Saturday, August 5, 2017

a doll's house

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING MAN (1957; d: Jack Arnold, written by Richard Matheson)

What, how...oh.  Just when I thought it might all have been a nightmare...the laundry. That's it, I'm lying in our dirty laundry.  Butch must've snuck back into the house at some point, and I came about as close as a man can to becoming cat chow.  And evidently I was knocked cold when I took a long fall into the basement. If it hadn't been for this pile of clothes...that's twice today that I've cheated death. Well, I suppose the cat's the least of my problems now, down here.

I guess it all started that day out on the boat, on our vacation. Things had gone wonderfully that week, just about all you could ask for from a relaxing getaway with the wife.  We had the ocean, we had each other—and we were still very much in love. It had all been so perfect, thinking back now.  But then one afternoon as we sunbathed, everything changed.

Just as Louise had gone below deck to fetch me a beer, a strange, heavy mist crept in...

There was something in that mist, some kind of pernicious, possibly irradiated dust that clung to my skin after it was gone.  It had passed over by the time Louise surfaced, but six months later, when my pants stopped fitting and I'd gone to see a doctor, we'd both remembered that afternoon.

It's a bewildering thing, the moment you find out you're getting smaller. You don't really believe it, because it isn't something you can believe. But after awhile, well, you settle into the certainty that, despite everything you know, despite the history of the human experience until now, something is making you slowly disappear. And that's about the size of it, really—I'm disappearing, much like in a magic act, only this takes a little longer and there'll be no fanfare when it's finished, because who will know?

Sometimes I can't help but think, well, that perhaps there's a bit of karma to this, that maybe in some way I'm being punished for my abominable behavior to Louise. I didn't mean for things to happen this way, but once I started to shrink, every lousy fear and undermining emotion I ever had in my life began to creep to the surface.

"Did you tell them who you're married to—the incredible Scott Carey, the shrinking freak!"

I think just about every man hides away a weak, corrupted, wretched little piece of his heart that pulls in all the wrong directions, bent on sullying and corroding his thoughts with notions of insecurity and doubt. It's the stuff that leads kings to tyranny—and drives women away from their husbands.  I suppose I hadn't counted on it piling on to my already grim predicament.

When the newsmen began sniffing around, and it became obvious that if I didn't sell my story they'd report it anyway, I became an instant celebrity.  And that is when a tense situation in the Carey household suddenly became much worse.

And now, I am.  And down here there's no food, no Louise, and precious little time remaining.  It seems that, without nourishment, the shrinking process speeds up considerably.  And poor Louise, my darling—she's stood by me through it all, and now of course she'll be thinking the worst, and blaming herself for Butch getting back in.  

Down here, in the gathering gloom at the foot of these stairs, it's easy for a man to realize the full measure of his life. Through all the trials and tribulation, all the mental hurdles and lost hope of these past few months, I seem to have forgotten the sense of what I'd had, of just how far Scott Carey had come in this world.  And maybe I'd never fully understood what it all means.  If I ever get out of here, Louise, we'll make it right again.  If not in this life,, we'll make it right.