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    Thursday, September 07, 2006

    This is what...

    ...Miller Lite will do to you:

    It’s been a couple of days since I’ve gone into the basement. I want to, but I can’t stand the smell. I tried a mask, but it came through anyway, burrowing into my nostrils. I don’t have one of the good kind, with the filters, just the kind you get three to a pack for $1.99 at Home Depot. I wish that I was stronger, because I want to do something about the sound. It’s like a baby bird who hasn’t had anything to eat; a constant chirping sound. It’s like that but different, I equate it, but I know it isn’t true. It’s more of a moaning, a longing for something that isn’t there. It resonates through the house at night and makes it hard to sleep. I’ve taken to putting earplugs in on top of the Ambien. It still wakes me up though. At night, when I’m too drunk to control my emotions, it’s like a song and makes me cry. I remember her when she wasn’t like this and I just want it to go back to the way it was. I just can’t bring myself to end it.

    I barricade myself each night in the upstairs room just in case they get in. Mostly they wonder around, running into things. They seem to lack any real motivation. I almost screwed up one night and didn’t get up in time. I had gotten a bunch of those battery powered entry monitors off a late night infomercial a year ago. I’d planned to do a cheap bugler system on the house. I’d never gotten around to using them until things started to fall apart. After that I put one on every door and window. They emit a loud chirp that cuts right into your brain when the link is broken.

    One night I was almost too drunk to get up. It was eight hours or so after I’d dragged my wife off the front walk with a large mass of flesh missing from her neck. I’d seen her from the bedroom widow chasing after our son who thought he’d play a game of hide and seek. The mailman got her while I was dragging the boy back inside.

    I knew it was too late, we’d both watched the couple across the street change the day before after they’d been run down by a pack of goth kids. It’d looked like some sort of joke until they tore Mr. Juniper’s arm off and scalped his wife. We just stood there speechless, watching from the bay window with the blinds drawn. We must have stood there holding each other for hours. Eventually, Mr. Juniper and his wife got up and the next thing we knew, they were eating their dog, who’d finally come out from under their car to see if they were OK.

    I didn’t know what I’d do with her; I just couldn’t leave her out there. We’d been through too much together. She’d worked the entire time I was in law school. Hell she’d put me through law school, and to just leave her there was something beyond me then. Plus she’d given birth to my son, and that wasn’t something easily forgotten. It’s not so much beyond me now, but six days can change a man.

    I’d taken her to the basement and I tied her to one of the support posts. She came to half way though and tried to bite me. I didn’t pay any attention to that though, she didn’t know what she was doing. Later that night I got drunk and stupid and cried myself to sleep. When I woke to the chirping, I thought it was the alarm clock and kept hitting it. It took a while to break though the drunken haze. By that time, they were already in the house. One of them was the shiftless lay about brother of the guy who lived behind us. I knocked him down the stairs with a baseball bat. He was so broke up at the bottom of the stairs that his head came off with a follow through any wiffle ball player could have made.

    The other one was still slamming into the door to the basement, I guess trying to let my wife out. I don’t really know. I’d never seen her before, but she looked like she’d been a schoolteacher or something. She still had her glasses on, which made me laugh, but her face was half eaten. I coaxed her out into the living room and gave her the “‘ol fireplace poker through the head” routine. I call it that now, but I have to admit, improvisation is very much the brother of invention. What I didn’t know at the time, was they’d already done the unthinkable, and I can only blame myself for having gotten drunk and not done what I needed to do.

    The next day, I had to kill my son, but that was self-defense. He’d hidden behind the bathroom door and almost caught me off guard. He’d been fine in the morning, but he must have gotten outside. Three year olds are like that. One minute they’re in the room, and the next they’re trying to walk across the street while you look open jawed through the kitchen window confused by the fact that you’d just seen them by your side. I cried as I slammed his little hand in the door. I knew he couldn’t feel it, but it hurt me just the same. I almost went to him afterward, but his eyes reminded me that he wasn’t my son anymore.

    The truth is I had to catch him in a trash bag to do it. There was no way I could look. I knew if I could get him in the bag that I could do it. I could remove myself from the moment. I was right. Once he was in I just started throwing it around, listening to his little bones crack. It was a contractor’s bag, 10 mil. It could take a beating. It was like watching though, as I swung it into the doorjamb and then slammed it onto the floor. I could hear myself laughing in an unfunny way. Nothing has been the same since. In the end I knew it wasn’t good enough and took it outside and burned it with lighter fluid under the noonday sun. I buried it as deep as I could; the ground where we live has a lot of clay.

    I haven’t seen any of my neighbors since I shot Mrs. Forester through the face. I was aiming for her head, but it’d been a while since I’d shot the .380 my father had left me. I didn’t feel relief until I saw the back of her head land in Mr. Morrison’s Begonias. That meant it was over. She’d been a nice person, she’d brought us a cherry pie when we’d moved in and used to take my wife to her doctor’s appointments when I had to work. I never even told her I hated cherries.

    I do miss going to work every morning though. There was something comforting about sitting in a cubical. The white noise around you was soothing. Even though you couldn’t see anyone unless you stood up, you knew they were there and that was enough. It kept you going, kept you feeling a part of something. Sure, they could be annoying at time, or down right a pain in the ass, but that’s life. They were a community, a place to belong. I miss it. It’s only been a week, but I’m lonely. There isn’t anyone to talk to anymore. I used to not mind. I’d come home and play with kid while my wife worked on dinner. She didn’t have to, I love to cook, but she wanted to. It was my time with the little one.

    Won’t be any more of those times, and I know it. I’m down to my last box of shells, and I know the noises my wife makes do nothing but attract them, but I’ll hold out. I know I can do it. There’s still plenty of food, even though the power is out. We’re one of the few houses on the block with a gas stove. Since they don’t seem much on digging, and they’ve not hit the plant yet, I can still cook. It’s mostly beans and rice, but I did manage to get some ice when it all started and I packed the freezer and only open it when absolutely necessary. I still have two steaks and a pack of ribs.

    It’s OK though, it’ll all come to an end soon. I’ll eventually run out of food. I don’t really have the strength to keep going. It’s funny, if you think about it. My wife used to joke. She used to say that she’d married me for my brain. Maybe in a day or two I’ll go see if she means it.

    [© 2006 Greg Bunch]


    mike said...

    Here's my new wikipedia entry about alcohol, based on your research:

    The deletarious effects of alcohol consumption can include:
    -Diminished balance and steadiness
    -Increased reaction time
    -Loss of fine and complex motor skills
    -Slow information processing
    -Boisterousness, unsteadiness, slurred speech
    -Nausea, vomiting, marked unsteadiness, drowsiness

    Fabricationist said...

    Well, I was commenting more on that fact of what it did to me rather than the characters. While there are many inconsistencies in the story itself, I like it for the fact that I wrote it in one fell purge. Editing it has not yet, and may never occur.