Let’s not denigrate ourselves here. These days it seems I can barely muster the strength to venture beyond BED -- KITCHEN -- COUCH, and back to BED.
Ever since M took her final meeting with Mr. Whimpers, my window of opportunity -- or what the rest of you might refer to as “will to live” -- has, uh, taken a bit of a hit in the ass.
It’s okay though, we can handle it, we can adapt. There is a way out. But for right now we are doing best with BED -- KITCHEN -- COUCH -- BED.
Whimpers came to call on a dark and stormy night. I shit you not. It actually seemed darker than any other night, which seems ridiculous now since all nights are dark enough, relatively speaking. And yet somehow this night was darker. This night took your garden variety darkness and invited itself in to your parlor, literally. In fact, it was like you couldn’t get the shit off you. I feel uneasy at the thought of it now. And yeah, it was truly stormy. It came down in sheets. It tore Noah’s chapter out of the bible and wiped its ass with it.
While I was outside closing the damn garage door, which always fucks up in an electrical storm, this creepy fuck shows up at my front door. M, as she always does to a fault, to a fucking fault, saunters right up and lets the guy in. I come back in, turn in to the sitting room, and am treated to the following.
The power is out, so the light is out in the room, it’s clearly off, and still, when I look at this fucking guy standing in front of M, who is sitting in her plastic-covered chair, back to me, he is lit. I don’t know how, but he is lit, I can see his face. And I don’t like it.
He is grinning from ear to fucking ear, and his skin is moving, almost rippling, but that can’t be right. Nobody’s skin ripples, right? It just isn’t something that happens. But I swear it was. And he’s got this idiotic hat, wide brim. And with his head oddly lit from some unknown source above him, and his head cocked down towards M, all I can see of him is his wide smile, and rippling on the cheeks. But that can’t be right.
M, poor M, she is stock still, head tilted up at the fuck, and she is whimpering. It’s a delicate and fragile thing, and I don’t like it at all. It means a whole lot of bad stuff that I don’t want to think about, ever.
As I step closer, very slowly, I round the edge of her chair and just catch for a moment that his feet are not touching the ground. Worse, the tips of his shoes, of his obsessively shiny shoes, are twitching very fast, like the movement of a fish when you stick the knife in and get ready to clean it. And that’s the feeling I get from this guy. he’s here to clean M, he’s here to devour her, he’s here to take all the light, leave only his own dark, sullied in the mud of the storm, mud that is not on his shiny shoes because they aren’t touching the ground.
I don’t even know what to say at this point.
I am virtually frozen at the impossibility of the whole thing. None of it makes any sense at all. The weather was bad. We felt uneasy. That was it.
We pay our taxes, drop a couple small bills in the basket on Sundays. We do our part. I cut the grass, tip my waiter, use the self-serve lane. I buy American.
So why us? Why M? What is there to say?
This guy, sharply and suddenly claps his hands together, and the sound is like a grenade. And I remember grenades. I did my service, I worked my way across France in ‘44, I marched into Berlin and the whole nine. I’m the real fucking deal. Yeah, so this guy claps his hands, and boom, I can’t see shit. All light is now gone. I feel something move not by me, but around me, like a fucking cold wind, and I am now on my knees. Not quite sure how I ended up down there. I just was.
And fuck it all . . . I am whimpering too.
M stayed in that chair for a fucking week. I got her to eat after a couple days, but as far as the rest of what your body demands of you, well, figure it out. I had to throw the chair out after that week was up, let’s put it that way.
She also had not a damn thing to say for that week save for one, and it was always at night when she was asleep -- she would wake me in my chair by muttering softly but repeatedly, “See you soon, see you soon, see you soon . . .”
And that was pretty much that. A week to the night later she simply got up out of her chair, went to the bathroom, showered, threw her clothes away, and went to bed.
I didn’t ask her about what happened that night, I was afraid to, to be honest. But one morning she just walked into the kitchen and plopped herself down in front of me. She was giving me that look. I told her the coffee was fine, not too bitter, and she just shook her head.
“You were outside,” she said. “I heard this rapping on the door, not a knock but a sort of steady, even, insistent rapping. It was so slight that I found it hard to remember how long it had been going on. And you were outside, I didn’t know what to do, so I went to see what it was.
Just as I opened the door, the power went out. And still, for some reason, I can see its face.”
It. Why did she have to call him “it”? It doesn’t sound good at all. Why not “him,” because “it” is just no good. “It” confirms that something very bad happened that night and I don’t want that on my mind. I’ve put great effort into pretending I didn’t see the rippling, or the shoes, or the impossible light. I sure as fuck don’t need him to become “it.”
“It was grinning, and that was not good, but there was something else . . . there was this thing with his skin. I can’t explain it. It’s skin, it was -- rippling. I could see it clearly, it was shuddering, almost like fluid. It was so terrible, and I can’t even explain it. And there’s more. I noticed something moving near the ground. I looked down and I saw that this thing was literally hovering above the ground. I know, I know it sounds insane, believe me, I can’t even believe myself as I say it out loud, but I swear to you it’s true. And its shoes, they shined, they shined, I remember that, and what’s worse, they were twitching, almost blurred. I couldn’t handle it. I felt myself coming apart. I didn’t know what to do.
And then I felt its breath on my face.
I looked at it, I couldn’t stop myself, I felt a wave of terror down my upper back. I looked at this thing, this impossibly wide grin, and as I did this I felt it speak to me in silence.
“See you soon,” it said to me. “See you soon,” over and over, and yet it did not speak.
Somehow I found I was sitting in the chair, with no idea how I got there. It felt as though I was in a waking nightmare. It was all so impossible and still I knew it was actually happening.
Its shoes twitching, this was the first thing I noticed. It was hulking in front of me, I looked up. Its head brushed the ceiling, and again was the terrible light.
And it was then that I saw its eyes. I saw its eyes, damn you, I saw its eyes. And its eyes looked directly into me.”
I was stunned. I was frozen. I had no idea what to think. I noticed I had dug red grooves into my palms with my fingernails. Her story was almost unbearable.
She went on.
“In its eyes I saw things that have taken the life from me. I saw things that force me to question it all, everything. Nothing I have ever known can be trusted. In its eyes was the sum of all madness, the end of all that is good, and the end of all that has meaning.
It was right. He was right. He will see me soon.”
That night I dreamt of a terrible flood. I was leading a group of faceless people across a pregnant river, a raging river, utterly black. There were stones that just barely broke through the madness and I stepped from one to the next to lead the way across. As I worked my way through the black I noticed huge shapes moving just below the surface. As I looked back to find those for which I was responsible, all I saw was the thing, its face alight, arms at its side, and all around it everything I had ever known was being absorbed into its body. And then it looked up . . . and I saw its eyes. I ran.
M was gone the following morning. I never saw her again. But before she was gone forever I received a call from her.
“Is that you,” she said. “are you there?”
“Yes, yes,” I cried, but then realized she wasn’t talking to me.
I wasn’t even breathing.
And then I heard it, a sound I will never be able to accept, and something that will undoubtedly lead me to the edges of sanity. She was whimpering. And then there was a clap. And she was gone.
So, ever since, it’s been BED -- KITCHEN -- COUCH, and then BED. It’s been all I could muster. I simply have nothing left in me. But I will pull through. I have to. What’s it been now? Two years? Fuck. Two years. It’s time to move past this and make my remaining time my own. I refuse to let Whimpers take whatever I have left in this life. I owe at least that much to M.
That’s funny though. As I sit on my bed I notice under the closet door the toes of a shiny pair of shoes. And here’s the rub. They’re twitching.