in his dream, he keeps the body in his apartment’s bathtub for the next 15 someodd minutes before making any phone calls. the body and its face look enough like himself that he can superimpose a vision of himself over the dead thing in the tub, crumbled and stuffed awkwardly, forehead caved inward and brain matter dribbling out of the broken nose. he’s taking in its stillness and its new designation in his brain as Object. still half expecting the lights to come back on behind its eyes and for it to twitch and leap up. the uncanny valley half-and-half between a living man and a dead one.

he sends a snap of his mess to group chat. sits on the floor with it staring past him from the tub and waits. its eyes fixated on some spot on the bathroom wall, just under the light switch, like it’s still capable of sight and is seeing through it and past it, 1000 miles away.

when they show up, all strangely simultaneously, they already know to come into the bathroom. they stand still at what feels like prearranged points around in a half moon. he’s stuffed next to the toilet ignoring them, watching the dead thing in the bathtub in silence, like he’s the guy’s soul lingering. they move in closer like they don’t see him and zero in on the meat in the tub. he’s on his fourth beer and the out of body giddiness is setting in.

garv’s there first and half clambered into the bathtub already, fumbling with his leg momentarily stuck in the shower curtain, prying its lips back to test how loose the jaw muscles are gonna be this long into death. half thought of if he wants to wait for rigor to set in so its mouth is locked in a blowup doll gape. half discussed, half laughed. when the guy moves its arm with its dead fish hand to his dick, the limb flops strangely with the sharp point of its elbow cracking into the porcelain rim of the tub. it’s bizarre to see it not react. the skin is a waxy bloodless yellow that reminds him of raw chicken breasts, rinsing in a pile at the bottom of his kitchen sink.

after some time, there’s a ropy spurt of ejaculate (thick, dehydrated, like the owner’s piss after this is gonna be more browns than yellows) that struck it in the face and encircled its eye, and now just congeals there in the lower lid, and there’s no reaction of a wince or of conjunctival redness. there’s still something very fascinating just off in the distance in front of it that it’s too busy staring at. some secret movie it’s watching through the wall. he’s on his fifth beer on his empty stomach and contemplating this thing that isn’t him in the tub and the way the rest of them perch and squat in precariously and take turns pumping the slack-jawed room-temperature hole in its face. he’s too preoccupied clearly imagining the way its tongue is being crushed to the far end of the oral cavity and then just sitting back there compressed, like a sponge.

he’s unfolding his huge self from the corner and crawling over across the bathroom tile and reaching one of his hands into the tub, because its utter lack of reaction and the blankness of its stare is filling him with a sour anger. he’s wriggling his thick fingers into the right eye socket alongside the globe and jerking, twisting, nail-first puncturing in, feeling the tissue pierce and give and pulp.

he turns his head to malik (lying in wait, shoulder to wall, viper smile with his tongue rotating one of the snakebites from the inside of his mouth) to tell him that he made an extra hole for him, and the turn is too fast for the fluid in his inner ear to keep up. half doubled over the edge of the tub vomiting mucusy ramapo valley into the thing’s lap. nobody falters or backs off. he can see the fluid and chunks seeping into the puncture wounds in its abdomen and draining inside. little bubbles of displaced oxygen in the bile’s surface, like clams digging down into the sand when the tide pulls out. like heat vents at the seafloor reaching up and just grazing the surface.

he is out for a moment, fumbling with one hand across the tiles, searching, then there again with his steak knife from the kitchen working the right side of its face loose from the subterranean bony structures. he is gouging with his knife tip the remnants of its burst eye from the socket in long thick stretches of aqueous humors like snot. his fingers are worming up over its face, past bone fragment and slipping, sinking into the brain matter, and the mass parts around the intrusions. like squeezing jello.

garv thinks this is a fuckin riot.

when sal wakes up (with the comforter kicked aside, with the sheets cocooned around his hips and thighs, with sweat running down the back of his neck, into his hair, pooling in the hollow between his clavicles) he is iron-hard against his stomach, but with a simultaneous sensation in his own mind like a forgotten word.

the shape and start of it, just on the tip of your tongue.
right there for a few moments, and subsequently lost.