Wait…hold on…do you smell that?
Inhale at your own risk—never scratch and sniff—this Scatterbrain fragment will invade your nasal cavity and forever haunt the bits of sanity seeking refuge within the inaccessible parts of your mind.
Rosemary bends over and stink her nose inside a yellow daffodil’s open mouth.
“Do you smell that? Doesn’t it smell like spring?”
Arthur crosses his arms and looks toward a young woman draped in a short flower dress.
“Yes…it sure does.”
Arthur and Rosemary migrate toward their car. He places a pot of daffodils behind the driver’s seat while Rosemary balances her a pot upon her lap. He reverses the car out of the parking lot, then throws the car in drive, plunging Rosemary’s face into the daffodils, as the tires toss gravel into the atmosphere.
“Slow down! Do you want another ticket? Huh? Do you?” Rosemary says.
Arthur mumbles until the memory of that fateful day rises from the depths of time. He recalls a uniformed man…cut straight from stone…very mean…and barking orders about the importance of road safety…while flexing his arms on top of the open window.
Rosemary’s nostrils flare.
“…Do you smell that?”
Arthur shakes his head.
He rolls down the window.
“Must be the flowers”.
Arthur walks down Pelican Street—a neon sign blinks: CHEAP SPIRITS. He crosses the street and walks behind a large trashcan.
“Come on, damn it, I don’t have all day.” Arthur says.
An aged poodle pants while laying down the sidewalk. Arthur looks at the blinking sign as his nostrils quiver. He looks down at the aged poodle.
“Sunny…you’re a nasty dog.”
Arthur pulls Sunny onto his feet, and then ties the leash around a post box before entering the dirty liquor store. He basks in the glow of various bottled wonders—their colors are a prism of silver and amber. He discovers a bottle of Crash Landing: $7.61. Arthur brings the bottle to the cashier’s counter while the young man chats on a phone.
“$8.02.” The cashier says.
Arthur counts out the exact change, snatches the bottle, then leaves Cheap Spirits. The cashier lights an incense stick and holds it high into the air.
Sunny’s red tongue hangs out of his mouth while Arthur unties the leash.
“Don’t tell Rosemary.”
Rosemary flips a page of her book: Eyes in the Dark. He drags a finger up her leg, stopping at the threshold of her nightgown. Arthur puckers his lips as he continues the journey. Rosemary turns another page.
“Did you brush your teeth?” She asks.
He rolls toward the opposite end of the bed while his face deflates into a frown.
6 Hours Later
Golden sunshine filters through the bedroom. Arthur’s eyes pop open while robins chirp outside the window. A yawn wretches open his mouth.
He sniffs the air.
He sniffs under his armpits.
Arthur shrugs his shoulders, and then throws a shirt toward the overflowing hamper.
As water flows from the bathroom faucet, Arthur glares into the mirror. He dips his hands into the water and splashes his face. Droplets of water falls onto the floor—he opens the medicine cabinet and grabs a can of Mr. Smooth Shaving Cream. Arthur lathers his face, and then drowns a rusted razor under the faucet. A piny perfume corrodes the inside of his nostrils.
35 Minutes Later
Arthur drags Sunny down the sidewalk. A jogger crosses Rose View Street while holding her nose. Arthur continues down the sidewalk, as a man in a gray suit talks on a phone.
The man in the gray suit wrinkles his nose.
“Hold on a second.”
He walks away down the block. Arthur stops beside a light post—a variety of posters are stapled to the splintered wood.
Eternal Season Circus: April 18-25—Bears, Tigers, Clowns—Oh My!
Have You Seen Mr. Whiskers? Call this number: 890-234-567
Nude Shows XXX: All Nights, All Kinds Of People, The Pleasure Will Be Yours!
Arthur squints a poor quality image of a woman licking the barrel of a handgun. He sniffs the air, and then looks down.
5 Hours Later
Highrise Hotel stabs toward a blue cloudless sky. A draft of air welcomes Arthur while his feet echo against a grey marbled floor. He hits a button beside an elevator.
