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Last updateTue, 06 Aug 2013 2am

Back You are here: Home Stories Words for the People Short Stories Crack and Burn
Tuesday, 13 August 2013 19:38

Crack and Burn Featured

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       As he leaned in for closer inspection the weight of his drunkenness carried him forward and he fell into the mirror. His right eye socket was immediately flooded with blood from the resulting cut on his forehead, creating temporary blindness.  As he stumbled back into the party this episode was already a story to be repeated and embellished as more proof of his attractive ridiculousness. A random girl tended to his injury, cleaning the blood off his face with a piece of cloth she slipped into her jacket pocket when done.  

       Most of his acquaintances were aware if not by actual witness, by word of mouth, that he spent an inordinate amount of time when drunk staring at himself in the mirror. They suspected he did this sober too, or in his time off as they called it, but he did not.   

      What wasn't known to anyone but him and would have been a surprise to these observers of his life was that he wasn't, when staring into the mirror, admiring his own beauty. He didn't really even see his face; it was what might be behind it that interested him. He was hunting for clues to his identity.  

      That night he did not go to the hospital for stitches even though he could have used them. He liked scars. They were proof that his life was being lived. He never let any sort of wound heal naturally. He would pick and prod and pull at the scabs and flesh surrounding them, keeping the wound open as long as possible or until a new one distracted him. He didn't self inflict though, he wasn't attracted to pain. He was just clumsy and drunk enough of the time to always have an injury to cultivate.

       The next night on the way to the next party, he fell off a pair of platform loafers and injured his ankle. It wasn't the era for that shoe, the look was maybe ironic, or more likely the result of a transient notion.  He stumbled on a crack in the sidewalk, the stacked heel went sideways and he landed hard on his right ankle.

    When he tried to stand he found he couldn't without pain. He was at a momentary loss at how to proceed when two friends came along. Each grabbed an elbow, and with these human crutches in place he was able to make it to their mutual destination.

      The party was crowded and although people were willing to make room for him on the couches, and a couple even offered him their seats entirely, he chose a nearby windowsill as a good place to observe.

     Because he was unused to such high shoes he misjudged the distance from standing to sitting, and with gravity making up the slack, sat down so hard his head snapped back and cracked against the window frame.  

    He decided to stay put and allowed others to bring him drinks for the rest of the night. When he eventually did try to stand he couldn't. The pain in his ankle was too great and he felt dizzy, whether from the injury to his head or the alcohol he'd consumed he had no way of knowing. He felt he had no option than to allow himself to be taken to the hospital.  

       The ankle wasn't broken but the doctor who inspected it told him he needed to stay off it for a few weeks. He was also informed that he'd suffered a mild concussion. The result from this was a hard bump on his skull that would never recede. The ankle would heal. These injuries weren't the same as surface scars and he had no interest in them. They were an inconvenience.

      His building had no elevator and although friends offered to carry him up and down the four flights of stairs, he declined.  He was curious what life might hold for him without distraction. Looking around his apartment he had trouble imagining the sort of person who might even live there.  Everything he owned that wasn't clothes was in boxes, and he hadn't just moved in. He'd lived there three years. Aside from the mattress and box spring in the bedroom he had one piece of furniture, an uncomfortable armless white vinyl and chrome chair that was shoved against the wall in the living room. 

       He lay down on his bed and stared up at the ceiling. He waited. Everything you want will come to you was a sort of a mantra to him. It had always been that way. Beware of what you want is what he learned over the following days. He'd wanted to know himself and now, faced with unlimited opportunity to do so, he found that he was incapable of understanding the void that confronted him.

       His friends were persistent but after a few days the unanswered phone calls stopped and without the reassurance the phone messages left he began to doubt whether he even existed as anything more than the flesh he could touch. What he'd once found possible in a mirror's reflection he wasn't able to find in the blank walls of his apartment.  

        The living room had a large window that looked out through the topmost branches of a tree that grew so close its branches scratched at the glass when the wind blew strong. He placed the one chair in the middle of the room facing the window and sat in it.  

       The tree was shedding late fall leaves. He watched as the gusting wind picked them up and carried them over the roof or funneled them downward.  Through the moving branches he caught glimpses of the building opposite his and at night the yellow light from the apartment windows. He moved the chair closer.

        There were people over there and as the days passed and the tree grew more naked he discovered he could see movement in their apartments. Most of his neighbors kept the curtains drawn and only existed for him as shadows moving behind them. But one night as he took his seat he saw something different.

        Framed in a first floor window was a large naked woman standing before a stovetop. The low slung sacks of her breasts rested atop her voluminous belly. Her hair was long and dark, pointing down her back like an arrow towards where the crack of her ass would be.  There was an implicit risk of danger in what she was doing. Her naked flesh vulnerable to the grease, he imagined, spattering from the skillet she tended. He watched until she was done and had moved into another room with her meal. He tried to follow her but access to any further viewing was blocked by the trunk and lower branches of the tree. He hoped this was a nightly ritual and in the following evenings found that it was.

       His anticipation for this nightly entertainment was such that he could no longer just lay in bed all day as he had been.  Everything about his day became a prelude to what he did, and what she did, at night. Everything, even the most mundane task, took on new meaning and became more enjoyable. He became ambitious and unpacked the boxes, filling the closets and cupboards with their contents. He cleaned thoroughly, first the apartment then himself.

       He had stopped bathing and had been wearing the same pair of pajamas for weeks. The bandage around his ankle had become torn and filthy. He took a long hot shower and upon the removal of the bandage discovered the ankle appeared to be healed. He didn't put any clothes back on and that night sat naked, like her.

       One night the rain fell like a wall and he couldn't see past the tree outside his window. The torrent continued for three days straight. Without his nightly ritual he felt lost. He continued to forget to get dressed and although he'd been sober since the night of the ankle he ordered out for alcohol. He hadn't realized he'd been on the mend till he got bent again. He lost track of the days so when the fat lady reappeared he wasn't sure how long they'd been apart. Excited by her return he pressed his hands against the glass as if he might be able to touch her. The window shattered and the glass fell noisily onto the courtyard.

       The naked fat lady abandoned her stovetop vigil for the window. Her features blurred by the steam coated glass, she looked packaged, sealed in plastic like a cut of meat. She looked down at the shards of glass on the pavement where they lay illuminated by the moon above. Her gaze rose upward floor by floor until it reached his, and him. Their eyes met, he thought, and he waved shyly. She did not return the greeting. Whether due to unfriendliness or just not seeing it he was not to discover. Untended, her nightly fry had caught fire. The flames jumped quickly to the greasy walls of her kitchen and then to her. Unmoving, she stayed in the windows frame as the flames engulfed her.

          The next night he went out. Someone had invited him to a party by slipping a note under his door.  The people he knew were happy to see him but surprised and intrigued by his emaciated form, unruly hair, and pressed but now ill-fitting suit. They watched his progress through the room carefully trying to gauge his level of drunkenness, hoping, secretly, that it was high. Life had been dull without his antics, the parties had actually come to a halt a few weeks into his absence. If asked no one would admit that without his presence they had no purpose but that was in fact the case.

     They watched expectantly as he passed into the bathroom off the kitchen and stood in front of the mirror but were quickly disappointed. He saw nothing there and simply rinsed his face with water from the tap. He turned off the water, left the bathroom and then the apartment, smiling at people as he went.

Outside he walked quickly, past his apartment building and further.


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Last modified on Thursday, 15 August 2013 02:56
Michael Morey

See, morey is not, as is, some who are. Not at all. morey is what is as morey, and not at all restrained by what is, or protruded by what is, or confined by what is, human

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