Hollow Kingdom by Kira Jane Buxton Read Online (FREE)
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It is just like man’s vanity and impertinence to call an animal dumb because it is dumb to his dull perceptions.
A Small Craftsman Home in Ravenna, Seattle, Washington, USA
I should have known something was dangerously wrong long before I did. How do you miss something so critical? There were signs, signs that were slow as sap, that amber lava that swallows up a disease-kissed evergreen. Slow as a rattlesnake as it bleeds toward you, painting the grass with belly scales. But sometimes you only see the signs once you’re on the highest branch of realization.
One minute everything was normal. Big Jim and I were playing in the yard. We live together, you see. It’s a platonic relationship with a zesty sprinkle of symbiosis. I get the perks of living with an employed electrician in a decent neighborhood of Seattle, and he gets his own private live-in funnyman. Winner winner chicken dinner, which so happens to be a favorite of mine.
So, Big Jim and I were in the yard. He had a Pabst Blue Ribbon beer in hand—classic Big Jim—and was stooping intermittently to yank out a weed the size of a labradoodle. Things grow heartily in our state of Washington: emerald moss, honey crisp apples, sweet cherries, big dreams, caffeine addiction, and acute passive aggression. We also legalized pot to which Big Jim likes to poignantly screech, “Fuck yeah!”
Where was I? Right. A summer evening glaze of gold varnish coated our yard with the fat frog fountain and that shitty little smug-faced gnome that I’ve been trying to sabotage since I moved in. And then Big Jim’s eyeball fell out. Like, fell the fuck out of his head. It rolled onto the grass, and to be honest, Big Jim and I were both taken aback. Dennis, on the other hand, didn’t skip a beat, hurling himself toward the rogue eyeball. Dennis is a bloodhound and has the IQ of a dead opossum. Honestly, I’ve met turkeys with more brain cells. I’d suggested to Big Jim that we oust Dennis because of his weapons-grade incompetence, but Big Jim never listened, intent on keeping a housemate that has zero impulse control and spends 94 percent of his time licking his balls. Dennis’s fangs were within a foot of the eyeball as I snatched it, balancing it on the fence for safekeeping. Big Jim and I shared a look, or sort of three-quarters of a look, because now, obviously, he only had a single eyeball. Whilst making a mental note to add this to my petition to get Dennis evicted from our domicile (surely once you’ve tried to eat your roommate’s eyeball, you gots to go) I asked Big Jim if he was alright. He didn’t answer.
“What the fuck?” said Big Jim, as he raised a beefy hand to his head, and that was the last thing I heard him say. Big Jim retired indoors and didn’t finish his Pabst Blue Ribbon beer. Again—signs. He spent the next few days in the basement of our house where the PBR fridge is and also the freezer with shitloads of meat in it. Then he didn’t eat. Not one of the delicious ducks or deer he lovingly shot in the face. Things seemed even more severe when he missed the Monster Truck Show he’d been crowing about for weeks. I tried to reason with him, tried to get him to eat part of a banana—I took care of the moldy bits because he’s picky about those—some of the Doritos I’d helped myself to, and even some of idiot Dennis’s kibble. Nothing. Then the pacing started. Big Jim started to traverse the periphery of the basement, shaking his head to a melancholy tune like the sloth bear at the Woodland Park Zoo. Initially I assumed Big Jim was trying to wear a circle into the basement for conduit installation, which he is very proficient in. But his one eye was now staring into oblivion and he had stopped talking to me and his drooling became worse than Dennis’s, which is really saying something.