The water was cold and no one was home so it felt like he could die in it. Kenneth stood there naked, forcing himself to embrace the onslaught of ice water rushing over him. The gas bill had gone unpaid for months.
He stepped out of the shower into the warm late summer air carried in through open windows. Toweling off, he saw no reason to clothe himself and roamed nude through the house smoking a cigarette.
He watched it hang in the air.
Drift toward a window.
He had begun staying there a few weeks prior, sleeping on the floor in an empty room. It was a beautiful house, towering columns adorning the front walkway leading up to the door. He lived there with Alex and some floozy named Karen they had all screwed one time or another. Word was she’d gone dyke, but he heard Alex fuck her every night, their howls bouncing along the empty walls.
Alex’s mother had bought the house and had lived there for sometime before marrying a wealthy man in East Cobb. She moved out with him, taking with her every last antique armchair and oriental rug that had once graced its expansive rooms, leaving the skeleton of a home to rot.
Alex needed only pay the utilities and the place was his, rent free. But soon after moving in, he was fired from his job at the W. Afterward, his apathy grew with the pile of bills. Kenneth had seen him throw them away unopened.
One by one the utilities were cut off.
And day by day they needed them less.
Cavemen eat beer and dance around fires.
Kenneth lounged naked in the writhing air, book in hand, until Karen got home from work.
“Put some fucking clothes on,” she sneered, setting down her purse.
Mocking her, he slapped his dick on his stomach until she was gone.
That evening, a few people came over and someone brought some Evan Williams. Kenneth thought dark liquor brought out the worst in most folks. He stuck to beer.
A childish buzz filled the house, 80s new wave bopping through neon expanse. Alex was doing the robot with his motorcycle helmet on. Karen wrestled with some blonde girl.
Amid the bedlam, Kenneth stood anxiously, hovering from one excitement to another, a hummingbird. Laughter and spirits spilt across the house, running down the walls, splashing on his dancing shoes.
The blonde was now staring at him from across the kitchen. She lowered her head and smiled.
“Do you live here?” she asked after a static pause.
“What’s your name?”
A humming silence fell between them, the surrounding nonsense falling out of frame. He wondered what she was thinking, what mechanisms were at work behind her big, dumb eyes.
The room emptied in his mind, a planar schematic branching from her feet to his, pulsing with light wheels and information
The dark of her eyes flashed with innocence.
She picked up a beer and walked out of the kitchen.
“You should go for that,” said the motorcycle helmet, sloshing in.
“She wouldn’t let me,” he replied, lost somewhere.
Out for a smoke, Kenneth noticed something scurry across the backyard. It turned toward him, demon eyes reflecting in the moonlight.
Rushing to the garage, he grabbed a long metal pole and headed back out. Alex followed him.
“What is it?”
“A fucking possum.”
“What are you going to do?”
“Fuck with it.”
“That bastards gonna give you rabies, man.”
They stalked along the yard until Alex spotted its ugly shadow. Chasing it into a bush, Kenneth poked it, provoked strange hisses and gnashing teeth. Whacking at the bush again, it flew from cover, darting out into the night.
Reacting with precision, Kenneth lifted the pole far above his head and swung, coming down with a crack on the creature’s back.
How it shrieked.
It lay there, bent, its legs clawing at the grass. Kenneth studied its moonlit eyes as if peering into his own. Its back was broken.
Panic filled him.
Its stupidity enraged him.
He swore his brain was swelling.
“Fuck. Now what, you sick fuck?” Alex asked, “It’s mangled.”
“I don’t know. It scared me. It still scares me.”
“Well put it out of its misery. The son of a bitch is done for.”
Its dumb eyes begged for an end.
Alex looked on, mouth open, and Kenneth raised the pole again.
“Go home, little monster,” he whispered.
Then he beat the possum’s head in, brutal swings landing again and again until its tail flailed no more. Its jaw hung sideways, its head a mess of blood, hair, and grass. Kenneth sat down, panting, distressed.
He looked into its eyes for a longtime, only the moon staring back.
That night he dreamt of barbaric men dancing around a fire, all blue in the light of it. They sang and drank, their blue bodies entangled in the mist. He awoke with their haunting song in his head. It was early morning, the air was hot and pink. He walked out back to inspect the carcass to find that it had been dragged some distance across the yard, leaving a streak of fur. Its lower half was missing.
Or fox maybe.
The dew glistened around its hopeless form. Flies buzzed in the green and he lit a cigarette, humming a caveman song.