The elevator door opens, and a family disperses out into the hallway. Everyone shifts their eyes toward Arthur as the younger children whisper to each other. He steps inside the elevator, and as the door slides closed, an arm extends in the way.
“That was a close one!”
A well dressed man steps inside the elevator.
“Close one, huh?” He says.
Arthur smiles. The well dressed man flicks a button labeled “8”. He turns, smiles, then yawns.
“So…you must be here for the Vincent McNeil seminar? Yeah, Yeah, I know what you’re thinking! You saw the commercial, right? You look like a fellow who stays up past midnight. I don’t blame you! That’s when all the good shit is on, huh? Huh?” He says while tapping Arthur’s shoulder.
A lingering laughter deflates into silence.
“Jesus H. Christ! What is that smell? Do you smell that? I hate staying at this hotel, don’t you?” The well dressed man says.
The elevator doors slide open
“Excuse me…” Vincent says.
25 Minutes Later
Arthur looks out a window—an empty street collects raindrops near a vacant bench. A couple holding hands walks down a sidewalk as Arthur leans against the wall. The couple sit on the bench while he kisses her neck; she tosses a pair of skinny pale arms around his puny shoulders.
They look each other in the eyes, then down the sidewalk. The lady’s mouth traces out a question. Arthur can’t hear her…but he knows exactly what she said: what is that smell?
The lady looks up as she points a finger at Arthur’s room. Arthur twists his body, planting himself along the hotel wall. He peeks around the the corner, but the couple vanished.
Arthur sniffs the air—a slight foulness corrodes the lining of his nasal cavity. The slight pain dissolves into a constant numbness. He shakes his head, and then opens a small refrigerator: tiny colored bottles glitter under a buzzing light-bulb.
15 Minutes Later
Arthur sits on the edge of the bed and opens a bottled potion.
“…Baby, you ordered Chinese, and I’m here to give you a fortune cookie.” The television says.
He rests the bottled potion upon his chapped lips.
“…Do you want to know your fortune, baby? Open me up.” The television says.
Arthur laughs and then takes a swig from the bottled potion—a thunder of footsteps rumbles outside the hotel door.
“Casey! Casey! Get the fuck out of here! That’s right I’m talking to you! Come on!” Someone yells.
“…Yeah…Oh…crack me open…read your fortune…” The television says.
“Wait…hold on…something smells…do you smell that? Casey! Casey! Do you smell that?” Someone yells.
Arthur’s eyes widen as he looks at his hands; pale blue television light bathes his skin. He takes off his shirt and digs his face in the plaid fabric—Arthur recoils—and then tosses the shirt across the room.
Three Hours Later
A cockroach lounges on a tobacco stained wall. Arthur drools on a pillow. He watches himself stroll along the coastline of a dream, in the midst of an eternal sunset, as emerald islands float within chromatic water. The current pulls against his ankles until the glittering sand captures the glow from an eternal sun, scintillating a kaleidoscope of momentary hues. A soft breeze glides across the coastline, wrapping its windy arms around Arthur—he lifts into the sky—then drifts over the water…islands shrink into minuscule green dots. The clouds burst open and bloom black tendrils; they slither down the sky, and sprawl along the horizon like a serpent’s back, wavy arches dipping, then rising beyond the curvature of the world. Arthur covers his nose, but illusory flesh and bone will never be enough to hide from a rotten ethereal fragrance.
Arthur’s eyes flutter open.
He sits on the edge of the bed; sweat drips from his forehead.
“…Buy a set of Forever Knives and receive a second set…for free! Offer valid while supplies last! What are you waiting for? This deal can’t be ignored…” The television says.
A faint, putrid essence assaults Arthur’s sense of smell and wins the war.
“…You killed my family. You killed my friends. You tried to kill me. Time to die.” The television says.
Arthur takes off his pants and throws the jeans across the room. He paces across the floor : Lover Boy printed across the crotch of his underwear. Arthur sucks in some air and smells stale cigarettes.
A smile creeps across his face.
“That’s more like it.”
