Huntite Drool: or The Agony of Flame Retardant Pillows at the End of the World
Good afternoon, Mr Thorne. How is your back today?
“Like you kicked it, retard.”
Seriously, you shouldn’t use that term as a derogatory–
“If you were smart, you wouldn’t be here.”
I am here.
“Then get that bitch in there to get me some flapjacks.”
In a minute. And going back to my previous admonishments–
You shouldn’t use the word ‘retard’, its very insensitive. The intellectually challenged and those who assist and defend them feel them term ‘retard’ is as inappropriate and rude as any racial slur.
“You wanna hear some racial slurs, boy?”
Tell me, Mr. Thorne, you mentioned the other day that you have some pieces that you felt weren’t stolen from you because of their graphic nature.
“Well, graphic then isn’t exactly graphic now. Hell, there’s tits and snatch and bloody violence and fornicating all over television these days … and that’s just the news.”
Will you share one of those with me?
“I don’t have tits or a snatch.”
I meant a graphic story you’ve written. What genre did you write these in?
“They had just dropped the big one, and I started thinking post-apocalypse as a genre for the first time.”
I’m pretty sure the first post-apocalyptic stories came well before World War II.
“You want this or not?”
I should probably shit first – I had a long drive to get here and a cheeseburger before I left.
My Name Is Ape
My name is Ape.
My mother is outside again, I can hear her voice through the dusty screen of the window across the kitchen table and behind my baby brother, Fang.
My mother is speaking to the men who are filling a hole in the ground with dirt. She paid the men last week with several small bills, and then she paid them again in her room with screaming and thick bodies on a plastic mattress. There must have been four or five of them. I listened intently to the sound they made, and I knew what they were doing but I could not keep myself from listening.
The men have built a bomb shelter for my mother in her back yard. I don’t know why she felt she needed one, but now she has one.
Fang is crying.
I want to look outside, but my eyes resist me and continue to stare at the kitchen table where I’m seated. The plastic covering of the table is slit in several places and yellow foam padding peaks out like weird flesh under skin. I reach out and tear a chunk of it away.
I eat the foam and drool.
My name is Ape.
Fang is hungry, I can tell.
I know I can fix him a small plate with his baby food on it, but my other half is more powerful and stares stupidly at the table.
I tear away more foam and eat it.
The screen door screams open and my mother walks in with her men. The sound of them shuffling across the filthy linoleum sounds like my favorite cardboard box when I fill it with sand and slowly shake it.
My mother took my cardboard box last week and filled it with food from the pantry. I was angry with her, but my other side just drooled and fondled myself.
The men shuffle past wordlessly to my mother’s bedroom and one of them punches me in the back of the head. I giggle stupidly and begin to rock back and forth, moaning.
Fang is panting and hungry, but I cannot feed him.
I hear the door to my mother’s room shut and the screaming begins.
My name is Ape.
I can’t remember when I sat down at the kitchen table, but I have been here for a while. Fang hasn’t been here as long, but he’s already worse off than me. I have my foam. Fang has nothing.
I know I should feed him and take care of him, but I am what people call mentally retarded. I cannot tell people that I am not mentally retarded, and because of this they assume that I am.
My name is Ape.
I think profound thoughts, but cannot speak.
I want to act but cannot move.
I want to experience life but my other side has destroyed all of me but this one last dusty corner of consciousness.
I have my thoughts and my inability to act on them.
Fang begins to cry again.
The screaming and thudding from my mother’s room gets louder and I cannot decide which noise I want to extinguish more.
I begin to rise from my chair, pulling a handful of foam with me as I go. I don’t want to do this, but I am not in control of my body. I start to limp around the table towards Fang, but something is in my way. I know I should look down to see what it is, but my eyes don’t listen and stare stupidly ahead. I continue to try and walk, but continuously my feet run into something heavy and rigid.
One of my feet manages to rise high enough to clear the obstruction, but comes down short and I step on the thing in my way. There is a crunch and I feel liquid something run over both my feet.
The stench is immediate. I realize that I’ve smelt this pungent aroma for several days now, but at the moment it has become much worse.
The other side of me finally decides to look down.
I almost recognize the face as my dog, Beaver, but the fleshy grey putrescence that my foot has descended into doesn’t resemble the ribcage I know should be there.
