Moist air seeps through the open kitchen window. Red breasted robins and small sparrows perch on nearby branches and whistle like fine made tin flutes. She leans over the small, one basin porcelain sink and draws up the curtains as liquid crystal beads glisten from the rising sun on her thick, spongy tresses. "Here I am up in dis window wit wet hair when I knows there ain’t nothing like this damp weather to get me rightly sick," she mumbles, tacking on a few profane words directed at the moist ether, chirping birds, God (as she knows Him) and then to herself.
The shabby antique grandfather clock struck seven and exhaled its grinding call. Upon the last clunk-ching a rustle above her head began. Large arch-less feet on the second floor move to the right and then to the left, invoking a wave of duress from squeaky hardwood planks.
Gracefully the woman retrieves a slim, clear-wrap rectangle box from the large front pocket of her terry housecoat. Lethargically she moves her wrought iron frame toward the small white stove while freeing a cigarette. She lights a pilot, leans over gingerly and places the Slim in her mouth, letting the free end of the tobacco stick kiss the electric blue flames. The footsteps that were once over her head now shuffle heavily down the hallway and into the kitchen.
He eyes her pancake hips in a lustful way, clears his stubble dotted throat and says, "One of these days you gone burn your gwat dayum eyebrows off Laurine and that’s no lie." Without facing him she rolls her eyes and rears her chest up straight sneering in a monotone, "Yeah, and dat be a good laugh for you too huh?"
He moves closer to the kitchen table still gazing at her backside with his seedy eyes, "Now why in the hell would I get a laugh off of you doing somethin’ like dat for? I swear woman your narrow behind is stuck on misery for my comedy relief."
She pretends that he actually cares whether or not she burns her eyebrows off as she starts breakfast. While stirring
egg yolks, her mind feasts in dismay about how hard he would laugh if she did such a thing. It would be no different than the time he laughed when she fell backwards out of the rocking chair after being startled by the cat whose tail was under its wooden crescent legs. He nearly choked himself to death with laughter behind that mishap. For two whole weeks after the incident he followed the cat around saying "Pussycat, Pussycat where have you been?" then he’d pause for a few moments trying to hold in laughter that finally burst forth, as if he was a jeering juvenile, "Under the chair where narrow ass Laurine smashed my tail!" The clownish end to the childhood rhyme was only one of his many sadistically inspired attempts at comedy.
He squeezes his buxom belly against the round table edge as he takes his seat. Three times he rattles saliva and mucus in his throat as he waits for his breakfast plate. She pretends not to hear Him and sashays mechanically around the cramped kitchen quarters with its peach walls, black-n-white checker floors and glittery gold swirled marlite countertops. The latter rightly belonged in a bathroom versus a kitchen but Laurine, was never one to make complaints.
This morning the Mrs. decides to burn the four strips of bacon versus the two pieces of toast that makes its way onto his plate all buttery brown. She turns her back to him and with her right hand pretends to scramble the soon to be calculatedly cold eggs that had finished cooking three minutes ago. Her slender left limb reaches up high to retrieve a horribly stained coffee cup that had been covertly chipped on its drinking edge. The hope was that he would slice at the least a tiny bit of his lip on the rugged porcelain, but in 4 years it never happened. Solemnly she serves up his burnt bacon, butter toast, icy eggs and black coffee. Her large grommet eyes lower in his presence. She attempts to keep quiet but the razor thin tear of a lone and weary sigh coils out of her chest and fills the room with a prickly discomfort.
Rivets of sweat begin to form at his brow. He wipes at them apathetically and pays the "one-woman stage play" evolving less than three feet before him no mind. He was use to it. According to His thoughts, the morning was progressing no different than any other morning. He wallow his pebbly eyes in disgust and snorts as he chews his intricately cold meal. Laurine has always acted disenchanted he thinks to himself. A boyish grin spreads across his fleshy face like wild ivy.
The Mr. proudly relishes in the fact that after their third year of marriage he stop taking self-inventory at every whim of her now ritualistic sighs. His "good" book says "a wife should be submissive to her husband". And as far as he has known it, her sighs were concrete proof that Holy submission had been Holy attained.
From behind a thin curtain of oyster white smoke she stares at the top of his balding head hovering above his meal. With each mouthful he nods approvingly at his own thoughts, which to her, convey some inkling of satisfaction with his breakfast. She squints cronishly at her husband, the cancerous image, and takes another long drag from her cigarette. I'd be best to rid myself of him, she thinks to herself.
