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I Am the Creepy Man
On the last hour of the fourth day of the ninth month of the first year Brett sat on the steps of his front porch looking down at the sidewalk. In his left hand he held a slightly used piece of yellow crayola chalk. In his right hand a cigarette burned slowly. The smoke floated up gently into his eyes and the chalk left a residue on his fingers and on the lower portions of his jaw where he had periodically massaged himself.
All around the wind whistled through the stark branches of the neighborhood trees and somewhere, directionally indeterminate, a dog barked at the sounds of the night. His mind grinded from confession to idea, putting things where they belong and tossing all inadequately defined ones into a bin to be delivered later, like a postman, processing the daily influx of ceaseless mail. He thought of himself as the dog, tied to something, naked and yelling at the top of his lungs. He thought about what that dog might say, “I know you are out there. I know you are doing something that affects me. I don’t know what it is. It’s best if you get lost. I will bite you, or it, whatever it is that threatens me. I swear to god.” He took a drag from the smoke and scratched the crown of his head with last two fingers of the hand that held the cigarette. “Woof, woof,” he whispered, the words shrouded in smoke, and he rose slowly. He brushed the little clinging rocks of concrete from the skin of his ass and knelt down carefully lowering his bare knees onto the sidewalk. He began to write.
I AM THE CREEPY MAN
YES I AM
THIS IS SOMETHING
I DON’T BELIEVE YOU
I REALLY AM THE CREEPY MAN
He flicked the cigarette out into the grass and rocked back, placing his hands on his hips, and considered the words written on the concrete. The words blurred in his mind as his thoughts drifted to the writing on the wall. The writing on the wall that only he read, ever looming around his companions, not unattainable knowledge but rather conspicuously concealed from ordinary vision. He began to write.
I AM THE CREEPY MAN
I TAKE THINGS FROM YOU
AND WRITE THEM
HERE AND THERE
TELLING THE WORLD ABOUT YOU
STRIPPING YOUR SOUL
LAYING YOU BARE
ALL WITH THE TOUCH THAT
ALL FROM THIS CREEPY HAND
He paused again and reached around to massage his lower back, sore from bending and pushing. Much of the furniture had yet to be replaced and time was now becoming a factor. He thought of what he found on the wall in the basement closet behind his tackle. Although he had written it himself and read it just today, as usual his mind saw the words but did not read them verbatim. He felt them as his heart had intended upon prompting the action. He recited what he thought to be there,
“Don’t touch Greig, the Dough is rising. He never looked back to see the ruins. A duty confronted him and he obliged, like an Indian, like what he has become. If only I held a fraction of his resolve to pass on the Good to the Small, I would be Large enough to believe It is Right. My admiration is unspeakable and cannot be captured by Words. Should I not be so embarrassed I would likely bow down and tell him that he is the finest father a boy could possibly have.”
The words trailed off as an echo fades through a hollow and left him silent and still. A response from afar would have found him in the same confusion of a man finding himself unexpectedly not alone on top of the highest hill in a forest kingdom. He stood and walked a circle around the poem, stopping nearest the house. His searching hand brushed the hairless skin of his upper thigh. He looked down to find nothing but an empty palm where a pocket was usually found, a pocket with cigarettes inside. He shifted his hips, stood cockeyed and pumped his hand, two fingers stuck out in a V, up to his open mouth, mocking his own habits. He turned and walked up the steps through the door that stood propped open. The cigarettes sat on the floor in a three-foot wedge where the couch had been pulled away from the living room wall. He knelt down to get them, trying not to look at the wall where he had been reading several minutes ago. Not able to withstand the curious look of the bumpy hand-written text, his eyes looked dryly upon the first line of the confession.
“There is no one to fight with anymore, which is probably why I place such emphasis today on the area behind this couch. I remember a time when life was much lighter. Humor was abundant and all things seemed to have an anchor in that part of us, the part that seemed to run from me to you, a conduit of trust that buffered our tender minds from the harshness of our realities. We used to believe that this couch would actually be the death, one way or another, of us. Maybe the constant battle against the gravitational pull of the center of the couch served in some way to place a kink in that conduit. Maybe. Perhaps it was just the focal point of the detachment. After all we both know that concentrating on anything above and beyond just sitting is nearly impossible on this fucking couch. And I have spent way too much time doing just that.
A couple of months ago I determined that something was wrong. The leaves had begun to fall from the trees. The sky tended to be gray most of the time. Daytime had been shortened by hours, all this the cruel joke of some natural force that has no regard for the depressives of this world. Year after year we are forced to bear the burdens of the winter and we know it. The earth was yawning and those of us on top were forced to start layering our defenses in preparation of the impending cold. As the colors of life were fading from the living things outside I happened to notice that something similar was occurring inside. Scientifically speaking the total lack of color is represented as black. White then, naturally, is proven to contain the potential for the emission of all pure colors, if in the form of light if it is passed through a prism. Pure white in another form, when passed through a brain, tends to do just opposite, dampening the colors that naturally occur there. This year, when the snows fell, we learned that lesson. No need to be scientific really. That lesson was unavoidable; the hard part is trying to understand how it got to us.”
He stood and walked back through the door, a burdensome reality weighing on him like a big rock rolling around in his belly. He picked up the chalk from the stiff grass and brushed some dirt from the tip. Squatting, he began to write.
