Friday, November 16, 2012

Home Alone

The car chortled to a halt and Damian twisted the key to kill the engine. Gathering his trusty coffee mug, he opened the driver's side door. It squealed in protest, resisting until pushed past the rust. With a quick foot, Damian hooked the freed door before it could crash into the shiny BMW in the adjoining space.

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

Damian shrugged. Too obvious.

I believe these magnificent 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.

But he drove a beamer.

Damian pushed the thought from his mind. It would only serve to make him angry, and the day had been stressful enough.

What about a truck? Inigo offered.

Damian didn’t answer. He realized the futility of the suggestion 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 sitting in the threadbare captain's chair, skidding down the highway, sparks flying behind him like an Independence Day sparkler.

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.

September 17. Though in 1952, your President Truman changed the name to Citizenship Day.

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 they put in his body, the more voices spawned. Left alone, whatever afflicted Damian seemed to produce only Inigo.

It hadn’t taken Damian long to figure out that he’d rather just have the one voice to deal with. So, he’d lied. It was pretty easy to figure what his parents and all the doctors wanted to hear. He told them that he was better, that the voices were gone.

And so began my solitary hermitage, Inigo chimed in.

Is it really so bad in my head?

Inigo chuckled. I have been in worse.

In high school history courses, Inigo had even started earning his keep. The voice knew a surprising amount about ancient history, things that Damian was pretty sure he’d never learned anywhere. It was one of many reasons that led Damian to suspect that Inigo might not be as simple as a figment of his imagination. Problem was, Damian didn’t know what else Inigo could be.

I have told you, Inigo said. I am a friend.

Most friends have a distinctly physical component.

You wound me!

Damian rolled his eyes. The apartment door in front of him did not respond.

Juggling his mug and overloaded key-chain, Damian found the correct key and jimmied it into the lock. 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. Damian looked down with a sigh that only deepened as he raised his eyes.

A single bare bulb burned above what passed for the living room. The other lamps that Damian had grown used to were gone. Where the couch used to be, only a dusty outline remained. 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 the awful metallic taste of the key in his mouth as he nudged the door shut.


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