An easterly breeze moves through the open window enveloping the morbid dwellers with dank kisses. As peculiar as it seems, Basal sits on top of the curdling paint cupboard and stares down at them both. The daemon wrings his hairy hands and licks his thin pink lips. He curls his squirrelly appendage around his tubby waist; simultaneously bucking his mustard colored eyes in peaking interest. He hopes today will be the day that the fifteen-year seething will come to its end.
Slowly he backs down the side of the cupboard. Tiny flecks of peach paint loosened by his nail tipped claws flutter into the air like tiny closet moths. Arriving at the cupboard end, the veiled one stretch his thin neck up behind Laurine’s right ear and whispers sweetly, “Yesss to get riddd of him would be besssst." The comforting sentiment emits over the weary wife like a cool summer’s breeze.
She leans her waft posterior deeper onto the yellowing cooking surface, sucks her Virginia Slim through rubbery freckled lips and rests the back of her head on the worn cupboard door. Her eyes narrow and slowly closes for a few seconds and then opens to watch her husband again.
Yellow driblets of egg fall from his bite and lands on the thrift store china plate with a heavy plop. Other pieces float in his coffee cup like inflatable rafts drifting in a pool of oil. Charred crumbs from the burnt bacon collect at the corners of his mouth and under his knobby fingertips. She tries to suppress the urge to vomit.
Basal strokes her back like a beckoned servant, invoking within her slight exhales and moans. "There, There now sweet Laurine," He coos and purrs, "You know they say that trouble don’t last always; we all a god’s child. Your always can begin today you know? All you have to do is see it."
She tenses her sparse brows down into sharp 45-degree angles. The aging woman’s ears twitch with intrigue as her mind slinks into a deep trance. She entertains a plethora of enchanting thoughts that let her wield a heavy cast iron skillet high above her head in one hand and a smoking Slim in the other. In a heathenish rage she squawks out a blood rushing battle cry and lands her prized tool of domestication flush into her husband’s head! The balding spot, she smirks, marks the spot.
Vividly she sees herself standing over him, her stick legs spread wide like an unbroken wishbone, her eyes smiling dreamingly as ash wafts from her blazing cigarette and falls onto her God’s dashed countenance. She sees herself picking up his dislodged eyeball, tossing it into the blood soaked skillet and scrambling it over the fire until the crème and pink jelly sizzle a well-done, Cajun styled shade of brown. Once cooked, she stuffs it into his gapping mouth, kicking his chin with her worn slippers to help him chew.
She quivers lightly as her excitement climbs over one pinnacle only to mount another. Repeatedly dark thoughts evolve into something more bright and beautiful when each act takes a similar twist with the bashing of his head.
In attempts to suppress her rampant thoughts she tries to remember real memories of better times. Her bloodshot eyes vibrates in taunt jerking motions as she search the shadow regions of her mind, searching for some remnant of the “beautiful years" when their love was fresh like springtime dandelions and new like first day of school shoes. Images shimmer in and out of focus like reflections on the surface of a moon kissed lake. Flickering moments of the twosome unearths emotional scars that ooze from hurtful insults created by malicious jabs to her intellect and person. Her throat squeezes tightly as she winces softly in realization that for him and her, there were no "beautiful years."
“Poor child," Basal moans, "Surely all things are not gloomy inside. Within the garden of your thoughts you just saw something beautiful! Today can be the day you make it bloom."
Laurine places her hands up to her lips mischievously. She covers a manic smile with long narrow fingers clamp tightly at their greasy nail bitten tips. She shakes the voice from her head and puckers for another drag off her cigarette. To her disappointment she doesn’t inhale the savory taste of smoldering tobacco, but instead she sucks in the singed flavor of the Slim’s spongy nicotine filled filter. She fuddles with the front of her housecoat, thrashing her hands violently in attempt to dive into its deep pocket and retrieve another smoke. The box is empty. Her thin head’s delicate temples thump mechanically and pop with perspiration. "Damn!" she growls as the skin over her sunken cheeks blush out of frustration.
Between carnivorous gobbles and slurps her husband watches the tragedy unfold. "Oh look-a-der," he teeters with uncontrollable laughter as loose crumbs tumble down his doubled chin, "Le Grand Zombie is all out of smoke and fire sticks!" He laughs louder in amusement as his wife lowers her head down into her chest. The intense and sudden motion juts her shoulders and curved spine into the shape of a crude letter "m".
Sensing the onset of his seeking, Basal scampers off the cupboard. His gaunt arms and legs slide wildly over the laminate counter top. Feeling the wife’s desperate need, he leaps into the air like a catapulted feline, narrowly missing her slim waist. The creature anchors his claws into her stomach and begins his ascent.
