At fault and swathed in self-loathing, Peter Frampton did not sleep that night. Uncle Truck’s distasteful snores were roaring into his right ear as if she were a fat bulldog sleeping beside an intercom, which further contributed to his inability to sleep. Rolling over, he grazed his knuckles along her cheekbone as he softly kissed her closed eyelids. He believed her to be the most gorgeous thing that ever lived, even in between her raging motorbike-like snarling. Chip was perched at the top of a china cabinet; he eyed Peter like a vulture waiting for a road-kill victim to take its last breath. As he tilted his head in the cat’s direction, Peter was too distraught by guilt to even question how the cat was able to climb to the top of the seven-foot-tall, finely polished cabinet. It didn’t make any sense, it was practically impossible.
“M’yaooooo…” Chip meowed.
“It’s as if you knew all along,” Peter sighed.
“M’yao.” Chip did indeed. Except, he actually didn’t.
“Well… I’m pretty sure everybody is going to hate me today. I don’t blame you for giving me a hard time. I deserve it.”
The cat’s gray, pine tree branch of a tail coiled back and forth along the surface of the cabinet windows. Silently, he turned his back to the boy and curled himself into a puffball, falling asleep within a matter of seconds and leaving Peter to shame himself in a spooky solitude.
She’d been dreaming about a husband-crafted log cabin with forest-green shutters and soothingly-clinking wind chimes swinging above the woody front porch. It was constructed just between the Rocky Mountains and the rippling body of the reservoir, with a mellow gray sky behind and a gentle wind brushing by. A curly-blond child with bottle-green eyes and an Uncle-Truck-smile tottered in the front yard with a plastic play-toolset and a runt-of-the-litter kitten because he was destined to be just as dexterous and philanthropic as his father before him. His name was Floyd Zephyr Frampton. Awoken by her own snoring, Uncle Truck found herself being swallowed by the back cushions of the sofa and the headboard. Peter Frampton was sitting at the end of the couch beside her tiny feet, consumed by deep thought. When she groaned drowsily, Peter tipped himself to the side and softly landed back onto the couch, picking up Uncle Truck’s wrist from behind him and securing it over his chest. In her weary state, she smiled slowly… Peter could feel the outline of her smile forming against his shirtless back. He clutched her hand tighter, only loosening his grip when he found himself drifting off to sleep as the Colorado sun began to rise.
Jason ended up making himself breakfast that morning. In his gut, he felt today was going to be a detrimental one for his uncle. The boy didn’t pass any judgment on Peter for being dishonest, but he was certain that the blonde seraph wasn’t going to keep up the charade after revealing his barely legal status as an adult. Even though the boy wanted to do everything he could to be an aid to his emotionally disturbed uncle, he suspected that Uncle Truck was going to want to be left alone during a day such as this one. After he toasted a bagel and carried a day’s worth of almonds up the stairs, Jason decided to hide in his room, the ninja turtle room, for the remainder of the day unless Uncle Truck called for him.
“Jason?” Peter Frampton could hear his steps on the creaky stairs before Jason was even one tenth of the way up. After placing his plate and almonds back on the rung below him, he quietly crept back down to the living room and faced Peter Frampton who was still lying beside Uncle Truck. Slowly stripping her hand from his upper body and resting it behind him, he heaved himself upward and opened his arms. The nephew charged Peter and leapt into his lap. Peter held him close and apologized for all the damage he’d done.
“Maybe she won’t mind, Peter. You don’t know how she’ll take it.”
“No, Jason, I couldn’t do it to her… I need to work on myself before I’m good enough.”
When she eventually did awaken, she and Peter had spent the hours afterward watching cartoons in silence. Uncle Truck mistakenly thought she and her boyfriend had reached the comfortable part in their relationship where they could just sit around not doing shit, just enjoying the silence, and not feel the slightest tinge of awkwardness. In time though, she did grow bored of the hours of peace and crept her hand up Peter’s torso, tickling him. Looking like a blonde tree being thrashed around by a hurricane, Peter had never found himself in such an ill-timed state of uncontrollable laughter in his life. This was not good. Some minutes had passed after she had stopped digging into his sides when she curled herself into an uncovered corner of the couch, eying Peter Frampton mischievously. Wishing to play along with her but plagued with self-reproach, Peter placed a large, blocky cushion along the left side of her body. She smiled, and he pushed another one in front of her.
“What are you doing, Peter Frampton?” She asked cheerfully.
Peter paused, placing a smaller pillow just behind her head. “I’m preserving you.”
Uncle Truck was, as Peter Frampton usually was, confused. “Preserving me?”
“Yes, I am preserving you.” Peter hugged as far as he could around the thick cushions and placed his chin at the top of the front one. He kissed her. “I want you to stay right here… stay right here, and don’t change. I want you to be just the way you are today, seven more years from now.”
Something was up… she knew something was up, but she tried not to make it obvious. “Why are you talking like this?” Peter pushed the cushions aside and rested his limp neck on her shoulder. “Seven years?”
