Thursday, February 11, 2010

you can't kill what you can't see

I have returned! My Internet has been out since Friday, and with the roads and sidewalks in lamentable condition, I haven't felt terribly motivated to seek out free wireless elsewhere. Something about trudging towards probable futility through thigh-deep snow neutralizes my frontier instincts, I guess. So I spent the past week on the couch waiting for the inevitable Yeti attacks to begin. The naked fear present in recent weather reports suggested they were on the way.

Fortunately, they never came. So to keep things rolling here, I'll post some short fiction I wrote in between bouts of frenzied cabin fever. It's a somewhat experimental piece, inspired no doubt by my Experimental Fiction class, and doesn't have a set title yet. Suggestions from readers would be lovely, assuming I have any. Click "Read More" to give it a gander.


Mr. Toes got out of bed and put his clothes on. Nothing fancy, just a pair of black dress pants and an old polo shirt with bleach spots under the arms. Shoes next, one at a time, then he brushed his teeth. There were still bagels left in his breadbox, so he slathered cream cheese on one and ate it. His wallet was in the kitchen, next to the dish-dryer. He scooped it into his pocket and left.

It was gray outside, trying so hard to rain, but the sky couldn't squeeze out a drop, like an old man trying to pee. Mr. Toes considered an umbrella, but this errand wouldn't take long. He started walking. Sports scores belched up from the talking pavement, muffled under his feet. Car engines traded secrets at stoplights, their magnetic undercoating straining against the magnetic glass street. Mr. Toes passed a tree growing in a little square of dirt that had been set aside for it. He tapped each shoe against the trunk, which responded with rich, woody thunks. All the trees in front of his house were holograms, and all their dirt was plastic shavings that cut his feet when he stepped outside to collect his mail from the pipe. Real trees were a welcome extravagance.

Mr. Toes started to cross the street just as the light turned green, and someone honked at him. He waved, and didn't understand the expression on the driver's face. But he kept going.

Two blocks later, he stood in front of a hydroid cluster of fiberglass mail pipes. As he approached one, it dawned on him that he'd forgotten something. So he went home. He went the exact same way he came. He'd never know what he'd forgotten unless he retraced every step.

When he got home, he put his wallet in the kitchen, next to the dish-dryer, closed his breadbox, deactivated his toothbrush, stripped down to his undershirt and shorts, and crawled into bed.

Five minutes later, Mr. Toes got out of bed and put his clothes on. Nothing fancy, just a pair of pants with bleach spots behind the knees and a black dress shirt. Shoes next, one at a time, then he brushed his teeth. There were still bagels left in his breadbox, so he slathered cream cheese on one and ate it. His wallet was in the kitchen, next to the dish-dryer. He scooped it into his pocket. Before leaving, he stopped by his entry room table to pick up his outgoing mail.

It was gray outside, trying so hard to rain, but the sky still couldn't squeeze out a drop. Like an old man trying to pee. Mr. Toes reconsidered an umbrella, but this errand wouldn't take long. He started walking. Afternoon telefeed schedules belched up from the talking pavement, muffled under his feet. Cars whispered at stoplights, their magnets and the magnetic glass street grappling for dominance. Mr. Toes passed a tree growing in a little square of dirt that had been set aside for it by the city. He tapped each shoe against the trunk, which again responded with rich, woody thunks. All the trees in front of his house were holograms, and all their dirt was plastic shavings that cut his feet when he stepped outside to collect his mail from the pipe. Real trees were a welcome extravagance, especially more than once a day.

Mr. Toes bumped into someone as he turned to cross the street. He apologized. The sun didn't come out. He kept going. The lady he'd bumped into scurried off too fast to respond.

Two blocks later, he stood in front of a hydroid cluster of fiberglass mail pipes. As he approached one, it dawned on him that he'd forgotten something. So he went home. He went the exact same way he came. He'd never know what he'd forgotten unless he retraced every step.

When he got home, he tossed the mail on his entry way table, put his wallet in the kitchen (next to the dish-dryer), closed his breadbox, deactivated his toothbrush, stripped down to his undershirt and shorts, and crawled into bed.

Five minutes later, Mr. Toes got out of bed and put his clothes on. Nothing fancy, just a pair of polo pants and an old shirt. Shoes next, one at a time, then he brushed his teeth. He was out of bagels, so he just ate a spoonful of cream cheese. He wasn't hungry, anyway. His wallet was in the kitchen, next to the dish-dryer. He scooped it into his pocket and picked up his outgoing mail before leaving.

It was gray outside. The sky was bulging with rain, but couldn't release anything. Like an old man trying to pee. Mr. Toes felt he should have brought an umbrella along, but this was a short errand. He started walking. The news belched up from the talking pavement. It was muffled under his feet, but he could have sworn he heard his name. Twice. He stopped to watch for a minute, then looked up and saw people looking over their shoulders and out of car windows at him.

He remembered.

Mr. Toes walked back to his house, tossed the mail on his entry way table, put his wallet in the kitchen (next to the dish-dryer), closed his breadbox, and started washing the blood off his hands.

There was an unusual amount of blood on his hands.

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