The mannequin in the window of the clothing store across the street was staring at me again while I was trying to unlock my front door. That makes it twenty days in a row now that the fucking thing is leering at me while I’m trying to get inside. I can hear him, sarcastic and booming in the back of my mind.
“Oh, look at Jeff,” I hear him say, “in such a hurry to get into his apartment. I bet he’s real excited to make dinner. Maybe pasta? Or are you keto now, Jeff? Seems like a dipshit enough thing for you to do, go keto even though you barely know what that means and you’re not quite clear on where the lines are between South Beach and Atkins and keto - and you hate salad. Yeah, that seems like something a dipshit like you would do.”
I hate that his voice is deeper than mine. I hate that he’s right. I hate him, so goddamn much.
There have been other mannequins. Five others, since I moved in. But none of them ever glared at me so vindictively, watched me so intensely, were so accurate in their pointed critiques of my existence. But this one! A man’s home should be his castle, the one place in the world he knows exactly where he stands. And yet! I find myself slamming the door shut behind me, having to compose myself once I’m out of view of that angular, eyeless face. I may have had to wipe a tear, the time he guessed I signed up for that Spartan the same day I noticed my hairline had moved.
He doesn’t know the pain, him and his smooth, hairless scalp. He doesn’t know the wounds he causes me daily.
I’ve now spent three weeks in this state of agony, eternally wondering what abuse I shall suffer upon returning to my abode. Will today be the day he learns I’m not using my degree? Where he guesses my fear of heights is still slowly getting worse? That he points out I’ve been working out for years and still don’t look nearly as good naked in the dark as he does under those harsh, gleaming fluorescent lights?
I could have beautiful abs too, if I were formed from plastic.
I don’t know if he’s simply good at guessing or if an enemy of mine has been slipping notes into his well-manicured hand, but it doesn’t matter. Now the second I catch a glimpse of his uniform skin tone my entire day is ruined. I used to live my life in technicolor, rejoice in the diversity of emotion that comprises the human experience. Now my life is lived in only red and grey; the only feelings I have left hatred and the occasional rage. And underneath it all, the burning truth of the matter is -
I have never been so goddamn attracted to someone in my entire goddamn life.
I have the same dream every night, where I’m in California in the 80s, and there’s not another creature around - just me, my mannequin, and his bright blue 2004 Honda Valkyrie Rune motorcycle. We’re on the 1 and it’s sunrise and I’m sitting behind him as he whips us around the curves and I can’t stop laughing -
- and I lean towards him and say slow down, I don’t want to fall off, and he just laughs and says you better hold on tighter then, and we keep flying up the coast until the sun rises for real and I wake, covered in sweat and smelling of car fumes and it’s time for me to go to work.
I hear they’re shutting down the store he’s in next August, that liquidators are gonna be getting rid of everything the owners can’t sell.
I hope they fucking melt him.