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John 1

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"I'm pretty sure everyone had a crush on David Bowie in that movie."

John wanted to bury his face in his hands. He was pretty sure he had had a crush on the tunnel of hands in that movie.


"What are you thinking about?" It said. And yeah, okay, it sounded like his girlfriend when it said that, with the growliest of leatherman voices. Like it out-dommed everyone by even existing.

"How much I want you. Gone," John said.


He couldn't see it, undressed as it was, but he could feel it, moving about the room. Disturbing things.

Once upon a time, he had entertained the idea of a cat. It could put its collection of feathers to good, different, use. The cat could tell him when It was coming, so no more early morning shocks.

Hurled objects didn't help, as the scattered couch pillows could attest. He took one now, and chucked it in the direction the breeze rushing through his hair traveled. It hit the wall, unchecked.

"Don't you need a shower before work?" it asked him. He paused, as one of the plastic brushes he'd bought, for dishes, appeared in the corner of his eye.

"Absolutely not," he said, even as the pipes began to squeak in the bathroom.


The next morning, John went grocery shopping. He bought new dish soap. And he absolutely did not stop to look at the dish scrubbers.


"So, what are you doing tonight?"

Pots and pans banged from the dishwasher's station and outside the kitchen, the front of the house also hummed with activity. Pedro put a new ticket up and John pushed a plate down the line, glancing at it. "I don't know," he said. He took a moment to stare down at his rubber gloves as he cooked. "You?"

"I think Jana said something about going out. What do you think, are you up for it?"

"Umm." John cringed.

"Come on, man. What's the point of being single if you still don't do anything?"

"I don't know," he said. "Ask me later."


Sarah. Sarah was in southern Idaho now. Sometimes, when she was still his girlfriend, still smiled at him for no reason, he thought about telling her, whispering it in her ear while they writhed together on the couch, guiding her hands.

"What do you want," she said. At first idly and later, in all seriousness, one hand on his chest that would never hold him down.

"I don't know."

Because it never stopped in real life, it never slowed down, and there was a big difference between too much, and too much. Sarah was gone now. It never left.


"That's not good for you," It said, but kept its hands to itself, for once.

John continued mashing ice cream and caramel into the coffee cup, softening it brutally with his spoon. He turned the spoon upside down and licked the gooey mess off. "This is your fault," he said.

"You just wanted to stay home with me," It said.

He turned the VCR on, and pulled his feet up underneath him on the couch. Like a house guest, it was impossible to forget, but surprisingly easy to ignore.

Pretty soon, though, his apartment began cleaning itself, and he found himself watching It instead of the screen. He crawled into bed about the time It finished its meticulous feather-dusting of television and began to vacuum the carpet underneath his feet.

"I hate you," he said, one arm bent underneath his body and sheets tangled.

It clambered ticklishly up his leg in response. He kicked, smothering a grin and the beginnings of laughter into his pillow.

"Get off me," he said, struggling. He flipped over on his back, and with one leg tangled in the sheet, head falling in between two pillows, he laughed out loud for a moment. He wrapped his arms around his waist and looked down, surprised to see it wearing gloves, for once. It turned the television off, and flipped the light switch. His bed was still a chaotic mess.

"Go away."

"You're warm," It said. He arched and sealed his lips against a surprised yell, curling up on his side as a second hand filled a glove in between his shoulder blades and scrambled at his back.

"I'm not your fucking space heater," he said. He threw his head back, automatically laughing and squirming as It burrowed under his arms and between his legs.

"Let me sleep," John said and groaned, twitching.

He struggled defiantly, grabbing at Its gloves. It pinched and pulled his hair in return, groping him until he shrieked and curled on his side. The satin slid out of his grip like water only to relodge itself where he wanted it the least-- stuffed between his waist and the mattress, behind his knee, in the crook of his neck, between his thighs in his boxers.

"This is so not normal," he said to the dark room.


John had plastic sunglasses on his kitchen counter. The torn-up wind-breaker he wore to work, he bought at a grocery store. He had one broken walkman, and a computer desk made out of recycled wood. And four real black leather cuffs in the back of his closet. The first time he saw them they were being buckled around his wrists and ankles, thick and snug and not going anywhere.

He had seen millionaire guitarists wearing something like them in magazines. John only blushed pink, threw his jeans over them and shut the door.

It's like this:

It slides them around his ankles in a deadly caress, leather creaking in its hands and he breaks out in a sweat, the familiar sensation, immobility, leaving him nauseous with fear. It runs its fingers through his hair and pulls his head back. He screams.


"What's wrong with you?" It asked him, early on, before Sarah even. He gasped, deep in his chest in a way that had nothing to do with the question. "Was it some crazy uncle? Did he fuck you right up?"

John peeled his eyes open to see It exactly where he left it, working languidly around him, picking up a hair brush that had never actually seen hair. "No," he said, shuddering and tossing his head on the pillow.

It chuckled darkly, laughing at him again, and John decided to stop listening in favor of the more pressing matter of black hands, crawling intently up his ribs to settle under his arms.