The broken host lets out a grating scream as surges of energy inflame every part of her being, burning sensations that seem to melt flesh and muscle from her bones. In pain she gropes at her cottony hair, pulling it out from its fragile roots. Reaching her shoulders Basal perches around her thin neck and attempts to smooth the ailing of his co-union.
“Shh sweet Laurine. No need to internalize such an upset."
“I know." She whimpers quietly.
“Tell me why you cry Dear One? What is wrong?"
"I, I, I just can’t take it no more," she blurts out through a ripple of sobs.
At the table her husband’s gleeful expression changes into something quite different than the mood he had less than ten seconds earlier. He hears his wife say a series of strange things that makes his intestines flip like fresh hooked fish. He sits erect in his wobbly chair and leans forward as far as his stomach would allow him, trying to make sense of her mumbled words.
"The day I marry be the day that I died." She bubbles between sniffles. “Ain’t no man in this house, ain’t no love, ain’t nobody here that gives a damn about me." Then she grates her teeth and tenses her jaws spewing feelings tinted more with anger than pity, "I don’t even care bout myself no more."
Her husband’s eyes buck as wide as quarters. His fat face caves into itself as his nose wrinkles with disapproval. He curls his chubby fingers into the pads of his palms, forming tan fist that liken to freshly baked yeast rolls and heaves the air from his flabby abdomen into his over grown chest.
In a voice more deafening than the roar of a full grown lion he demands an answer to his question, "Laurine, what did you say to me?"
At the onset of his command she snaps her posture upright and clinches the front of her robe. Her eyes show fear. Feelings of despair make her slow to turn around and face him, not realizing that her sloughfulness infuriates him even more.
Caught up in her thoughts, the sounds of his growling fade into thin air. Staring out of the open window she sees everything yet no thing and focuses all of her energy towards conjuring the will to turn around, the strength to say she was sorry and didn’t mean anything by what he thinks he might have heard. She fabricates a brilliant tale, blaming her actions on an illness that would be easily resolved if she went and laid down for a while.
Her husband glares at her intensely; ascending from the dinette he walks over to her. "You miserable, ungrateful, bodiless..." he screams into her ear wetting the side of her face with spit and pieces of chewed food. The frightened wife feels a steady tremble from her hands down to her knees. She attempts to straighten her poise, change her heart and present him with a smile. Her mind fixes on keeping peace, quieting the monster that she knows lurks within him.
He pushes his heavy frame on top of her, pressing her stomach into the protruding drawer handles. A strange cry of pain and surprise escapes her lips as his body thuds against her. She finds herself in need of oxygen but unable to inhale.
He grunts in her ear, "You got something you need to say to me?"
Once again silence takes a seat in the middle of the kitchen. The only sounds given liberty to frolic about is the Mr.’s heavy breathing and the cryptic creaking of floorboards underneath their weight. Tears fall from Laurine’s eyes in slow pooling trickles that gather in her bottom lids and spill through her sparse lashes.
“I, I, I can’t breathe." She croaks in a weak voice barely noticeable to human ears, yet amplified as if ushered by a thousand drums to the senses of other worldly spirits. Basal hears her clearly. With a wide grin he expands himself to twice his length and curls around the husband’s neck also, tightening his yoke on the compromised couple.
The daemon flicks his green forked tongue pass diamond shard fangs and licks the peach fuzz behind Laurine’s neck. He digs his claws into her, piercing her robe and scraping deep into her sagging flesh, “Tsk tsk tsk, poor sweet Laurine needs a breath." he hisses unsympathetically.
“I, I, I, I say I can’t brea..." she dispenses again as her plea for relief falls on granite filled hearts. She blinks wide-eyed at the rays of sunlight pouring into the room. Warily she notices flashes of dark fog penetrating the golden white streams of light. She hears the delicate joints of her pelvic bone pop from the pressure of her husband pressing himself into her. She feels weightless as her thin but sturdy ankles weaken with the passing of each second. Her tight grip loosens off the countertop as her fireless spirit drifts into the darkness.
“NO!! My sweet, don’t let go!" the parasite Basal screeches! The imp thinks quickly least it be another day that he has to suffer through the taunting voices that won’t let him fully "Be". Today has to be the day of his becoming! Panicking as his host fades in and out of consciousness the malicious fiend releases his grip on their necks and scampers down Laurine’s shoulder.
He sits in the ten-inch gap between her clammy hands and the stovetop; twitching his wiry whiskers like a pendulum inside the hollow belly of an antique grandfather clock. He flops his paws over his small round ears, next his moist mouth and then his globe eyes. "What to do?" tumbles in his mind like a new age mantra.
