He raped his wife then kissed her crying face before collapsing into sleep. Later that night he was handcuffed and shoved into the caged backseat of a car with flashing red lights. Driven downtown past decaying office buildings and abandoned warehouses he descended with the vehicle into a mausoleum-shaped structure down a cement ramp to a cavernous garage. He was ushered through a maze of elevators and passageways. He heard gears turning and cables creaking that reverberated into hollow depths from behind the walls. Fluorescent lights buzzed and flickered to indicate a power source on the verge of collapse. Inside a windowless room with off-white walls discolored like a bruise and stains oozing out from its corners, he was told to confess. He refused, claiming he had committed no crime. They slapped his face and laughed. Was he a gambling man? Did he like playing poker? They pummeled him with more questions that made no sense. He was told to sit, which he did, around a small table. They offered him a beer which he declined, then he changed his mind and took it, thinking… What the Hell. He flinched when struck on the back with a flat-handed slap as if he was their buddy, an old chap, a good sport. Five-card stud. An equal opportunity game, they jested. Stacks of red, white, and blue chips were divided among the players. Gratis. But after that, the bets got personal. They let him cut the cards. His hands trembled. He tried to enjoy himself, had a second beer, even smiled as he began winning. But his luck changed. He lost everything he had. The cash in his wallet. Three credit cards. His wrist watch. Wedding ring. Next his clothing. He sat naked in a cold metal chair with the policewomen snickering and pointing at his shriveled manhood as they proceeded to win his car, his house, and his dignity. He signed documents stating they now owned him. They gave him back his clothing and said he was free to go but if he was not a good little boy they would return and punish him severely, next time. The sunrise racket of their fading laughter humiliated his hungover mind as he hurried to catch a bus. At work he could barely function. He punched the cash register and had a vehement distrust for the computer as it tracked the barcodes. He apologized to customers when caught overcharging them, triggering his anger to berate his subservients for bagging the groceries too slow. When he arrived home that evening he wanted to ignore his wife and watch football but she confronted him with her sad face. He told her to forget last night. It was a mistake! Like his whole life! – he yelled at her – a god-damned mistake! She agreed but wanted him to apologize. He slapped her. Immediately regretting it, he apologized. He left the house to get cigarettes and brought home flowers. She thanked him with a kiss and a hug and a plea for him to seek help from a higher power. He hated how she shoved religion in his face. His annoyance with her festered into an urge for sex as they climbed into bed. So he clutched his wife between her legs with a thought that by reinforcing his matrimonial rights would provide a lift. But he was too tired to get aroused. And her moans were not utters of pleasure but murmured prayers like a voodoo curse and they killed any chance of stimulating his flaccid libido. So he removed his middle finger from inside her. Desperate for sleep but fearing to let go, the loss of control, and the police coming to arrest him, he felt the muzzle of a gun pressed to his head as he awoke with a flashlight on his face. His wife sleeping peacefully as he was led outside in his pajamas. They drove him to the end of a dirt road far from the city. As the car came to a stop it occurred to him that his abductors were not the police. Hovering far off in a grove of trees was a spaceship. Their words turned into alien gibberish. He was escorted under an enormous disc and beamed aboard. Although terrified he found the encounter not that unpleasant. He was transported through passageways resembling fiber-optic tubes reducing him in size before probed and examined. The temperature was warm, a soothing bath that circulated around him and he surrendered to the loss of equilibrium and became docile, placed on a conveyor belt which delivered him to a domed room with walls illuminated to simulate a blue sky. He floated over churning red liquid past rows of humanoid creatures standing above him on each side. All hovering in semi-transparent uniforms, their sexual identity was clearly exposed. All were female. He smiled. They did not. Their apparent leader was seated on a high platform resembling clouds and ignored his arrival. Head turned away, she was examining a wall of cryptic blips and messages beyond his comprehension. Swiveling around, she faced him holding a glowing scepter resembling a cattle prod. She did not look pleased. Nor was he – upon realizing this woman was his wife! His alarm was expressed in a whimpering submission as the lights and power from this mother ship died – gone in a flash. He bolted upright, in a cold sweat, his eyes opened wide. His heart pounding. He turned and saw two eyes glowing in the darkness. Was he still dreaming? The voice he heard was strange and yet so familiar it sent a shock wave to his organs – to his groin. Go back to sleep, she said. Without hesitation, he obeyed.
Excerpt from Light-Years in the Dark: StoryPoems (see more)
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