By Brett Butler

I need a mirror.

It has been 27 days since Marla left. On the night she declared me an unfit partner my adult self punched my adolescent self in the face. Or was it my idealistic adolescent self who punched the jerk-off adult self in the face? Either way, I saw my face and punched it; I broke my mirror.

The chill outside has turned my roof and walls into a local watering hole for the squirrels. It’s a rodent wonderland in there, a non-stop party. The scratching, the playing, the running, the jostling doesn’t stop — the way Marla and I used to be.

I can’t close my eyes because it feels too much like the scratching is on the inside of my head and it’s being done by Marla. I would direct her to freedom through my ear canal if I could.

I need to sleep. I need to leave this apartment.

I worry how I would exist in the company of others. The only human interaction I have had in the last month is yelling at jaywalkers in front of my building. I am proud of that, though. Those fuckers had it coming.

Lying in bed I’ve been staring at my ceiling for hours, watching it get thinner and thinner. It is just a matter of time before those oversized rats break through and I will be eaten alive. If Marla ever returns home she will have the pleasure of finding a gnawed corpse. Hope that makes you happy bitch. Just kidding, I hope that doesn’t make you happy.

I pull the covers off my body, I am completely dressed. When are these clothes from? My belly pokes out from the bottom of my shirt. My stomach has a growing ability to retain more while my brain continually retains less. I need to look at my face to make sure it is in fact mine.

Scurrying into the kitchen to unplug the toaster, I can’t believe I have to catch my breath.

I Windex the hell out of that toaster so I can take a look at myself. Again, winded. I never cleaned my toaster before but now the outside is shining, bright and clean. The insides will remain dirty, dusty and crusty. I peer at the sparkling stainless steel, there I am.

This albino infiltration on my temples is alarming. I really need to get into shape. Visine and a toque will be in charge of salvaging this mess for the time being.

Does this change in hair colour indicate a move into the fall season of my life? Is it the start of the third quarter already?  I still haven’t made half-time adjustments.

Something grand is in order today. Something sophisticated, something debonair, something like … scotch.

I am going to go drink some scotch at a bar on my old friend Visa. I drop some Visine in my eyes and ask Google the name of a good brand of scotch. Now I am ready.

Opening the door to the outside world is invigorating. The cold is the slap in the face I need. I probably deserve more of these.

I will jog there.

I look around and dread the brewing stink of spring but thankfully the snow covers up all the decay from the past year. I hope the Google suggested scotch does the same for me, the exposed dog-shit from my relationship is overwhelming.

I look into the window of a nearby Chinese restaurant and see the reflection of a red-eared hobo on the move. My ears start feeling frostbitten. My toque! I forgot my toque. Marla would never have let that happen.

There are a couple other runners out on the street, I give them a nod. Them; all dressed in stripes and bright colours. I don’t think we have the same destination in mind.

I breathe in a heavy dose of grease as I pass Starz Diner. The name is misleading, I have yet to see a patron in there with income let alone a celebrity.

They have recently added Indian cuisine to their busy menu of Italian, American and Mediterranean. They really have to stop changing for every asshole who walks in there.

I finally outrun the grease.

Maybe Marla would have stayed if she knew I’d be exercising and taking care of myself like this.

The pub is in sight; the wood panelling, the Irish font, even that grey bearded guy outside smoking. But my legs are getting heavy from running in the snow. I think of all those Brazilians becoming great soccer legends playing in the sand. Those guys get a lot of ass I’m sure. It is my turn now.

I burst through the entrance. Pele has entered the building! Immediately I can’t see, my glasses fog up and everything appears darker than it is because of the previous glare from the snow. I hope this perfect hue can settle into my brain. I grab a stool.

The scotch works quickly to warm me up, and after a few more my insides are downright balmy. I give cheers to my friend Leeza and the bartender gives me a strange look.

Fuck him, like he’s never given his credit card a female alter ego.

The bar congests with others looking to warmup, many of the female variety. I hope they are aware of their proximity to a soccer legend.

The scotch pulls the curtains closed for awhile.

When they open I am in a taxi, I am treating the girl beside me as if she were a body of water and I was a horse that had been lost in the desert for the last three days. I don’t remember ever using the dehydrated animal move on Marla. I am impressed I manage to pull off a new trick so quickly.

After a long, hard, and sometimes soft fuck I pull out and shoot a load all over the girl’s belly. I wish it was Memories of Marla that shot out of me. Perhaps a new marinade coming soon to your local grocery outlet.

I ask her where the washroom is to fetch her some tissue for her stomach and she directs me to her bedside table. There sits a box of Kleenex in a brass container. Next to it is a book, Stranger in a Strange Land, “The most famous science fiction novel ever written,” its cover tells me. I should read more, it would be nice to have something by the bedside next to the crushed roll of toilet paper.

A reader and a jogger, Marla if you could see me now.

“I know what you were doing,” she confesses while wiping the dressing from her tummy.

Well I hope you do, although at my age introducing intercourse to somebody her age would be kind of cool. Maybe I will introduce her to pizza next.

“You were whaling,” she continues.

“Whaling?” I respond in question even though I fully understand what she is implying. I have no idea what else to say.

“You and your buddies bet on who could bed the fattest girl at the bar. Don’t worry, I don’t mind, it was nice to feel sexy,” she says nonchalantly, even warmly.

She switches on her bedside light and puts on her reading glasses. Before picking up her book she turns toward me and kisses my head with the softness of a mother. I see a tired boy reflected in her lenses then burrow my head down on her ample tits.

I close my eyes and don’t hear any scratching. I am going to sleep tonight.