"There's not much doubt in any of our minds that no complete idea springs fully formed from our brow,
needing only a handshake and a signature on the contract to send it off into the world to make twenty-five billion dollars.
The germ of the idea grows slowly..." - Walt Kelly

Monday, March 29, 2010

When everything else is gone

The match lit in a flash of sulfur and red phosphorous, and Andy held it to the cigar in his lips for only a moment before throwing it haphazardly toward the pile of dead sticks and cardboard boxes amassed at his feet. The heap quickly combusted, throwing a grotesque shadow of Andy onto the wall behind him. He stepped back and enjoyed the situation for just a moment, taking a deep drag of the cigar and feeling the steady heat of the flames.

He exhaled a long cloud of smoke and limped out of his living room, past the bedroom where he and his wife used to make love and past his daughter's room. He stopped at the back door and turned to face back down the hallway, puffing steadily on the cigar as he ran his hands down the wallpaper he had installed when he and Sheila had moved in here.

Andy shook his mind clean and left the house, shivering at the transition from warm house to cold winter air. He stepped out on the concrete landing and turned to close the door. His hand grasped the doorknob, but refused to push the portal shut.

Andy's mind went berserk at his sudden hesitation, and he gritted his teeth and fought with all his strength to regain control of himself and force his arm forward. He looked up into the house and saw the orange glow of the growing conflagration leaping down the hallway toward him in bursts of furious hunger, lapping up the crown molding at the base of the ceiling and the picture frames hanging from the walls.

He flashed back to the wreck, the ambulance crew carting away their mangled bodies in zipper bags like leftovers. They picked him up, body perfectly still, and placed him on a stretcher to be taken to the hospital. He remembered feeling the signals, the abnormal spark-up coursing toward him like a shark sensing blood in the water, and then he remembered waking up full of holes, hospital administered and otherwise, and crying for two days.

Andy's parents washed and dressed him the morning of his court date, his father basically carrying him to and from the car before his mother got the wheelchair out of the trunk. They took away his license and sentenced him, though he didn't comprehend it until he could walk again three months later.

Andy wrenched himself back to consciousness like the paramedics had yanked shards of sheet metal out of his body, and it hurt almost as much. The flames were bursting out the windows now, and he could feel the warmth billowing down the hallway toward him in waves. He spat out the cigar.

He turned and looked toward the garage behind him. He could almost see the wreck sitting there, shredded metal and plastic spiraling in controlled insanity at deadly angles. Blood was everywhere, dripping from the car's broken pillars and pooling with shards of glass on the asphalt.

A particularly scalding blast of air hit him in the back, almost knocking him over, and then he heard and felt the explosion as the gas stove blew, catapulting wood splinters and drywall remnants in every direction.

He stared at the flames gathering in the hallway before him, and his hand finally relaxed and came off the doorknob. He stepped back into the house and walked straight through the flames. They tore at his clothes and hair as though there was nothing else combustible in the house. He stopped into the living room and stared at the ceiling. He wondered when the house would start collapsing in on itself.

He decided to wait and find out.

Playing on my iTunes at this very moment:
Incubus, Nebula


  1. In a word, ''WOW.'' I secretly love really dark stuff like this and, per usual, you are most eloquent in the telling. Bravo.

  2. I agree completely. I also enjoy reading and writing pieces that tend to create uncomfortableness and you pulled it off wonderfully. Much love my friend