Charmed Existence, 2: Bad Dreams

Previous chapter.

I’m standing in the snow, waiting at the bus stop. I have a car, I choose not to use it. I hate driving in winter, for one thing. My wife uses the car for errands and to visit her family sometimes. We live near an express route so I bus to work. Why wouldn’t I? It’s a great time to catch up on podcasts or do some people watching.

A bus pulls up, but it’s not mine. A grumpy middle-aged woman climbs aboard. She has a broad, round ass, filling out and straining a black linen skirt. For a second I think about following her on the bus, just to stare at her hips. Guess that depends on where she sits. The bus doors close and I watch it drive off.

Gosh, it’s hot. I’d take off my coat but I don’t seem to be wearing one. I look down at my boots: oh, I’m wearing sandals. Those good, complex ones in leather, with all the straps. You can wear socks under them and young women don’t look at you weird. They’re for hiking, I think, but I don’t hike. The morning sun beams on my bare toes, and when I look up, there’s that grumpy woman with the huge, round ass. Oh good, I can get a peek before she gets on the bus.

The bus pulls up. It’s not my route, and I don’t recognize what route it is. What buses are supposed to stop here? The woman climbs aboard, her spherical buttocks jockeying for supremacy, and the bus lurches pretty hard. Wow, that can’t be safe. Some better bring that bus in for repairs. It drives off and its rear wheels splash me.

It’s raining, and the newspaper I’m holding over my head is going limp. Why would I wear sandals in this weather? I look down at my Oxfords, then up at the grumpy woman with the tremendous butt as she boards a bus I don’t recognize. I’m going to be late for work.

The woman takes a seat on the bus and glares at me through the window. Did she catch me staring at her butt? Did someone on the bus rat me out? Her eyebrows are sharp and furious, and one meaty fist pounds on the glass. Wow, she’s powerful, really hammering at that tempered glass. Is it going to break? Could she do that? Toom-toom-toom! It’s so loud. Why isn’t the bus going anywhere? Lady, I’m sorry, just ease up off that window. Toom-toom-toom! What the fuck? She’s really got a huge fist on her…


I fall out of bed, banging my elbows as I cover my ears. The mattress is hard, several layers of berber fleece with a stiff swatch of toile covering it: I roll right off as if I’d passed out on a table. Daylight glows in the window, muted, indirect. Rising to all fours I shake my head and try to control my breathing, control my racing pulse. That fucking−


I squawk—I squawk!—with pain and stumble out of the bedroom. The pristine white four-panel door hung open all night. I bank off the banister but lose my footing on the stairs, carpeted in dense beige ticking. At my greatly reduced mass the tumble doesn’t hurt much at all, just rattles me. This, on top of being waken by that fucking beast, has all my nerves on edge.


I swear my head off during the last audio barrage, giving myself full license to let it all out. I call her such things, I rain such blights upon her head. I rebuke the deity, any deity I can think of, that would permit such a nightmare existence to go on. And then, panting, I rest the back of my head against the busy Victorian wallpaper and push all this anxiety down into a tiny little box, way down deep inside me, and I spit out a hot jet of air. I rise, smear my tousled hair back with one palm, take a deep breath… and smile.

My balled fists fling far to either side as I stretch, pretending to yawn, pretending to be surprised by the gargantuan woman outside the Plexiglas case. There’s her huge goddamned hand, hovering over the entry panel, one finger extended and ready for another bass-driven assault upon my ears. She withdraws her finger and claps excitedly to see me.

“Hello!” she sings. “Good mo-o-o-orning! How ar-r-r-re you?”

It’s morning so the sun’s on the other side of her house. The drapes are drawn so I can see the tops of tall, broad trees catching the early rays, and blue sky. Deep, clear, flawless blue sky. Something about that color, that illuminated azure makes me whimper with longing. Oh, to stare into that sky one more time… lying on real grass, not this rubbery particulate shit…

And I can see her more clearly, not silhouetted like she is in the afternoon. It’s one of those things, you know: she’d be beautiful if she weren’t a deranged monster. She has large, round, seductive eyes with expressive eyebrows, almost cartoonishly expressive. When she’s happy, I almost feel happy just looking at her. When she’s sad, my heart goes a little weak. And when she’s angry, I nearly shit myself.

When she smiles, like she’s doing now, you can’t see how nice her lips are. When she’s relaxed or thoughtful, when her mouth goes slack, they are full, pillowy lips in a perfect cupid’s bow. But when she smiles they stretch a little thin, as though her face weren’t built for how happy she can get, and she shows off every last goddamned tooth in her head, I swear. Long, wide teeth in front, frightening canines, and imperious molars all the way back. I can’t look at her teeth without immediately envisioning my gruesome murder. If for any reason my slim arm got caught between her teeth, she wouldn’t even notice. She’d tear it right out of its socket, she’d liquefy it in one gnash. That is all I can think of when I see that grinning maw, lips stretched taut, hearing her overeager gusts of breath.

My grin is fixed, boy. My grin is plastered on my face. I keep waving up at her, mouthing “good morning” right back up at her. She does that anime thing where she balls up her fists and presses her knuckles against her mouth, palms inward, while she emits a squeal like grinding, tearing steel… no, like…

A long time ago, seems like forever, I was waken up around three in the morning by a noise. I looked over at my wife and she hadn’t wanted to wake me but her eyes were huge and alarmed in the ambient moonglow. “What is that,” she whispered, and I listened. I guessed—and examination the next morning confirmed it—that one of the neighborhood stray cats had caught a baby rabbit. And it couldn’t just snap its neck, like a dog would, no: it had to play with it for a fucking hour. Rabbits sound a lot like human babies when they die: my wife slid over and rested her head on my chest, her fingers digging under my shoulder blades, her hair sifting over my shoulder and bicep, and I cupped her ear in my palm. I lay there, glad to hug this woman, softly rubbing her scalp with my fingertips, while I listened to that poor animal screech and wail like a tormented infant for an hour.

That’s what this gigantic monster sounds like. But larger, louder. Her eyes are huge, clearly delighted, but my blood just turned to ice. And now I wonder if somehow I can swing it so she snaps my scrawny little neck in those huge-ass teeth of hers. Nice and quick, please. End this goddamn playing with me.

Photo by Tiago Rodrigues on Unsplash

2 thoughts on “Charmed Existence, 2: Bad Dreams

  1. Is it a good thing she doesn’t know he feels that way? Maybe, but it’s entirely possible she knows, and she doesn’t give a rat’s ass about it. I want to empathize with the little fellow; I want to understand how he feels to have been taken from his home, and his life, and everything he loves. But I can’t. I side with her. I have to spend not an ounce of effort to see her thoughts in my own head. It’s not ignorance that’s bliss. It’s knowledge. It’s knowing she finally has what she’s always wanted.

    So I squeal with her, and damn the sleeping neighborhood. Or city. Or planet. Or system.

    Liked by 1 person

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