Balanced By Philip Kuan

December 14, 2015 Comments Off on Balanced By Philip Kuan

His name was irrelevant in a world filled with Matts and Ethans, but it was Barry: Barry, neighbor to Alexander, carpool to Will the up-and-coming director at Willowsberg Creative plus matching wife and Yin Yang kids to Barry’s own wife and Yin Yang kids, none of which Barry would ponder this sickly autumn morning, woken by bacon. Instead, he lingered in bed, glaring at the stucco ceiling while becoming nauseated by the optimism wafting in.

His wife, again washing dishes, was whistling into her apron, and his kids, lumps of a peripheral, were chattering on about dreams that they’d had the night before. Barry stared listlessly at the morning paper, at the articles with the fewest words, then left.

“Hey, didn’t you hear me honk?” Barry tried twice to ignore Will’s voice as he hunched beside his tire clutching a screwdriver, watching the puncture wounds bleed out pressure. But Will persisted, “Good gravy you’re lucky it’s my turn today!” and Barry found himself whisked into his carpool’s granite Lexus, subject to casual waves from neighbors and children (a few his own) as he commuted reluctantly.

The passive knocking on his cubicle came from his VP, a bearded man clutching an obscene doodle. The man scratched his face, and then asked if this was all the work done so far on the Pashmina account. Barry admitted that he didn’t know, knowing full well that it was the only fax that he’d put out all week.

Tension festered. It was a sketch of a moldy butter knife pressed to the throat of a Nubian princess, dancing in a cubicle unsurprisingly similar to Barry’s own personal space. He studied her cleavage, refusing participation in the corporate game of chicken until brought to climax by his own screen saver, a woman’s engorged tit now rotating for its audience.

Lunch at the plaza’s sushi buffet peaked with vomit in the ice cream. A waitress met him at the exit with a hot towel, apologizing even as he confessed his fetish for Japanese nurses. The rest of the afternoon was spent chucking coins at the cars of a nearby intersection.

Evening found him at a gentleman’s club, spending his family’s money on lap dances from tolerable women still fuming of cigarettes. When he had had enough, a bouncer carried Barry’s flaccid body to a complementary taxicab.

Three a.m. found him trying to shit in his kitchen, perversions still gyrating like specters through his breakfast nook. A manila envelope rested beneath some fruit on the counter. Behind him, he heard his wife’s whispers but ignored the rest of her, barely brushing her bathrobe as he passed upstairs.

As he read the lab results, thumb stroking the unbiased honesty of a razor’s edge, he glanced up and witnessed again a frail, encumbered man. Decline and decimation stretched Barry’s skin like a canvas across cavernous bone, and when he spoke from the shadows of his own sockets, bitter black hollows inquired back, asking what he imagined he could flee.

© 2015 Philip Kuan

Philip Kuan has been previously published in CC&D Magazine, Nerve Cowboy, and Garden Gnome Publications.

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