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Idylls of the Meadowlark: Clean Through To Jude This work is considered exceptional by our editorial staff.

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Oscar often thought of how he wanted to grow a little more into the middling lifestyle. He wanted to grow a little wider in the middle, he wanted grow more into middle age and middle management, and he wanted to end it all by placing his gray tie in the middle, right between the window and its frame while standing on the ledge overlooking the office park ready to jump, and he just wanted to hang for a little while in the middle.
A cheap ballpoint pen exploded in his hand today. The ink splattered on his face and soiled his pants. It was the first time since grade school he managed to ruin a pair of pants like that. A thin line of black ink lay vertically over his left lens. He was embarrassed by his display of anger. He had been alone with no one to see his fit, but he knew the harassment he would receive had she been sitting in his cubical. It would have been a glance of judgment no longer than a moment, but long enough that he could measure the amount of her love he had lost. He collected his papers, nothing more than reports and spreadsheets. He walked the few city blocks to the subway station and caught one of the dingy tin boxes headed his way.
He had a message on his answering machine that he ignored. He worked his way to the kitchen dropping his keys and unsorted mail on the table. Then rummaging through his pragmatically stocked cupboards, no more than the things that sustained life, he pulled out a can and almost made a Rorschach-styled human-bean juice joke to himself, but instead thought it better to just consume in silence. After his banquet, he went into the spare room. It was filled with boxes of her clothes. He found his Radio Flyer red toolbox and removed the Acetone. He took off his pants and examined the stain. It looked as if he had leaked a blight from his crotch. As he continued to look, the phone began to ring and so he started in on the stain, pouring the chemical solution directly on his office drone, standard, tan pants. The brackish black and blue of the stain grew, like yet another bruise. Discouraged, he tossed the pants in a hamper and started out of the spare room.
“Oscar... Oscar pick up. Fine, you know you have to be there this weekend. I’ve already sent you the information and anyway I really think we should talk. That’s what people do. They talk. Call me back before Friday. It’s not your fault you didn’t know.” Oscar had only just crossed the frame of the door before he was drawn into a world his mind had buried in the cool, damp, dirt of the Earth(Why would a pirate bury treasure? He must have experienced an emotional trauma that ruined its value.). He fell to the floor; his heart and lungs dancing between expansion and contraction; his eyes darting from reverie to reality until, he was with two feet firmly planted in an episode from his past.
On a lark, at a romantic age, standing in between the larches and the scrub he pulled back the hammer on his phone; it rang once, it rang twice, it rang three times, and after the third, he began to think about the bedlam of thoughts that would spray across the grass when she picked up and fired. He imagined how the dogs would roll in the grass, smearing his wet, sticky, and timid desires all over their coats, confusing what was his very strength and vitality, a sap of sorts, for nothing more than morning dew. These thoughts were cut short as he heard a greeting on the other end of the line. To his amazement, he was not blown away by the ejaculate launched from the speaker of his phone, but instead he was taken aback by the modesty of the tones being emitted. This however did not fill him with courage. He fumbled around with his tongue, touching and running over ideas and emotions until they simply became sodden with his spit. He started to lose hope in himself the longer this went on. He had gone through the trouble of getting her number in true Lloyd Dobler fashion without finding the wherewithal to ask her out. His words continued to leak from his mouth until finally she cut through what was becoming an indecipherable stream, for fear of drowning. She suggested a meeting in a public place, well-lit and filled with escape routes. They picnicked in the park, she made her second favorite dish, and he brought his mother’s best cobbler. It was while the Sun tried to kill itself, falling from the sky one early autumn afternoon that Oscar found a way to woo the songbird.
Oscar was breathing heavily almost gasping for air now. His mind had just run from end to end the abridged version of his only romantic excursion. He didn’t know what to do, so he just walked to their bedroom and looked at her side of the bed; she was a right-side sleeper. That side of the bed he had refused to touch since she made it last May. He had been sleeping on top of the sheets with his knees pulled up to his chest teetering on the left side; it had been an unseasonable autumn. Oscar stood there for a while, taking in the dark night of the mind in sharp puffs of air. He then went back to that day and tried to remember what the first fight had been about; maybe it had been about what to do for the holidays. He would have wanted to stay home and she would have had reason to see her parents. The images were blurred and upside-down and his mind couldn’t make sense of them. Whatever the fight had been over, he wished he had made more concessions. She hadn’t been well for sometime, taking days off of work and seeing a specialist. She did not tell him, but had he been paying attention he would have known.
A tumor seemed so impossible to him, no more real to him than a Detective Comics #27. He would never see one so he had no reason to concern himself with it. Now, on this night, disappointment and regret collided, the wreckage blocking four lanes of rush-hour traffic. He had no plans to go to a funeral this weekend; he had to redirect focus. He knew she had to die alone just as he had to and just like everyone has to. He also knew he had done something wrong.
