Chris Diken

Harold Recalls the Animals

Which, first of all, he hadn’t even asked to see it, her most per­son­al of beau­ti­ful ani­mals, she’d sim­ply whipped it out and pre­sent­ed it to him. And as such he real­ly couldn’t be blamed for its mis­han­dling, because just to look at him was to know he was an ama­teur in this field, a novice, and clum­sy in gen­er­al. He knew the phrase “whipped it out” was not tra­di­tion­al­ly used in this man­ner, but as far as he could tell it was the only expres­sion that suit­ed the move­ment. One moment it was not out and the next moment it was, defin­i­tive­ly. He might even say cat­e­gor­i­cal­ly if there was a cat­e­go­ry for this kind of thing, which he didn’t even know where to check to find out if there was. There was a dis­tinct whip­ping or whoosh­ing sound like a vac­u­um lock com­ing unsealed and had they been char­ac­ters in a crude­ly drawn com­ic there doubt­less would have been action lines, which, come to think of it, that’s what his life in gen­er­al seemed like, a sketch done up by a hack, when he looked at it, late­ly. He request­ed that his feel­ings in that par­tic­u­lar regard be kept as far as pos­si­ble from the offi­cial record.

They’d been sit­ting, of all places, on a bearskin rug. She made sev­er­al remarks about bare skin and bears’ kin and he didn’t respond to even one of them on account of being struck with paral­y­sis through­out every limb. They were also, nat­u­ral­ly, in front of a fire­place, and that plus the rug’s fur made mul­ti­ple sweat beadlets appear on his pro­nounced eye­brow ledge. Earlier in the evening she had iden­ti­fied this fea­ture of his as a ves­tige of a life before visors, handy for hunt­ing bron­tosaurii in the dusk­light. She tried wag­gling it to entice him and said it was avail­able for touch­ing, caress­ing, and pet­ting, that even the tini­est light­est gen­tlest pet would absolute­ly do it won­ders. He remem­bered her say­ing the enter­prise over­all was like offer­ing the lord’s most heav­en­li­est prize to the dae­mon­spawn him­self, who wouldn’t accept it just to spite the ledge above his face.

Once it had been out for a while he gath­ered his courage and looked at it dead on and it was like look­ing into the ori­gin of the world, or a dia­gram explain­ing the ori­gin of the world. He didn’t want to know how things began, just that they would end, which they soon did. After he couldn’t guess how long one of the logs made a crack­ling pop­ping sound and an ember flew past the grate and some­thing ignit­ed. He stopped here and said they’d have to wait for the sec­ond part of his inter­view with local and nation­al media for him elab­o­rate on how he’d rushed to save all the crea­tures she kept: the expen­sive, the beau­ti­ful, the hid­den, and the dead.

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Chris Diken is from New Jersey and cur­rent­ly lives in Brooklyn, NY. He works in adver­tis­ing, runs the art col­lec­tive and record label Uninhabitable Mansions, and plays the elec­tric gui­tar. His work has appeared in Eyeshot, Pindeldyboz, Surgery of Modern Warfare, and the Mississippi Review.