Subcutaneous Magazine Fall 2016 - Page 62

The call was as stressful as he imagined it would be. They argued with him about not calling as soon as the landlord took the bill out of his name. They expected him to pay the back bill from the day he moved in, and he couldn’t argue. He set up a payment plan and hung up. They said they’d have his power back on within twenty-four hours. He argued this was unfair, but the only sympathy he got was a throw-way “it is what it is” response. The sun was setting, so reading one of his two remaining books was out of the question. He had no candles in his apartment and no car to drive to go buy some. He was as the mercy of the power company, meaning he had no lights and no air conditioning. He was pissed about it, but he had nobody to blame but himself. He was the one who had put off the call for so long. Joe slept uncomfortably. He kept waking up in a hot sweat and peering toward the tree in the backyard. Were the wasps there now, sleeping in the trunk or making some huge hive? He fell back asleep, feeling disgusting under his skin. He wanted to go back outside and try to call the wasps to him to cool him like they did earlier, but he remained in bed, drifting back into his broken sleep. The sun was up when Joe awoke again. He tried to turn his phone on to see the time, but the battery had finally died. He looked at the clock to see if there’d be a blinking twelve o’clock to tell him the power was turned back on, but it was still blank. Without knowing what the time was, Joe got up to face the day. He wondered if the red and black wasps were some delusional dream, but he remembered the hosing he got from Mr. Perez. Maybe the buzzing of the real wasps made the ones in his dream seem so real. Joe looked out the window and saw an employee from the electric company on his street walking back toward his van. A wave of jubilation washed over him. They were finally turning his power back on! With a hopeful flip of the light switch, his glee was snuffed out. The power was still off. Joe stormed outside a minute later, heading to the electric company employee. He was just about to climb into the van when Joe caught his eye. “Can I help you?” he asked cautiously. “Yeah,” Joe said, not bothering to hide his annoyance. “Are you going to turn my power back on?” “I’m sorry,” the employee replied. “We can only do that remotely. They’ll send the signal from the office once you’ve settled the issue that caused the disconnect.” “It’s been settled since yesterday,” Joe said, annoyed with the generic response. “So get on your phone, call them up, and tell them to send the damn signal. I have work in a couple of hours.” “I can’t,” the employee said. “It’s a whole different department. You’ll just have to wait.” Everything boiled to the surface inside Joe: Hal’s abuse, his family’s dismissal, his friends’ distancing, and everything that had happened since the day he decided to take his life back like some ironic idiot. He felt everything that had gone wrong in his life turn from potential energy to something else, and it was all lashing out in a torrent toward the man in front of him. The wasps came from behind, passing Joe and swarming all over the employee. He screamed and swung his arms as they clung to him, stinging every bit of exposed flesh. Joe reveled in what he had done for a moment before he fully realized what was happening. “No,” Joe said as the employee fell to the ground, leaning against his truck. “Stop it!” The swarm listened, retreating in the same direction from which they came. Mr. Perez was there as Joe backed away from the shallow-breathing electric company employee. He was just doing his job, and Joe had sent the wasps to attack him. He wasn’t even sure how he did it, but it was all his fault. “What happened?” Mr. Perez asked. “Was it those wasps again?” “Yeah,” Joe said. “Those wasps from yesterday.” “I’m calling nine-one-one,” Mr. Perez said, pulling his phone from his pocket, “then I’m calling the landlord about those fucking wasps.” Joe watched the employee as Mr. Perez called for an ambulance. Mr. Perez was kneeling next to him a moment later, explaining his symptoms to the operator. Joe backed away, looking around at everyone who had come outside to see. How much had they seen? Did they see the argument? Did they see Joe send the wasps at the employee? Would they actually believe it if they had? The ambulance came and went while Joe got himself ready for work. He fumbled his shirt and cut himself shaving as he numbly moved. His power came back on as he was making his way toward the door, and his guilt was renewed as it brought back the memory of sending the swarm of red and black wasps at their employee. Joe felt only half-conscious when he arrived at the supermarket for his second-shift managerial job. Most of the talk was still about The Cloud. Everyone seemed equally disappointed that it passed by without causing any kind of a fuss other than turning the sky red for thirty seconds. He heard one of the stockman mutter: “not even a single zombie.” “You want a shirt, Joe?” Amy asked, braking Joe’s daze. Am 䁡́չѕЁЁ)ѡЁȁ啅̸QݼɅѡɵɭЁ́ͥхЁ̀ݥѠȁѡ̤M͡)ɕȰ݅́Ёɑɐݕ̸͡($+q]ӊéѡͥt)ͭ她ЁѼ)ٔ݅䁡܁݅́!ձͅ䁥)͔݅́́ɕЁeЁ݅ЁѼɕ͠)ѡЁݡɑѼٕȁѡɽȁѡЁɹe)̸ٕ($+qQ䁹ٕȁͽѡݥѕȰѡeٔ)ͥѥѡѡtɕq$݅́ѽ)Ѽѽ́ѡаЁ'eٔԁЁ̳t($))ձЁ%Ё݅́՝!ɵݽձݕȁɝЁѡ́݅́ɥa0q$)ɽ͔ѡ́́гtͅͅݥѠ((