was walking softly and carrying a big spear.

“What’s going on out here?” he asked.

“We’re just talking,” BumBuna O’Brien said. “What’s the spear for?”

Pierre clicked his teeth and rubbed at his sandpaper face. 

“Self-preservation mostly,” Pierre answered. “But I feel bad about you going hungry — thought I’d try to bag you some fish for supper.”

“You don’t have to do that. I’ll eat the sandwich.”

“I already finished it for you. Besides, I feel like doing a little fishing. Why don’t you get the fire pit going while I’m gone?”

Pierre looked at him differently. His cold eyes were suspicious now.

“I won’t be too long,” Pierre said, and then he went off down the path and soon he vanished.

“I don’t like this,” Saint Pedro said. “I don’t like this at all. He’s up to no good. I can feel it. We need to get out of here.”

“That’s not an option right now. If we went off in the boat at night, who knows where we’d end up. We’d probably drown.”

“I think he’s crazy.”

“Why?”

“What sane man lives alone on an island in the middle of nowhere?”

“Maybe he’s sane and the rest of us are crazy.”

“He’s upset. A lone man who gets upset is never a good thing. You should have eaten that damn sandwich!”

“Pipe down, Pedro. I’m going to do what he says and build the fire.”

“Well, then at least set me over on that log so I can watch you and not have to be alone.”

“Fine,” BumBuna O’Brien said, and he took the stone head of Saint Pedro and set it on the log. “Now just stay here while I get some firewood.”


BumBuna O’Brien went into the trees and gathered sticks and logs and branches. He dragged it all back to the circular fire ring little by little until there was a substantial pile. He went to work breaking down branches and piling the sticks. He put together a bundle of kindling and put it at the base.

“I don’t have any matches,” he said to Saint Pedro.

“Look in the house. He’s got to have matches in there.”

“Right.”

He went into the house, dug around and found an old coffee can stuffed with matchbooks. Then he thought he heard a terrible scream. He ran outside but saw nothing. He lit the fire and soon it was roaring. The day was fading as Pierre emerged in the clearing. He was dragging something large along the ground behind him.

BumBuna O’Brien looked up at the man who had seemed to have grown larger and sterner.

“Come here and help me with this,” Pierre ordered.

BumBuna O’Brien went over, but when he saw what Pierre had, he jumped back.

“What the hell is that!”

“A trespasser,” Pierre grinned.

“You speared him? Why in the world would you do that?”

“I told you, he was a trespasser. This is private property. I have a right to defend my island.”

“So, you just killed a complete stranger? Why didn’t you just tell him to leave for crying out loud?”

“I don’t have to defend my actions to you. My God, I’ve done nothing but help you! I’ve welcomed you here, to my home, and all you ever do is complain. Now, are you going to help me with this or not!?”

“What are you planning on doing with him?”

“He’s going to eat him!” Saint Pedro cried out.

“I am not!” Pierre yelled. “I don’t ever eat them.”

“Them,” BumBuna O’Brien wondered.

There was silence. Pierre looked at them. His eyes were wide with madness. “I don’t ever eat them,” he repeated.

“Then what in the hell do you do?” BumBuna O’Brien demanded to know.

Pierre’s head drooped. “I collect them,” he answered.

“I told you he was crazy!” Pedro yelled out from the log.

“No, it’s nothing like that,” Pierre said. “It’s like a hobby, really. I give dignity to them. I honor their memory by preserving their bodies.”

“I would like to leave,” BumBuna O’Brien requested. “Please take me back. I won’t ever say anything to anyone.”

Pierre slapped a hand to his forehead. “No! You can’t just leave. Not yet. Please. You must understand. It gets very lonely here. Let me just show you, both of you, and then you’ll get it, and then in the morning I’ll row you to wherever you’d like.”

“Don’t listen to him!” Pedro called out. “It’s a lie. He has no intention of ever letting us go.”

Pierre grew angry. “Shut up! Shut up! Shut up! You damn head!”

BumBuna O’Brien tried to soothe the tension. “All right, Pierre. Just settle down. You can show us. I understand.”

Pierre looked at him. “You do?”

“Of course. Loneliness is a terrible thing.”

“What are you doing?” Pedro demanded to know.

“Just give him a chance to show us,” BumBuna O’Brien snapped back. “If you don’t stop making things worse, you’ll go back in the sack.”

They followed him by torchlight as he dragged the body to an outbuilding behind the house. They heard the body hit the ground as he released his grip so he could fumble with the lock. They heard a chain rattle, then slide. A heavy door was moved to one side and the metal material made a loud clanging noise. Pierre disappeared into the darkness.

