By: Douglas Schubert
LOS ANGELES, USA
Suicide’s not even an option. Too lazy to write the note. The unemployed lowlife on the first floor wakes me when cigarette smoke twists into the no-shade window. Don’t remember why I’m here.
A cat’s been nosing around. But now it waits next to the bed like a brass panther, giving me the false significance of waking from a royal nap.
I throw my arms, with as little stomach effort as possible, to move out of bed. I land on balled up trousers. My being here justifies one more stab at love with a new soul, I guess.
I wander out naked into the littered apartment. The cat does an enticing flirt around my skinny ankles and I feel important. I fart so loudly the cat darts under the sofa. An impressive enough accomplishment to enjoy for a moment but pathetic enough to make me question my potential when I catch my reflection in the mirror. This is going to be a good day.
Coffee’s not even an option. Too hard to figure out where everything goes. Maybe she has leftover something or other. She doesn’t. Only a weak refrigerated collection of items remaining from an effort to get it together long ago. I see the note on the door: “You snore.”
The cat pokes out from under the couch and watches my every move. I’m self-conscious. I start playing with cupboards to pretend like I have something to do. I don’t. The cat crouch-walks toward me and gestures to a lazy susan with her butt. I enjoy her efforts to communicate her needs and let her go overboard doing it.
Feeding an animal. I feel powerful. After it puts in enough work I prepare her meal. I start to crave tuna.
Outside. I slink along the rusty fence that cages in a swimming pool. Kids bump into me anyway. One with puffed plastic inflated around tiny arms looks at me with crazy eyes and launches his bony carriage into the pool like he’s on fire. I wouldn’t mind returning to the womb.
Adults eye me with caution. What do they know? In the funhouse reflection of vending machine glass, kids run in sped up motion, bump into things and ricochet in warped directions. ‘No running by the pool,’ says a sign ensued from memory.
I pat myself for coins. A little brat shoves past me and pounds quarters into the slot with a practiced perfection that makes me nauseated. He selects the last sack of some synthetic salted food, one I was actually considering. It makes no sound as it dislodges from its turning coil. He snatches it and runs off.
I wind up a side stairwell and count the floors as if it matters. I reach the top and decide my lungs feel like plastic wrap laminates them. The door at the top says ‘roof access’. I shove into a sea of fans and antennas.
The roof has a rust finish that shines too brightly so I look away. I move over to a place shaded by something and impress myself with the decision. I decide what to do next. I peer out at the towering buildings all around with people inside them doing what apparently needs doing
It occurs to me that the tin door could have slammed hard enough to trap me. I overcome this neurotic weakness and move into the light. I pull off my shirt to take on the world. A bird, probably a seagull, flies over me and I’m scared of it. It knows how to get food.
A commercial airline, loaded with people apparently going someplace or returning from something to do, roars by. I decide to return to my shaded zone.
A kid in a speedo scoots out the door and scurries to the ledge of the roof and peers down. Where’s the parenting? He listens to his spit smack the pavement then runs to the door and it slams shut.
Thank god the door opens and I go down the stairs. I drag myself back along the original 3rd floor hallway and it feels like I never went anywhere. I didn’t. I throw a fake smile at an aging neighbor who fills her door-space with who the fuck are you concern. I twist the knob on apartment 304 and slip back inside.
Back where I started. I look for something to look at and find the vertical blinds trembling after a truck speeds by. I stretch a bit in the middle of the room and hear my joints pop. I imagine the extra sac of fatty flesh hiding my musculature actually muffles the sound of popping joints.
But then I catch that damn cat watching me. It’s still sitting upright, knowingly, licking its teeth with a condescending stare. I’m useless to her now. She throws a yawn at me. I hiss at the thing. Not a flinch. Just that condescending stare. I lurch and it darts behind the vertical blinds, throwing them into a rattling dance that lets in piercing shafts of daytime. I wish the sun would hurry up and go away.
About the author:
Douglas Schubert has created over 300 minutes of broadcasted material for feature films, TV series, commercials, music videos, and PSA's. He currently works as a writer for several companies and for award-winning director, George Hickenlooper. His work has garnered 2 Clio Awards, 9 MTV Video Music Awards and resulted in the most requested TRL video of all time. New York Press has featured his short fiction and he has been a contributor to NYLON Magazine.
ANT FARM Copyright © 2000 Douglas Schubert