fiction restingplace

by William Peacock

No one has ever been in my bed, not even me. I can't bear the idea of climbing into the cold sheets, no other body to warm my own. Consequently I sleep underneath the bed, where I'm hidden and only a spider or roach will occasionally crawl across me in the night. Somehow it's all fitting, appropriate.

I'm gaining weight and it isn't as easy to slip under the bed as it used to be. More and more it feels like a coffin.

Two figures haunt me. Both are fat men in their fifties who live in my apartment building. One is redbearded and talks too much. When he catches me in the hall he seizes my arm and stands talking into my face for thirty minutes about the latest action figure he's added to his collection. The other one, black, sits on the front steps, picking his nose and staring, and turns his face away if you say hello. They haunt me because I don't know which one I am.

I'm ugly. My youth is almost all used up, and I never even used it.

I fantasize constantly about suicide. It is all insincere, since the appeal of suicide is the too brief sadness I imagine it causing the people I know. That vain, frivolous girl sitting at her window, carefully phrasing her diary entries, would write, "I should have loved him. I should have let him buy me an ice cream cone." The paradox, of course, is that I would not be alive to enjoy this sadness. I know I will never commit suicide. There are too many books I still want to read, and if I honestly wanted to die, really murder myself, literature would no longer hold value for me. Yes, there are reasons to live. My only complaint is that there aren't more.

In order to be content I must remain in a state of perpetual nonsexual escapism.

Somehow, in my day-to-day interactions, I never think of women as having vaginas. To do so however, to consciously picture a cashier, stewardess, teacher, policewoman with a vagina renders her instantaneously ludicrous and invalid.

Mostly, I never look at the opposite sex. Eye contact is humiliation enough.

Sometimes I wonder if I could bring myself to tongue a woman's asshole. I think about it constantly. Why this particular act? Why not? What's the difference between that and anything else? A romantic dinner, a conversation, a therapy session, for instance.

Therapy is only a confidence game. You're tricked into believing you have a friend, when really it's only a prostitute—albeit a very clever one with scientific pretensions—a board certified prostitute whom you pay to listen with patience and synthetic sympathy to all of your boring perversions.

And yes, you are boring, as we all are.

A poetic printing error on my last therapist's card rendered her "Leslie L. Loeb, Licensed The rapist". I couldn't agree more. Who else knows more about me? She's eaten my brain like a plate of spaghetti, too tactful to mention how lukewarm, how mediocre, how like every other plate of spaghetti she's ever eaten it was, though it was plain enough from Leslie's expression, or professional lack thereof.

The sessions ended when she accused me of coming on to her—and I did, but not in the way you're thinking.

"You look sad," she had the nerve to say to me once.

My rapist.

A married couple, pitying me, invites me on vacation with them to their summer cottage on the lake. Their feeling is that I will benefit from listening to them make love in the next room while I attempt to sleep.

The next morning they knock on my door but I don't feel like talking and don't respond. They enter unbidden and, not being familiar with my habit of underlying the bed, believe I have escaped. The two of them sit on the untouched bed and begin discussing me like I'm not in the room.

"It's too bad about Claude, isn't it? Too bad he can't be happy."

"It's all in his head," he tells her, probably slipping his arm around her waist. "I don't think Claude even wants to be happy, so I wouldn't worry too much about him if I were you."

An audible smooch. Their feet disappear as they stretch out and creak the springs a little. They're just lying over me, not moving. Gazing into each other's eyes, I imagine.

Her name is Abigail. In my heart, my tongue is in her ass.

Now the bed is creaking again. Two or three garments alight on the carpet. Abigail is making the tiniest noise, like a wounded tit or the loneliest mouse that ever lived. I mimic this noise involuntarily, making it softly in my throat, faintly so that they won't learn I'm under here.

When will they leave me alone?

About the Author

William Peacock makes his living as a library factotum in Kansas City. His stories have appeared in Bryant Literary Review, Space Squid, and Bat City Review, with further work forthcoming in Fictodium and Pank.

322 Review is a journal that publishes provocative emerging and established artists. Operated by Rowan University graduate students enrolled in the Master of Arts in Writing Program, 322 Review is aggressively seeking the best fiction, creative nonfiction, poetry, mixed genre, and mixed media works of visual art.