The feel and smell of a freshly shaven face, a newly evacuated stomach, the best things she had ever given him tucked away beneath the box-spring, this is how a man prepares to kill himself. Oscar Lebed was a boy playing pretend; he had even gone so far as to go home to borrow one of his father’s oversized suits, telling his parents that he had a funeral to attend. The fictional funeral was for an old college-mate named Benny Heyward who had died in a motorcycle accident the “dangerous things,” Oscar added to show he was an empathic soul and then he was off to do the deed.
What is the best memory you have ever made? For Oscar it is doing a cool ninety up the interstate, Ava at the helm, in a cheap car redone with a gaudy neon green -come rave with me- paint job. They were headed for the arid American west on their first vacation road trip together. He saw this trip as a rare chance to make a stark examination of their relationship; she had started classes at an all girls’ university and therefore was rather difficult to take intimate assessment of since the university had very strict rules against keeping boys. When Oscar was younger he thought, “What fun it would be to be a professor at an all girls’ school.” He was quite an average male.
Ava with her hair rich with so many strands of golden wheat like splendor that only a combine could have tamed it spoke of school as they drove, “I wrote this little sci-fi tragedy for my creative writing class with you in mind. There’s this man sailing through the cosmos in search of something he has lost - a home, a new place to lay foundations for a life - it’s a little like Candide meets Young Werther when you read the whole thing but in any case, he crash lands on this perfect planet. Shortly after finding alien love and making a home he learns that an abysmal space rock is going to strike the planet dumb. His ship is a week’s repair away from being able to fly, but he doesn’t start the repairs even though he has time, he just waits for his fate.”
Oscar listened to this while aback by a thought. “What does she see in me?” but only responded with “Really, The Sorrows of Young Werther?” It was true that she was far more interesting than him, and that she was just a bit too attractive for him. Years later little had changed.
“This far?” was the question Oscar was asking himself while sitting in a motel, Bible dog-eared on the bed - the act of a man spiritual, perhaps even religious, but certainly not pious. The book was hers and smelled heavily of her perfume, a mix of cinnamon and vanilla carried on a warm breeze. It did not pick up this scent by an opulent act of romance but rather by happenstance. Fumbling through a draw for a pen, the boy, Oscar toppled a bottle of her favorite perfume; it being the last bottle given to her by a close friend who had recently given up the burdens of life. It stained the map of Israel clean through to Jude.
Oscar, sitting in an armchair that was one black light away from showing enough communicable disease carrying detritus to warrant it being some sort of sexual offense, remembered how without the slightest hint of malice Ava blow dried each page of the book he had accidently been anointed. He watched this overtaken by feelings of melancholy and total adoration.
He leaned forward in the armchair, eyes and nose slowly leaking their various fluids onto the floor. He snuffed and felt the pang of low viscosity snot shooting its way into his airway. It gave him the lightest sensation of drowning.
Like a hand reaching into the freshwater depths, a knocking at the door pulled from his fit of day-terror. He tried to ignore it, but was pulled to the door by the rhythms being tapped between fist and doorframe, urgent yet playful. He opened the door to find her in her complete glory and radiance, biting on her thumb with that beautiful human nervousness. Her name was Jessie and he let her in as her eyes filled with tears.
This was a problem, seeing as how the noose was already made. He couldn’t afford another wasted effort due to a member of the dangerous sex and their libations, and for whatever reason, he would soon lose any determination, so he asked to excuse himself to the restroom where his instrument lay.
Now, to be fair, Oscar did not know what made a grade A rope, so since he had used all of his finances just getting a room he had to find a few places to be frugal. So, it was with the diligence of a maniac on a budget that he collected La Quinta Motel dental floss packages and began to make his means of self-destruction - what could only really be referred to as the string of Oscar’s demise seemed long enough. He was to attach it to the ceiling fan; this was no problem. Next he was to place the last necktie he would ever actively wear over his head, and finally he was to stand on a simple wooden chair. So, with Jessie sitting on the still neatly made bed in the other room Oscar went through these steps, only pausing long enough to wonder why she had come to his door, before kicked over the chair.
In the other room Jessie heard a loud organic thump and shortly after a second thump. She rushed to the restroom door that was slightly ajar to find a befuddled Oscar lying awkwardly on a chair. She asked if he was okay and he responded with a curt “Mmmhm”. This was the start of a long torrid affair that would end just as awkwardly as it had begun.



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This article has 3 comments. Post your own!

Mikharo1 said...
Aug. 5, 2011 at 10:32 am:
Rereading this story I find that I am only truly happy with its themes and subject matter. I feel as if too many parts of it are clumsily cobbled together in earnest well-meaning but poorly plotted fashion.
 
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moomoo5000 said...
Mar. 13, 2011 at 3:00 am:

Huh. I like the general feel, although there are some parts that I can't make heads or tails of. Like

"...who had died in a motorcycle accident the "dangerous things," Oscar added to show he was an epathic soul..."

Or the bit involving the phone rings and the dogs. I must say though, if you wrote more, I would read more.

 
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MaxEquestrian said...
Feb. 21, 2011 at 8:42 am:
Oscar has a tragic life.  
 
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