IN GENUINE CREEPINESS
I DO FIND
AND HARBOR THE
LEFT TO CHANCE
MAKE YOU GO BLIND
I AM THE CREEPYMAN
DEALING WITH THESE
IN THE BEST WAY I CAN
The chalk dropped from his hand, clinked on the concrete and rolled back into the grass. He walked to the curb and lit a cigarette. Several houses down a car came to a rolling stop on a crossing street and cruised slowly on. A newspaper filler fluttered down the middle of the street, riding on haphazard gusts of wind. A damp corner kept it tethered to the ground. He looked up at the stars perched in the permanent blackness of the winter sky. He hoped that Jen and Corey would not be the first to show up. They didn’t relate well in general conversation. A middleman was needed, a buffer to shield their correctness. He rolled his head to the left and then to the right releasing a few vertebral pops and tossed the cigarette into the gutter.
The hot water burned his hands as he rinsed clean the last of the rocks glasses that had piled up in the sink from the previous week. He placed them on a towel to dry and tended to the various items littering the counter tops. Gathering the mail and similar trash he stuffed them into the garbage, pulled the overstuffed bag out, tied it into a knot and set it aside. He swept the floor with a straw broom. Upon lifting the dustpan to empty it, he realized his mistake in process and set it on the floor next to the empty garbage can.
He took the bag and started towards the garage. A cool breeze entering through the front door tickled his naked skin and made the curtains dance as he walked down the hall. He placed the garbage in the garage and then pulled his bedding from the dryer in the adjacent room since he was already there.
He kicked pieces of clothing into a pile in the corner of his bedroom as he rounded the bed, pulling off the wadded up comforter and tossing the pillows off to the floor. He tucked the bottom sheet around the corners of the mattress closest to him and away from the wall. As he stretched across the bed to secure the far top corner he noticed that looking down through the slates of wood running horizontally in the headboard that he could see the words written on the wall. He tucked the sheet and lifted his legs up onto the bed. He stretched out flat on his back and watched the arms of the fan as they circled slowly overhead. He reached down deep inside and tried to remember what message the manifesto behind his head was supposed to have conveyed. He could feel it. He could not recite the words. He rolled over, placed his chin on the lowest wooden bar and read.
“Why do you keep coming here? You don’t have to lay here with me if you don’t want to. But you do. Does that excuse me from responsibility? No. But surely it strengthens the case that all of this is not just my fault. Perhaps you forget your role, your influence on the unfolding of events in your life. Perhaps that lapse in understanding causes you to do more than curl up in a ball and go insane with rage. Perhaps it makes you smoke. Does it make you mad at drivers on the road who don’t do what you think they should do? Does it piss you off when someone in front of you at the store can’t deal with the cashier as fast as you would? Do you blame God when it rains on your day off? Or do you not know the cause of your pain. Kick the dog if you will, just try and leave me out of it. At least listen when I whisper gently in your ear that it is not your fault, that there are deeper forces at play in the universe and that I will try and help you. I can trick you into feeling better when I want but I don’t always want. Sometimes I fall in your trap. But when I do, when I touch you where you like and tell you what you want… I am real. I am real. I am not what you think I will be in the future no matter how hard you try to think me that way. Now I lay me down to sleep and pray to God for some words that relate to me.”
He rolled over and jumped from the bed. Quickly he sheathed each pillow in a clean case, fluffed them out and tossed them in a pile against the headboard three high.
A scarcely audible smudging followed him down the hall as he walked, his fingers pressed against the plasterboard. He went first to the living room and pushed the couch back against the wall. Next he slid the large hutch in the dining room back to its resting spot, careful to line the base up perfectly with the timeless indentations in the carpet. A clock with no numbers hanging on the wall indicated that it was somewhere around 8:30. Guests would be arriving in thirty minutes. Bearing this in mind he collected the liquor bottles from the cabinet and set them up on the counter, the whiskeys in the front masking the cheap gin and vodka behind them. He wiped out the ashtrays with damp paper towels, placed a few in the living room and the large glass one in the center of the dining room table.
The cap of a red marker poked out from under the couch. He stood and looked at it for several moments with one eye squinted, the other open wide. He lurched forward and grabbed the marker and ran back down the hall. He flipped on the light to his son’s room, his room at least when visiting, and stood in the middle sizing up the potential canvas. He grabbed the desk and slid it partially out and squeezed behind it. He took the cap from the pen and wrote,
“Someday I will give you knowledge that will enable you to answer all the questions in your life. I will do that or I will die. Give me some time, though, because I’m still looking myself.”
He slid the desk back into place, pulled open the top drawer and tossed in the uncapped marker among the various art supplies within. Running out he switched off the light and slammed the door. Down the hall and out to the sidewalk he sprinted, stopping at the base of the chalk statement. He pinched the skin of his scrotum and rolled it back and forth, his other hand rubbing his chin. He read the words half-heartedly to remember what he had written and glanced side-to-side, looking for the chalk in the grass. He spotted the chalk, picked it up and squatted.
I TRY TO KEEP
THESE CREEPY THINGS INSIDE
IN A HEIARCHY
THAT IS PERSONAL
THAT IS MINE
AND I DON’T
I LET THEM LEAK
WILL THAT MAKE ME
THE CREEPY FREAK
He stared at the last stanza and wondered if it rhymed or if it even made a difference. All around the wind died down to a silence, the final whispers absorbed by the stark branches of the neighborhood trees and somewhere, still directionally indeterminate, a dog howled at the disappearing sounds of the night. Somewhere in the vastness of the black night sky a rumble came on low and passed through the atmosphere like a freight train. A single drop of water splashed onto his shoulder and ran down his chest. It was matched by another running down the side of his nose that didn’t originate in the sky. He stood and walked into the house closing the door behind him. He stared at the dining room table and hoped that no one would drop something, bend to pick it up and find everyone defined on the underside of the table.
Outside the pitter-patter of the rain intensified, falling on the roofs, the cars and the surfaces of the earth. He lit a candle to make sure it would smell nice for the ladies.
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