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The Second Coming
by Hilary Shepard

WALES 1984

So, we're in this sleepy Wale-wind village, all Tudor and tiny, and I see why he had to leave here as we pull up in the dead of night. I can't get my suitcase through the so-called "door" and that "ice-box" thing in the kitchen is so ridiculous that even the Christmas turkey refuses to be seen with it, and goes it alone, preferring to take its chances out on the countertop and staying rather cold anyway, thank-you-very-much, due to the lack of central heating as it gears up for the salmonella charge.

His mom studies me quizzically, the big hairy Jewess towering over her ostioparosal form. And his dad's all bad teeth and beer; he's keen to enjoy the Christmas festivities (beer) and doesn't have time for all these trivial introductions. Not when there's beer to be had!

I stand in the orangine living room, the roots of his existence, trolling deep into Mum's eyes for some spark of recognition other than motherly pride. But I find no trace of the genes that could've multiplied and divided from her into him.

I didn't see that
but I did see that
the living room carpet is breathing
steadily up and down
living its own nightmare.

He has come home, the boy triumphant! All record deals and telly spots and now everyone is taking credit for being the only one who really knew that his silly haircut was genius. The village gathers at his feet like the minions he always knew they were, as he shows off the spoils he's plundered from America -- his record album and me, big and exotic like everything over there, while I try not to stare at that damn carpet and yell "IT'S ALIVE!!! IT'S ALIVE!!!"

I wait for him to gather me up in his vision and drag me back down to safety, to our "secret place" where only we get it. Deep down in there, in his secret heart. Please don't let him leave me out here to chitchat with the locals, they are looking for my horns, and sniffing the soap on me suspiciously, whispering "Oooh, we should've invested in the soap factory, the way she bathes! Every day, she bathes!" They're watching me closely, and flinch whenever I make any sudden moves wondering what kind of stunt I'm going to pull next. I mean after you kill Jesus, what do you do for an encore?

If I drink one more cup of tea, I'll be able to float back to New York on my own, and I have run out of praises to sing for him, and they are waiting for more. But he is caught up in the glory of it all. He is doing what he loves best -- getting a good ass-kissing -- and is floating so high up above us all, like a Macy's Thanksgiving Day balloon, that all we can do is look up at him and marvel at his magnificence. So when his carpet takes another breath, I sigh along with it.

Mum is clapping along on the off beat to this hit of his, that she used to think sounded like cats fighting, and dad knocks back another beer (he's already at the pub in spirit.) And then it hits me so hard, so hard it almost knocks the wind out of me. He's just a poor Welsh boy, whose dad owns the local knickers store. And I'm a spoiled J.A.P. from Long Island, but how did we connect like fireflies in LA? I'm beginning to fear it was all just chemical. But no, I'm still hoping he's been left on the doorstep by gypsies who rescued him from a shipwrecked spacecraft as I've always suspected I have been, and that he belongs no more here in this tired old village, than I do in the suburban hair spray nebula of Long Island, because where did he get those poet's eyes?

And that carpet, I swear, is still breathing. Then it just bursts forth from me, like the pea soup in The Exorcist-- "YOUR CARPET IS BREATHING!!!" I vomit it out.

And Mum looks at me, from centuries before, like she's still a serf working those feudal fields, and I'm the spoilsport land baron, and says "Yes dear, it's always done that. No need to scream. What's your point?"

I look to him for help. SOS !!!! I am drowning in a sea of hateful stares; I need a life preserver here, big time. I am goin' under fast. But he doesn't appreciate this appalling interruption. It cut right into his best guitar solo, and he shoots me a look so black, it instantly burns off a piece of my heart. Turns it straight to soot and ash.

And just as I'm about to be done in by a big wave of nausea, sucked down into the black hole of embarrassment, it's just then that I notice that I am breathing along with the carpet like some synchronized swimming partner, perfectly timed. I jump into this epiphanal life raft, clinging desperately onto the realization that it's we who are actually soul mates, his carpet and I, joined in our boredom and despair. He's been treading upon us both for far too long and has worn us down, threadbare and flat and fed up.

And I feel really bad for the carpet because it is tethered and I am not. I can go.............. So I do.

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