A story of a man held prisoner in his apartment by a clock.
The TV screen was blank. It was a blank TV screen, you understand. It was empty… nothing there. The fat man looked at it all the same. He was alone and so the TV screen reminded him of simpler days. Whenever he looked at the TV screen it was like a vacation. He was very hard at work most days being alone and the TV screen was like a vacation. The fat man was the only person there, that’s why he was alone. That’s what he thought. He thought he was alone, because there was no one there.
The sweaty, wrinkled skin of the fat man’s neck rippled like a wave on the beach as he looked beside him. “It was time for his vacation to be over” the clock was saying. The fat man cried on the inside. All the people were gone, but the clock stayed. The clock was his father. The clock made sure he was always on time to be alone. The clock looked out for the fat man, and the fat man’s heart cried, “Because he did not understand why he didn’t love the clock as much as the clock loved him.”
The fat man had a whole apartment. He had written his name all over the walls. His name was on the apartment so it was his. “this is his apartment,” said the fat man as his big sad legs tried so very hard to lift him. Outside of the apartment there was sunshine. The sunshine made all the butterflies, and flowers, and crawling things that lived on his body come to life. The fat man did not like the feeling of all the moving. The moving made him want to fall. The moving, of all the things that lived between the rolls of his body reminded him of when he was not the fat man.
Too much, too much to take. The fat man had to get up or else he would be late for his work of being alone. He could not have all these thoughts here. There was no room in the apartment for both his name and the thoughts. The clock… the clock began to scream. “Why does he not move quickly?” the clock loved him and called him names. He was such a good father and the fat man was really sorry, but his oily breath slid slowly down his throat. The air hurt. It was so hard to lift himself. There was a kitchen where he went. It was a kitchen to be alone in. It had all of the bells and whistles, but they made no music. Sometimes, a long time ago, before the fat man’s stomach was all crumbly, and saggy, he would sit next to the dish washer and love. He would love the dishwasher, ‘cause it made sounds. It made sounds, and it was warm.
The clock in the other room heard the sounds one day and SCREECHED. So the fat man’s ears did not work. He was a bad man. He should not hurt the clock. The clock was his protector from all the messiness. The dishwasher was not his friend. The fat man missed his ears. After the screech, the fat man had to peel them both off. They were seeping into his brain. The clock made them collapse, and seep into his brain. It was not the clock’s fault.
The clock was screaming more and more, “no memories. He cannot have them” but all the fat man could hear was a tiny special thing he saved under his eye ball. He saved it when he got his new apartment. The special hands of the clock checked his whole body. They checked the whole thing, but not his eyes. Even the special magic hands can’t change his eyes. The hands scared him though. He was afraid. He was afraid, so he saved his special thing in his eye. The special thing was a picture of another thing like him. When he went to sleep sometimes after the canola oil tears would dry, and the clock was not looking he would look at the special picture.
The image would tell him to stab the clock. Kill kill. Burn all the apartment. Smash the mirrors and take the glass to smash himself. The fat man was also afraid of the picture, but he liked the warm feeling of the fire burning everything. Now, he could not be brave. He had work to do. He had work to be alone. When he looked around him he saw he was in his kitchen. The walls were GREY. The table was white. The chair beside the table was a million miles away. He did not fit in the chair. So he ate on the floor. The clock was no longer screaming. The fat man smiled. It hurt his muscles to smile. It was very hard to lift his face. All of his skin drooped and was filled with puss and ugly things. The fat man hated his face and everything attached.
He went to the pantry and got two squares of brick. “The brick was good for him,” the clock used to say calm and soothing. It was clay and hard, and it hurt. It hurt the fat man’s tongue and made it heavy. It was ok. That was how it’s supposed to feel. The brick made him feel strong, and stupid, and wonderful, and hurtful, hungry. Most of all the brick made him hungry. As punishment for wanting to be with other people, the fat man had to drink cement with his brick. The fat man pleaded not to have it, but the cement was good for him. He was strong and big, and most of all independent. He was as free as a wall.
The fat man sat on the floor with his smile cracking his lips. He ate, and he drank. He began to notice something. He began to notice he was dying. With every bite of brick he died. He started to breathe harder and harder, but there were rocks that made his lungs too heavy. He had to stop, but he couldn’t. He was going to die. The fat man kept eating so he could forget. The wet cement got into his brain and made him happy and forget.