I know Beaver has died.
I cannot do anything about it.
My name is Ape.
I manage to navigate around my dead dog and the table, carrying a handful of foam with me.
Fang looks up at me and smiles.
I feel myself smiling too and my hand, the one I’m not in control of, gives the foam to Fang.
Fang looks at it curiously and tests a bit of it for flavor.
His face crinkles up as his pulls the foam away, bringing with it a thick string of saliva.
The other side of me wants him to eat this, so the other side of me feeds it to him.
Fang stops crying, though he does make a kind of muffled moan.
I continue to feed him, pulling fresh foam from under the plastic skin of the table.
My mother and the men re-enter the kitchen and begin their dirty shuffle to the screen door. I see my mother but she doesn’t look at me. One of the men points and laughs at me.
The men shuffle out the door and I hear one of them say, “Why don’t you just kill that retard?”
My mother doesn’t answer and shuts the door.
Silently, she shuffles back to her room, her robe open to me. Her body is slimy like a snail and I can imagine a thin highway of slime left behind by her. I can see she has been cut and bruised in several places and blood runs down between her legs.
She doesn’t notice Fang and I.
Fang has stopped crying.
I hear her door close and I move back around to my chair.
My name is Ape.
A few days pass before I see my mother.
I’ve been drinking from the dog’s stagnant bowl and have finished off the rotten fruit I found in the pantry.
Vomit decorates the linoleum in several places and there is a heavy sweet stench hanging like velvet drapes.
Fang has turned a dark grey and has begun to smell too.
He’s not crying anymore.
When I finally do see my mother, she’s wearing a yellow radiation suit and carrying metal crates out to the bomb shelter.
She still doesn’t look at me.
All day long she carries these crates past me and into the backyard.
I stare stupidly at the table and occasionally I giggle and drool.
One of Fang’s eyes is no longer round and black liquid runs down his cheek.
I know that I’ve killed my baby brother, and I know that what I’ve done is what is best for him. I regret that the other side of me did this out of sheer stupidity.
My name is Ape.
I giggle and drool.
I turn and see my mother smiling through the plastic shield of her protective helmet. Her voice is muffled, but I can still make out what she’s saying.
Somewhere in the background I can hear a wailing like police sirens and the sound of a frightened voice on the radio.
“Ape, Baby, I need your big strong arms, okay?”
I nod and rise with difficulty. My muscles are gelatinous.
“Go get Mommy’s television and carry it outside. Okay, Ape?”
I nod and walk to her room.
In my mother’s room, there is very little left. The plastic mattress is gone and so are the men. All I can see is pill bottles littering every surface and her television sitting in the middle of the floor.
I walk over and lift the television, spilling the dozen pill bottles that were sitting on top of it.
“Good boy, Ape,” my mother says, leading me out of her room.
I carry the television through the kitchen and glance at Fang’s lifeless grey body.
My eyes fall on the immobile shape of my dog, Beaver.
I think I feel a tear run down my cheek, but it may just be the sweat from my brow.
I follow my mother through to the back yard and over to the bomb shelter.
My mother goes in first, walking carefully down the fifty or so steps leading down from the heavily reinforced doors.
“Be careful now, Ape,” my mother says. “Don’t drop the television.”
I begin to slowly walk down the steps.
I peek my head around the television and can see her at the bottom of the steps.
“Now when you’re done, I want you to go back into the kitchen and take care of Fang for me, ok?”
She’s smiling at me.
“Mommy’s going to make this her new room, ok? You and Fang can have the house all to yourselves. Okay baby?”
I do not know what my real name is, but it is not Ape.
I do not know what my brother’s real name is, but it is not Fang.
I do know that people think I am mentally retarded.
I do know that I am not.
I am me.
With a grunt, I lift the television over my head.
My mother’s face melts behind her plastic shield.
I throw the television at her with all my might.
I hear glass shatter and her body crumples underneath the television.
Blood runs out from her yellow radiation suit.
I turn and exit the shelter, closing the door behind me as the wind picks up and sirens begin to wail.
I look around for a moment and sigh.
My name is Jeffrey.
The bomb is dropped.
My skin melts, my eyes explode.