Those incessant, goddamn horrible thoughts. Pounding away in my brain. Never going away, never ever leaving me alone. Reminding me, taunting me, making me sick to my goddamn stomach. Distorting reality. False thoughts, false memories. Sleep in the bathroom tonight. It's the cleanest part of the house. You know. Like the dog's mouth. The special palace. Where you won't be seen. Where you can't be seen. Where you can scrub your hands—your whole body, for that matter—rawly.


“Jared. It's me. Tim.”

"Hey.” I said real friendly-sounding over sounds of the wash basin faucet.

“Oh shit Jared. Not now. Not again. For shit's sake, man. I have an interview today. I need to shower and shave and look presentable.”

“Can't you shower at Claudia's?”

“She's thirty miles away. Jared. I need that goddamn bathroom"

Any second now he will use those massive fists of his to rip the door off its hinges. And I still have more to scrub. It doesn't feel right. I scrubbed my feet and hands harder. There's some blood. But it is not finished. If I go out now the doubt will kill positively kill me.

“Jared. Open the door or I am calling Dr. Grossman.”

“Tim. I want to open the door. Really. I do,” I said, scrubbing more leisurely and less determinedly. “But I need more time. You know—just until everything feels right. I stopped scrubbing altogether a nanosecond to think. “As I recall, Tim--”

“Goddamn it, man.” Tim shouted sad, not mad. “You really need help. And now you're--”

“Before the move-in I ran things by you. I told you about me.” I paused a second to make sure I made sense. “About my perfectionism, my eccentricities.”

“Eccentric. Hell. You are beyond eccentric. You're flipped.”

“Yes. Well. It's me Tim. I'd apologize but I can't. It's me"

“You're impossible,” he said. Almost it sounded like he'd been laughing. I couldn't help smile at the silliness of it either.

“Tell you what, Bub,” he yelled over the sounds of the dualing water faucets in the shower and wash basin. You've till tonight. Than after that no more excess bathroom time. Got it?”

“I'll see what I can do,” I yelled politely.

He leaves.

I don't want to leave. I can't leave. It just is not humanely possible to. Not now. This room is my space, my oasis from everything going on out there in the world. Every vile deed. From every doublecross. Lie. Cheat. And back-stab. I have it in here. All. TV. Blankets, sheets. My Manuscript. Files. My desk. Ten cans of chicken soup. I don't want to leave. I can't.

The room is filled with steam. Been a long time since I've seen my self. I scrub the mirror and look at my face. Pale. Hawk nose. Curly hair. Pencil thin mustache. Lifeless green eyes. Look into them. They dilate. They grow. Those scream. Now those are eyes. Of no character, no personality. I stare at my face long enough until I ask myself, What is this thing? Where'd it come from? Why does he/she/it exist?

I yawn. I--I know! Tim will stay at Claudia's tonight. And I can stay here. Yes. I must. I prefer to.

It is safe here.

Copyright: © 2010 Jack Bristow

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