Category: Episode 22


Episode 22

Hello all you flash fiction lovers.  This month we are exploring the different phases and conditions of Jealousy.  Some of them are typical and some are not.  Here at In Between Altered States we try to make a full experience by creating an episode or dream-like sequence in which the stories are arranged to sort of make sense and be read from top to bottom.  Try it that way and then go back to your favorites.

I would like to welcome two new writers to the IBAS family:  Catfish McDaris and Maude Larke.  I would also like to give a high five to returning writers:  Kevin Ridgeway, Jonathan Byrd, Luis Berriozabal, Melanie Browne and Len Kuntz.

Enjoy your jealous rages.

 

Aleathia

Vera aspired to be a singer like her hero, Edith Piaf, but only sang quietly in the wee small hours of the morning when her Siamese twin Mildred was asleep.  From the very beginning of their lives, Mildred got the most attention.  Vera was timid and often neglected.  Mildred played tenor saxophone at family gatherings while Vera bobbed her head listlessly, dreaming hacksaw dreams.

Mildred played first chair in the school band, and was voted most likely to succeed; in the yearbook photograph Mildred is smiling brightly while the side of Vera’s glum head can be seen escaping from the frame.

The final band concert of the year came along, and Mildred had a solo at the finale.  Vera snuck a hammer in a pocket on her side of their shared slacks, knocking Mildred out cold just before the solo.  Instead of attempting the sax, Vera had her chance to show everyone the incredible voice she had.  She burst into a rendition of “Always”.  She received a standing ovation.  Mildred eventually woke up as a swarm of people surrounded them.

“Mildred, we didn’t know you could play sax and sing…” a friend said in astonishment

Samantha awoke slightly startled from a dream.  Her chest rose and fell with a stutter as it often did in the throes of uncertainty.  Her eyes darted around the barely lit room.  She could make out the shadows of familiar objects.  She decided she must be in her room.  Sam sat up slowly, looking and listening for the canary with its yellow sun body and shifting melody.  It was there, she knew it…had just heard it and stretched her arm through the darkness to the bedpost where she thought it must be perched.

 

Her body folded nearly in half before she felt the cool, round ballast in her hand.  There was no sign of the bird; no tiny feet clinging to her index finger like in the dream.  She rolled her body back to its original position and leaned back against the wall.  She touched her finger to again find nothing.

 

Frank had not woken up during all of this.  He was an impossible sleeper and Samantha knew that he must never dream in a stoned state, in that rock-hard heaviness that proliferated in his limbs. She curled up into the side of his body listening to the glory of his peacefulness.  How she wished she could disembody her soul that way and just sleep, but her mind never allowed it.  Sam lightly traced the shape of Frank’s ribs counting each one’s desire to escape gravity and propulsion.   He was her savior and he didn’t even know it.

 

She let herself be quieted in his steadiness; in his world of sleep; in his world without dreams.  She let her breath follow his and lead her down the dark, narrow path forming beneath her eyelids.  She let the beating in his chest rock her.  She let the expansion of his bones touch her face like wings, brilliant soft wings.  She knew in that hollow place in their togetherness where she was not in his place and she not in hers, that she would never be free of this.

I do the best I can, which is not nearly enough.  I would not be in here if everything was fine.  I have a complaint about my roommate.  He thinks he’s God.  I am tired of his blasphemies and grandiose thoughts.  I thought everybody knew that I was God.  He doesn’t respect me.  I don’t know for how long I could forgive him.  I am a wrathful God.  I once caused devastation at General Hospital with a damp towel and two bars of soap.  There was another impostor there trying to usurp my throne.  I had to put him in his place.  I am everywhere.  I hear everything.  I am giving my roommate one more chance.  Before something happens you need to put him on another ward; or you could just let me go.  I only agreed to come here to spread the Word to the sick and the mentally ill.  In two weeks’ time I have made much progress.   Dozens of patients have been released under my watch.  I let the doctors and other hospital staff take the credit.  They are mere mortals with self-esteem issues.  I am God.  Everyone knows me.  Apparently, there is one exception.

Pablito never cared much for eating pussy, saying it was like eating tuna through a picket fence. He complained of chapped lips, tired tongue, lock jaw, bushy eyebrows and mustache, and stretched out ears like tortillas. All Pablo craved was the missionary position with an occasional back door approach, but alas his reputation as a cunt gobbler preceded him. I told him repeatedly that he was the junkyard dog of poontang. He’d tilt his head back, grin and howl like a werewolf with hemorrhoids, revealing pubic hair caught between his teeth. “I need to get out of this hole I’ve dug.” “Why don’t you try bullfighting or spelunking or ornithology or become a Caliban?” I suggested. He packed a bag, got his record albums, and boogied. The doorbell rang, it was a dishwater blonde in a tight canary yellow dress, polka dot stiletto hills, and French fish net stockings. I rotated my neck muscles, stretched my tongue Komodo dragon fashion, and opened the door. The last vestiges of the sun were a dropping guillotine and a jealous evil pumpkin moon was sneering down.

