It's the smell. The only thing that bothers me when going on a trip... the smell. Never mind the bed, the bathroom, the goddamn luggage or the climate -it's the stench I cannot stand. Maybe it's just me, perceiving a filthiness that does not exist. Maybe this reek of shit comes not from the stairs of this God forsaken motel, but the pain that comes to my nostrils with every inhalation feels just too real. All inhale and no exhale make Jack a dull boy. Jack? Here’s Johnny! Or is it? The birds’ songs are quite beautiful this time of the year. It’s not Christmas.
Yes. Maybe it’s just psychological… but I'm not going to the shrink. You go to a consult nowadays and all they do is make you a series of tests just to say 'you're crazy'. I don't need to pay for that, I know I've lost my mind. I'm not the same since she went away. I’m not half the man I used to be since I lost my better half three years ago. I feel like three quarters of a man now. Maybe less. My nose on the other hand works like a freaking charm. I can smell the cockroaches as they wander over the dusty floor, preying on the decaying scraps left behind by unclean men. Repent, the end is nigh. Not that type of unclean not that type of unclean not that type of men…
No. My name is not Jack. My name is Trevor. Trevor Jones and I am a salesman -and a rather good one -. If Indiana Jones was a salesman, I’d be him. We share the last name after all. I'm pretty sure you know by now that I am used to travelling and staying in places like this. Never before did I have problems with odours, but I guess she messed with my head so badly that fragrances are not what they used to be. Now every time I'm away from home not even the world's most expensive perfume can make the smells go away. She messed with my head so badly that I think three quarters is less than a half. Yes bub, read the previous paragraph. When did this smelling affair begin? When she left? Before? After? When did I lose three quarters of my brain? Pleased to meet you. Andy Hoarse, salesman extraordinaire. Oh yes, I find this motel to be quite good. Three stars!
Focus focus focus. Today’s air brings a whole new stinking experience… and yet, there's something different in the air today. Yes, it's still a malodour but it's a different type of it. It is a stink way more awful than anything I have smelled before. Hurry up, just a shower and I'm out of this hole. These stairs seem endless, especially now that I want to go away so badly, escape from this bog of putrescence. I hold the handrail of the stairwell before I fall. The smell intensifies and I'm starting to feel numb. This aroma is killing me. It’s filling my insides and making my organs decay both painfully and slowly. Oh Lord, it’d be way easier to die listening to a song. It’d be softer to die… killing me softly… get it? I’m cracking myself up.
And there she is. No wonder I can't take the effluvium this time, she stands atop of the stairwell, as shocked as I am for this strange encounter. Destiny, fortune, luck. Call it whatever you want, it has a twisted sense of humour... and the humour I feel now is nausea. The world is a handkerchief, or so a Spaniard would say. Was she from Spain? Where was she born? Did I meet her there? What was her name? Damn nose, when did you get so… acute. When I was younger I knew a guy. He had this awful looking nose. I avoided him. His name was Ben. Once I punched him in the nose. He bled. For three hours. Poor Raúl. He was of Spanish descent.
I keep walking upstairs, though my speed is slightly reduced. This pestilence is too much for a single man to bear, but I'm no praying man either so I'm alone for this confrontation. Yet, I must acknowledge the fact that I like the mysticism and esotericism behind the story of Jesus Christ. His power compels me. She is just standing there, looking at me, and I'm almost on my knees... begging... crying... hoping the sickness goes away. The stairs are over. I'm really not in the mood. Silence was never so awkward before. Seconds drag and an eternity passes. I'm going mad with this unbreakable silence. My nose feels so heavy and I cannot move my facial muscles. I'm feeling dizzy, I think I'm going to fall down the stairwell... seal my doom and end my pain.
'Hi' is all she can think of and surprisingly I cannot think of anything else to say either. I bring myself to utter the word, almost an unheard whisper falling on deaf ears... but she hears it. It's my eyelids that feel heavy now, as looking into her eyes is a burden. The solemn silence returns... a millennia of silence. Was I ever in Spain? Yes. No. Maybe so? Where? South of Spain. South of the border… down Mexico way? She doesn’t look Spanish. She hasn’t got an accent… I think. Hi. Mi nombre es… what was her name?
