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My Wife’s Terrible Gas

Updated: May 7

We had just arrived back in town from the desert where the air still got somewhat chilly at night — dreary journeys filled with tears so many of us hiked in those final years, despite how much the crime-rate had spiked out on those fringes of sand where even the cacti have given up hope. The world’s hot now. HOT. Unbearable, but the town folks were frolicking in their usual manic — we’d long since forgotten panic. The chefs in the town square simply lay raw meat to cook outside on the street — the act’s charitable; money’s obsolete — in a first-come, first-serve scavenging. Some still clung to their broken cell phones where old photos and vids were aggressively cherished. All the power grids had long since fried, and the Internet perished. Some drunkenly reenacted sports broadcasts like they were the original stars. Who could call them out? Some even wore top hats with leather jackets in gangs riding those tall bicycles with the obnoxious front wheel and handlebars while hootin’ and hollerin’ nonsensical slang. I guess in these crazy days those craves for the past stayed alive, each of us clumsily squirming around like earth worms for norms long gone thanks to that dreadful Sun.

Most of us aren’t ready to accept this as our end, but those who do, in a controversial trend bind themselves from limb to limb in open fields, rising together in the air like trees —thanks to platforms and pulleys — in a form of suicide; whole canopies of families with their bones sun-dried.

My wife, as un-put together as a jigsaw puzzle with her anxiety-ridden giggles and hair tousled, shakes to the point even the pills the local “shaman” (that word being resurfaced by woke pharmaceutical wooks) won’t work anymore. She keeps mentioning with hysterical alacrity the house launching sky-high “bigger than earth’s biggest volcanoes!” Says, “wouldn’t it be nice if we joined Bezos? Wouldn’t that be just glam?” — that lovely space-race of the 2020’s inevitably turned out to be a sham and only billionaires behind closed doors being shown true scenarios well before the common people that our world was too far entangled in a deadly fandango with global warming, but instead of informing us, they put puppets like Biden and Gore at the forefront of it all, begging for more “Green-solutions! All together now! Let’s beat this pollution!” while they built billion-dollar space industries to launch the fleets of the elites as quickly & far away from here as possible in their giant space-rocket dicks. (& occasionally, when the sadistic sauna of day dies & in your bed tossing and turning in sweaty fits, your eyes’ll happen upon a star falling fantastic & slow as a Roman candle’s glow, and you’ll make a wish with the same burning intent, seeing its blazing dissent as the unpredictability of the future — Maybe they’ll take pity; maybe they’ll send supplies; gosh darn it, surely they’ve figured it out up there with all those witty rich guys. You gods, you devils, sutures of the apocalypse! But deepdown… deep down you know, with your wish’s wolffish howl dying as silent as the star itself, somewhere up there the next crock-of-shit script of our species in the sky is taking shape;someone has simply been ex-communicated from their inner circle. Politics never end.)

My seven-year-old son trails behind us as we make our way to the ramshackle restaurant we call home. (The booths make for decent beds for a good bit of us.) He has on his Walkman thanks to two dingy double AA’s I found. The Cranberries, I think, is the cassette tape. I spend half my days bartering and contributing to the town, and the other half finding any way I can t’distract him from this hell with the old ordinary.

“Wouldn’t it be nice…” my wife trails off again, her hands fidget so much she drops the bread and dairy we’d bartered on our way in with the suburban Amish in exchange for my son’s comic books and other secular novels from my wife’s extensive collection. (Even they haveforsaken God for John Grisham.)

“Babe, it’s OKAY. They’re coming for us,” I laugh feebly gathering our food.

I haven’t had a real laugh in over a year when I caught word Richard Branson sent down crates upon crates of Virgin records, each one signed with a note “You’ve got this, mates!” Many regarded it as a promising omen, but I knew then we were on our own.

“I know, honey. I know,” she replies in that fake smile she used t’give customers when waitressing at the local diner while slowly loosing her ever-living shit. We drag ourselves past the heavily-armed distillery; past the old library where librarians, revered as monks, diligently preserve our history; over the train tracks — whereon trains still zoom through, but by whom we never knew; they never stopped — till finally we stood before an abandoned IHOP. Home.

Inside, utterly beaten, my wife and I crawl into our booths and lay out our food to be eaten next to an old game of Jumanji. We don’t own much other than board games and laundry. Nobody steals anything anymore unless it’s booze, so we never really worry about that even while we snooze. And tonight I’ve something special planned for my son: on our way back from the Sand, I happened upon a half-full tank of gas, and during those few fortunate times when I can find some, my son knows despite the day’s doom and gloom, after dinner I can run the generator hooked up to a NASCAR arcade machine in the old cooks’ break room.

He’s ecstatic, practically jumping for joy, and choking back tears I smile seeing him living life as a normal boy. The machine roars alive with engines blaring & some famous driver preparing him for the “ultimate race” as blue, yellow, and red lights dance across his eager face. I leave him alone to retire to bed, another late sweaty night with the fate of my family resting heavy on my head.

 

***

 

Midnight.

Startled, I awaken from the locals getting restless at the downtown bars, chanting & chanting — hours and hours of intoxicated cackles, shrieks and drums. The electricity in the air ominously hums. My wife is no where to be found; I assume she’s gone to use the bathroom, but why so long? I’m discombobulated. The locals are getting louder, their debauched chants marching up the hills to the house.

“Sky-uh hi-yuh. Sky-uh hi-yuh! Sky-uh hi-yuh!”

I observe the arcade lights raving away from the break room, the sounds of the cars pinging my groggy ears as my son overtakes second place. I smell spoiled eggs in the air and find this ironic since long ago breakfast was served here and then notice a dim glow seepingfrom the kitchen. I gently nudge through the swing doors to see my wife with a smile as big as I’ve ever seen.

“Babe?” I ask uncertain if she’s noticed my arrival. “Honey?” I try once more, and after an excruciatingly long second, she slowly looks up at me with that same impish grin, her eyes a million miles away glowing like hellfire from the Zippo lighter she’s holding close to her chin.

“Wouldn’t it be nice?” she asks in the softest whisper, and it was in this moment I hear the hissing of a ruptured gas pipe from one of the old grills. I yelp in horror rushing over to stop her, but it’s too late… much too late as she lowers the lighter towards the gas.


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