A canoeing roach of Sour Diesel burns my callused thumb. I assess an orchestral cavernous labyrinth of junk swallowing me and Mr. Wiggles. It’s been years since I clipped his wings. We reek of rainbows and funk. Mr. Wiggles scrutinizes my wrinkles with vulgar obscenities.
My piano looms, crusted in coagulated feces, out of tune. Mr. Wiggles spans kaleidoscopic with whisky enchantment from cobwebbed corners to cracked windows camouflaged with tinfoil. I fumble between boxes, broken lamps, and beach glass beneath electronics caked in boogers. Layers of loogies illuminate antiques inherited from Maureen’s mother.
Fluorescent phlegm shimmers: a decadent middle finger to Mother Nature. Truth be told, Maureen ate herself to death three decades earlier. Her skeleton lies with a condescending smile atop a carton of Camel Menthols beneath the house. I built this bitch with my hands before arthritis, obesity, diabetes, and gout turned me into Henry Tudor.
“Henry the hoarder!” kids shout from the street.
My mother’s a whore and my house is a shit hole. The bathroom is immaculate though. That’s where I poop and fap. I’ve never seen it because I’m blind, but Mr. Wiggles climbs his little ladder whenever the toilet flushes and squawks, “Clean as a whistle, rainbow sprinkles, steamy dump!” Nobody knows who taught Mr. Wiggles to talk. He was trained when Maureen brought him home from the fall firehouse raffle but too shy to say anything for four months.
I swagger through mildew boxes, my eyelids scarred from Marlboro butts, invisible to the earth. Nagging kneecaps sculpted with scabies. I’m spun again. Eggshell ashtrays are sharpened scalpels. Cigarette ashes snowing, a litter of kittens scrambles toward my camel toe. I’ve been melting into my Paula Abdul bikini for nine lives. I grapple with garbage, groping my way through mazes of coagulated mozzarella. My fingers rub Styrofoam, cardboard, wood, wool, heavy metal, plastic, aluminum, an angry wad of hairballs. Scavenging among charcoal drawings of The Jazz Age, I embrace furry mice, fire ants, strong armies of termites gnawing in squalor. There’s a collage of toenail clippings and pubic hairs on a rusty makeup mirror. An ineffable savagery shakes the walls—trumpets triumphantly wailing—the braille, every inch of misanthropy—my gospel metamorphosis.
I need to hawk something. I have no money. Need to feed my face. Mr. Lewis never returned. That’s odd and ominous. Mr. Lewis with the abhorrent misshapen skull who drives the DeLorean and expectorates saliva and makes me call him “valedictorian” before spewing meritorious memories—mostly from his glory days in Baraboo, Wisconsin—attending Ringling Brothers and Barnum & Bailey Clown College. His orange ponytail and bony little piggies are atrocious. I fondle his lipomas as he mounts me on the kitchen island doggy style between my pirate tattoos.
Mr. Lewis has a heart condition. He’s addicted to tangerine marmalades and cumquats. It’s been eight days since he last came over. I know he’s dead. He always knocks every other night. He pays me four thousand pesos weekly. That’s two-hundred-forty bucks according to today’s exchange rates. All depends on crude oil prices and shit like that. Mr. Lewis lights his farts on fire and sprints across the front porch, hurdling ratty furniture after he burns his cheeks or anus. Inhale my squash and singed hairs as Carl The Cat springs into my lap every time the cider flame bounces across his whiskers.
I come across the plastic bag of king-sized sheets. These are nice sheets. An avalanche of mothballs bounces upon my blistered big piggy. Most of this crap was inherited from Maureen’s mother eleven years ago. Mr. Lewis had been making angry love to Captain Hook since Maureen’s funeral. He dug her grave and it tore him apart when my chubby ass swaggered to toss a wad of dirt and a daffodil onto the shabby mahogany coffin.
“You’re a fat fuck!” says Mr. Wiggles. “Take it up the fireman’s pole—gaaaawk, awwwkk—bona fide butt pirate!”
“Mr. Wiggles, apologize now,” I say, “…or eyeball shots of Don Julio when we find some salt and something to sell.”
“Gaaaaaaawk,” says Mr. Wiggles, “another chubby jackass, jackass!”
“Mr. Wiggles!” I say, “I’m warning you.”
I know they’re king-sized sheets because Maureen’s mother sold them in bulk to the ladies who puffed blunts of hash dipped in formaldehyde and honey behind the Dumpster belonging to Good Taste Chinese Take-out in Tenafly, New Jersey. Whenever food gets delivered to my house, I duct-tape the money and a post-it note to the shredded screen door and Mr. Lewis shuffles a couple chaise longues crusted with parrot dung which makes it obvious for delivery drivers that this house is a castle for a filthy vulgar. Rotting Jack-O-Lanterns, flayed vultures, and decapitated squirrel skulls adorn the red bricks leading to my lair.
My front porch is monstrous. Even Ethan the charming quixotic mailman has sharted on more than one occasion. Delivery dudes would shit their pants if they came inside. They take the cash and bounce. I hear their vehicles and motorcycles leaving skid marks, dogs barking, chipmunks scaling rhododendrons, azaleas pinkening, neighbors cursing the speed with malt liquor bottles between callused fingers clutching Subaru keys with bumps of cocaine—shards of King Cobra glimmering on cotton candy puke-stained asphalt.
