The Incense Salesman
At the end of a wonderful day off spent mingling with his beloved wife, who was only a girlfriend when he first got hired by Liam, Marty returns to the last house on Thisroad Street – number 123, the one at the end of the cul-de-sac – to find the air inside icy and chilled, as if old boy Liam turned the air conditioner too low. But that’s impossible, Liam can hardly get out of bed (thank God for the winning combo of a catheter and a colostomy bag, thank Him and praise Him), he couldn’t have reached the thermostat.
It’s at this moment that Marty realizes he forgot to give Liam his pills. He nearly trips over the stair chair on his way upstairs.
The door to Liam’s bedroom – the same bedroom with the same bed he slept in as a kid, because that’s what he insisted on, the old kook – is cracked open. Marty busts in with enough force to almost knock the door off its hinges, and he finds exactly what he was afraid he would, that very thing which he’s been expecting for years: Liam somehow managed to get himself into his scooter, probably in an attempt to get out into the bathroom where Marty keeps the pills, possibly so he could make a new video, and passed away on the way there. Then Marty notices the camera on the old man’s lap, and he can’t help but spare a sad smile – even after all these years, Liam was still doing the one thing he loved: Being Liam. Liam got to keep Being Liam all the way until the end.
Letting the camcorder fall to the floor, Marty lifts the eighty-pound cadaver, which is stuck in an awful slump because of the rigor mortis, out of the scooter and carries him downstairs, sitting him down on the dusty living room couch Marty took the liberty of covering with plastic about five years ago. He gets on the phone and calls the myriad of doctors Liam would occasionally see, then the funeral home, and lastly, the accountant. He arranges for a car to come in one hour, which should give him plenty of time to get Liam all cleaned up. After the body’s gone, Marty will pack up his stuff and probably head straight for his own house – after taking a shower, that is – and let the accountant settle the rest.
Marty draws a warm bath in the master bathroom, then goes upstairs to fetch Liam’s camcorder. Liam wasn’t a man of many last wishes; in fact, he only had one: to be buried with the tool of his trade, that which allowed him to keep on Being Liam. It fell under the desk, and as he stands back up, Marty notices a curious scorch mark next to Liam’s keyboard. There’s a box of matches in the top drawer, too… it appears as if Liam had tried to start a fire.
‘Maybe he was trying to make a smoke signal,’ Marty thinks to himself with a slightly guilty smile as he runs a finger through the soot. Curiously enough, it comes up without leaving a trace. ‘Huh, that’s weird.’ Marty brushes the black dust into the garbage (and throws the box of matches in there too, just for the hell of it) and then takes out the trash. By then the bath is full, and as Marty carries Liam in through the door, the white light of the bathroom engulfs their form like sunlight on an old camcorder’s viewfinder.
Hello Commons, this has been the last subchapter of the seventh story from Convenient Incidents, an anthology of fifteen interconnected short stories which revolve around a man by the name of Hilter Odolf Williamson.
Convenient Incidents is part of the Third Spiral, an anthology of sorts called The Here and Now which is comprised of stories told from the various planes of Existence.
Convenient Incidents is available to read for free in its entirety on my website. Click here to check it out.
I’ve written a few other books, too. Click here to see the list.
If you like Convenient Incidents and would like to help support my work, click here and buy an autographed copy of the book (or anything else!) from my store. Alternatively, you can snag a cheaper (and unsigned) copy from Amazon by clicking here OR you can buy the ebook for even cheaper here.
If you’re there, hypothetical reader, thank you for being there. Be well Commons~