Downstairs/Upstairs

by George Sparling

 

Think of a basement of a house as the unconscious. You cannot see me pedaling on a stationary bicycle because I ride in windowless darkness. For hours, days, weeks, months, years, I lied to you if I knew how long I sat on the bicycle, the back wheel whirring, going nowhere.

 

Someone is upstairs; its body decomposed, its scent, fumes from my sweaty armpits, forehead, clenched damp palms. Who is the victim, if I may call him or her that, upstairs? I assume I lived upstairs for some time, how long just as difficult to determine as my journey to nowhere, pumping faster now in high gear, my strong legs should signify a powerful mind, but I lose grip, falter, thinking I’m weak, weak in the sense of having committed something awful, terrible upstairs.

My dream in life had been, after the kids grew up and left, after my wife disappeared, after I had swallowed painkillers until they blotted out my dream, my reason for being, of murder, its pull on me greater than the moon’s over tides. Had I used this bicycle’s greasy chain to lash and garrote whoever lived upstairs? Or the four rubber tips of the stationary apparatus as butt plugs, pushing one after the other into a stranger’s anus? I think so.

My wife had affairs with other men, and I think, listening the whir of the back tire hum its dervish music, yet I now realize I had made a list of guys she had sex with and any one of them could be upstairs rotting. I hear goose-stepping above me, my holocaustic attuned to eras of destruction, violence, worse, my depression, how it cauterizes my nutsack as it rubs against the bicycle seat, how darkness here below fits me best. Otherwise, my conscious mind would yield to murderers, their allure from the basement penetrates my ears.

As for the woman with whom I had an affair, she lies buried beneath me, my sweaty form upon the bicycle feels her groan. That woman told my wife I had arsenic in my semen, our lust-child an empty shell, like a peanut shell without nuts. I slaughtered my affair with the handlebars, enjoying the whiff of her lousy perfume, how I hated her lipstick and rouge as well.

 

Wake up! It is not the fifties anymore. Her life drained away into chunks I cut so she would fit into the drain.

My wife’s suitors, fakes waiting her affirmation, forgetting that I was Odysseus, hideous and mean. I pedal more rapidly, wanting to bring the entire house down around my downstairs life. Stay away from basements, or you’ll end up dead, my body a skeleton, its bones crackling to the ancient floor.

 

Forever is the worst thing imaginable. Unbelievably, I still love women.

 

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