Carl cleans the bathroom but is a hoarder himself. He once had an affair with one of Nancy Reagan’s sons. Carl inherited a million dollars from his anti-Semitic, racist grandmother. Now I’ll need to find somebody else to scrub the toilet and make me climax with my thumbs inside a jar of Skippy Natural Super Chunk Extra Crunchy Peanut Butter.
“You’re a hairy monster,” says Mr. Wiggles. “Moooooooooooooonsteeeer.”
I shart, but holding the laptop on my belly. I know what to do. It’s voice-activated and accustomed to my stutter. I burn another tree. I wave the sheets in ballooning ripples like a parachute in gym class—expanded my lungs with the inertial majesty of a blimp to my snatch and snap a photograph—post it in one of the local Facebook groups where greedy and cheap bastards forage for things others leave behind. One woman’s rot is another man’s treasure. It’s not easy being a hermaphroditic hoarder.
“Ugly fool,” says Mr. Wiggles. “Your ship is sinking, shipwrecked slut.”
That’s the first time I heard Mr. Wiggles squawk that one. He has reserves in his repertoire he holds for decades—always waiting for that perfect moment to ejaculate genius. Some spiels he’ll practice when I’m sleeping. Vituperative obscenities and odes he’s been saving for my death. I haven’t lived in decades. I succumbed to sludge. A catacomb left from a tinfoil window.
The kittens are licking my sack and labia. I post the price and wait for somebody “normal” to comment. A lady expresses interest. A man offers an extra ten dollars. I’m giving the sheets away at a humongous discount. The mouse floats between my fingers with the visceral ancient wisdom of the Ouija board. My calluses linger over his mysterious profile picture. Men can be dangerous and atavistic—they can’t be trusted by a blind lady. I tell the woman to come pick them up at her convenience.
I give good directions and head trepanation. Believe in no borders, no Jolly Rogers, no fully closed fontanelles to prevent the blood flowing freely in my brain: swooshing from lobe to lobe like an overflowing bathtub. Just Say No is a curse from an obstinate ostrich of a witch who watched homosexuals with dyed ponytails marching and dancing on her fancy television screens as their partners burned in Hell. Nothing to interfere with digestion after dining with silverware polished to perfection in an immaculate mansion built by slaves.
When the woman arrives, the house reeks of rotting flesh and wet cardboard. I piss myself and black out. She knocks and knocks. The sheets are on the folded lawn chair where the Domino’s delivery driver leaves the pepperoni pies. The linen hasn’t been removed from its zippered plastic. My skin itches. Mosquitoes feast on our eyeballs. Fireflies flutter from gutters of dead leaves toward the heavens. This is the first time sunlight sheds its rattlesnake illumination on Egyptian cotton ivory with the inertial coil of a waning safari chasing the last glimmers of dusk. The Red Oaks are bare but for branches with golden and brown freckled leaves. She keeps knocking, till the distinct twinge of the door handle bursts my putrid bubble, the clack of brass against frame. I scream louder than ever after.
Mr. Wiggles attacks. It’s an atavistic ambush. He’s ripping my eyeballs from their sockets. The woman strips my clothes as I kick and claw her armpits and cheeks. She leaves hiking socks on my crippled, bloated, arthritic feet. The beast binds me with an 8-follow-through knot with the climbing rope me and Maureen used in Bridger-Teton National Forest when we went repelling with Gremlins. We skinny-dipped that night in the Jacuzzi and got our kicks with a case of Fat Tire and a flame of cocaine prior to getting booted from the Cowboy Village Resort for “indecency.”
The woman from Facebook duct-tapes my privates but says nothing. We’re whirling wild toward a black-hole. She rolls me onto the ivory and seals the cotton with the majesty of an old elephant giving birth. I listen to the moans of a million Mayan virgins folding burritos. This beast has eleven fingers. I’m sure of that. Mr. Wiggles is giggling demonic, an orgiastic convivial fury flowing from rainbows of blood-soaked wings. Arches and towers crumble with lamentations, smoke swirling from the oven where carrot cakes are burning, yearning to enter my belly through the hairy glory holes of twin nostrils. Bottle Rockets and Roman Candles skyrocket from moldy crevices and orifices. The stucco ceiling and walls closing inward—crushing silhouettes and spider webs—till there is no difference between blindness and vision.
The beast is breaking my joints one-by-one. Fast, furious, famished, fungus ridden, and full of flamboyant reverence—two volcanoes erupting in unison. I see a canoe in the distance covered with snow. The storm creeps closer as the eye wall coiffures my bangs and every translucent solitary confinement of Heaven’s transcendence comes crashing down.
MATTHEW DEXTER is an American author living in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. His fiction has been published in hundreds of literary journals and dozens of anthologies. He writes abhorrent freelance pieces for exorbitant amounts of pesos to pay the bills while drinking cervezas in paradise with tourists. He is the author of the novel The Ritalin Orgy (Perpetual Motion Machine Publishing, 2013). His second novel, third novel, debut memoir, and debut story collection are forthcoming.