Tuesday, May 24, 2011

A Declaration of Independence

The car chortled to a halt as Damian twisted the key off. Gathering his trusty coffee mug sidekick, he opened the driver's side door. It squealed in protest, resisting him until he pushed past the rust. With a quick foot, he hooked the freed door before it could slam into the shiny BMW next to him.

You should have let it go, Inigo muttered in his brain.

Damian shrugged. Too obvious.

I believe those magnificent devices called automobiles can be moved, no?

The rust would have given me away, Inigo.

Ah yes, the rust. Of course.

With a deep sigh, Damian twisted his way out of the small, two-door vehicle. Not for the first time, he reflected that he really should upgrade. With his lanky frame, the beater wasn't really optimal. He'd be much more comfortable in a larger sedan. A beamer even. Or maybe a two-ton truck.

Unfortunately, he realized the futility of the thought even as it skittered across his mind. He was simply too cheap. He'd be stuck with the beater until it disintegrated around him, leaving him naught but a captain's chair and pleather-wrapped wheel clutched in his hands, skidding down the highway at eighty, sparks flying behind him like one of those Fourth of July whirligigs.

Such a destructive holiday, Inigo noted.

You don't celebrate the Fourth of July in Spain?

Inigo laughed at him. Silly American. No, where you celebrate your Declaration of Independence, we have Constitution Day in December. I would think it more logical to remember the establishment of one's Constitution, no?

Damian paused. I wonder when our Constitution Day is. We don't celebrate it, do we?

September 17. Though in 1952, your President Truman changed the name to Citizenship Day. By the typical measurement of celebration - a day allowed free of torture, or work as you insist on calling it - no, you do not celebrate it.

How do you know all this, Inigo?

Luck. I was aware of those dates. Also, I have been with you for several Septembers now.

Damian pondered that for a moment. He wasn't sure what to make of the voice in his head. When he was younger, his parents had taken him to doctors. They'd tried to get him to take pills, diagnosing him with Dissociative Identity Disorder. None of the treatments had ever worked. In fact, it seemed to Damian that the more chemicals in his body, the more voices spawned. Left alone, whatever afflicted Damian seemed to produce only Inigo.

Despite all the help he'd received, Damian had still managed to graduate from college. One of the first steps he'd taken on his own had been to quit all the treatments. His parents had been worried, but he hadn't don't anything truly insane yet, as far as they knew. They preferred to think he'd been cured. Damian saw no reason to correct them.

Juggling his trusty mug and overloaded key-chain, Damian found the correct key and unlocked the apartment door. He twisted the knob and put his hip into the door, backing his way into the dark room. Key in mouth, Damian fumbled for the light switch. The click was followed immediately by the clatter of the key-chain hitting the floor.

A single bare bulb burned above the living room. The other lamps that Damian had expected were gone. Where the couch used to be, only a dusty outline remained on the light, berber carpet. There were similar silhouettes for the end tables and the TV stand. The bookcase had been left behind, but all of the pictures that had adorned its shelves were gone, leaving only the actual books. Nearby, Damian's ratty old recliner rounded out the sad lot of possessions. Damian didn't even need to lean his head into the adjoining bedroom to know that its occupants had been similarly culled.

The worst part? He still had that awful metallic taste in his mouth as he nudged the door shut.


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