“Wait here,” he said.

Then one by one, lamps were lit, and an orange glow began to blossom forth from the blackness. And soon the reality of Pierre’s madness came to light as the bodies became visible. There was an entire group of them, nearly two dozen — men, women, children, even dogs — and they were stitched up neatly, clothed, with grotesque upturned smiles and shiny lake stones for eyes. Some were positioned in chairs, others left standing. Some were made to look as if they were engaged in conversation with each other. Some simply stared out into space.

Pierre came back to the entrance and pulled the body up and into the building. He let it drop to the floor near a large table.

“Come in,” he insisted. “Take a look around.”

BumBuna O’Brien stepped over the threshold with Pedro clutched tightly in his hands.

“Well,” Pierre wondered. “What do you think?”

“It’s the creepiest thing I’ve ever seen in my life,” Saint Pedro said, and BumBuna O’Brien quickly clamped a hand over his cold stone mouth.

“Go on,” Pierre encouraged. “Take a closer look.”

They moved forward, and then the metal door boomed closed behind them.

“I don’t want any wild animals getting in here and destroying my work,” Pierre said.

BumBuna O’Brien looked down at Saint Pedro. The stone head’s eyes were wide with fear. He kept his hand pressed hard over the mouth.

“That’s quite a collection of people you have there,” BumBuna O’Brien said.

“Thank you. Come here. Closer. I want you to meet my best friend in the world. He was the first.”

Pierre guided them to a tall man in the very front. He was dressed in fishing clothes and had a round hat atop his head. The face was full of fear despite the fact Pierre had stitched the corners of the mouth up.

“His name is Rick,” Pierre said proudly. “Go ahead, say hello. Don’t be rude.”

BumBuna O’Brien looked up at the frightening face and tried to smile. “Hello there, Rick. It’s a pleasure to meet you.”

There was no reply.

“Ahh, he never says too much,” Pierre said. “He’s the quiet type. Actually, they’re all the quiet type.”

And then he came forth with an insane, seething snicker that sent shivers up and down BumBuna O’Brien’s entire being. Saint Pedro’s head slipped out of his hands and dropped to the floor with a thud.

“You fool!” the  head cried out. “You could have cracked me in half!”

Pierre suddenly reached down and scooped Pedro up. He held him before his face and studied him.

“Put me down you lunatic! Put me down!”

“You know,” Pierre began. “You really, really grind my gears. I don’t like that. You’re starting to upset my friends here as well, and I’m afraid I can’t allow that.”

Pierre quickly walked across the outbuilding to the door. He slid it open, tossed Pedro into the darkness, and slid the door shut again with a bang. Then BumBuna O’Brien thought he heard him pick something up. Then Pierre was walking toward him, slowly, calculating. BumBuna O’Brien was more afraid than he had ever been in his life.

And then it came, a searing pain right in his guts, the inability to breathe, and finally complete darkness.

Pierre sat in a chair in the outbuilding. He was eating a liverwurst sandwich and drinking a glass of milk as he admired the newest member of his clan. It was BumBuna O’Brien’s body, but in place of his own head was the stone head of Saint Pedro. The mouth was completely chiseled away now so that he didn’t have to listen to the incessant talking.

“Oh, my yes,” Pierre said. “You’re much more agreeable to my nerves when you don’t speak, my stone headed friend.”

The mouth didn’t move of course, but the eyes did, and they frantically darted from side to side as if Saint Pedro BumBuna O’Brien was screaming some never-ending scream.

END


The King of Genitalia Street (ONE)

The day after New Year’s I stepped onto a smelly bus with the kid in a pillowcase and slung over my shoulder like a hobo pack. I had carefully cut holes in the pillowcase so that the baby could breathe when I walked around with him. I found a spot near the back and set Maine down on the seat beside me. He started to cry and some blue-haired, old salty sea hag across the aisle gave me a dirty look.

“That’s no way to carry around a baby,” she scowled with a hoarse voice, her cigarette wrinkles squishing together as her jaw moved. “You should be arrested for that. Hell, if I was a cop, I’d smash you over the head with a club right now.”

I turned to look at her as I dug around in my backpack for a baby bottle full of root beer.

“If it’s all the same to you, mam, I’d appreciate it if you would just mind your own damn stinkin’ business!” I snapped, slightly rising up in my seat in a threatening way maybe like Adam Sandler would. “I’ve got enough problems dealing with this kid dumped on me by some orgy queen. I’m doing the best I can and plan to remedy the situation today. That’s for sure. So, if you don’t mind… I think he’s hungry now.”

