Living in the Roof

Since this all started, I haven’t seen heads or tails of the raccoon that lives under the shingling of my neighbor’s roof. In winter I occasionally sighted him, a dark shape travelling against an unlit alleyway- or slowly emerging from where the gutter had come loose and swung in the wind. My chances were better the later it became, until under nautical twilight I happened to notice him returning to the burrow. The temperature was below freezing. It was January. I had just turned twenty-five.

But that was months ago. Since then, my apartment is growing overly familiar. The dust I cleaned from my computer fans replaced again and again. I can’t figure out where it drifts in from. I’ve been seeking its progenitor beneath the bed among discarded dryer sheets and used tissues common among the living quarters of the masculine persuasion. But it keeps coming, as if every fiber of the carpet I hauled in from my old college dorm room were expressing the half-life of cotton.

Our conversations are getting overly familiar as well. Your little room down the hall, in which you say you can’t sleep if the heat is turned on because the radiator gurgles and churns liquid like guts. You have become the second person in all my writing. It’s because you have to be. You’re the only person I’ve seen heads or tails of since we locked the door.

I’ve been eating canned food and thinking myself a lost member of Franklin’s northern folly. “If I don’t leave this ship, nothing can hurt me.” But we need things to sustain ourselves. Our bodies know this, as does all alien biology. I am rationing. I am sharpening an axe in case someone comes in. I couldn’t get a gun in time before they shut all the stores.

I’m drinking whiskey and taking vitamin C tabs to stave off what I fear could be scurvy. It’s all in my head. These things usually are. Like the blood that leaked into my spinal fluid when I was a teenager, and which blinded me in my left eye, I’m dreaming up dreams that come in from a switched-off radio set. It’s amazing the dreams you make up when you lay in bed and wonder if your lungs will decay like the rest. I’m ready to fill a bug out bag and head out to the Berkshires. I’m ready to bash someone’s fucking skull in.

But none of that will happen. I’m just sweating in bed. It’s three in the afternoon and I keep forgetting to shower. I think I’ve found where the dust is coming from. I fall asleep among the familiar smell of stale bed sheets and perspiration. When I come to, the sun has set.  I’d been thinking of R. J. MacReady drinking out of a bottle that could be whiskey or could be gasoline. “Why don’t we just, wait here for a little while… see what happens.” It could already be inside us. None of us will know for two whole weeks. Outside I think I hear a call from the adjacent rooftop. I knew you’d come back for me. A scamper- A car alarm- A trash can tipped into the street. Yes indeed. These are the days of high adventure, just not for me.


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