I can feel a mix of words forming right inside of me. The phrase they form is a sour complaint to the universe itself. Of all the places in the world I had to find you here. Her ‘hi’ still lurking in my brain, I ache to kvetch but I'm mute. Jewish? No, her nose is not that big. Even mine was bigger. Her eyes are huge though. My brain still functions at least. Well half a brain… three quarters of a brain. A quarter of a brain, that’s the one I was thinking of. Spanish? Jewish? Can’t remember. She smells like something else. Different race? Different species? Third time is the charm Mr. Nose. Joey Rhodes, that’s my name.
Her eyes express discontent. She dares be angry at fate and I am furious for so many feelings I can't explain, for my blood burning and the contaminated air perforating my lungs. I'm so sick, her scent is so intoxicating, my nostrils are wide open and my eyes are at the verge of tears. I have to do something but her gaze has turned me to stone. I am like a gargoyle, greeting the guests of the motel. Hello, can I take your coat? Those big grey eyes. She smiles like a devil woman for she knows she still has power over me. Sad little man. I just want it all to end. She is definitely of European descent. Aren’t we all? No, African. Alien? My name is M’kflooniu Aus’chwierç. That’s the best pronunciation you can achieve without me having to take away your occiput. Alfa Centauri. The Wild West.
She starts descending, one step at a time. She moves like a gracious swan. Russian? I don’t remember her having an accent. I don’t remember her talking in something other than English either. She keeps on moving. She moves as slowly as the time. Not a swan, she moves as if slithering like a snake on the sand. Treacherous. Different race? Different species? Snake? Alien? But of course, she must be Venusian. Me… Martian? Her name! Marcia. It doesn’t sound Spanish. Not Russian either. Not Jewish. Latin? Her name can’t possibly tell me her ethnicity and it of course can’t tell me her species either.
Still I’m still. I'm not moving, or at least that's what I think. No, I am not moving. I am sure of that. I am as sure of that as I am sure that my name is Bob or Patrick McGee. My leg moves on its own accord. Even more so, my foot has positioned itself in that strategic location. She’ll get out of balance and then she will be out of something else... the moment she reaches the final steps of the stairwell. Then, it will be my face the one showing a smile... and I hope the atmosphere becomes more redolent and sweet, just like a bouquet, refreshing and pleasant. I long for that first whiff of a new age to come. I need to go to a wedding. Not because of the bouquet of course. Weddings are fun, that’s all.
No, I am not blond. Blunt force trauma. Blow to the head. Doctors did the best they could. My nose was the one who suffered the most. Looked like an eggplant, all purple and bloody… bloody disgusting. Three years. Not the same. Poor poor Larry Eggman. She rolls and rolls never reaching the end. Never reaching the light at the end of the stairwell. Marcia killed me. She killed half of me. She killed three quarters or one quarter of me. Do you care about me? I don’t! Yet, revenge is a dish best served cold. wIj be'nal HoHta' jIH. Cold case ensues after three years.
For three years I’ve had this recurring nightmare. I am a redheaded man in a red jumpsuit when a midget comes near me. He has a very strange nose. He has no nose. He has a huge zit right there in the middle of his face. The zit is his nose. I bite his nose. It is filled with cream in the inside. It is like a donut. A doughnut. Dough sounds like pizza. It is not tasty. A zit. I hate them. I wake up and I can smell it. That nutty odour and my pants are wet. I cry. Then I forget and the next night I remember. Hello Mr. Midget, how was the urine last night? I only remember in my dreams. The break of dawn, who am I? Stephen Barrows, nice to meet you.
‘Bye’ she says as she turns to look at me, four steps beneath me. There I am, looking downstairs. My foot is a mirage. My nose is a mirage as well. Prosthetic means yours but not yours, you know what I mean? Freaking smell! I watch her as she goes away. Her smell has not begun to fade when another stench comes from behind. What is silent and deadly? A fart. Her boyfriend is behind me, smiling. I’ve not seen him but I can smell him. Oh you wise nose, just one stone, right?
Did you like it? Did you enjoy it? Life insurance: man’s most creative contract of a death sentence. Le Roi est mort, vive le Roi! But I did not die. The money, I don’t know. She didn’t get any. I didn’t get any when I was alive. Boyfriend Clarence Bradshaw got any? She was beautiful. He had the name of a girl. Marcia and Cecil. They planned it but they didn’t get me. What kind of a name is Carl? Carl Jr. Nothing but a hamburger man. I won’t bite although I grab him, like a vampire, by the neck. We are like a stone going downhill, even more so when she gets caught by us. And there we go and I know that when I reach the end of the stairwell, when I hit the floor nose first… oh God, the three of us are going to smell.
Short Story. February, 2009.