It was the smell that hit him first. Halfway through a yawn, walking down the hallway and into the kitchen, he’d expected the comforting morning scents of percolating coffee, slightly bronzed toast.
What assaulted his nostrils and caught scratching at the back of his throat instead was the fetid stench of shit.
His wife, draped in her bathrobe, seated at the breakfast bar, glanced up from the bowl in front of her, grinning. Feaces smeared across her teeth, around her lips. Down her chin.
Choking down gags he sprang across the linoleum flooring, slapping the bowl smashing to the floor. His wife gasped. Tears forming at the corners of her glazed eyes.
“What the hell are you doing, Kathy?”
“What the heck am I doing, George? What the heck are you doing? I was eating my breakfast! What on Earth’s got into you this morning? You smashed my favorite bowl,” she cried, a hand tremoring uncontrollably held to her shit-smeared lower face.
“Go and wash your mouth out for Christ’s sake, woman.”
“What are you talking about?”
“You were eating shit, Kathy! Shit! Shit! Have you gone completely batshit insane?!”
“What? It’s good for you. Full of nutrients and other good things, everyone knows that.”
“What the hell are you talking about? It’s human waste, Kathy. There’s nothing nutritious in shit at all.”
“Everyone’s eating it. Celebrities, Politicians, folks on the internet. Everyone swears by it. The problem with you is you’re small-minded. Afraid to try different things.” Kathy took out her cellphone and scrolled through her social network, gleefully exposing him to selfie after selfie of smiling, anonymous faces spooning shit into their grinning mouths.
The woman stunk.
“See!” she said, switching on the small television beside the toaster and flicking through channel after channel of famous people smearing brown crap across their lips.
He vomited into the sink. A cold sweat crawling over his scalp and oozing down his spine as he watched his wife pull the half-empty jar of brown, watery substance from the cupboard and spoon it spilling into another bowl. Holding aloft her cellphone and snapping herself pouting in five different poses with the bowl of shit. Each snapshot more revolting than the last.
He attempted to wrestle the putrid bowl from her hands as she screamed towards the ceiling.
“That’s it! I’m calling your parents! They’ll put a stop to this damn madness,” George bellowed.
“Why should they?” Kathy shrieked. “My mother was the one who brought over the jars this morning. The supermarkets were completely sold out when I went grocery shopping yesterday. Now stop pestering me! You’ll wake up the baby.”
“This is insane. Absolute madness, Kathy,” he stood there, clenching and unclenching his fists.
“Stop being such a stick in the mud all the time. Here, just try a spoonful. You’ll like it. Everyone’s doing it. I’ll post a selfie on my SNS and you see how many likes you’ll get. Probably hundreds. Maybe you’ll even trend if you write something about a cause to go with the photo.”
“I’ll die before I’ll eat shit, Kathy.”
“Please don’t talk like that, George.”
“Why not? It’s the truth.”
“It’s stupid. You think you know better than everyone else? All those famous folks on the internet? I’m sorry, I love you, George but you’re an idiot.”
“If everyone was jumping from a cliff, would you do that too, Kathy?”
“Well, it depends if there were a good reason for it. If everyone was doing it, must be for a reason. Now, quit bothering me, I’ve got to get Junior’s breakfast ready. He’ll wake up any minute and he’ll be grumpy,” Kathy said reaching for the jar.
He slammed a fist down on the breakfast bar. Porcelain rattled.
“No fucking way, Kathy. You’ll not feed shit to our child. Absolutely not!”
“Yes, I will. You can’t stop me.”
George snatched his cellphone and car keys from the counter. Dashed down the hall to the baby’s room. The baby was awake. Happily watching the mobile of little fluffy sheep as it turned softly to the tune of Ring Around the Rosie. He screwed his little face up and began to cry when his mother burst into the room wailing.
“George! Now look what you’ve done! You’ve made the baby cry. He’s hungry. He needs his breakfast. You’re really scaring me today, George!”
He ignored his wife, wrapping the baby in a blanket and pushing his way past Kathy’s flailing hands, down the hall, out of the house and into the car.
His wife bellowing from the front porch she was calling the cops.
With the baby secured in the child seat, he swung himself behind the wheel, started the engine, pulled out into the street and drove.
He sped past people standing, posing on the street snapping selfies of themselves eating shit. Everyone smiling and proud of themselves. Past billboards advertising faces eating shit. When he switched on the radio the only stations he could receive were of people slurping down shit.
The cellphone vibrating madly on the passenger seat beside him. The baby sleeping peacefully in the rearview mirror, he drove and didn’t stop. He kept on going even though he knew there was nowhere else to go in the whole world.
Stephen J. Golds was born in North London, U.K, but has lived in Japan for most of his adult life.
He writes primarily in the noir and dirty realism genres and is the co-editor of Punk Noir Magazine. Some of his writing influences are Charles Bukowski, John Fante, James M. Cain, Tobias Wolff and Jim Thompson.
He enjoys spending time with his daughters, reading books, traveling the world, boxing and listening to old Soul LPs.
He is the author of 3 novels: Say Goodbye When I’m Gone, I’ll Pray When I’m Dying, Always the Dead, one poetry collection and Poems for Ghosts in Empty Tenement Windows and one short story and poetry collection Love Like Bleeding Out With an Empty Gun in Your Hand.
He also has had stories and poetry published in a wide variety of online magazines and anthologies.