Cantaloupe by Greg Letellier

Years after ol’ Georgie boy finally went through with it, you find yourself roaming around his house with a soft-footed step so as not to scare yourself by the wheezing floors as you penetrate the rooms with a kind of feline steadiness you never possessed when you and George were seven and you used to dash down the halls into the parlor because the bulb in your room gave out and your father left John Carpenter’s Halloween II playing in his bedroom while he left to check on the pastrami and sautéed onions in pans on the stove and all you saw, the image that stuck with you, was Michael Myers’ bone-white face taking over the whole screen like a close-up photo of the moon. That face stayed with you for a long time. When you first masturbated, tiny pearls of your own come nestled in the dark blue shower mat, you saw his pale, prosthetic skin staring up at you. When you graduated, and Grandma L came to see you, you saw his knife glinting in the May sun. You were once too drunk in the haze of a college Halloween party, and across the room, Michael Myers in a short dress tilted his beer bottle at you and said, “You’re in my Chem class, right?” Memories are assholes in the way that they haunt and give hope and scare and repair then scare again just as you think you have forgotten about how when your parents found ol’ Georgie dangling and bloated like fleshy chandelier your mother dropped the paper bag of groceries and cried and your father cried and scrambled into the kitchen to find a note, but only found the grocery list that they left behind, remembering that the one item they forgot (because he knew they forgot something) was the cantaloupe. Can’t: the inability to do. Ah: a sigh of breath after a gulp of lemonade. Lope: to run in long, bounding strides. Those three syllables are murderous in how they remind you of George: how he never liked to eat that glossy dusk-toned melon and how he never had a sudden marriage because he never really fell in love because he was always too paralyzed with anxiety while you left home for a life of roaming which didn’t stop even at the white door as you make your way through into his house and realize that it is you not him that haunts and the realtor follows you and makes a [click click click] sound with his pen and tells you about the house although you aren’t listening because you know it is a house heavy with absence and silence and dread and the only thing that makes it alive is the [thump thump thump] of your boots against the wooden stairs as you make your way back down through the house to the white door and out onto the lawn where the realtor like a shadow follows you to your car and smiles at you and asks you the final question he will ever ask you and you turn and look at his skull and whisper, “I’m not interested.”

Greg Letellier is the author of the short story collection Vacationland. His stories, essays, and poems are featured or forthcoming in DUM DUM ZINE, Bartleby Snopes, Extract(s), Poydras Review, Luna Luna, and elsewhere. 

Follow Greg on Twitter.

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