Sean Ennis ~ Two Short Stories

Me, the Kink

Once again with the recur­ring dream where I am on an air­plane that lands on a busy city street and just dri­ves around, wings and all.  I have no insight into its mean­ing, except to say “anx­i­ety,” which, in my expe­ri­ence, is the source of all. It’s only 4am and I wish it were 6.

Before bed, the lit­tle bats were under the street­light mak­ing big shad­ows on the macadam. They were  feed­ing, and I was debat­ing mela­tonin or a request for sex or a slice of that cook­ies and cream pie. All three could be challenging—best to pick an approach and stick to it—it’s get­ting late.

Unlike most, I enjoy hear­ing about people’s dreams, since it is them at their most pow­er­ful. For instance, with me, when I’m half asleep I can see oth­er rooms in the house. This phe­nom­e­na is known as remote view­ing, some­thing tried by the CIA to see alien bases on the Moon.

That’s too much, a secret, a kink, a joke to some peo­ple. Maybe this is a lit­tle more believ­able:

I’ve become a morn­ing per­son, much to the sur­prise of past room­mates, and it’s a bit like chang­ing your spots, like becom­ing Type A. It’s just a the­o­ry of per­son­al­i­ty and I do  like the qui­et, just me and my kitchen radio and the fish tank. I feel pro­tec­tive and lucky, watch­ing my sleep­ing girl curl her toes stick­ing out from under the blan­ket.

I am trou­bled by the blood on my pil­low, the pain in my jaw, the pools of sweat. There’s the strange, illeg­i­ble note I wrote to myself on my night­stand. I am no sleep­walk­er or epilep­tic. I am no were­wolf. I am not—cinnamon rolls and cof­fee, that will sur­prise them. I’ll have it all set up for when they wake.

~

Air BnB (Chattanooga)

This is an easy one. The women were going to run a marathon. No, the women were going to run a tag-team marathon. No, the women were going to run half a marathon. No, no, the women were going to run a 5k. In alpha­bet­i­cal order, they are an activist, an artist, a pro­fes­sor, a real estate devel­op­er, and a social work­er. I hope I got their titles right. It’s for a char­i­ty.

I learned the geo­log­i­cal term “ridge” from a friend from Knoxville. Tennessee is full of them. Our cab­in is at the top of a ridge and so is its dri­ve­way, which seems unnec­es­sar­i­ly treach­er­ous in the Mazda 3. What a view from its edges! Certain death in the Smokies! I mean, there was a lot of hype about this dri­ve­way, but of course we made it up and down many times since I’m talk­ing about it five months lat­er.

The night before the race, the cold wind on top of this small moun­tain was real­ly cre­at­ing a bad sit­u­a­tion. Kevin and I were try­ing to cook ham­burg­ers, which took about two hours, because, yes, the wind, but also the grill had no lid. While we wait­ed for the meat to at least brown, we talked about what ani­mals would we eat if we got a) des­per­ate and/or b) lucky. I kept say­ing, “They have that at Kroger,” which must have been irri­tat­ing, in ret­ro­spect. The kids were in the hot tub with their heads and shoul­ders freez­ing, and the women were prepar­ing to go to bed ear­ly, fold­ing their run­ning t‑shirts, and prob­a­bly com­plet­ing the race in their minds.

Twelve of us in the cab­in. Can you imag­ine that? This whole trip was like, lit­tle did we know, omi­nous voice. I slept like I always sleep, which is deeply.

The next morn­ing, none of the women won the race, but they said it wasn’t impor­tant. “It’s not a race,” they said.  Then the kids ran a 2k, main­ly uphill. They were pleased with them­selves, though none of them won either. The kid who did win was real­ly pre­pared: expen­sive shoes, very short shorts, a head­band. She looked like a pro­fes­sion­al hav­ing no fun. I didn’t like her. Our kids, who I did like, had already moved on, were talk­ing about lunch, while she had her pic­ture tak­en for some web­site. Here some­one nods and says, kids are resilient.

I taught a class about the end of the world for a few years and the stu­dents thought it was fun­ny. They liked it as much as the class I taught about ter­ror­ism, the class I taught about the reces­sion, and the class I taught about old books. What am I get­ting at? I’ll take it fur­ther: Kids like chaos.

On the way out of town, we went to Chattanooga’s last real din­er. We were its last real cus­tomers. On the dri­ve home, they were clos­ing roads left and right behind us. We passed our Kroger and they were lock­ing up, despite a line of cus­tomers. Home from Chattanooga, they can­celled the bas­ket­ball game I was watch­ing, and then all sports. The news went dark—not blank, but the oppo­site of fun.

~

Sean Ennis is the author of CHASE US: Stories (Little A) and his flash fic­tion has recent­ly appeared in Passages North, Hobart, (mac)ro(mic), Tiny Molecules, and Bull. More of his work can be found at seanennis.net