“Look at what she just posted on his wall.”   It began innocently enough, like a game. She began prodding me to check my ex-husband’s wall on Facebook. She encouraged me to make sarcastic comments when his female friends tagged him in pictures.  But one day I noticed that she began to appear more often on his page. Innocuously at first, things like “I love that director,” whenever he posted a favorite movie, or “I love this band!” whenever he posted a link to his favorite bands. I tried to ignore it. I knew they had mutual friends. But all of a sudden he was “in a relationship,” and her page said “ In a relationship and it’s complicated.” I immediately sent her an email asking who it was and why it was complicated but the next thing I know she deleted me. I started getting strange emails from her friends saying things like “please stop harassing Patty.” I didn’t even know these people. I tried e-mailing her to ask what the hell was going on, but she had blocked me. After a while it became obvious that she was in a relationship with my ex. When she disappeared from his page a few weeks later, I just reminded the people who emailed me that she had once told me that she was planning a trip to Italy. My ex began to have fewer and fewer female friends, but I didn’t mind this at all. I started calling him more often. I tagged him in pictures of our wedding and our honeymoon in Milan. He liked the one where we are holding hands in front of The Duomo Cathedral.

Is that you?  I think it is.  Your lips, bottom bigger than the top, both swollen pulp I used to suck or paint with my tongue?  Your heart-shaped jaw I used to stroke?  Your ears I stuffed with homemade promises?

There was the time I confessed.  I said I’d never forget.  I found a constellation on your skin, a series of freckles and faint moles, tiny footprints, connect-the-dots, a code I cracked using fresh blood.

We were heroic–the way we could hold our breath, bend our licorice bodies, stare down words.

If that’s not you, then you have a doppelgänger, a twin you’d failed to mention.  This one has hair beyond the blades, thick as shag.  She’s lifting her face to the sun similar to how you would push away from your pillow, morning breath not a matter, grinning, saying, “Hello, Love.”

Of course it’s you.  And him.  And me–spying on the pair of you, the couple, husband and wife, so much more compatible in the flesh than photographs would lead one to believe.

Is it creepy that I’ve come all this way to watch?  It must be.  I’ve been a bit out of orbit since your final triage.

I see him untie the rental boat, pulling the buoys on board.  His chest is hairless which explains your fixation with my opposite one.  The sun’s ripe.  You sip a pink drink.  Your bikini is sky-white and slight.

I suppose if that is you—and now the smug smirk confirms so—I would do the right thing and shout for you (both of you) to jump, get off the boat, swim to shore fast.  But on the other hand, since it is you, then the gravity of justice must right itself, meaning—among other things—that you deserve the package I’ve planted beneath your bed, the big bang coming any second.

That bastard Tim is over there showing it off again.  He’s got that shiny thing out, flopping and rolling around.  He knows we can all see him playing with it.  He also knows that the rest of us will look at ours and feel nothing but inadequate.

Jim shows up. Cool Jim, the boss man.  Everyone is always fighting for his favor.  But, like all others,  he only wants to talk to the guy whose is biggest.  He watches as Tim works it over with his hands, rubbing scented oils and lotion all over it.  The excitement of the two men is palpable.

Mine looks small and shriveled.  It lies there most of the time looking pathetic.  Hell, my wife won’t even play with it any more, though I desperately want her to.  I tell her that scented oils and lotions might make it livelier.  If it were livelier, it would be fun for both of us to play with.

Jim claps and a couple of guys look over the cubicle walls as Tim gets it to do a flip. Goddamn him, he makes it impossible to get any work done.  I look up and see that he now has the damn thing standing up, begging for everyone to touch it.

Now it’s rolling over, exposing its pink, veined belly to everyone.  Several of the other guys clap, completely ignoring theirs.  I grumble to myself and turn back to mine. It is just lying there, small and wasted.  I push it aside and return to my work.  God, I fucking hate Tim and his little pony.

Genna had collaborated with Ryan on so many projects by now that it felt odd to do the ones he wasn’t part of.  They had developed an easy bond, like that of siblings who had no need of tension and rivalry.  Genna was happy about that.  It seemed a rich second best to what she had originally wanted.

She was especially happy considering how things could have turned out.  She had been so direct with him, he could have been put off.  But he had been so kind in his firmness, talking so discreetly about his wife and their life.  She had adjusted, but slowly, to this new idea.  She even asked questions about her every now and then.

Not too many.  She didn’t want to hear too much.  She knew that if she ever found fault with Kay, she would be indignant.  At least that was the word she used.  She knew what it meant.  That old “worthy of him” expression was always hovering in the back of her mind.  Even though she hated clichés.

So when Ryan invited her to come to a picnic that they were having with friends, Genna hesitated, too ready to pick apart Kay.  The unsuspecting?  Or had Ryan mentioned Genna’s advances?  She asked.  He said no.  She said yes, in spite of the awkward position she was being put into.  Or advantageous?

Genna spent most of the day speaking to Kay, standing near her to help in the kitchen, listening to her.  Noting her ways.

She went home at the end of the day completely devastated.  She found no weak points.  Kay was completely worthy.