He isn't sure when he started wearing the ski mask. The ski mask was definitely after the yard work glove. He remembers because after the hell his wife gave him for wearing one glove (with the elastic wristband, velcro strap, cutouts at the knuckles) the ski mask went down easy. At least when he wears that damn mask, she yells over the din of the tvs (four of them haphazardly piled one atop the other: a fools' tower of babel comprised of shrieking upset housewives and enthusiastic hirsute salesmen). There is plausible deniability and it spares her some of the grief. She pleads with an invisible police officer who has apparently wandered into the room. She has never seen that man in her life, she wails. Her mock innocence morphs into frustration as her gaze falls on a box of chocolate-covered raisin just outside the reach of her grabber. Now she needs him, he thinks.

His failed attempt at vigilantism is becoming a common topic of discussion around the condo. He leaves the fanny-pack in the glove box and the wiffle ball bat in the trunk. He's not ready to answer those questions yet. He has been drawing unemployment for two months. That is one method for measuring it.

Most superheros do something for the greater good, she yells. Fuck her, he mouths into the mirror on the outside of the bathroom door down the hall from her room. He leans in very close and says it just loud enough that he can barely hear it. The steam on the mirror charges up under his nose and leaves an angry wet dot. He turns the steamy smudge into a grimace and takes pleasure in watching the bullet hole of his noseprint dripping lazily down the vapor-man's stark visage. He tries to match it. He isn't convinced.

The youngest child opens the door an inch, shrieks and throws it shut. As the door closes he can make out two more children in the tub and a third standing on the toilet seat playing in the back of the tank. He heaves a great sigh, pulls the mask back down off his brow and snugly under his chin. He mumbles something about going to the store and smokes a cigarette in the Skylark instead. There are now only two left in the fanny-pack and the four flimsy matches in the Stop-n-Gulp book. Some clerk wrote 'you will die' on the inside of the matchbook. It's true.

The Skylark takes several minutes to warm all the way up, while various dash lights come on and off and the car makes noises like a motor boat regulating ballast water. Most times the light-headedness of the second cigarette wears off just as he's pulling out of the condo lot onto rural route 23, but today he waits til he's out on the open road to light up that penultimate dale. Terry's going to get it tonight, boy.

1 comment:

capn glick said...