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Dealing With it (part 4--conclusion) by Ray Printer Friendly

She hasn’t stayed the night at her own place in over two weeks. Tyler has practically moved out, claiming that the stench of bitch has driven him away. Jeffrey isn’t sure if it’s a dig on her or on him, and it really doesn’t matter—either way, Tyler’s right to call names. It’s beyond ridiculous. She won’t go away, and Jeffrey doesn’t have the nerve to make her.

He has dropped hints—both subtle and jaw-droppingly blatant—that he would like her to leave, but she ignores them, or makes jokes of them. She can’t believe that he would actually like her to go the hell away.

She’s in the kitchen, rearranging his utensils so that it’s easier for her to find stuff when she cooks. He objected, but she ignored his protests, citing the fact that she cooked more than him or Tyler. He’s sitting on the couch, muttering curses under his breath and picking fuzz from various parts of his body.

“You have the spatula in here with your pans! It should be in here with your spoons and stuff.”

“We keep it with the pans because nobody needs a spatula by itself—you use it with the pans.”

“You can’t possibly think like that,” she laughs, and he hears her moving things around, further dismembering his life as a single male. He looks at the remote control, but doesn’t turn the TV on. She told him yesterday that watching TV before supper disrupts your digestive system, and it was one thing if he didn’t care enough about his body to do what he can to keep it in top-running condition, but she would prefer him not to do things to mess up hers.

He stays awake nights, staring at the ceiling, wondering how he became so spineless, how he became that guy. The guy that never gets laid, then finally does, and it ruins his life because the sex turns him into a lapdog. Jeffrey isn’t some fresh out of school virgin—he’s been around, he knows the rules. He has heard of guys that fall in love, and he has accepted that he might someday fall victim to this sort of thing.

But this thing, this thing with the girl in the kitchen—this isn’t love. This is lust, and lust should be escapable. Finding your one and only, your soul mate, your whatever the hell that they’re always rambling on about in the chick flicks, that’s one thing. You come across that chick, you should probably hold onto her.

But finding some chick to screw’s not all that. You don’t take shit from a chick who’s good in the sack. Well, sure, you might take a little—if she’s really good. But lust is easy to sate.

So why this girl? Why is he letting her ruin his life, turn his world upside down, strip away his individuality?

These are the things he ponders as he stares at the ceiling, unable to sleep, unable to get up for fear of waking her.

It’s in the crease of his arm, where his elbow bends. He pulls the fuzz out, adds it to the growing pile in the coffee table. How can the damn blanket still be so heavy, after shedding so much?

“I’m going to throw away this glass, okay?” She calls from the kitchen.

“Which one?”

“Oh, just this crappy old one, the one where most of the paint has chipped away, anyways.”

“My Vegas glass?”

“I don’t know—the one with the handle. I’m throwin’ it away, okay?”

“Not if it’s my Veg-”

He hears the glass shatter in the trash can. He walks into the kitchen and sees the remains of his Vegas glass in the bottom of the trash can.

“I said no,” he tells her.

“Huh?”

“I said not to throw it away. That was my lucky Vegas glass.”

She laughs and turns back to the cabinets. “Your ‘lucky Vegas glass?’ Sweet potato, that’s just silly.”

“I don’t care if it’s silly! I’ve told you the story about that glass like a hundred times! I know I have.”

“Did you? I don’t remember.”

Good. This is it. This is something he can get fired up about. It was his first trip to Vegas, and he was down. Down being an understatement, of course, in the way that only Vegas can make the word “down” such a tearfully laughable understatement. He had spent the money he had brought to spend, he had spent the money that he had brought not to spend, and he had spent the money that he had left in his checking account so that he for sure wouldn’t spend it. He was down to his last ten bucks, and some old guy leaned over and said, “You better stop now, kid.”

“No way, man—I’ve got a good feeling about this hand.” It was a lie, of course—he had a terrible feeling, probably because he had gambled away his rent money for the next two months.

“Waitress,” the man called. “Give this kid a beer, and put it on my tab.”

“No thanks,” Jeffrey told the old man. “I don’t drink.”

“Trust me, kid—when these cards flip and you’re flat-ass broke, you’ll need a beer.”

The beer arrived at the table just as the cards were dealt. Jeffrey looked at the old man, looked at the beer, and looked at his untouched cards on the table. “All in,” he said, and picked up the beer. “I appreciate it,” he said, “But I won’t be needing this later.” He chugged the beer as the other players tossed in their chips, raised, called, folded. And then it was time for him to turn his cards, and he won the hand.

