He knew. He knew the answer. But he’d be good god damned if he was about to call it out. “Who owns these unspeakable guts?” the other asked, now standing on a short stool in the hall.
Some of the other guests gathered in the doorways. Dams holding the question back, not letting it infect the other rooms. Drinks in their hands. Concern, maybe, in their eyes. He plunked at the piano’s keys. Refusing. The word crawling on his tongue. Between his teeth.
The idiot who ruined everything stepped down from the stool and carried it back to the kitchen.
Though the last wink of sun shone on the front, Coyote sat out back. Because that was where the lawn chair was. And the ashtray.
He tried to read. But could not. Coyote knew something was missing. It had been cold that winter. Be colder the next. But for now, young leaves stretched from fresh buds. Moss began to spread across the muck. Thicker in the rain drop dents and depressions under the roof’s edge.
The book sat in his lap. His hands as well. Earlier that day he’d realized something, and now, although he’d forgotten it, the thought returned.
The afternoon before his youngest aunt’s wedding, Dog found his grandfather working in his tool shed.
“Good. You’re here,” his grandfather said, hiding his surprise. “Start taking everything out. We’ll need more room.”
So Dog hauled hammers and rakes, rubber boots and rusted bikes, saws, shovels, coils of rope and hoses out of the small shed, forming a pile between it and the back of the house. Once empty, his grandfather pried the floor boards up, throwing them outside. He worked the pick and Dog the shovel, digging down until they found a small lockbox.
“That’s it,” his grandfather said.
She told him to sit still, to stop moving. That maybe it was better if he laid down.
So he did, and she opened the curtains wide to let the morning sun in. Then she placed a thin sheet of paper over his face and used a piece of charcoal to sketch out the ridges of his chin and cheeks and nose. The valleys of his eyes and mouth.
Later, after he’d left, she pulled a box from the bottom of her closet. She slipped the drawing between two sheets of plastic and set it on top of the others.
Prompt courtesy of the Daily Post.
“What you got there? Your heart medicine?”
Dzinski crushed the uppers between his teeth, and washed them down with the rest of his bourbon.
“Something like that,” he said, looking over at the kid who asked.
There were two of them. Both cackling. Both dressed in the same too-small suits. Both of their faces just aching to get beat in. Dzinski swivelled away from them, deciding neither were worth the effort and ordered another drink.
“You should watch that stuff, pops,” one of them said. “It’ll kill you.”
Dzinski lifted his glass, smirking at their reflections in the bar mirror.
God lay in the bathtub, squeezing geysers of water between his clasped hands.
She knocked at the door and asked if he’d be much longer. He didn’t answer. She popped it open a crack.
“I just need to brush my teeth,” she said. “I’m going to miss my bus.”
God pulled the shower curtain almost across the rod and told her to go ahead. She hurried to the medicine cabinet and squeezed toothpaste from the tube.
“Hand me my towel,” he said. “Please.”
She stopped to spit and asked if it couldn’t wait two minutes.
“But the water’s getting cold.”
If there were only a way to excise these things he felt. If the heavy lump that sat somewhere in his chest could be removed. And not just taken out, but thrown, launched, propelled through the air and some great distance away.
If that could happen, then, he thought, maybe he’d feel better.
It wouldn’t be that easy. The operation would be messy, he’d have to really dig in and root around to find it, as it surely wouldn’t want to be discovered. It must be comfortable, there, inside him, growing slowly. Feeding and sleeping and occasionally raring and roaring.
Prompt courtesy of the Daily Post.