As he kept eating the blood came. “no, no not his blood,” the fat man cried. The blood made all the poison come out again. The blood made him look at his insides. The blood was mud actually. It was mud. It was so very thick and it seeped out of holes in the fat man’s body. The fat man did not know what holes it came from, but he wanted it to stop. It would not stop. No matter how many times he told the blood to stop it kept coming. Why couldn’t his body listen?
He turned to the calendar for help. The calendar had a band-aid on the day of that day, and told the fat man “it was not up to him.” He was a baby again. The fat man was a baby again and it was bad. The fat man wanted to live, but the blood kept coming out, and he was a baby. He tried to think, but the calendar just laughed. The baby had to find a way to survive, but it was just a baby.
Then a dark funny thing happened, and no one expected it. Not even me. I did not expect it. The baby found a crayon, and started to mutilate the calendar. It got all drawn on and the baby laughed with its broken face at the calendar’s pain. The calendar was dying too, and the baby forgot so was he. Many minutes went by as the baby tortured the calendar with the crayon. Many many minutes went by. The blood kept coming, but there was the calendar’s pain was like a lullaby. The baby forgot about the blood.
As the baby took the pill the clock heard the commotion. The clock revolved all the way to the kitchen to see what was going on. “It is finally time for him,” laughed the clock at the baby. Then the clock noticed its fallen comrade. “He is a fucking bastard,” rhymed the clock as its needles sprang to hurt the baby. The puss and oil, and bad blood dropped out of the baby as it turned into a child.
The child jumped from the needles, thinking it was a game. In the needles was an impatient lethal injection. The clock was angry, but the earless child did not care. The child began to run. The child began to leap. There were many room in the grey apartment where the walls were bare. Many rooms the fat man had never seen before. The child thought it was an adventure, and began to play hide and seek with the clock. The clock refused and growled. “He comes out now,” the clock rasped, “or I find him and make it all slow.”
The child could not hear and did not understand, so he giggled. “Catch him, catch him,” shouted the child. The child found his legs and a closet. In the closet there was a whole universe, and the fat man in the child’s heart cried. The child’s heart began to beat again. The lungs began to push. Finally the nose could smell all the putrid vomit and stagnation in the apartment. The child got scared. Suddenly he didn’t want the clock to catch him. The clock did not love him. He was not his father.
“I am coming for him,” roared the clock. The child began to make a fort out of cushions ready to defend his aching body. The child’s little bones snapped under the weight of the responsibility. There the child lay paralyzed in the pillow fort in the dark. He needed to get away somehow, but the child could not remember where the apartment ended, and he could not move. The ticks of the clock neared. Suddenly an odd organ pulsated in the child. He began to twitch, and bleed, and sweat. Slowly but surely, as his eyes rolled back in his head the child found his own imagination.
He could no longer hear the clock, but it wouldn’t have mattered there were too many colours. All at once the child could see colours again. Just then he had realized how much grey had been in the apartment. So much dust for his soul. That did not matter now he was swimming in colours. All of them and they all tasted so good. The child began to get chubby again, the feeling was good. He was no longer just skin and bones, and his bones were stronger now. The child stayed in his imagination for an eternity and got strong.
The child woke up older in a collapsed pillow fort. It was no defense at all. Dazed, he stood to find the clock staring right at him. There was a beat, and then the oddest thing anyone had ever seen took place. The older child lunged at the clock, and they fought. Hand to hand and death to death. The older child felt all of him push. The clock was a bit confused, but so very angry. The angry hurt, but so did the want. The want and the angry mixed and matched and punched and kicked. Dancing things popped out of the older child’s head. He looked away for a moment and the clock broke his jaw.
The older child fell next to his broken jaw. No more music. There was no more music the older child remembered. The fat man was sobbing and weeping in the older child’s heart. Right next to his jaw lay rage. It was all of the angry and want mixed up. It had made a hammer. The hammer was changing and shifting. The older child grabbed it, and suddenly was the fat man again.
“No, no, no he was not,” cried the fat man, but he knew it was so. He held the hammer and looked up at his wrathful father, crooked with a tinge of terror gleaming next to midnight, his arms were approaching. The fat man, with all of his oozing wounds and sad crumbling muscles under the mountains of waste, stared the clock right through for the first time, and saw the door out.
He threw himself, hammer and all, at the clock. The fat man and the clock collided, but the weight was too much for the clock, and it folded. The fat man hit the door. He fell right onto its knob. The door swung open, and hanging just barely the fat man could see under him was only darkness. He let go of the knob with a smile. With a smile he plummeted to his death.