I turned away and proceeded to stick the rubbery nipple of the baby bottle into Maine’s mouth. Even though it was bubbly root beer, he sucked at it eagerly like it was his own momma’s milky teat.

The old sea hag’s mouth dropped open and when I glanced back in her direction, I noticed she had dirty teeth and a cracked tongue the color of old, moldy bacon.

“What on earth are you feeding that poor child? Is that… It looks like soda pop!”

“Yes mam, it is soda pop. Root beer to be exact. I think it’s his favorite.”

“Are you stupid or something? Do you want his stomach to explode!?”

“Actually mam, I don’t think I’d mind too much if his stomach exploded right about now. I’m tired of this shit.”

The old sea hag leaned further across the aisle and her breath smelled like warm deli salami as she spoke in an aggravated tone.

“Young man,” she began. “I strongly suggest that once you get to wherever you’re going that you take this child to the nearest hospital before you end up killing him. You’re lucky I don’t go up there right now and have the driver report you.”

Too exhausted to fight, I pleaded with her.

“Please, mam, don’t do that. I’ve never spent much time around babies, and I don’t always know what the hell I’m doing, but I’m heading to my mom’s and dad’s right now and they’ll know. They’ll know what to do.”

The old hag sighed heavily, and her salami breath spewed out like dragon fire, and it nearly made me puke. She looked at me with lost, ebony eyes — shaking a crinkly, yellowed finger like a witch.

“All right. But you give your word that you give this child over to someone who can handle him properly, and if I find out you ain’t did it, well, I’m a witness and I’ll tell the police all about it when they show your picture in the newspaper or on the television. I’ll come forward for sure. Don’t you think I won’t.”

Maine began to choke a bit and I pulled the bottle from his little mouth with a nearly inaudible pop. I set him up on my shoulder and gently patted his back. When the baby belched, the old sea hag rolled her eyes and returned to the proper bus-riding position in her own seat.

“Soda pop for a baby,” she mumbled under her breath as she snapped open a glamour magazine. “Geez, now I’ve seen it all.”

I grew sleepy and my head bobbed as the bus rolled down some pastoral highway in the Upstate heading for a fancy little town called Burgundy Falls. I began to wonder what my old ma and pa would do when I showed up at the house carrying a bastard baby in a pillowcase. They would most likely have me committed. Why not? They had the money. Wouldn’t bother them a bit to lock me up and throw away the key. I figured that would be right satisfactory to them. They’d be happy if I rotted. The thought of it all ruined my appetite for sweet home cooking and made my stomach hurt. No, this burden in the bag had caused me nothing but trouble ever since ol’ promiscuous Helen Corvair had decided to run off for breakfast and not come back. My nervous and immune systems were shot. I had bags under my eyes from lack of sleep. I thought I might be coming down with a bad case of schizophrenia and possibly a cold. I even had to quit my job as a toy clerk at the five-story department store in the city because they wouldn’t let me bring the kid to work with me. They said my employee locker was no place to keep a baby while I performed my job duties. Pfffft to that. Damn you golden Helen Corvair. Damn you and all your gritty intoxication to hell. 

The nerves really began to jingle like sleigh bells, and it felt like reindeer were tugging on my balls when the bus pulled into the station at Burgundy Falls. I sat there for a long time watching the other passengers gather their things and get off. The old salty sea hag who bitched at me turned out to be quite stout and I watched as she struggled to get out of her seat. Once she was out and up, she bumped her fat rear right into me as she gathered her things. It was obnoxious and horrible, and I wanted to scream. She turned to me one last time and growled to me in a voice most likely being violently raped by throat cancer.

“Now don’t you forget what I said. You take care of that baby first thing, or I’ll be sure they hang you by the nuts.”

“Thanks. Have a fine day,” I called after her as she waddled down the aisle bumping her big rump against all the seats.

When I was the last one left, I remained in my seat, frightened and unsure, until the driver finally came down the aisle and looked at me like I was stupid.

“This is Burgundy Falls,” he said. “Isn’t this your stop, sir?”

I looked up at him and wanted to suddenly cry from all the pain of life that seemed to be eating me alive at that moment.

“I guess it is. Sorry.”

I gathered up Maine and my things and got off the bus. I ordered up a cab to take me to the house. When we got there, I ordered him to park a ways down the street because I was scared. I looked at the old place from a distance as the grimy cabbie reminded me the meter was still running.