Arthur sprawls across the bed, opens the fridge, and blindly snatches two colored potions.
“…This can’t be! Stay Away! No…Please…Why? Why? Ahhh…” The television says.
14 Minutes Later
“We need to leave! This place isn’t safe! Follow me!” The television says.
A cockroach lounges above Arthur’s head. He throws an empty potion toward his dirty feet, and then opens another.
“…Who put you in charge? Huh? I say we should stay! It’s not safe out there!” The television says.
The cockroach journeys across the wall while looking down at a large, mostly naked monster.
“…Gregory! Do you feel like dying? Answer me! Do you feel like dying? We need to leave before sundown…” The television says.
Arthur’s nostrils flare. He looks down at his underwear.
“…The only one…who’s going to die…is you!!!” The television says.
Arthur’s fingers clinch the crusty fabric and then he slides the befouled cotton down his somewhat hairy legs.
He drags his bare ass across the bed-sheets, throwing the underwear in the bathroom. A sour aroma knocks Arthur to his knees while he gags on a mouthful of vomit.
“I hate this city! It smells like a dead skunk’s asshole!” Arthur says.
He slams the hotel window shut.
“…Samantha! They ate her! They fucking ate her!….No….No…How can this be…” The television says. Arthur yawns and changes the channel.
“…What do you say? Let’s leave the country—you and me—we’ll be a team…” The television says. Arthur lays his face on the bed; his nostrils flare.
A memory floods Arthur’s mind.
He sees himself skid across the bed….his eyes bulge out of his face while he jumps to his feet, and then rips the sheets off the bed, revealing a large amorphous yellow stain.
“…Wait…hold on…what is that smell?” The television says.
Arthur glares at the television.
“…I do smell it…it’s getting stronger…” The television says.
A guy in a gray suit sits behind a desk, and then extinguishes a cigar.
“You smell it. Don’t you?”
Arthur points at himself.
He sniffs his armpits.
Arthur turns off the television while the floorboards cry underneath his feet.
“What did I tell you! What did I tell you! I smell it! I smell it! I smell it!” A voices screams from the room below him.
“I know you hear me! I smell you! We all smell you!” The voice screams.
Arthur paces across the room.
“Me?” He asks while scratching his scalp.
The television screen flickers and the screen shakes until it stabilizes into a familiar, well-dressed man. He lights a cigar, exhales a storm cloud, then leans back in a black leather chair.
“Who else could we be talking about, Arthur? Of course it’s you, Arthur.”
The man in the television laughs.
“We smell you! We smell you! We smell you! We smell you!” The voice screams from below.
Arthur retreats into the bathroom; the cold floor numbs his feet. He covers his ears as a toxic stink takes his nose hostage. Arthur bundles up the his clothes and bed-sheets and throws them out of the bathroom.
A bar of soap glistens near the sink. He turns on the faucet; wispy puffs of steam rise into the air. Arthur dips his hands in the water—a flower of pain begins to bloom within his palms.
A purple blister rises across Arthur’s knuckle while a hazy fog clings to the bathroom mirror. Arthur turns on the shower and grabs a tiny bottle of Pure Essence Shampoo. A barrage of water droplets assaults Arthur’s skin; he hangs his head as water bounce off his greasy scalp. Soapy glop swirls down the drain.
“No…no…no…no…no…” Arthur whispers.
He grabs the bottle of Pure Essence and squeezes green gel onto his scalded palm. Arthur lathers his scalp; a minty aroma stings his eyes closed. Fingers rip through strands of hair while frothy water clogs Arthur’s ears. He washes away the shampoo, and then slicks back his fresh, glistening locks.
The minty atmosphere quickly fades away—a vacant vacuum pulls in a disgraceful smell.
Arthur stares at a word printed next to the shower knob: HOT
He turns the dial until it can’t turn no more. The warm water evolves into a scolding current; searing fog fills the shower chamber. Arthur soaks a white washcloth and drags it along his forearm; the fabric scraps away flesh…muscular threads burn away.
