The toilet flushes. Your legs are numb from sitting there for so long, and as you stand to put the seat down, you gaze in at the floating pieces of corn, wondering, what’s the point?
It’s like food redundancy.
With a sigh you leave the bathroom, clutching your gut and spraying a wake of Febreze on your way to the kitchen. You stop at the fridge, contemplating in what country it’s five o’ clock. You don’t listen to Country music, but if you did, you’re sure you’d play that Alan Jackson song on permanent repeat.
The phone rings.
Slowly, you peer over the fridge door. Like a savage studying a strange, dangerous creature, you stare wildly at the small black machine as it calls out to you. A tremor travels down your spine with each ring. Finally it stops. Just like that.
A smile creeps across your lips. It’s over! You…you don’t have to answer it! A warmth blooms through your chest and the roof opens up! The sun serenades you as the moaning outside engulfs you with discordant song. You can just see the hordes of undead dancing, twirling with jerky delight—
It rings again.
You grunt, grab a beer and close the fridge. Popping the cap on the edge of the table as you walk past, you never take your eyes from the phone. Still it rings, calling you, saying your name.
The ringing stops.
You take a drink. It must be over. You think. Now I can nurse my throbbing digestive tract in pea—
There’s a knock at the door.
It rings again.
You sulk over to the door and wrench it wide open with your free hand.
Standing before you is a pretty young zombie. She’s dressed like a whore. Blue and green veins span her limbs like highways on a Smurf road map; interconnecting infected bite wound cities. Her eyes are milky orbs, floating on pools of dark patches. In one hand she holds a bundle of blanket and flesh — a sleeping mound of baby. In the other there hangs a large, tan bag with little teddy bear designs all over it.
“Hey l’il brother!” she croons as she plows past you into the house.
Suddenly another zombie, dressed in a t-shirt, wearing a baseball cap and carrying a large camera slides by. At his tail comes another, this one carrying a long steel rod with a padded microphone on the end. Finally, a business man comes in. He flashes a sheet of paper at you.
“Heya! We’re the crew for the hit reality series, “Trailer of Love.” We need you to sign this.”
You open your mouth, but you can’t find a single word.
“Or I can just forge it later.” says the suit. “It essentially waves all your rights and allows us to use your image in any way deemed necessary by the studio in the show. Here’s your promotional pack of cigarettes!”
He turns to your sister. “Now, Debbie, just be yourself. Camera?”
“Rolling,” says the cameraman as he knocks over your end table, spraying ashes along the floor.
Yep, still ringing.
You take another drink and close the door.
“Trailer of Love, Episode three: Debby’s Brother is a Dick”
Debbie slides the diaper bag on the ground, and drops down on the couch. The baby stirs as she pulls a cigarette from out of nowhere.
“Damn, don’tcha know it’s like, the morning?” she says. “Ain’t it a bit early to be hitting the booze?”
The camera turns to you.
“Got a light?” she adds.
“No.” you lie. “Why are you here?”
“Just needed a place to sit for a bit.” she says as she fishes in the bag. “You know, while Marco does his thing. He was kinda hungry, so he went next door for a bite. He was all like, ‘I want somethin’ Kosher,’ and I said to him, ‘you stupid asshole, they ain’t Buddhists over there.’”
“Jesus, you gunna answer that?” she asks as she finally pulls out a lighter.
Cut to camera 5:
Debbie: ”So, I walk up and my bro’s all actin’ like a major douche, drinkin’ beer for breakfast and beep. First he invites me in, then he’s gettin’ all drunk and beep while I got the baby, askin’ me why I’m even there! And the phone just rings and he ignores it, givin’ me some dirty eye like I’m the bad guy! I was, like, this close to throwin’ down ‘cause of that shit.”
The baby stirs, coughs in complaint.
“So, Angel’s been talking all kinds of shit about me, sayin’ I’m a bad mom and shit but that bitch don’t know shit and she’s gunna get her ass kicked in if she don’t quit talking that shit, ya know? Oh, mom wants to know if you liked that liver and corn casserole.”
Your stomach turns at the reminder. You nod, your broken smile a grimace.
The ringing stops.
The baby starts crying.
You take a drink.
“And Marco’s doin’ so good! He don’t eat no more than two people a day and shit and he’s lookin’ at a raise at the shop and shit but there’s this guy—”
You feel your eyes slowly gloss over. Her words grow muted, as if she’s speaking underwater. Your stomach complains and you long for the cool privacy of your toilet…
Cut to camera 5.
Debbie: “So, I’m all tryin’ to tell him some important beep, and he just stands there, like a beep‘in zombie. And I’m all talkin’ ‘bout mom, and he just don’t give a beep.”
“—kicks his bitch ass for talkin’ shit, and Angel’s his bitch or something, and she’s all like ‘ah hell naw!’ And I was like ‘bitch’ and I told her I wasn’t takin’ no more of that shit and shit. Hey, you listenin’ to me?”
The baby cries, snapping you back.
The phone rings.
Suddenly the door bursts open. A man scrambles in, screaming. “Please! Help me! It’s coming—” but a greenish hand reaches out, clutching his face, pulling his head back like a human Pez dispenser. A muscular zombie with a large mound of hair greased up in the front reaches around, tearing the man’s throat open. They fall to the ground in a squishy thud, awash in wet munching sounds.
The camera follows the action.
“Hey baby!” Debbie cries with a smile.
“Yo babe,” says the zombie, flashing her a moist, crimson grin from atop the fresh corpse. He wipes his mouth as he stands, then holds the dripping hand out to shake. “Hey Mack. So yeah, you got this body, right? I’d clean it up myself, but I got some creepin’ to do, if ya know what I mean!”
You just stare in numb silence.
Cut to camera 6.
Marco: “What’s up with with Debbie’s bro? First he invites me in, and then gives me this stupid face when I ask him if I can leave a little trash behind, ya know? And he won’t even shake my hand, like he’s too good for me or some beep. He’s lucky I didn’t rearrange his face.”
“Okay, see ya later bro! Love ya!” Debbie sings.
After a hard glare from Marco, they’re gone, followed by the Cameraman and sound guy.
On his way out, the suit says, “Heya! You did great. We’ll do lunch sometime. Ciao!”
A strange silence falls over the room. The familiar noise of the zombie hordes fills the air, and you breathe deep.
You realize the beer is empty and there’s a draining corpse at your open door.
You’re facing a crisis of priorities.
With a gurgle of bowels, the decision is made.
Wandering back toward the bathroom, you wonder just how much corn you could possibly have left over, while somewhere in the recesses of your mind you are dimly aware that, whatever the answer, it will surely be the high point of your day.
© 2012 J. Chris Lawrence