Midnight. Third floor. The suburbs.
The door opens. A pair of eyes raise their focus from the steaming frying pan. Their view is clouded by the steaming pile of greasy meat bubbling infectiously on the old electric stove. These walls have no more tears to shed. A flying spatula attempts to spay the entering victim. A second pair of eyes observe discretely from the arm chair. The carefully guarded secrets of the visitor’s hidden past lay strewn across the floor.
The culinary violence is received with indifference. The visitor has long ceased to care. He found his respite in the spit-riddled swill of every empty bottle. The meat mongerer found hers in her mother’s resignation. Words lost their meaning whilst silence dismembered any sentiment they once shared.
Everyday this man visits. He enters, he sits and taps his foot until food finds its way to the table. Should the food not arrive in a timely manner, his foot finds a comfortable spot in the layers of fat which adorn this once beautiful woman. Once his daily bread is received, he purges the sins of his rib. Aggressive bottle brushing technique cleanses his cavernous recipient of her reluctance. For it is his conjugal right. It is her conjugal obligation.
The moon is full tonight. And he is late. Many bottles have turned his blood to wine and bathed his heart in vinegar. His nonchalant gaze is met by today’s first visitor, the offspring of previous his righteous endeavours. The latter clutches a letter. Dry cold and unresolved spite electrify the small room. The writing is smudged but the expeditor is evident.
National Health Services – Blood pathologies department. For here lies his past, his present and their future. Whilst staking out his masculinity, he inadvertently laid claim to a less welcome guest. Unsatisfied by the expiation of his wife’s sins, his holy endeavour led him to cleanse the cavities of many harpies. He took it upon himself to introduce his female heritage to the realms of adulthood.
Shutting the door behind him, he steadies himself on the decrepit wooden frame. Wrath is brimming by the frying pan and doom observes quietly from the old armchair. Two of them share holy matrimony; two of them share genetic markers. None of them share love, but three little letters join their fate.
A flicker of guilt disturbs his peace of mind. Had he been a different man, a better man, he may have been greeted with open arms and warm hearts. But he was not.
That night, a jagged bottle neck brought his soul closer to god and his body closer to the ground. His daughter rose from the armchair in which he had taken her innocence and looked over his slumped remains.
Few were the steps still required to purge the flat of his existence.
One chair, two bottles.
And as I wandered home with only my thoughts for company, the broken shell of my neighbour’s desiccated lives silently greeted me.