“I don’t care,” I said. “Just a few minutes.”

It was a fine old house. Probably the best fine old house in the best neighborhood of Burgundy Falls. It was painted a cool baby blue color and had sparkling white trim all around. There was a big, wooden-planked porch that jutted out from a wide, white door like a pier, and it spread and wrapped around the whole of the front and side parts of the house. The long, wooden porch swing sat idle in the cold. My mother usually had hanging pots full of stinky red geraniums and multicolored marigolds all over the place, but they were now put away for the winter. The upper part of the house was supported by slick wooden columns that looked like uncurled elephant tusks and there were a lot of shiny windows, each with curtains perfectly parted at equal distance. Finely manicured shrubbery still strung with Christmas lights lined the front of the house, and there was a large yard all around dotted with beautiful tall trees and covered in a thin veil of undisturbed snow.

“Go on now cabbie,” I said. “You can pull up.”

As he steered the car into the circular drive, I saw my mother busily cleaning the inside of the big parlor window right there at the front. She energetically wiped in wide circles making sure there wasn’t a single streak or smudge anywhere. Then I noticed her motions slowed and then stopped completely when she was aware of the taxi being there. I watched with bubbling fear as she rubbed her hands on the cleaning cloth and looked out the obnoxiously clean window with curiosity. She suddenly turned away and I knew she was moving rapidly toward the front door.


“Everett? Everett? What are you doing here?” my mother said in a frantic panic after yanking the door wide open. “Everett, are you all right? What is it you have moving around in that pillowcase?”

“It’s a baby, mom.”

“A baby!?” she wailed, and she nearly fainted.

I held the pillowcase open, and she peered in. Her eyes grew wide, and her painted mouth popped open. I backed away in case she slapped me.

“My God, Everett! What on Earth are you doing with a baby!? Edward! Edward get out here! Your crazy son has a baby in a pillowcase! Give me that poor thing.”

She reached in, pulled out Maine and looked him over.

“Everett, this baby doesn’t look well. Come inside right now and explain yourself.”

It was then my father appeared in the doorway grumbling and growling and scratching at his balls.

“What the hell is all this yelling about!? Oh, hello Everett.”

“Come on, inside, both of you. I don’t want the neighbors to hear all this fuss,” my mother ordered.

“Where the hell did that baby come from?” my dad asked as he closed the door. “Did you knock some poor girl up, huh Everett?” and then he slapped at my head as we walked through the house.

“Would you both just settle down and let me explain!?” I pleaded. “Jesus H. Christ!”

“Oh, you’ve got some explaining to do that’s for damn sure,” my father said. “Now just what the hell is this all about?”

We went into the parlor and sat down on fine furniture around a fine coffee table, and I looked out a finely cleaned window wishing everything at that moment would just end up being a bad dream. But it wasn’t. It was real and it was horrible.

“Everett?” my mother asked with disturbed suspicion. “Did you kidnap this child?”

My dad snorted, “Well, that’s a fine thing to add to your already sparkling resume — kidnapper.”

Frustrated, I stood up and threw my hands in the air.

“I didn’t kidnap the kid! Some girl I met… She walked out and left him. She never came back. It’s her kid, not mine.”

“I knew you were running with a bad crowd. I think you should move out of the city and come back home for a while so I can keep an eye on you.”

“No mom …”

My father interrupted, “Hell son, why didn’t you just call the police? Any normal idiot would have done that.”

“I thought she would come back. I didn’t want to get her in trouble.”

“Trouble?” my mother said, shaking her head. “Everett, look at the trouble she’s caused you. Can’t you see how ridiculous all this is? You’re not fit to care for a child like this. Oh goodness.”

I ran my fingers through my hair and sighed.

“I didn’t know what else to do. That’s why I came here. I’m sorry. I was hoping you could help me.”

My ma and pa looked at each other with troubled faces and then glanced back at me. My father suddenly stood up and poured himself a Scotch. He looked inside the glass and swirled the liquid around slowly as he thought. He took a big gulp and smacked his mouth.

“Well, I’m going to call the sheriff’s office and see what they can do about this,” he said. “This is downright asinine, Everett. I just don’t understand what gets in your head sometimes. This no way to live your life. You’re reckless and ignorant and at times I’m downright embarrassed to have you as a son.”

“Edward, please. The boy has feelings you know,” my mother said in my defense.

“I don’t give a rat’s ass about his feelings! It’s time he grows up, wise up, and make something of his life.”

He poured himself another drink and swallowed it hard. I noticed he was slightly shaking.