Tiny tears open along Arthur’s bicep; searing water seeps through the inflamed flesh, a sanguine mask of tissue rises to the surface. The white washcloth can no longer hold any more red—dark droplets drip down Arthur’s legs, then mixes with the soapy slurry above his ankles.
Arthur raises a leg and rests it upon the bathtub’s rim.
Friction incinerates a fine layer of puffy skin. Arthur dips the red washcloth into the warm sludge until blisters form a crusted volcano, erupting a restless pus upon the landscape of his body.
7 Hours Later
Arthur steps toward the hotel lobby door.
“Sir! Sir! You have a few charges that need to be taken care of!” A voice echoes down the hall.
He walks toward the front counter and clears his throat.
“Ummm—yes?” Arthur says while scanning a name-tag: Laura
Laura’s fingers dances across a keyboard. She clicks a mouse a handful of times, then takes off her glasses.
“You appear to have rented a movie…Open My Fortune Cookie 7: Slanted Eyes and Big Thighs.” Laura says, then clicks the mouse three more times.
“That motion picture is listed as $16.27.” she says.
2 Minutes Later
Arthur drives down Broad View Road, and then speeds through a handful of small desert towns, leaving nothing but a temporary dust storm behind him.
Roll The Dice Casino glows behind a black sky. Arthur stops the car.
He sniffs the air—the aroma of 2 month old fast food infuses the air. As night arrives, the casino’s glowing sign becomes a second sun, beaming a brilliant glow across the desert, luring two-legged moths to it’s front door.
A frigid wind surrounds Arthur while he steps through the massive sliding glass gate.
“Welcome! Welcome!” A woman in a red dress says. She covers her nose while he strolls by. He turns a sharp corner and is intercepted by a loud greeting.
“Hellllllooooooo! Play! Win! It’s your destiny!” The slot machine says.
Arthur drops a quarter into the deposit slot: Mr. Cash Man explodes a variety of hypnotic colors while an orchestra blares through a crude speaker.
“Hellllooooo! Crank the arm! Are you a winner? Play and see!”
Arthur cranks the arm as a blur of symbols rotate across a screen.
The first symbol comes to rest: a deck of cards.
The second symbol stalls: a lit cigar.
The third symbol stops: a lit cigar
The fourth symbol stops: a lit cigar
The slot machine glows green.
“It’s your destiny! You’re a winner!”
40 $100 bills spits out of a gold slot while the woman in the the red dress crosses her arms and leans on the wall behind Arthur. He pockets the cash and meanders toward the bar.
The bartender cleans a glass as he sets his gaze upon Arthur.
“What do you need?” He asks.
Arthur plants himself in a swirling chair and begins to admire the colored potions along the wall.
“Hmmm…I’ll have Sapphire Rose.” Arthur says. The bartender stops washing the glass and places it down on the counter.
“Sapphire Rose…Are you sure?” He asks.
Arthur places a stack of cash upon the counter.
The bartender smiles, retrieves an azure bottle, and a pink crystal glass. He places them on the counter, collects the cash, and walks away. Arthur opens Sapphire Rose—a soft summer’s breeze escapes out of the bottle.
“What’s your name?” A voice asks.
Arthur looks through the corner of his eye and sees a woman in a red dress.
“Ummm, Arthur, yeah, my name is Arthur.”
She hops into the chair beside him.
“Are you here for business or pleasure?” She asks.
Arthur tips the bottle of Sapphire Rose and fills the pink crystal glass.
“I don’t know why I’m here.”
She rolls her eyes.
“My name is Jennifer…”
He takes a sip.
Jennifer leans on the bar counter.
“What do you say? Do you want to take a trip upstairs? I have a room.” she says while the massive curvature of her bosom escapes out her red dress.
8 Minutes Later
Jennifer stares at herself in the mirror while painting lipstick across her puffy mouth. She rips out a hair-tie—blonde strands fall along tan shoulders. Jennifer kisses her reflection, then walks out of the bathroom.
Arthur paces across the room; sweat stains soaks his white collar shirt.