“You’re right, Trakina… I can’t make promises to you when I’m this young. I need to grow up.” Peter could see sorrow combined with shock and rage in her widened eyes as they swelled like two cotton balls soaked in water. Not a word passed through her inwardly shrinking lips. All Uncle Truck could see was a hallucination of her blood and brain matter dripping down Peter’s face. Apologizing and categorizing himself as the worst person who ever lived, he hugged her wilted body that refused to hug him back. “I swear, Trakina… when I’m ready, I’ll come running back to you.”
“No you won’t.”
“Trakina, please… I love you.”
She turned away from him, hiding her face in the stale headboard as she clutched a pillow to her chest and positioned herself on her side. “Please leave,” she breathlessly whispered.
The torpid hours following the split lingered like a sloth pushing itself to reach the front end of a steadily rolling treadmill. Uncle Truck hadn’t moved from her spot, nor had she made a noise. She had been replaying every scene from the preceding days in her head… her insistence on keeping her vow of celibacy, which at this point seemed completely worthless to her. If she was going to let anyone have her, it would have been him… would he have stayed if he’d gotten her, she wondered… and that hard-to-get lecture she gave him at the reservoir? What the fuck?! Why couldn’t she just accept the naively beautiful things he had to say?! Roland was right… she really couldn’t just take a compliment. She’d been hanging onto that shred of hope that Peter would come bursting through the door with an off-white gardenia in one hand and a diamond ring in the other… even though she knew she had no business pursuing and eighteen-year-old virgin. He’d grow tired of her eventually anyway… what would he want with her when he’s still a piece of eye candy and her biological clock has reached its expiration date?
A natural lightweight, Uncle Truck drank herself stupid very quickly. She guzzled three shots of tequila on her way up the steps. Her uncooperative throat burned; Uncle Truck abhorred the taste and sensation, but she forced it down with a desperate grimace. Not wanting Jason to take notice of her meltdown across the hall, she placed a vinyl on the record player and cranked up the volume… Sam Cooke… “I’ll Come Running Back to you”… how appropriate.
And then it finally struck… Uncle Truck snapped into a drunken collapse of sobbing. The shock and denial phase had passed and she’d skipped on over to depression. She had no reason to live anymore, the tequila whispered to her. No reason to live… her life was over. Through sniveling and repeatedly falling to the floor when she had no steady objects close by for her to cling to, she lurched to the armoire and flung the doors open. She collapsed to the floor when she lost grip of one of the knobs and ended up yanking said knob off the door with her falling weight. Ignoring the new bruise on her shoulder, she slid a trembling hand onto the shelf and felt for a box cutter… she whimpered as her fingers located the top of the razor case.
“Peter…” she wept as she adjusted her sitting position flat against the armoire. Taking a deep breath and biting her lower lip, she pushed the notch upward and sliced downward into her wrist… what? “What the fuck?!” There was no blade! Scrambling to lift herself up, she knocked everything off the shelf and filtered through the pile for other box cutters. Flustered and with tears continuing to flood, she did not find one blade. “Damn it!” Pills! She remembered pills! The pill bottles were in the same pile. She gathered every container from the floor and fell backward onto her downy bed. Making herself somewhat comfortable in a supine position, she poured the contents of every bottle into her mouth. Chalky… semisweet… Uncle Truck never recalled sleeping pills tasting like sweet tarts. Who replaced the pills with antacids?! Why was nothing working?!
Sprawled on her back, spread eagle, Uncle Truck was out of ideas. Her drunken eyes floated up and down around the room like a lost balloon bumping tree branches on its way toward the sky… a chained dog leash and collar that once belonged to her deceased Boston terrier… a wooden chair covered in crumpled laundry that may or may not have been clean… a fake-flower basket hanging from an iron hook…
Before she stood up, her eyes focused back onto the ceiling above her which was adorned with a rectangular mirror. Body dysmorphia setting in, Uncle Truck’s body and outfit transformed in the dusty reflection. Her modest Led Zeppelin t-shirt stripped away and a cleavage-bearing black spaghetti-strap camisole took its place. Her flannel pajama pants melted into the sheets beneath her and a muffin-top-constrictive pair of holey jeans zipped up. That average-to-skinny waist of hers softened into a jello texture and spilled over her denim waistband. Then a blend of dramatic sharpie-black eye makeup and pastel-pink lipstick flourished onto her gradually bronzing face… those raccoon eyes, clashingly unnatural fish lips, and fake powdered-on tan in addition to her trashy costume and evidently doughy belly sent her brain into a tunnel of vertigo and doom.
Wiping her dampened face, Uncle Truck stood atop the wooden chair with a jeweled dog collar strapped tightly around her neck. She was knotting the chain around the hook above her… this was it. “I’m sorry, Jason…” she kicked the back of the chair behind her just before she plummeted to the ground, plucking the iron hook out of the ceiling as powdered plaster and chunks of dry wall rained on her fallen, twisted body. Moaning, pushing the flour-y plaster away from her eyes, Uncle Truck gave up. The last thing she did was sit up, eject her tequila-induced filmy vomit onto the carpet, and slump to the side… allowing her face to soak in a pool of her own liquor-aromatic fluid as she immediately fell into a deep sleep.
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