Delilah and Thomas sat slack jawed in front of the television. They weren’t quite sure what they were watching, but neither of them could avert their gaze from it.
“….are you tired of seeing all that good land go to waste?” the announcer said over the piercing sounds of the slide trombone. Delilah didn’t think the trombone should be used in commercials unless there was a band marching behind it in full regalia, but everyone has their own ideas, she thought, “….then get yourself on over to Larry’s where we’ll give you the best darn deal on a launch to the moon. Start fresh on the moon! Larry’s has the deals you can’t…..”
The man on the tele, whom they could only assume was Larry himself, danced like an awkward bear on stilts in the most peculiar way around the screen while the trombone kept time….whose time, they weren’t sure.
“Why the hell is that igit dancing around like a buffoon on this damn commercial?” Thomas asked Delilah. She didn’t answer him. She knew, after all these years, he wasn’t really talking to her, but that she was the only animated object in the room.
Delilah’s husband was pretty simple, she had to admit, and she would never expect him to be able to comprehend the expansive national debt that loomed over this country, over this world as a reason why folks would want to pick up and travel to the moon. She sort of thought it might be the species only chance to survive. They would have to propagate on that cragged surface. Delilah smiled to herself for thinking of it; not just the mixture of debt and sex, but fucking on the moon. The thought made her lighter imagining it.
“Now look at that there De, he is still dancing around like a damn fool. Why does he think that would make me want to go to the ever-loving moon to be near his retarded self? Christ, I can’t watch no more. I’m going outside to have a cigarette.” Thomas grumbled something else as he excavated himself from the easy chair that retained his body mold when he rose, but De wasn’t really listening. She was still thinking about sex on the moon.
Thomas stood on the porch dragging on his Parliament. He has smoked those damn pieces of shit since he was a kid it seemed and he had always loved them, but anymore they burned him like acid when he hauled on them. He couldn’t stop though. He understood he was addicted and part of him was ok with that. There was nothing else in his life he coveted so much, not even Delilah, though she was a good woman as far as women went. He half figured they were all the same anyway.
The neighbor across the way had their music blaring. He hated the Johnsons, especially Herb, and today he was feeling a bit on the edge of his own reality. He felt a bit like he could snap. The sounds coming from the Johnson’s open windows were the garish sounds of the marching band. That fucker was obsessed with parades and pink flamingos. He thought Herb was a bit light in the loafers, but he couldn’t be sure. He just knew that today, he couldn’t listen to that crap stealing his airwaves and brain space. It was bad enough he endured that stupid commercial and now it was like having one of them déjà vu things he heard weird hippies talking about. He just couldn’t do it.
Thomas stormed across the road with his lit Parliament in the side of his mouth like a beacon or maybe a warning, but no one was looking at either. He stood on the lawn shouting for Herb to come out but the blare of trumpets and trombones and tubas could not be outdone. He waited, chest heaving from the walk and all the years of smoke, but no one paid attention to him. He looked down near his right hand and there was one of them damn ugly pink flamingos. He hated staring at those things from his easy chair. He felt his blood boil and his mind snap as he ripped one up from the ground. There were ten of them at least. Thomas started swinging. The sound of plastic on plastic was a new music to his ears. The sound of flamingo heads exploding on contact, the sound of shrapnel like from the war edged him further. He went right down the line beheading those damn gay pink birds. He couldn’t stop. He felt addicted to that sound, this sound of killing against the sound of unnaturally happy band music which he never understood.
Delilah heard something smash outside and went to the window to see what it was. She saw her overweight husband in the Johnson’s yard decimating their lawn birds. There was pink plastic everywhere. Her heart said “this is all a lie”, her brain said “this is truly happening.” Delilah didn’t know what to do. She didn’t want to leave the house and be associated with him, but the neighborhood knew this reckless lunatic was all hers anyway.
She closed her eyes and listened to the marching band play over the sounds of his destruction. He had destroyed everything in her life prior to this as well, but in the sound of that music she remembered sitting on the bleachers watching the high school football game, all the peanuts on the half shell littering the warped wooden planks. She thought about Harold and how she had loved him in school and about all the mileage they had put on each other’s lips senior year. She thought about those summers spent groping each other in the canoe as it drifted down the river a few miles from her childhood home. Delilah had wanted a forever with Harold. He was everything in the world she desired, but he had joined the Peace Corps and went off to India. He had died of some disease there, she wasn’t sure what it was, but he never came back to her.
Delilah was snapped out of her memories by the sounds of applause. The rest of the neighbors had come out to see Thomas and his one man wrecking crew show. It was going to cost them bags of money or a really great lawyer to get out of this one. She couldn’t bear to leave the house. Her face red as an apple in embarrassment and her heart a bit destroyed like the flamingos. She stood there half laughing. The pieces of flamingo lay out on the Johnson’s lawn in the form of the letters “b”, “l” and “d”. How did Thomas do that? It was the most comical thing she had ever seen and her hysterics couldn’t be contained.
She looked down in her hand and there on a small strip of paper was the number from the commercial. Delilah smiled. Maybe there was time, maybe….
Aleathia Drehmer edits the online flash fiction website In Between Altered States. Her fiction has been published not so widely online and in print, but she gives it one hell of a go. She finds the truth stranger than fiction and derives her work from such ideas. Aleathia makes her marks in the dirt in upstate New York.
2 thoughts on “A Losing Life by Aleathia Drehmer”
Rages with anger; spirals with daydreams – what a well-contrasted ladder of emotions, especially with the light-hearted ending. Very enjoyable, and different.
Aleathia, Only you can make sense of marching bands, flamingos, and sex on the moon. The story reads like your poetry- graceful and thought provoking. So good to read you here.