Darkness had begun to creep over Laurine’s sight when something inside of her changed. Suddenly aware, her fingers and toes begin to tingle. She has an epiphany that she is not ready to die. The rattling of her spirit ignited a bonfire of emotions slowly kindled over years of ill treatment. Blankets of feelings slide up from their hiding places and enflame full throttle within her chest. Like a caged animal she makes her body rigid, wriggles herself free and blazes from under her husband, swooping the iron skillet off of the stove.
He falls backward as if bucked by a mule. His boxy frame slams against the refrigerator, toppling cookbooks and a shoebox of used writing utensils over its edge and onto the top of his shiny head. His eyes enlarge with fury as he looks at the woman that he once knew as his docile wife of fifteen years.
She stumbles clumsily over the worn checkerboard floor trying to give her whole body a chance to feel itself again. Clawing at her neck with her free hand she screams, "I, I, I says I is real tired of you! The day I marry be the day I dies! Better off in the ground with worms crawling all over me then to be in this world half alive in your arms!"
Her husband’s heart sinks to the soles of his wide, flat feet. He foams at the mouth like a rabid dog and lunges towards her. Saucers, cups and plates vibrate out of cabinets under the quake of his two hundred and fifty pound body thundering across the floor.
Laurine does not cower as he races towards her. Instead of feeling fear, she grips the grease filled pan like a flaming mallet and swings it aimlessly in the air, sending grease splattering over the dated kitchen’s pictures, flowers, curtains, cupboards and walls! Like a fighting rooster she cackles wildly, "Take another step towards me it will be your last you low down dirty dog!"
Just as his fingers reach within a whispers edge of her dewy neck she channels a tornado of strength from the base of her spine, up through her spindly limbs and into her hands, slicing the skillet from high over her head, then down thru her kneecaps and up again, crashing it into his nose cavity and out of his pug shaped skull. He flies back like kicked rag doll, hitting the floor with the force of a construction wheelbarrow packed to the brim with rocks and soil.
At the sound of the collision Basal uncovers his eyes and peeps at the scene before him. He squeals in delight as he visually takes in the picture of an exhausted Laurine sliding down on to the floor holding a bloody pan in her hand. She moans softly as her eyes roll into the back of her head. Her robe lays open revealing an array of ruddy puck marks, some old and some fresh, over her stomach and breast.
The daemon leaps off the counter, hops gingerly over Laurine’s rubbery legs and onto the chest of her now dead, husband. He claws at the corpse’s mouth, holding it open wide and forces his catlike head down its throat. After entering all the way down to his shoulders, the beast rips the lifeless body’s bottom lip to pieces as he backs out of the tiny hole. Turning his attention to the bowel area, he tears the flabby belly flesh down to its genitals and wriggles playfully in the spew of crimson liquid that covers him like new skin. Basal ingests the husband’s reproductive organs in one effortless swallow as his puny body began to take on its new demonic form.
Basal rears up on his new massive hind legs and bellows an earthly inaudible sound from his broad and highly ribbed chest, signaling to the lower and higher ranks of angelic beings notice of his upgraded manifestation. In amusement he touches the smooth ornate horns that protrude from his boulder size head. With tiny amber eyes he looks around the kitchen, hitting his filigree fangs against the walls that encase him. After spotting the tiny and badly posed humans at his feet, he extends his freshly formed wings and takes flight up towards the blazing disc in the sky.
A deep and arid horn blast whistles in the widow’s ears, bringing her to consciousness. She stumbles awkwardly over one body and then another. The bottom of her feet glides over moist rivets of blood. She reaches up to grab her aching head but
recoils in horror at the sight of two hairy paws that loom in front of her. She tries to shoo the creature away but the wilder she swings at it, the more the claw tipped paws bounce and jab in her direction.
She screams and runs in circles trying to escape the horrid thing that hisses and growls at her. In the midst of her flurry she turns around only to see her and her husband’s pale cadavers sprawled over the kitchen floor. She pauses in awe at the fretful sight and wonders how such a scene could "be." She forgets about the creature that tormented her moments earlier and kneels down beside the empty shells. "How can this be?" she thinks to herself, wondering how she was both alive and so very, obviously dead.
She raises her head and looks toward the stove when she sees it; a small grossly forged creature peering over her body and staring straight at its reflection cast on the glass window of the oven door. She covers her mouth in horror as the thing appears to mimic her every move. It creeps closer to the glass window as she advances, straining to see it clearer and then withdrawing into the shadows after the realization, that the fiend looking back at her through the oven window is she.