“Where did you meet this hussy anyways?” he asked me.

“Outside a coffee shop in the city. There was a fight on the sidewalk, and we just got to talking. Her name is Helen, and she looks like Simka Gravas.”

“Who?” my dad barked.

“Latka’s wife from that television show TAXI.”

“Oh, for crying out loud, Everett! When are you going to start living in the real world!?”

My father slammed another two fingers of Scotch and went for the phone.

My mother stopped him, “Wait. Maybe Everett can track her down. Find her. I can watch the baby until then.”

“Oh, hell no!” my father bellowed as he turned. “I know what you’re up to lady. I know how you’re always nagging about having another baby, and then here comes Everett out of the clouds holding one and he plops it right into your lap. No mam, we’re not taking on someone else’s baby. No way. I won’t have it. Not in my house.”

“Edward, don’t you think we should at least try to help our son? This is too much for him to handle alone.”

My father looked at me like he wanted to drag me out back, kill me, and leave me to rot in the woods.

“I already tried to find her,” I said. “She just vanished. She could be in California for all I know.”

“Well, what about the dad? Where the hell is he in all this mess?” my father asked.

“There is no dad,” I replied.

“There’s always a dad,” my mother pointed out as she held the baby up and smiled. “Does the baby have a name?”

“Maine.”

“Like the state?”

“Yes.”

“That’s nice,” my mother said.

“She probably screwed a sailor before he went off to England,” my father groaned, and then he walked off to another part of the house.

The doorbell rang and I craned my neck to look out the window and I saw my someday brother-in-law’s BMW pull into the drive. He’s a pretentious asshole by the way.

“Oh sugar!” my mother said, “I forgot all about Emily and Frost coming for a visit. I swear, Everett, you have the worst timing when it comes to your problems.”

TO BE CONTINUED


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The Doll Salon (Pt. 4)

Mature Content Warning: The following contains language that may be offensive to some readers. You’ve been advised.

The Rejectionists

Feldon felt like crawling into the eye of God and setting the world on fire as he climbed the stairs to his apartment. When he reached his floor, the hall was empty. He could hear a television blaring and some people arguing behind a few of the closed doors. There was always too much noise, he complained inside his own mind. Too much noise. Too much rattling around.

He put the key inside his lock and turned it, pushed the door open, and clicked on a light. Carl was still asleep on the couch, but his eyes were wide and there was that ever-present grin —like a crooked car salesman. He went into the bedroom and turned on a lamp there. Eve was still sitting in the chair beside his bed. He went over to her and kissed her gently on the cheek.

“Hello dear,” he said. “How are you? You and Carl haven’t been up to any nastiness, have you?”

He glanced at his rumpled bed, and it looked the same as when he left, yet he still wondered.

“I suppose you haven’t made any dinner, have you?” Feldon asked her. “No, I didn’t think so. Don’t you realize I’m hungry?”

It was then that the phone in the other room began to ring, and it startled him.

“Who on earth could be calling me?” he wondered, and then he went to answer.

“Hello?”

“Hello. May I speak with Feldon Fairtz please?”

“This is Feldon.”

“Hi Feldon. It’s Shirley, Shirley Humpsley from the Fifth Avenue Doll Salon.”

Feldon grew excited. “Oh yes. Hello! How are you?”

“I’m well, thank you. I was just calling as a courtesy to let you know that we have gone ahead and hired another candidate for the position here.”

“What?” Feldon said, suddenly deflated.

“We’ve hired someone else for the position, Feldon. Like I said, as a courtesy, we reach out to our other candidates to let them know. We feel it’s the right thing to do so you can carry on with your job search without wondering if you’ll ever hear from us. It’s standard practice.”

“So, I didn’t get the job?”

“No. I’m sorry.”

“But, why? What did I do wrong?”

“Nothing, Feldon. We just feel the person we hired had the strongest set of skills that matched our needs. Please don’t take it personally.”

Feldon grew angry over the phone. “But I have a very specific set of skills, Mrs. Humpsley! And strong skills they are! I am very talented, and I think this is absolute bullshit that you have decided not to hire me. It’s because I’m a man, isn’t it?”

“Please Mr. Fairtz, there’s no need to get nasty with me and use foul language. And our decision in no way reflects on your gender… Or anyone else’s.”

“Of course not, of course not, of course not!” Feldon repeated in anger. “It’s all straight talk and legit, isn’t it Shirley. It’s all politically so damn correct and sterilized corporate wise and all nauseating too. Well, I’m not buying it. This is a crock of crap, and I demand to speak to your supervisor!”