“Are you okay?” Jennifer asks.
Arthur wipes his forehead.
“Yeah! Yeah! I never been better!”
She nods, turns her back, and snatches the bottle of Sapphire Rose. Jennifer pours a glass, drinks half of it, and then hands it to Arthur.
“Cheers!” She says.
He gulps half of the sweet liquid as Jennifer tips Arthur’s chin up with her finger. The rest of the Sapphire Rose fills his throat as he slowly plummets the liquid into his stomach.
“That’s right! I knew you could do it!” Jennifer says.
Arthur spins on his heels while pointing at the ceiling.
“I’ll be right back!” He says, then lunges into the bathroom. Jennifer’s purse sits on the counter while Arthur bites his nails. He peeks inside—a purple bottle lays next to an empty box of condoms.
Arthur sniffs the air.
“No…No…No…!!!” He says.
Arthur pulls out the purple bottle and repeatedly sprays a raining cloud of shimmering chemicals. He gags while spraying the bottle six more times, then vomits into the sink.
“Is everything all right?” Jennifer’s muffled voice breaches through the door. Arthur wipe his mouth and swallows acidic leftovers.
“Yeah…yeah! Never been better!” He says.
Arthur’s reflection in the mirror lights a cigarette and laughs.
“Are you sure about that? I think I smell something…” Arthur’s reflection says.
“Shut up…you smell nothing! You smell nothing! NOTHING! See? Nothing! Do you? Do you? Do you?” Arthur says. He shuts off the lights and exits the bathroom.
Jennifer approaches Arthur; a full glass of Sapphire Rose in her hand. She holds a palm over her nose and extends an arm toward Arthur.
“What is that smell? Is that Sunrise Serenity? I never tasted it before.” Jennifer says.
Arthur snatches the glass from her.
“No, no—I don’t smell anything, not me, nope, not me, nope.”
Jennifer nods while Arthur’s reflection in the glass holds his nose and laughs. He looks away, then walks toward the bed.
“Now that’s what I’m talking about!” Jennifer says; she pushes Arthur on the bed while lifting her red dress.
“Do you like what you see?”
Arthur’s reflection smiles and nods.
“How much am I worth?” Jennifer asks.
Arthur shrugs his shoulders.
“Ummm…I don’t know…I…”
Jennifer unbuttons his shirt—a dreaded stink punches her in the nose…as if she snorted the Grim Reaper’s crotch.
“What happened to you?” She asks while pointing at the ravaged terrain of his body; the dormant blistered volcanoes left behind monumental scabs.
“Oh…I fell.” Arthur says.
Jennifer smiles and presses herself against his wallet. She unbuttons his pants; her eyes roll back and Jennifer feints.
“No…No…No…!!!” Arthur says.
A telephone rings near a lamp.
Heavy breathing billows out of the telephone.
“We smell you…we all smell you!” The telephone says.
Arthur bites his tongue.
“No! No! No!” He says, and then rips the phone line out of the wall.
The phone rings.
He picks up the phone.
“I don’t hear you! I don’t hear you! I don’t hear you!” Arthur screams.
The phone laughs.
“You picked up the phone…you must hear something….you must smell something…IT MUST BE YOU!”
The phone slips from his fingers and bounces upon the carpet. Laughter crackles through the phone.
“You know its you…Arthur…talk to me…tell me…confess to me…you…you…YOU!” The phone says.
Arthur runs out of the room.
A senior citizen walks down the hall and see a boiled naked person running toward him. The elderly man steps aside—a flash of flesh blasts by—as a gale rustles through the few strands of white hair left on his scalp. Arthur burns his heels against the carpet, and then pushes the down button fifteen times.
“What’s taking so long…come on…come on…come on…It’s not me…no…It’s them….!!!” He says.
Arthur smiles at the senior citizen.
“How are you doing? Are you on vacation? It’s nice this time of year.”
The elevator opens. Arthur leaps inside. The door shuts; music emits from a small speaker until it fades to static, then a short bust of silence.
