Tuesday, May 20, 2008
Seeping Hairy Meatquake
She came from Florida to make a fresh start. Palm trees, cockroaches, ocean air and black bean soup had burned her out. When her parents caught her fucking on the front porch swing and kicked her out, Florida no longer offered her a single thing worth keeping. Melissa left for Chicago a month before her 21st birthday.
She almost made it. Melissa fell short, landing in Elk Grove Village, a sleepy middle class suburb ten miles outside the city. Here in Elk Grove, the restaurants and liquor stores all close by nine. Here, the police pull you over for driving three miles over the limit. Every neighborhood has several places of worship to choose from, all of them one denomination of Christianity or another. Here in Elk Grove, nothing ever happens apart from the occasional fistfight outside the strip club at the edge of the industrial park.
Melissa came for the chance to build a life: friends, education, career. Identity. Independence. Adulthood.
Melissa was my roommate for six months. When we first met, she was excited by fresh surroundings, new faces, and her upcoming birthday. She'd always say "When I'm 21, watch out. It's on. I'm gonna fuck this town up!"
Her birthday came and went with no celebration. Strangely, she refused to go out drinking the night of her birthday, offering weak excuses, electing instead to barricade herself in her bedroom with an XBOX and some week old leftover mushroom pizza. A horde of revelers and the thrill of celebration awaited her, and she wanted to stay home? What the hell was wrong with this girl?
From that day forward Melissa was changed. She quietly withdrew to her room any time she came home, refusing social interaction, even the banal thoughtless television watching variety. Despite my frequent and gentle inquiries regarding her frame of mind, she wouldn't explain her sudden moroseness. Melissa had cocooned herself away.
As the weeks passed, the impact of Melissa's self-imposed isolation began to show. The symptoms of her seclusion evidenced themselves as miracles of unsanitary filth.
In a small trash bucket in the bathroom, she began throwing her used maxipads. No longer did she wrap each heavily in toilet paper and tie it off in a grocery bag. No longer did she empty the bucket. A maroon puddle grew beneath the stack of soaked pads and the bucket gave off the stench of copper and rot.
She began shopping exclusively at 7-11. Apart from her job, at Staples, 7-11 became one of the few places she went besides her filthy little bedroom. Trash accumulated. Wrappers from Cheetos and Twinkies and Mountain Dew. Empty pizza boxes with stray chunks of cheese and mushroom clinging to them. Ashtrays were emptied into empty McDonalds bags. When she wasn't greedily gnawing at junk food, she was swearing at her video games, or at other people through XBOX Live. War games, all of them. Games like Gears Of War and Call Of Duty.
Melissa quit showering. The army of beauty products crammed above and below the bathroom sink grew neglected. The horrible smells of body odor, rotting food, and old ashes engulfed her, following her around like Pigpen's cloud.
But worst of all, by far, was her hair. She shed like a sweating Yeti. She wouldn't brush her massive mess of hair, choosing instead to let it get all sweaty and knotty. When frustrated by failure while playing video games, she'd reach up and yank a slimy wad from her head, screaming in pain while follicles were ripped from her scalp. Then she'd toss the wad aside weakly, letting it drift down to mingle with all the trash surrounding her. Every time she trudged out of her room to pee, poop, or throw a maxi at the wall to see if it would stick like good spaghetti, she tracked hair out into the rest of the apartment. It got everywhere. I found it in my freshly laundered boxer shorts, under the couch, on ceiling fan blades, in my car, and even inside the refrigerator.
Naturally, she grew obese. Grossly obese. Over such a short time, too, maybe three months. In the rare instances that I stole a glance at the elusive wildebeast, I was struck by the notion that I witnessing an ever-expanding sack of potatoes impersonating the movement of a human woman.
I began to clean up after her. It was that or suffer a bout of involuntary surprise vomit every time I walked through my front door.
I began to hate her. I tried to confront her. Mute silence. Slammed door. Frustration. Disgust.
Then she disappeared.
One day last week I came home from work and her bedroom door was open. The garbage was all gone. Almost everything. All that remained was a bare mattress covered in stains.
What the hell? 2:14 PM - Bottle Rocket Fire Alarm
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