“Fill this back up for the kid,” the old man said, and the waitress filled the glass again. Again, Jeffrey won. The night progressed, and although Jeffrey quit drinking the beer, he kept the glass close by.

He left Vegas with an extra three thousand dollars, and the lucky glass.

The glass that is now in the bottom of the trash can. This is something he can become infuriated about. This is a violation worthy of ending her bullshit, lust be damned.

And just as he opens his mouth to unload a flood of righteous anger and very imaginative swear words, she kisses him on the cheek and jogs out of the kitchen.

“I’m late,” she calls from his bedroom. “I have to meet some of the girls to plan out Spirit Week, so I won’t be able to come over for the next couple of days.”

He hears the front door open, and he rushes into the living room, unwilling to let her out of this so easily. “I love you,” she says, and closes the door behind her.

.

“Come on, bro.”

“Absolutely not. Chick drives me insane.”

“She isn’t even going to be here.”

“Not the point—point is, she’s been there, and she’s marked her territory.”

“Are you saying that you aren’t coming back ever?”

“Man, the lease is up in a month and half. I’ll come back and get my shit, but I refuse to stay there and watch this bitch destroy you.”

“You don’t have to! Just come hang out, help me figure out why I’m so hung up on this chick.”

“You’re sure she isn’t going to be there?”

“I’m sure—I think she knows I’m pissed off, so she’s giving me time to cool off.”

“And she isn’t going to call and have you running off to run some crazy little chore for her?”

“Nope.”

“All right, man. But only because you’re my best friend, and I don’t want to see you drown in this girl.”

“Thanks, bro—I knew I could count on you.” Jeffrey hangs up the phone and then pulls a mess of green fuzz from his arm hair.

.

He’s either dozing, or he has been dozing. He isn’t quite sure. He’s in that weird head space where he’s either just waking up or he’s about to. There are noises and sensations that aren’t quite making sense, and he isn’t sure if it’s because he’s still asleep and his brain is incorporating outside information faster than he can adapt it into his dream, or if it’s because he’s actually awake and his mind is just processing information too slow.

He can’t breathe, that’s one thing that’s very upsetting. He can’t breathe, and he can’t see, and he’s too hot. He’s suffocating. He is being suffocated.

He tries to move, and can’t. He tries to scream, and it comes out muffled. He tastes the color green. The blanket, that’s got to be it.

Still asleep, he’s still asleep, he has to be. Asleep, and dreaming that the blanket is trying to kill him. Or still awake, entangled in the blanket. His thoughts won’t agree.

He struggles, breathing nothing but hot, used air, he can feel the fibers coating his lungs, his throat, the inside of his mouth. He screams.

He falls off the couch with a hard thump that wakes him up. The blanket is wrapped around his head, wrapped around his arms, but it isn’t killing him. He stops struggling, rolls over, and unrolls himself.

“What the hell was that all about?” He asks the empty room. It doesn’t answer, which is a good sign. The blanket shifts, though, and that’s a bad sign.

It’s not even supposed to be out here—it’s supposed to be locked up in the bedroom. In what used to be his bedroom. He stares at the blanket.

It doesn’t move. But the way it’s not moving is very unsettling. It’s not not moving like regular blankets don’t move. The way it’s not moving is the way that a jungle cat doesn’t move when it’s about to pounce on something.

Jeffrey slowly climbs to his feet, never taking his eyes from the blanket. It stays where it is. He backs up. He isn’t sure where he’s backing up to, but backing up definitely seems like the best idea at the moment. The blanket still doesn’t do anything.

He bumps into something and screams. He spins around and sees that he has run into the new plant that she has hung up near the kitchen door. “It’ll add a little color in here,” she had told him, ignoring him when he told her that they didn’t want any color in the kitchen.

He spins back around and the blanket is gone. He looks around the room, but sees no trace of it. His throat is raw from screaming a minute ago, and he would really like to get something to drink, but getting a drink doesn’t seem like the kind of thing a guy should do in this situation. He coughs out green fuzz, and watches as it floats casually down to the floor. He hears a noise, and jumps.

It’s the air conditioner kicking on. He begins making his way to the door, trying to keep the entire room in view. He catches a sudden movement from the ceiling, and looks up just in time to see the blanket coming for him.