“Look here, Mr. Fartz!”

“It’s FAIRTZ!”

“I don’t care what it is!” Mrs. Humpsley snapped back in snappy black girl style. “I will not be talked to in this way, and if you ask me, Fartz fits you perfectly because you’re one hell of an asshole! Our decision is final, and I have nothing else to say to you. Goodnight, sir!”

She hung up.

Feldon held the cordless receiver away from his face and glared at it.

“I’ll get my lawyer you fucking bitch!” he screamed. “You violated my rights as a person! You assaulted me with words! Cruel words!”

He was breathing hard. His heart was racing. The phone was empty, and he suddenly flung it across the room, and it struck a picture of his dead parents that was hanging on the wall and it fell and broke. He turned to look at Carl. He was grinning chiseled mad, mocking him in mime.

“What the fuck are you looking at!?” Feldon screamed. “I just had a bit of trouble with a prospective employer. Nothing serious, Carl. Just look away. Please. Just look away from me!”

Feldon shuffled to the kitchen, reached into a cabinet for a glass and filled it with water at the sink. His hand shook violently as he brought the glass to his mouth and drank. It slipped from his hand, fell to the floor, and shattered.

“God damn it!” Feldon screamed. “Everything I touch turns into a disaster!”

He shuffled to the couch and collapsed into it. He leaned forward and put his face in his hands and started crying.

His face was wet with tears and his nose was stuffed when he reached for the box of facial tissues, yanked a couple out, and blew.

“God damn it,” he mumbled. “God damn it all to hell. It’s falling apart, Carl.” He turned to the mannequin, still half reclined on the couch beside him. “Do you hear me? I’m falling apart you son of a bitch. Don’t you care?”

There was no answer of course, just a wide, plastic grin and factory fresh eyes millions of miles away.

Feldon stood up quickly.

“Fine! Be that way, you prick! You may not give a damn about me and my life, but I’m sure Eve does. Oh, I know she does. See, she loves me. That’s right, Carl. We’re in love. And you better stop trying to fuck her or I swear I’ll kill you!”

Feldon stormed off to his bedroom and slammed the door.


He clicked on a lamp near his bed and the room was illuminated in a stormy, dreary kind of way. He knelt on the floor before Eve in her chair, touched her smooth, plastic hand and then looked up to her painted eyes of crystalline green.

“Eve, my darling. Gosh I’ve had a rough night. I was hoping that, just maybe, you’d be willing to lie in my bed with me tonight.”

He paused to study her reaction, holding the fabric of her dress to his face to smell it and wipe his damp skin.

“No, no, no,” Feldon reassured her as he patted her hand. “Nothing sexual. I just want to be close to you in my darkest time of need.”

He used his fingertips to move his hair back and craned his ear toward her.

“Of course I won’t be naked,” Feldon shyly answered. “I’ll wear my favorite pajamas. You know, the ones with the monkeys riding the trains. They must be circus monkeys, yes, circus monkeys, don’t you think?”

Then he giggled oddly.

“But of course, if you want to be naked, I won’t complain — not one bit.”

Feldon grinned, stood up and took Eve by the waist. He lifted her and took her to the bed, laid her down, and covered her with a sheet and blanket. Feldon stared down at her. Eve’s eyes were staring straight up at him.

“You look lovely,” he said to her.

Feldon quickly went to the other side of the room, stripped down and changed into the pajamas. He went into the bathroom, brushed his teeth, and swished mouthwash. He clicked off the bathroom light. Then he clicked off the little lamp by his bed and crawled in beneath the covers beside her. His heart was slightly pounding. He turned his head and tried to see her in the darkness, hoping his eyes would quickly adjust.

“Eve?” he whispered.

He reached to grasp her hand.

“I love you,” he softly said. “Eve? Did you hear me? I love you.”

It was silent except for the sound of a slow drip in the bathroom sink and the humming of traffic outside the windows. He propped himself up on his elbow at her side and reached out in the darkness. He held his hand just slightly above her nose and mouth. He felt nothing and then suddenly felt very alone and empty.

“Are you holding your breath?” he whispered to her. “Eve?”

He moved his face close to hers and gently rubbed his cheek against hers. “Oh Eve, why are you so cold to me? Is it Carl? Do you love Carl?”

He closed his eyes and fumbled in the darkness to find her mouth with his own. He awkwardly pressed his lips against hers and there was no reciprocation. He pulled back, ashamed and hurt.

