The tongue protrudes past furred teeth. Ladling spittle on my cheek. Yet my eyes refuse to budge.
Dad. Daddy. Dud, where are you ?
Jesus Christ. I throw my feet at the floor. Snap to like a lock-blade in need of oiling. Tripping on my socks, snagging the waistband of my undershorts on the living room door handle.
The coughing does not seize me until I am two thirds into the hallway.
It is the fifth already. Wednesday. Somewhere after 7 AM and tiny grenades threaten my letterbox.
I tumble the lock and crack the door a fraction. My young son pushes past me, his mother hovering above the buggy bristling fireworks. Oversized sparklers tucked down in cosy packets.
The cold air reminds me I am to pick him up from nursery. Later. In the afternoon. It slaps me in the face.
So much for confronting the unexpected with a winning smile. I tug my undershorts up around my balls and merely turn the other cheek.
I thought you were picking him up at eight.
No. I said I was dropping him off at eight.
My son already has his snowsuit off and is waving foil-wrapped sparklers at my chest. The snowsuit is unseasonal. Unwarranted.
Look what I got.
Apparently it is far from it. His face is lit with a rash. Sweating.
We fall back to the living room. The duvet spilled tellingly between carpet and couch. The sofa itself sagging from the weight of sleepless nights. The coffee table buckling under the ashtray, its litter of butts. The curtains still drawn.
The entire room howls divorce. The scene of an embarrassing dismemberment.
All that is missing is the dead dog, a box guitar propping up the porch.
Not for the first time I am caught with my pants down. It is enough to make one swear off marriage. It is enough to make one simply swear.