He screams and wakes up. He’s on the couch, no blanket, but sweating profusely. He wipes his face and rubs his eyes.

The green fuzz that has gathered in between his fingers gets into his eyes. It stings, and he scuffles to the bathroom for some Visine or something. He clicks on the light and sees that his eyes are full of the green fuzz. So is his mouth, his nose, his ears. Every wrinkle in his flesh, every crevice, it’s all full of green fuzz. It’s growing on him. He feels sick, and runs to the toilet. Vomits out a stomach full of green fuzz. He screams.

And wakes up.

“Holy shit!” He yells at the empty room. “This is too much. Holy shit! Just. Stop!”

As if to answer, there is a noise from the bedroom. From what used to be his bedroom. The hairs on his arms stand up. He sees that there is a piece of green fuzz stuck on his right arm. He pulls it from his arm hair and drops it on the table.

What to do, what to do. He hears the noise again. It’s a slithering sound, but muted and scratchy, like a giant snake wearing a sweater.

Shit.

“Dreaming,” he says. “I’m dreaming. Screw this.” He walks down the hall, yanks open the door. It’s on him instantly, wrapping around him, forcing itself down his throat. He tries to fight, tries to scream, but it overpowers him, fills him up, takes him over.

He wakes up.

“Screw. This.” He walks to the kitchen, goes to the drawer for a knife. Not there. Of course it isn’t—she moved everything. He searches for a few minutes before finally finding the knife he’s looking for—the largest one they own—and then heads down the hall to the bedroom. To what used to be his bedroom, and what will be his bedroom again shortly. It’s over the top, sure, using a butcher knife on a blanket, but he feels that the nightmares are a bit over the top, as well.

He throws open the door and strides across the room.

The blanket is piled up on her side of the bed, and he doesn’t hesitate. He plunges the knife deep into the pile, again and again. The blanket tries to fight him, of course. He doesn’t care. When he wakes up from this one, he’ll come back and do this again.

As many times as it takes, until the damn thing is destroyed. And then he’ll go to work on the curtains, the throw rug, and any damn thing else she brought over.

At one point, he swears the thing is screaming, and it sounds just like her.

Big surprise. He’s having dreams about being suffocated by the clingy blanket, and it sounds like her. Don’t really need to bust out the ole dream interpretation book for that one.

He stabs and slices, until the air is thick with green fuzz. The room smells funny, but he can’t quite recognize it. It feels hot and wet, and he suddenly feels like he might vomit.

He leaves the room, shutting the door behind him, runs to the bathroom, and pukes. He’s covered in blood. He pukes again. No fuzz, though, which is a definite improvement.

.

“What are you doing?”

“Just sitting here. Waiting to wake up.”

“Waiting to wake up?”

“Yeah, I’ve been having a series of nightmares about that dumbass blanket.”

“Odd. So why are you covered in blood?”

“I killed it.”

“You killed it?”

Jeffery picks up the knife from the arm of the couch and waves it around for Tyler to see. “Killed it.”

Tyler looks concerned. He puts the grocery bag of junk food down on the table. “What happened to our kitchen?”

“She redecorated. I told her not to, but she did it anyways. Bitch broke my lucky Vegas glass.”

“That sucks.”

“Yeah. I’m ending it tonight, I decided.”

“So, uh, you mind if I go check out the dead blanket?”

“Go for it—but be careful, because it might not be dead. In one of the dreams, it was on the ceiling.”

“I’ll be careful.”

Jeffrey puts the knife back down on the arm of the couch as Tyler walks down the hall. There’s a piece of paper beside the cushion that he hadn’t noticed. It has a drop of blood on it. He picks it up and turns it over. There’s writing on it. Her handwriting.

Sweet Potato,

We got done with our planning early, so I decided to come see what “the boys” were up to. Ha-ha!!! You looked so cute that I couldn’t bear to wake you up, though. I’m in our room watching TV, so come get me when you wake up. I love you, my little sleeping beauty! LOL!!!

She signs her name with all kinds of hearts and flowers and bullshit.

He finishes reading the note just as Tyler returns. “Oh,” he says to Tyler. “Oh. Shit. Shit, man. I didn’t, I didn’t know.”

“Always so dramatic,” Tyler says, and he’s very pale. “Always, man. Damn.” He walks out the front door.


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