He threw the covers off himself in frustration and moved to sit on the edge of the bed. He pawed at his face and ran his fingers through his mussed hair of pale cherry. Then there was a light tapping at the bedroom door and he snapped his neck in that direction. His heart began to pound uncontrollably. The light tapping came again.

“Who’s there?” Feldon called out through the darkness. “Carl? Is that you? Can’t you just leave us alone? Ever!”

The tapping turned to a harder knock, then a pounding. The door began to rattle in its frame. Feldon hurled himself out of the bed and yanked the door open. Carl was standing there with his high eyes and wide grin and his fist held up in the air, fixed to pound. He was illuminated from behind by the glow of the television from the other room. There was loud talking and then gunfire rattling from the speakers.

Feldon squinted. “Damn it all, Carl! I told you to leave us alone! And turn the television down!”

The mannequin’s fist suddenly shot forward and clubbed Feldon right in the face. He stumbled backward and clumsily fell to the floor. He suddenly felt dizzy and nauseous and then everything went dark and silent.

TO BE CONTINUED


The Doll Salon (Pt. 3)

The Psychiatrist

Dr. Frost was sitting in a chair across from Feldon and flipping through a file. He clicked a pen and scribbled something down. He was dressed in a shirt and tie and perfectly pressed pants. His shoes shined like the gates of Heaven. He was a man in his late 40s with a neatly bearded face and a high forehead with thinning dark hair slicked back over his scalp. He wore expensive glasses over his dark eyes and constantly sipped at lemon water during the sessions.

Dr. Frost was a serious man who seemed continuously annoyed at the less intelligent world that surrounded him. The doctor carried himself with an air of self-importance; he was a product of wealth and the best schooling, but it did him no favors because he was often looked upon by his colleagues as snobbish and close-minded. He had been trying to help Feldon for months now but was dismayed and often bored by his lack of progress. In fact, he felt Feldon was getting worse each time they met. The doctor folded his hands in his lap, cleared his throat and nodded his head with a fake grin.

“Are you ready to begin?” he asked in a firm yet soft tone.

Feldon was lying on the comfortable couch and staring up at the white ceiling.

“Yes.”

“How have things been since we last talked?”

“I got into a fight with Carl last night. I hit him.”

Dr. Frost readjusted himself in the chair and leaned in with some interest. How absolutely exciting, he thought to himself.

“Why did you hit him?”

“He was annoying me.”

“How?”

“It’s just every time I try to get close to Eve, he’s always right there. He’s always getting in the way.”

The doctor clicked his pen again and jotted something down in the file.

“I seem to recall that you had talked about asking Carl to move out. Maybe it’s time to do that. It sounds like things are getting a bit out of control.”

“I can’t just throw him out into the street. He doesn’t have a job. He’d never survive,” Feldon complained.

“I think it’s admirable that you care about the wellbeing of your friend, but you also have to consider your own happiness as well, Feldon,” the doctor replied.

“Happiness? What’s that?”

“I suppose it’s something different for everyone, but for you, I believe a sense of security and having less chaos in your life would be a start.”

“Maybe I should be the one to move out,” Feldon said. “I could just go away, somewhere else, and never come back. I just long to escape.”

“But Feldon,” Dr. Frost began. “Until you give up this idea that happiness is somewhere else, you’ll never be happy where you are. So, you see, it really doesn’t work. And you know why?”

“Why?”

“Because you’re with yourself wherever you go. You may be able to escape from a physical place where you may feel sad and uncomfortable, but in the end, no matter where you go, there you are. Does that make any sense?”

Feldon turned his head to the side and craned his eyes to look over at the doctor.

“No,” he said. “It makes no sense at all.”

Dr. Frost reclined in his chair, adjusted his glasses, and sighed.

“All right then, I see we have work to do in that area, but tell me, what about Eve? How did she react when you hit Carl last night?”

Feldon squirmed a bit on the couch. “She didn’t say much about it.”

“Nothing?”

“Not really. I think she was a bit shocked maybe. But I also think she’s messing around with Carl when I’m not there, so, you know, she didn’t want to act like she cared too much about him. I’m not fucking stupid.”

“So, you suspect they’re having an affair behind your back?”

“Yes,” Feldon said, with little hesitation.


Dr. Frost removed his glasses and rubbed at his eyes with his thumb and a finger. “Feldon,” he began. “I feel living with these two people is causing you a lot of unnecessary anxiety and worry. It’s unhealthy. I would strongly suggest separating yourself from them.”

“You want me to kick both of them out?”

“It may seem drastic, but I feel it’s for your own good.”

