Folded against a shelf, something detaches itself and moves as if made of overlapping freeze frames. A sinister woman descending stairs in three dimensions. It moves at angles that hurt later. Like sliding your eyes along a straight razor, the damage is done before the pain. It finds a new perch on a lampshade, drawing itself into the pleats surrounding the bulb until it was never there and waits.
Elway stumbled into the living room drunk and groped for the light switch. He did not find it but the floor lamp did just fine. He didn't think he'd woken anyone up, he sat in his own sweat under the light of the lamp. He'd be well enough to bullshit his way out of trouble in the morning if he could only get a few hours in before facing anybody.
"You home?" His wife's voice.
"Yeah honey, sorry."
"I'll take little Frankie to preschool tomorrow."
"No, I said I'd do it."
"Just shut up Elway, get to work tomorrow, can you do that?"
"Yeah, I can do that."
"You're sleeping on the couch by the way."
He waited for more but none came. Here was good enough. Elway shut off the lamp with a yank.
Something detached from the lampshade and folded itself around Elway, on his face, into the holes in his head. Penetrated his eyes, his anus, his urethra. Every opening was infiltratred. Elway's heart continued to beat, his breathing grew deep. His fingernails were carefully prized off and their meat scraped clean. He did not move. His teeth were extracted from within the bone of his jaw and skull, he did not sigh. The excretions of his intoxicated curry were examined and catalogued. His stomach was inverted, followed by his heart and finally his brain.
Elway woke in the morning still in his clothes from the night before and winced at the pre dawn light. Like shards of glass behind his eyes. The hangover made him nauseated and disoriented.
In the bathroom, he shit last night's Vindaloo out in a panegyric to all late night drunkenfood.
Showering with hot and cold water brought him halfway back to normalhood. Alka Seltzer and Vitamin C dissolving tablets got him another quarter of the way. Bacon and eggs with buttery burnt toast left little of the hangover but the guilt.
It was ten am and he hadn't seen his son in 24 hours. The house was silent and he was alone.
He went to the kichen bar and started pouring bottles of scotch down the drain, something he'd been meaning to do for years. Then he showered again, because he was sweating, shaved, and got to work.
"I've heard it before, Elway."
"I'm serious this time, I'm quitting as of now."
"Ok I'll bite, what's so different this time?"
It was evening and Elway and Sharon were sitting at the kitchen table.
"Something you said last night, or the way you said it."
"You must have dreamt it, I didn't get up last night."
Sharon got up to see what Frankie was watching in the living room.
She saw that something coming from the screen was taking Frankie apart and putting him back together.
"What's he doing?" said Elway, something from the radio was separating his clavicle from his chest muscles and working its way up to his eyes.
"He's watching tv," said Sharon.
In the halflight of the kitchen, the teeth that sprouted from the pupils of her eyes looked like minature pearls.
"That stuff rots your brain."
"Booze rots your brain too."
"I told you Sharon. I quit. I'm serious."
"We'll see," she said, and her tone was warm and her hug comforting.
They could always try another configuration tomorrow.