Carl The Terrible.

by Serge Bielanko

Maybe it was the Corn Chex just before I went to bed. There must be something weird, some sort of dream-spark drug sprayed on those kernels somewhere along the endless road between dew-kissed farm field and the check-out counter at Wal-Mart. There's got to be. If all these quit smoking potions and hard-on pills and Pez for Pricks they hawk on television are occasionally delivered by Angels of Madness whispering in certain ears. Kill yourself. Shit yourself. Call yourself up on Skype. If these drugs are out there, well they then I gotta believe they occasionally find their way into the corn. And the Chex.

Or, maybe it was the large glass of wine I glugged after the cereal. Whatever. It's not important. What's important is that somewhere around 3;30ish the other night something hellacious kicked in and my wife added another husband to our family.

Ladies and Gentlemen, meet: Carl.

And let me tell you something, this fucking guy, Carl. Christ, what a Powerball Hit this guy is. My wife of five years, she shows up in my sleep with this guy and even I like him at first: cooking with sauces, power-sawing into the walls (don't ask...blame the CornDrugs), letting me watch as he kisses Monica deeply and passionately like some mythical Euro-Poet stoned out of his mind on his own cologne. I mean this whole situation was a bowling ball to the face. Another husband? Who does this? This is Utah. We add wives not dudes.

So, like dreams go, elephants appeared outside the windows and Violet was a Yeti, etc. Still, the gist was somewhat clear and by the time I cracked my eyes to the darkness and tasted my thunderous heart beats, I was a shaken mess. I lay there in the bed trying to figure out what just happened.

I tried to hold Monica, reach out to her in my time of need.

She moaned in a pissy way.

"I had a bad dream," I told her. She did not respond. Nothing. It hurt.

This guy, Carl, he'd tried so hard with me: To be kind. To let me down easy. To push my work-shirts and t-shirts to the back of my closet with a soft twinkle in his handsome eye, when he had to hang his own clothes up there in the front. I glared into the black of our bedroom now and distinctly recalled how ripped and bronze his arms were, how they rippled with soft Mediterranean currents, easy and clean, when he pushed my empty baby blue hangers to the back of the closet, into some forsaken void owned by spiders that live on dust and loneliness. And God, the smile he gave me when he was doing it. The meticulously warm grin; the "Hey Buddy" creases at the corner of his eyes; the gentle way he ignored my wife, OUR wife, as she dangled off one of his muscles like a some punk-ass park demon hogging the Jungle Gym.

Carl knew he had me. He felt the trillion savage volts cascading through his system, smashing entire villages of these weak peasants of doubt and vulnerability into the walls of his guts until all there was left was a paper-thin cloud of the newly extinct exiting his body as dust. And every time he looked at me, he blew a light wind it into my face without even trying.

Around then, I guess, is when I couldn't take much more. And so there I was trying to put some 4AM meaning to the horrific sideshow that is my dreams. So many questions. So much to consider. So many things that made absolutely no sense at all.

I mean, if my wife was going to add a second husband to our family, she would never pick a dude named Carl.

She just wouldn't.