Allied prosthetic arm on one shoulder, and an unshaven back on the other, Liaz set out into the forest of the supply closet, ready to do battle with the dust motes that might thrust their bodies down his gut by way of his choking throat. It being a Wednesday, chances were high.
"Think," he said. "Think about this one more time. Think about the last time this happen. How much mess you made, Katyusha." He checks the rear-view mirror. "We ride to fix it again."
Peacefully the pillow yet sinks. The muffled guffaw gets quieter and the thrashing settles. A little bit longer still and the quiet burps out that one last gasp and into the wail of waiting sirens. Duck down, as comfortable as it feels, stretches out time. Time we no longer have to give.
The students don't question Mr Wessel. They're more distracted by the smell and the slime. They pick up their frogs and splay them out with pins and set to flay. There are giggles, there are urks of fake vomiting, but overall the class moves along.
Baby, you're driving me crazy. I think my therapist is paying you. Are you on her payroll? Or are you just doing this because you like to see me Hurt? I'll be your Elephant Man all you want, just wash the bag before you put it on.
"Please, be seated. This will only take a few minutes. If you prefer to stand, kindly move to the back of the room and help yourself to some of the refreshments."
The masquerade ends at eleven. On the stroke of midnight the rentals come due, being the next day and all. Standing at the stoops, bulbous carriages and plump old ladies with growths on their backs. Some shoot up dragons, falling over on their faces as they rub glitter bombs deep into their gums.
Earth, that grit of soil and dirt under your fingernails, exists to remind you of where you're going. Not out in flames, running down the hall chasing the man with a fire extinguisher. But quietly, in the night, with your grandchildren all watching peacefully as they cover your face with a pillow your spouse found at a garage sale.
Optimism is no mild and unreasoning satisfaction. A poet once said, "Be cold, but live in a beautiful dream. It is a mistake to ignore the evil." By making people neglectful it lets in the ignorance and indifference. How many good men, prosperous and contented, saw naught but a meddlesome fanatic when he was working with might and main to free the slaves?
She mixed his coffee with milk, made photocopies of carbon triplicates (of the pink sheets, where you can only see faint marks in the first place) and filed take-away menus alongside expense reports. She was either deliberately incompetent or a setup, sent over by the agency after they were tired of finding replacements.
Candle against the wind, the weak light flickers on, casting a shadow that scares itself. A gust blows through and quiets the flame. A spire of smoke races for the clouds and a drip of wax runs down her hand. She leans down and picks up the faint glow coming from the phone.
Friends waiting outside jostle for a look-see. The fat one stands on his dog's shoulders, angling over the shadows of the mausoleum but without luck. Shlurp and tinkle later and a boy runs out with two copper coins. Now they can hit the arcade. Now they can get one back over those damn carnies.
"Petar! Don't!" said the girl in the coat in the corner of the back of the lab on the second floor of the building sitting atop a mass grave of dinosaurs and other fossils. She ran over and knocked the beaker out of his hand, out of his lips and out the window.