“We smell you…We smell you…We smell you…it’s you…Arthur…Arthur…Arthur.” The speaker says.
The elevator doors slide open; Arthur jumps out while covering his ears. He collides into a security guard and trips over a small chair.
“Hey! Hey! Someone stop that guy!” The security guard screams.
A tall man—arms ripping the sleeves of his shirt—stands in the way. As Arthur approaches, he stares at a ravaged body, exposed to the world, like an open nerve. The tall man steps aside and allows Arthur to run out of the casino’s front gate.
“Why did you let him go He probably groped one of the dancers! Damn it! Shit! We’re going to hear about this in the morning.” The security guard says. The tall guy shrugs his shoulders.
“He was naked. Did you see that? He didn’t have any clothes on! Groping is the least of our worries.” He says.
They both look toward the desolate desert and watch Arthur shrink into a pale action figure, fading away toward the open horizon.
“Fuck him…he’s jackal jerky…there will be nothing left of him.”
The tall guy’s nostrils flare.
“Yeah, you’re right. Hey. Do you smell that?”
2 Hours Later
Arthur stumbles over a rock and falls to his knees. A cold gust whistles while the moon floats above the horizon—a cratered face looks down at Arthur, as a golden haze blurs the lunar complexion. The sky ignites with celestial fire; gleams of light bounce off a sea of rocky sand. Dead shrubs breach from the landscape: spiny, twisted branches reach out like an open hand, reaching for help.
“It’s not me…It’s them…It’s them…It’s them…not me…no…not me…” Arthur says.
He points at the Moon.
“Yes, yes—it’s them, ha, it’s them—no, not me…”
A piercing howl silences Arthur. He walks backwards past a dead shrub, it’s spiny fingers rake against his exposed hide while sharp rocks carve trenches into his feet.
“I have nothing to prove, not, not me, never, it doesn’t matter, no, because, it’s not me, it’s them, it’s them, it’s them, it’s them…” Arthur says.
He kneels down and picks up a flat, sharp rock, chiseled by the continual hammer of the natural elements.
Arthur looks up toward the Moon.
The cratered face peeks through the golden haze and frowns.
“I’ll prove it…I’ll show you…”
He extends his arm, then digs the edge of the rock deep into his wrist, sawing back and forth. A whisper of pain pulsates along the palm while the mineral edge slices through fragile purple veins.
“You’ll see…you’ll all see!!!”
The rock snags against a thread of biology—he saws the muscle and slices toward the elbow. The bony protrusion provides a temporary roadblock. A jagged gully rips through shoulders—erasing his outer identity.
Arthur leaves behind pieces of himself… like a slug…sliding through a viscous goo. Biological textiles fall to the desert rocks; wrinkled masses of bulgy skin, glazed with a red glister.
“When there’s nothing left…” Arthur says.
He drags the rock along his collarbone.
“…You’ll understand…then…you’ll understand…”
The nomadic desert wind arouses a horrid stench. Arthur covers his nose.
“I’ll prove it.”
The Moon peeks beyond the golden haze; a cratered grin stretches across the lunar face.
15 Days Later
A black car pulls into Dusty’s Scenic Rest & Stop. The doors fly open.
“I’m going to go get a candy bat.” Bradley says while yawning. Two guys walk toward a vacant campsite.
“This is where Harold told us to meet him? What a sadist asshole. I hate this damn Sun.” Carlos says. They stand next to a dirty grill full of cigarette ash and half-smoked filters. Carlos spits in the grill.
“He’s paranoid, but I don’t blame him—I’m not doing business in front of some nosy gambler—they see too much.” Bradly says.
Carlos takes off his sunglasses.
“See? That’s a scratch! It’s this damn dust! These are Johnny Caramels! Cost me $900. Shit. SHIT!” Carlos screams.
Bradley looks toward the horizon; a trail of tan smoke flows toward them.
“There he is.” Bradley says.
Carlos puts on his sunglasses.
“Finally! I need to get out of this Sun.”
Blood drips from his nose, splattering against his burning leather shoes.