“But then they’d shack up for sure, just to spite me. I’d be sick to my stomach every single night. At least if we’re all in the same place, I can keep my eye on them. What kind of advice are you trying to give me? Are you sure you’re a real psychiatrist?”

“Feldon, please! I am not the subject of this session or any of your sessions. Let’s focus on this. You think they’re messing around when you’re not there, you said it yourself. What are you going to do when it goes too far and you walk in on them going at it in your own bed? Then what?”

“Why would you say something like that?”

“I’m just trying to help you realize how unhealthy all this is. You have to choose what’s best for you, not what’s best for them.”

“What if I asked her to marry me?”

“Who?”

“Eve.”

“I would put that notion on the back shelf, Feldon,” the doctor strongly advised.

“Why? Do you think I wouldn’t be a good husband to her?”

“It has nothing to do with that. You have far too many immediate issues to deal with. Marrying her would be a complete disaster for you.”

Feldon closed his eyes. His stomach hurt. “I’d like to talk about something else now.”

Dr. Frost sipped at his lemon-tainted water. “What would you like to talk about?”

“I had a job interview.”

Hmm, this should be interesting, the doctor thought to himself. “Well, that’s a positive step. What kind of job?”

“Working at a doll salon.”

“A what?”

“A doll salon.”

“I don’t understand.”

“It’s a place where people can bring their dolls for a makeover and what not. A salon… For dolls.”

“Are you making this up, Feldon?”

“No. It’s a real thing.”

Dr. Frost clicked his pen once again and wrote something down.

“What’s the matter?” Feldon asked.

“I’m simply taking notes. But why would you want to do that? Why would a grown man want to play with dolls for a living?”

“Are you questioning my sanity?”

“That’s my job, Feldon. But please, I want you to explain to me why you would want to play with dolls all day.”

“It’s not playing with dolls! It takes real creativity and skill to make a doll look beautiful and perfect. There’s hair and makeup to consider, the right dress, and accessories, too. Yes, you must know about accessories. These people pay good money for this type of thing, and besides that, I prefer human interaction with non-humans.”

Dr. Frost paused. He tapped his finger against his face and sighed with concern. “Do you realize how very odd that sounds?”

Feldon grew more defensive and sat up on the edge of the couch. “It’s not odd at all. There’s a real need for it for some people. It’s a service I’d like to provide, and I think I’d be good at it. I see nothing wrong with it. I thought you’d be pleased that I’m trying to put myself out there. Why are you trying to sabotage my progress!?”

“Just calm down, Feldon. There’s no need to get upset. I’m not trying to sabotage you at all. Please, lie back down.”

“I don’t want to. I want some chicken and coffee.”

“You want to leave?”

“Yes. I don’t think you are any help to me at all.”

“Have you been taking the ‘don’t be sad’ pills I’ve prescribed.”

“No. I’m making Carl eat them. I think that’s why he’s constantly grinning.”

“You shouldn’t do that. That medication is specifically prescribed for you. You could be causing harm to your friend, and yourself.”

“There’s trapezoids in my empty mind, doc. My empty mind.”

“Feldon, I want to see you more than once a week now.”

“Why?”

“I’m gravely concerned for your mental health.”

“Concerned? You mean you want more money, right?”

“That’s not it at all.”

“These are my last days, doc. My last days.”

“Are you feeling suicidal, Feldon?”

Feldon wanted to scream “YES!” at the top of his lungs, but he knew that such a response would surely be a death sentence anyway — a lie would spare him further agony and torture. “Of course I’m not,” he answered. “Don’t be silly.”

“Are you sure?” the doctor pried.

“Yes, I’m positive. It’s just that, well, sometimes life feels like a broken fucking record. Is that so immoral and worthy of persecution? Surely you feel the same way at times. You’re human, right?”

“I am,” he answered, and then the doctor leaned back in his chair and wrote some more notes. “I want you to come back on Wednesday, at 4.” He tore a piece of paper from a pad and reached out to hand it to Feldon. “And I’m prescribing you some more anti-anxiety medication. It’s for you, not Carl, okay?”

Feldon took the piece of paper and looked at it. The writing was indecipherable to him.

“I want you to take 8 pills a day, four at breakfast and four at dinnertime. Understand?”

“Okay. I get it. I’ll see you on Wednesday.”

Dr. Frost watched as Feldon depressingly dragged himself out of the office, and he noticed he was mumbling something to himself. Then the doctor looked down at the file, clicked his pen, and wrote the words: TERMINAL MADNESS in big, bold letters.

TO BE CONTINUED


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