fiction by Jason Edwards
Something wrong with this apartment, but I’m not sure what. Like when you flush the toilet, the oven turns on (not really). Or like when I’ll go to use the microwave, and the TV changes channel. I tried unplugging the TV, but then the shower wouldn’t work. Plug the TV back in, shower works, but only cold water unless I leave the front door open. Unnerving. Try to open the window to see if the dog is still there, the faucet comes on. Let it run once, because I really needed to see that dog. Got thirsty, looking at that dog. Picked up a the remote control where it had fallen off the coffee table, which opened the cupboard. Took out a glass, the alarm clock in the bedroom went off. Water from the tap tasted different than it did if I opened the refrigerator to make the tap run.
Maybe it’s haunted? Can’t really worry about that. Dog. Out the window, down the street, sunny day, dog standing there, on a leash, leash disappears into the bushes. One hundred percent sure the bush is not walking the dog. The dog is not tied to the bush. There’s someone hiding in the bush. I’ll call him the dog walker.
Thirsty again, faucet’s not working, or if it is, it’s working to turn the shower on and off. Think about drinking shower water but when I open the cupboard for a cup the shower turns too hot. Why did I try the faucet before I took out a cup? Go and check the window, bush is no longer tied to the dog. Dog is closer, tied to a mailbox, can’t tell if the dog walker is hiding behind the mailbox. That reminds me, check my email, click on the email icon, Minesweeper starts, play three games until I solve a sixteen by sixteen in less than sixty seconds, which turns on the faucet, so I jump to it and fill my cup and it tastes sort of chalky.
Turn off the computer, which starts minesweeper again, solve a ten by ten in less than ten seconds but only because I got lucky, shower starts, but I have to pee, so I pee and turn off the shower which flushes the toilet. Call that a victory. Open the refrigerator to wash my hands, window slams shut, jump over to it to find the dog. Mailbox is closer now, dog still tied to it, and both next to a different bush, bush probably hiding dog walker. Can’t tell what kind of dog it is.
Feel queasy, not sure why, want water, but decide I’m queasy because I touched the refrigerator and the oven (not really) after I went pee but before I washed my hands. Glad I feel queasy, proves I’m human. Decide to check anyway, open the cupboard to see if it does anything to my body. Nothing. Take out some sani-wipes. Open sani wipes. Nothing in the apartment changes. Wipe down refrigerator handle, window sill. Look for dog but only glance and purposefully not where he just was and don’t see anything and deduce. Feel like apartment is calming down . Feel like I’m calming down. Step on foot pedal of trash can without even thinking about it to throw away soiled sani wipe, TV starts, cupboards open, shower starts, toilet flushes, computer starts, shoelaces come untied.
Run around apartment turning things off and closing things and turning other things back on that get turned off by accident when I try to close something else or open something. Feel sort of relieved that there’s something still wrong with the apartment. Look for bottled water in fridge, find some, at least five different brands. Open cupboard, oven turns on (not really) for a jug, pour all of the bottled waters into the jug. It’s one of those jugs with a spigot. Consider not turning on the spigot. Sort of afraid what will happen if I do. Stare at the spigot for a while. Window slams shut, don’t remember opening it. Look at my hand, remote control in my hand, thumb firmly pressing “play.” That’s funny.
Open spigot, fill cup, walk over to window, open window, dog no longer tied to mailbox, mailbox back where it belongs, dog tied to bike rack, no bikes on bike rack, no bushes near bike rack, but nearby door stands ajar. Aha. Run around apartment turning things on and off and closing and opening things to see if it makes the ajar door close. Ajar door does not close. Try the remote control. TV comes on, advertisement for bottled water. Not sure what language it’s in. Not sure what language I speak. Open mouth to say something, hear a barking come from outside. Can’t possible have come from dog.
Run to window, spill some water on the way, don’t remember not setting cup down. Can’t decide if I should flush the toilet to open the cupboard to fetch the mop or risk taking batteries out of remote to see if it will make the dishcloth fall off the rack by the sink and maybe sudden odd wind from window will swirl dishcloth over spilled water. Or get on my hands and knees and lap it up. Like a dog. Check window instead, open it, computer turns on, ignore that, can’t see dog, mailbox now tied to bike rack, door no longer ajar, bush where mailbox was, not sure if there’s a dog hiding behind it or not.
Turn to check email, slip on puddle, fall, lie in it. Lie very still. Very very still. Try not to think about things. Try not to think about doors and handles and switches and buttons and levers and dials and hydrogen and oxygen and oxygen and dogs and leashes and dog walkers.
Or Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar.
Or Plath and Wevill and Nicholas.
Or the father, the son, and the holy ghost.
Or lions and tigers and bears.
Become very still. Stop breathing. Refrigerator door half open. Water tap half running, shower half on, toilet mildly swirling, TV on but muted, Minesweeper demo playing itself on computer, water slowly soaking into my shirt and jeans. Am I wearing shoes. Gently wiggle toes to check for shoes. Wearing shoes. They feel loose. They feel like the laces are not tied tight. Close my eyes, imagine sinking into floor. Sinking into yesterday. Sinking into the sink.
Do not fall asleep. Wholly aware of my surroundings. Do not wake up next to a leash, an open door, a missing dog, and an empty bottle of water in my hand. Instead, simply stand, wait for head rush to pass. Calmly shut refrigerator, turn off shower, jiggle toilet handle, close cupboard, shut down computer, look out window. Can’t see dog. Can’t see dog walker. Lean way out to see further down street, no dog, no walker, one mailbox, easy to see it’s too small to hide behind, bush has sunlight streaming through it revealing all, which is nothing, lean out further, lean way out, lean way way out, there’s the dog right in front of my building, leashed tied to hand rail, start to fall, see the front door of my building closing as I fall, sharp pain in my hip, my knee, as shoelace is caught on window when it slams shut.
Dangling. Feel stupid. Dog just looks up at me, wagging his tail and panting. Blood rushing to my head. I can hear someone open the door to my apartment. I pray to God they don’t do anything to make the window open or I’m dead. I pray to God they brought their own bottles of water.