It was defenestration
December 7, 2013 by Thomas Wictor
December 6, 2013, was an extremely unpleasant day. I’ll be glad to see the end of 2013. Annus horriblus. Tim and I have been saying for ages, “The next year cannot possibly be worse than this one was,” and then it would be.
Well, 2014 cannot possibly be worse than 2013 because this year was the bottom. Tim and I are now different people. Forever. Nothing can happen that will top this year. More importantly, nobody on the planet can now get to us. We’ve seen the elephant. Spending a year with death as your constant companion changes you. Piddling, miniscule, runty, thwarted humanoids are just an annoyance now, and when we get the hell out of this failed state, they’ll be only bad memories.
But unpleasantness comes out in my dreams. That’s good. Otherwise I might…do things, maybe. Who knows? We’re all in uncharted territory. My poor, dying mother kept saying, “I’ve never had to do this before.”
Yes, and she’d never had lung and stage four peritoneal cancer before either. We simply could not get her to accept that her new reality required different behavior. All she wanted was for things to be the way they’d always been, so she pretended they were, and it killed her.
The past year has left me feeling pretty unrestrained. We’ll see what happens the next time a humanoid makes its presence known in an unpleasant way.
In the meantime, the dream of last night.
“It was defenestration.”
Dad was alive, but I knew he was dying. Tim, Eric, and I were with him at a large park that had a towering rock climbing wall studded with projections. Dad was in his early twenties.
Eric was a small boy, and Tim and I were our present ages. Dad was confused and afraid. When he spoke to us, I couldn’t understand him. It was a foreign language that sounded Slavic. Wide eyed, he stared up the rock climbing wall, gesturing. I had no idea what he was trying to say to us.
Tim snickered, but Eric was very upset.
“What’s happening?” he asked me. “What’s wrong with Dad?”
Dad put on a blonde, curly wig and began climbing up the wall. I took Eric over to a wooden picnic table that had round seats so high off the ground they were at chest level. I knew that Dad had terminal osteosarcoma, but I didn’t know how to break it to Eric. He was too young to have to face such bad news.
“Dad is sick,” I told him. “He’s got something wrong with his middle.”
I was going to show Eric on my own body where Dad’s cancer was, but when I looked down at my lap, my hips had a demon’s horns, and there were two eyes and a fanged mouth in my abdomen.
Eric didn’t seem to notice, so I took out a piece of charcoal to draw on one of the wooden picnic table seats. Though I wanted to sketch a man’s body and show Eric where Dad had cancer, I drew a Renaissance celestial map instead.
Drawing the map comforted me, but I couldn’t understand why I did it. While I pondered whether to say something to Eric or try to make another sketch of a man, a tattooed young Latino gangbanger came up to us. Very thin and muscular, he wore a white wife beater and had a shaved head and a sparse mustache.
“Por qué are you destrozando public propiedad?” he said in Spanglish. He lifted his chin, which I knew was a threat gesture. “I’m hablando to you, hombre.”
It was impossible for me to speak. My mouth wouldn’t open, and besides, I had no idea why I drew Renaissance celestial maps. I looked around for Eric, but he was gone.
“Fuera your ass de aquí,” the gangbanger said.
I went back to the rock climbing wall. Dad was now about fifty feet off the ground, standing on a ledge in front of a window. He still wore his curly blonde wig. Tim lounged off to the side; he watched Dad with a strangely anticipatory smile. Dad opened the window and began to climb in. Suddenly he fell backwards off the ledge, cartwheeled down the side of the wall, and slammed into the ground at my feet.
Tim let out a bellow of laughter.
“So it wasn’t cancer that killed him,” he said. “I was defenestration!”
I went over to Dad, who lay on his side, facing the wall. When I knelt down beside him, he rolled over and looked up at me.
“Whew!” he said. “Whoa boy. Wow.”
He tried to get up, but I saw that he was now boneless. His limbs flopped and bent, unable to support him. I slid my arm under his shoulders and lifted him to a sitting position. He felt like a slab of warm blubber. His head dangled back over my forearm, hanging so far down that he could look behind him. I worried that his windpipe was flattened and he’d suffocate. His jaw began flapping rapidly as he spoke what I now realized was Moldavian.
Tim stood a few feet away, smirking.
“Help me!” I said. “We can’t let Eric see him like this!”
Eric wasn’t there anymore; I was fully aware that Tim knew Eric was gone, so lying to him made no sense. Everything was completely wrong. Dad had already died at the age of eighty-four. This boneless, young, Moldavian-jabbering version of him was some kind of prop. He wasn’t real, but I couldn’t keep myself from trying to help him. Tim was laughing only because the whole situation was phony.
“Are you going to help me?” I asked him, resentful that he hadn’t been fooled.
“Sure, why not?” he said cheerfully and strolled toward us.
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