Thursday, January 8, 2009

Eaten out of house and home

When studying a foreign language, one of the most perplexing, yet amusing forms of speech to master is the idiom. It's one of those things where the literal interpretation usually ends up to be hilarious, offensive, or outright jibberish. Choose an American idiom and use its literal meaning as the basis for a story.

First course, the carpet. With firm fiber and course filament it nourishes the belly and pleases the tongue. Then the walls. Or rather, the wall paper. It tastes not of marigolds and orchids, but sour paste. It is remarkably hard to wash down as it sticks to the roof of the pallet. And when the last panel is stripped bare, the light fixtures go next. The crush of each bulb between my teeth is satisfying. My jaws grind away until I'm left with a fine powder like a bland spoonful of saccharine.

I do this alone. The wife has left. Took the furniture. The children have moved on. There is no one to disturb me today or tomorrow, however long this takes. Looking at the empty remains of what used to be my life, I know this is right.

Feeling brave, I move on to the porcelain. I use a hammer to smash it down to managable bits. I lack confidence in the strength of my teeth, so I avoid mishap by swallowing each piece whole like a bitter pill. I suppose most would have left this unpleasantness to the last, but I prefer to save the good stuff for the end. Best to just get the shit out of the way, up front. The cast iron tub and the fixtures present their own problem, so I decide to declare the victory symbolic and move to the kitchen.

Off come the cabinets. I whittle away slivers at first, but decide that this slows my progress, so I bear down and gnaw away with enthusiasm. For the first time in days, I can feel my face flush with enjoyment. I allow myself a smile and a small laugh before continuing. I don't know how long this has taken, but the sky tells me that it's been the better part of a day. Without interior light, I blindly grasp at chucks of wood. I'm lost in the delerium of deliberate action. I almost don't hear the knock at the door.

Brushing myself off, I answer with the chain on the hook.
- Sylvia. Good to see you.
- Mr. Barley. Is everything alright?
- Yes. Fine. And you?
- Mr. Barley, could you open the door?
- No, I'm afraid I don't want to spread what I've caught. I was trying to sleep. Doctor's orders.
- Mr. Barley, we can hear noises from in there. Is that blood in your mouth?
- Must be the next house. Sorry, can't talk.
- Mr. Barley, if this keeps up we'll have to...
I shut the door.

My eyes are adjusted to the lack of light and I make my way back to the tool box. I use a box cutter to dig a hole in the sheet rock just large enough to fit the point of a small hand saw. As quietly as I can, I start cutting away. If Sylvia Goode has a mind to call the authorities, I know I won't have much time left. Still, the slow mindful sawing keeps me from getting so determined that I don't watch the wiring. The last thing I need is to die of electrocution.

At last, I lay out stacks of square chalk cakes before me and return to my task. By the time I've finished the last one, I've almost run out of bottled water. I have to conserve what remains. Surveying the house from room to room, I grab whatever small objects I'd missed earlier and toss them in my mouth like candy store treasures. A stray drawer knob and the occaisional loose screw. There was even a set of keys that I'd though lost long ago. And as I walked around, I remembered the other things I'd lost and never see again. Mostly days and events and memories. A wife. Children. Parents. It was good, what I was doing. It was the only way.

As dawn broke, I knew that I had come to the last. I would not be able to avoid Sylvia Goode much longer. She would have the police here in no time once I started. I knew that this is how it would end, but I didn't mean I looked forward to it. And by this, I mean the Authorities. No, as to the house, this was the part that I'd been saving room for all along. this would be the dessert.

Walking into what used to be my living room, I stood before the picture window and watched the street outside come to life. The first if the neighborhood children had begun to play in the neat well manicured lawns up and down the block. The last of the sprinklers were shutting off. Across the street, Sylvia Goode watched me from her front porch. She had the face of woman who had met dissapointment at every turn in her life. She didn't know what real dissappointment was.

I cocked back my arm and punched through the glass. A jagged shard tore open a gaping lacertion in my forearm. It was worth it just to see her expression. I could see her run inside, surely on her way to a phone. There was a madman across the street, and goddamn it if she wasn't going to see that something was done about it.

As the blood began to pour from my arm, I picked up glass panel from the floor and put it to my mouth. I wept with anticipation of the taste.

Sparks - Eaten By The Monster Of Love


s i n c l a i r said...

disturbing and delightful.

JPM said...

yay yay yay! creepy and good.

Beulah Viola said...

even though you said wallpaper, through this whole story i was picturing and tasting dirty, moldy, stained wood paneling.
i really liked this one. i tasted every word of it.