He sat at the table, a vacuum, sucking the life out of everything, wilfully not making eye contact with a family he couldn’t bear to converse with, which was as exhausting as the myriad petty household jobs he had on his Sisyphean to-do list. His wife with her joyless comments, the absence of hope she represented, incapable of being satisfied, incapable of so many everyday tasks. His children, little sucky leeches sucking the blood from his veins, and him, a poor, wraithlike memory of a once-oblivious, satisfied, idle man.
The place wouldn’t run without him, but he might run. Mostly from the (INSANE) accusations of incompetence and remonstrations over his lack of telepathy. If you want a supernatural savant, he said, find god or something, leave me the fuck alone. Write a list and pin it to the fridge. I’ll check off the chores, and you can rate me on a scale. Rather than the constant critique, make a flowchart of how it should all transpire, read it, see if it makes any sense at all. Capture your illogical leaps in a systemic representation, pin it to all the appliances in the kitchen, move it into the garden if you need more room for your CRAZY.
It was no surprise when he strapped the Numatic Henry Vacuum Cleaner to his back, naked, tied it with the power cord around both shoulders and his stomach, and walked his foggy, hilly, gentle neighborhood, machine-gunning with the vacuum hose. FUCK YO-O-OU people! The classic vacuum grinned the whole time (not enigmatic), as did some onlookers. Others yelled at him. He machine-gunned them with vigor! Some teens had their phones out and he would be a viral Vine within days. Take my suction you ignorant little motherfuckers! You’ll learn what’s in store for you soon enough.
When the officers arrived, and one was a darling little blonde and quite the opposite of what had run through his mind, and she asked him What’s going on bud? he collapsed in blubbering and she hugged him and bore his weight, what little blubber she had holding his bony, work-thinned torso. “I’m stuck, officer. I can’t leave those babies. I can’t stay, but I can’t leave them with her, to tell them what a bad dad I am. I can’t be with any of them tonight. I’m not sick, officer. Thank you officer. Sorry, are my balls touching the inside of your hat?”
She laughed but not to belittle him. “Don’t worry sir, I’ll get it dry-cleaned.”
He forgot himself and looked up at her, the light returning to his eyes, pupils like spreading ink. Almost like he thought he had a shot. A ridiculous nude, ribs that would grate her like a block of cheese, some bits of him too soft, some too spiny, then realization that weighed like a plunge pool. His head dove down again, view all wiry hair, flaccid penis and splayed toes banded white, desperately gripping the earth.
The thin, colorful townhouses framed the faces of all the thin, capable people, cheeks pressed to the glass to see the blue and red flashes illuminate his shame, in their guardianship of a status quo he could no longer stand. But really look at all of us, everyone standing, lying, sitting in their homes alone or in servitude, and we wonder how anybody does it, and we do it because there is no alternative or because the alternatives are equally condemning.