David P. Bates

Household Things

I pulled the entertainment stand away from the dumpster less than 10 minutes after the guy who was moving out had left it there, dragging it clear across the parking lot to my own apartment.

I went upstairs, found the screwdriver, came back down and unscrewed the shit that held the top and bottom parts together. After that, I was able to haul them both upstairs, reattach them, and set up the flatscreen before my wife got home from work.

“Happy Valentine’s Day, baby,” I said as she walked through the door.

Breezing past with hardly a word, she tossed her box of wine in the freezer, kicked off her shoes, and headed straight for the bedroom.

I just shrugged and turned on the TV, finally at eye-level on the new stand. Until today it had sat upon the floor. But we had a low couch, so it didn’t really matter.

I watched an episode of Breaking Bad, I watched an episode of Rescue Me. I leaned back and scratched my balls a bit, vegging out to the max.

Every ten minutes or so, my wife went into the kitchen, twisted a full glass of wine, and went back into the bedroom. Every ten minutes or so, plus or minus a minute or two between her own trips to the kitchen, I’d grab another beer from out the fridge.

You can ask me how many beers–I won’t be able to say for sure–but at one point I could’ve sworn the entertainment stand moved, its silver plastic legs seeming to shudder a bit. I’d barely had a chance to rub my bleary eyes before I noticed that they had taken on more of a shiny, blackish sheen, looking something like a beetle’s carapace

When its legs began to lengthen, staggering beneath the weight of the TV as it rose up higher still, it was all I could do to sit there slack-jawed with a beer in my hand.

It was sweet Angelina Jolie who appeared first, luscious lips projecting from the flatscreen on its spindly, insectoid legs. She smiled mischievously before coming in for a kiss, but then abruptly backed away.

The wife was pulling another glass of wine from the freezer.

Next it was barefooted Kaylee, promising to fix the engine with pubic hair and “something” in Cantonese; then Willow so close she was breathing witch dust in my face.

The entertainment stand crept closer and closer to the couch each time, but whenever my wife returned for another glass of wine, it returned to its place against the wall. Every time she left, a new face appeared onscreen.

Now it’s Kirsten Dunst, prepubescent, trying to straddle me on the couch, saying no no no I’m actually older than you are. Then it’s baby Drew Barrymore, from E.T., saying no no no we’re the same age now.

Meanwhile, I had begun to panic, calling “Baby, come here!” towards the kitchen.

She came out to find the TV exactly where it belonged, looking at me like I was retarded.

“What?” she asked, annoyed. “Get your own damn beer…”

It is now 4am. I’m allowed to enter the kitchen, but if I try to escape down the hall, the TV is there on its stand, blocking my way.

“Baby, please help!” I cry out to my wife.

“Sleep on the damn couch, you fucking drunk!”

Meanwhile, the stand’s legs have begun to morph into long, waspy stingers as Scarlett Johansson closes in on me.

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