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.
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.