Wednesday, April 30, 2014


Trent's Home
By Richard Beckham II

The fading light through the blinds and stained glass fell into two champagne flutes and onto papers with drying signatures. Trent followed Carrie from the kitchen table.
“The champagne probably wasn’t called for,” Carrie said at the front door.
“It’s final now. And, like I said, I thought we should celebrate our freedom.” Trent looked at the manila envelope in Carrie’s hands. He saw her blue car in the gravel driveway. His stomach turned. Soon he would be left alone with his thoughts.
“Take care of yourself, Trent.”
“You too.” He hugged her a little too long. She took a step back and smiled politely. Trent stood in the doorway, watched Carrie get into her blue car. He waved a long arm and she raised a hand. She drove off. Trent went back in and closed the door in front of him. He locked it, not wanting to turn around. Instead, he wanted to look through the window and watch Carrie down the long road, away from the house that now belonged to him. And special guests.
Trent turned around. The carpet looked bluer, as if tinted by a familiar lens, the lounge chair seemed odd, and the couch sank into the floor a little more than it should. The walls and windows were dipped in a murky mix of Easter egg dye, the light from outside was veiled by a blue fog. Trent did not move from the door. For one last time he looked through the window at the cypress trees. They swayed to music he could no longer hear.
He turned back with slow steps into the kitchen. The champagne lost its fizz and was blue in the light of the hanging kitchen lamp. On the window above the dull sink was a stained glass image of a blue sunset. That morning he thought it was a sunrise.
From the table, his hands picked up the papers, which almost crumbled with his chalky touch. He shuffled them into a stale folder. The flat champagne went down his throat with a cool burn. He left the flutes in the sink and took the bottle from the fridge. In the living room, he sat in the chair and waited. A drink from the bottle followed another drink from the bottle. Silence brought its own invitations. He remembered his first time getting drunk in the backwoods of his friend’s house in ninth grade. The same uninhibited warmness began to fill him in his chair. He thought of his first date with Carrie, the movie they saw, and how long he’d be alone this time.
Then his uninvited guest arrived.
“Our work is nearly complete,” said the Imp of Blue. It stood two feet high just out of the corner of Trent’s eye. “Such wonderful color.” The imp’s blue piggish nose flared its nostrils, taking in the smell of a midnight forest. The carpet was now covered in blue leaves. A mist seeped in from the closets and from under closed doors.
“I have good in me, like the next man,” Trent said. “There’s no reason…Why do you keep coming back here, changing things?”
“Why do I keep coming back? You haven’t stopped me. This has been going on for quite some time. Wouldn’t you say? Actually, I think the first time was when you couldn’t seal the deal, couldn’t keep it up. She said it was all right, but that really meant it wasn’t. Remember the pen on the night stand? The ink used to be black then it was blue. Remember?”
“I didn’t think anything of it.” Trent took another drink of warming champagne, his body longed for a warm sense of home. The thickening mist had become too much so Trent twisted on the floor lamp. Blue light billowed in front of him. He saw the Imp of Blue’s black eyes shine for an instant before the deep mist covered them. The imp’s sharp teeth plunged out from under its wiry lip.
“Should I have thought something of it?” Trent said. “What difference would it have made?” He waited for a reply. The stench of decaying leaves and composting dirt closed the walls in tighter. He remembered burying his G.I. Joes in the backyard, as a kid, the same smell in his grimy nails, the worms he’d find there, and the roly polies that seemed to hatch from under the damp rocks. “And I let you do this to my house because I know you’re not real.”
“How about your thoughts?” the imp said. “Are your thoughts real?”
“Of course they’re real.” He set the bottle on the leafy carpet in the low blue light that disappeared at his knees.
“How are they real? If you think thoughts in your lonely little head don’t they affect the real world and how you see it? Are thoughts the only difference between the inner and outer world?”
A breeze struck the blinds in the kitchen window. They kicked back against the window after it had passed.
“They’re real because…” He thought for a moment, picked up the bottle. “Because they turn into actions. That makes them real.”
“What about when you speak those little thoughts of yours into words?” The Imp of Blue could not be seen. Its voice came from where the TV should be.
“Yeah. I think so.”
“It’s as if you’re a wizard and by saying some magic words you change reality. That would be an action. Wouldn’t you say? Based off your thoughts, no less.”
He took a long drink of the blue burning champagne. With one more drink it would be gone. “I guess so. Yeah.”
The Imp of Blue came forward, dank leaves mulched by its hooves. In the reeling blue misty light it grinned wide, “Your kingdom, my lord.” The imp took a bow.
Trent could hear the soft decay in everything.

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Richard Beckham II lives with his wife in Seattle, where he paints surreal oil paintings and has an MFA from Antioch University Los Angeles that helps to hold up his wall.


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