What was left of Martin Major’s mind kept returning, like the buzz of a fly, to the phrase almost always. ALMOST always. Almost. Back when his memory was active little exceptions to his genteel code — an audible damn, a finger in an itchy ear at a meeting, a demonstrative suppression of a belch — kept pricking him, like nettles. But those instances, those memories, were long gone now, disposed of, like lilac petals faded into earth, not even a hint of scent remaining. So whatever relic could penetrate the tangled and frozen shreds of his brain now had to have some potency, some vigor I’ve got something to confess Toni
You look serious babe, I’m very serious, she grins and nods I suppose you’ve filed for divorce right? or you’ve had your navel pierced, Don’t laugh Toni it’s more serious than either of those, You have nothing to confess to me Marty, nothing that I need to hear, she approaches him cups his firm face looks deeply into his eyes, if you need to confess then pretend you’re a catholic and talk to a priest, there’s nothing you need to confess to me, she smiles, expects the same from him, broadens he smile and rolls her eyes when she doesn’t see it, I don’t need a professional confessor you’re all I’ll ever need he says, she drops her hands takes a step back I could confess lots of things to you Marty but I’m not going to, it’s all in the past, dead and gone, he squeezes his eyes shut grits his teeth before blurting But baby this is horrific. She sees something alien, swimming eyes alarm blows across her face freezes a moment evaporates just as quickly, Marty she says we have a good life, we live life today and we plan for tomorrow, our whole life together is here in the present, that’s all we need to keep us strong, you need confess nothing to me, nothing, except don’t tell me that we’ve got no future, that’s all, if we’ve got a future then all we have to concern ourselves with is the present and our plans, that’s all that’s all, that’s all.
Something’s resounding in Martin Major’s head, a klaxon, a piercing blast repearing itself, pounding there, a bewildered cloud shadows the image in the mirror, he feels a pulsation in his left leg just above the knee, he’s jolted into a stagger feels the bathroom wall slam against his back his thigh is turning blue, just his thigh, the throbbing is alive, he bends, grasps his thigh uses his hands as a tourniquet, he lets go and his back slides down the wall his bare ass then tight to the floor, he yells out. Something’s going on that he can’t understand, but then again there’s a lot he can’t understand now, the present, most of the past, his career in meetingrooms and courts, libraries, university lecturehalls. Still, the one even he had spent his life trying to forget, the one memory that consumed him every day, that Toni wouldn’t let him confess thank god, it would have killed her, it’s killing him now — that one event like a savage recurring dream bellowed through the hollows of his mind how could you do Martin Major how could you have done such a thing thing thing to your loyal wife how could you do that that that to that other other woman to that other woman woman’s b b baby how could you do that Martin Major . . . the throbbing in his thigh is intensifying, he sees a streak forming in the blue up above pointzero, the center of the pounding, his breathing quickens, the streak gets longer wider
and then the skin at pointzero erupts and something emarges, it’s covered not with blood but a sheath, opaque at first but becoming transparent, he sees something, form and developing features, the form tubular its blunt end writhing against the air it’s forcing itself into, the sheath slits open and the head of a snake shoots out blue and rigid with effort, its body flows out after it, he hears something like air crinkling and then a sharp shhh feels the smooth speed of the thickening force widening the hole in his leg, the milky sheath slides down his leg and puddles up on the floor as the sleek blue body accelerates, the snake seems neverending, it keeps streaking out its body thickening its head thrashing like a monster fish trying to throw a lure, the head end finally disappears and still the body pours out, there’s a deafening rushing sound the snake seems desperate and Martin Major, screaming, passes out.