We Still Held, We Haunted – Matt Rebholz

We went out for drinks after work, on a whim, and then we went one further and we went to dinner. What the hell, we were flush that month. We got drunk and the snooty older waiter sneered at us, and we paid too much for what we got, but we didn’t mind. We smiled and we felt fat.

We left the restaurant, saw the recent thriller on the theater marquee across the street, and something juvenile ran through us. We felt suckered by the pleasantly macabre. We bought tickets, and it tickled us to say the movie’s name out loud. We giggled. We got popcorn and we smacked our lips and heard the teens who shouted at the screen. We didn’t mind, we shouted too. We formed a makeshift midnight pack and howled. In the dark, they couldn’t see our gray hairs or our crow’s feet. We felt cool to be included. We left our trash behind. We forgot the film immediately.

We walked. We crossed the pitch-black park, our favorite way home. We fell blind on the soft grass in the middle and we rolled around. The dew reminded us of piss, and made us think of all the dog shit. We remembered we forgot to walk our dumb dog after work again. We pictured him still waiting by the back door for us, pissing, shitting in the darkened kitchen, but we didn’t mind. We saw the stars. We heard the silence. We felt connected.

Used the keys in our pocket to unlock the front door. Flicked the light switch, saw the piss, and took a reaching step into a fresh black shit. We cursed and balanced on one foot and took our shoe off, stumbled, soaked our sock with piss and cursed again. We took our sock off, threw it in the sink. We threw the shoe. Then we feared for the dumb dog who bolted out the open door, who’d never come when we’d call him. We turned and yelled and went to run but slipped, and our head hit the kitchen counter.

We stood, but our body was lying. We were out of body. Very, very out of it. We minded. We screamed, but had nothing to vibrate. We reached for the phone on the floor, but our hand passed through the cracked screen. When we went to shake ourselves awake, we knelt down but fell through the floorboards. We hid in the basement. We couldn’t believe it.

We hid for we don’t know how long. We heard the rattle of the gurney finally, and hovered from the hardwood, saw the bathrobed neighbor lady in the driveway, clutching at her petty triumph, wearing her concern. And then we watched. We watched our body bagged and carted off. We watched the silent ambulance depart with it like any other car, without emergency. We watched the police come and go like a tide rolling out. We watched the owner shake his head for half an hour, though he hadn’t really known us. We watched him clean up after us, after our dog. Then we watched the owner give up cleaning up, and call a cleaning crew. The crew cleaned up, but we were left behind. And the dumb dog was lost, who we couldn’t call, who wouldn’t have come even if we could.

By the time the new tenants moved in, we possessed very little. But with what little we still held, we haunted. That juvenile macabre that tethered us to the world.

We hung curtain-like from the shower rod, charted forests in their molds and mildews, whispered “murder” in their ears each time they sat down for a shit.

We marked the places in their paperbacks, lived in the labyrinths of their wood grain.

We sunk in their spider’s webs and curled in their cat’s paws.

We clung to sweat-soaked sheets, echoed off the walls at every climax and hugged the couple every night. We collected their tears and we swelled with their pride. We fell for them, felt bad for them. We tired of them.

Wandering, we saw so much. We saw the snooty older waiter, and his dead drunk mother, and we understood his sneer that night. We saw the teens who shouted at the screen grow up, die off. We saw the grass run wild in the pitch-black park. We saw the whole span of the dog we’d call who’d never come, saw him found and adopted, saw him bolt again and die and rot, saw the marrow of his dumb bones scatter in the dirt and nurture acorns, feed small trees.

We saw you.

We saw what you were doing.

What you have done. What you will do.

Now we’re tired and giving up the tether. Leaving. But we don’t mind, we’ll forget you immediately. We see the marble of the earth, the speck of our sun, and we smile. We are stars made fat, flush and drunk. We hear the silence and feel included.

 

 

 

Matt Rebholz grew up in Chandler, Arizona, but has lived in Portland, Oregon since 2006. He spends his days working at Portland State University, and his nights studying creative writing at PSU, Corporeal Writing, and The Attic Institute. Matt does not own any pets. He tweets about reading and writing @matt_rebels.

 

 

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