SALT HILL 22, WINTER 2008
After Super Wal-Mart, Charles and Kara came home and found zombies in their front yard. There were like one hundred zombies trampling their lawn. Zombies on the neighbors’ lawns and on all the lawns. Most of the neighbors were zombies. Some of them moaned. “Zombies are cool,” said Charles. Zombies stood in the driveway and in front of the garage. One was eating a cat. Kara honked the horn. Zombies stood. It was October and yellow and orange-red leaves fell off the trees and onto zombies. Charles and Kara had been dating a year and a half. They were having relationship problems. Charles was five years older than Kara and had asked her to marry him. In a panic, she said yes. She was in her mid-twenties and unprepared for life’s vicissitudes. She had imagined that she would be able to sleep around until she was in her thirties. At least. Somehow, she felt, someone had tricked her. “Honk the horn,” said Charles.
“I honked the horn.” She honked again. Zombies found a living person. It was Mr. Lau. They pulled him off his bike and tore him to pieces. The blood sprayed ten feet in the air. Another thing that she disliked about Charles was his pushiness.
“I have to pee,” said Charles.
Zombies were on a killing rampage. “We can’t get married,” said Kara. “I can’t.” One of the zombies was the piano teacher, Mrs. Young. Her jaw hung from her face in a permanent gape. Off and on Kara had taken lessons for eight years but was never very good. “You have to practice your scales,” Mrs. Young used to say. “Play your scales. Play C minor. Play C minor now.”
Now Mrs. Young threw a dismembered limb at Kara’s car. The limb landed on the car, left a blood-streak, and rolled to the ground.
“What about our plans?” said Charles. “Our plans for a long and happy life. A life sanctified by the blessings of God.” Charles crossed his legs. When he bought his coke, Kara told him not to super-size. He super-sized it anyway. The empty yellow wax-paper cup rolled beneath the seat.
“Pee in this,” said Kara. She reached under the seat and shoved the cup at Charles. “You never listen to me,” she said. “I want a secular service.” She felt sleepy and wanted to take a hot bath. A bath with bath beads. But zombies...
Zombies broke into Kara and Charles’ house. They smashed down the door and carried out the television, the VCR, the stereo system. They flung clothing across the yard. A zombie ripped apart Kara’s favorite bra. Another wore Charles’ corduroy pants. “My pants,” said Charles. He frowned and looked at his pants. There were dirt stains near the ankles. “Listen, maybe if you honk the horn longer. Press on it for a long time.” He reached across the seat and held down the horn. Kara’s father didn’t like Charles. He called him effeminate. Charles was a computer programmer. He programmed pop-up advertisements for the Internet. He had programmed more than one thousand. Whenever Kara was on the Internet and an advertisement popped up, Charles told her which ones were his. “I made that one,” he said. “I made that one and that one and that one and that one.”
“Charles?” said Kara’s father. He was in low-security prison for tax evasion. Kara told him about the engagement during her weekly visit. “Don’t marry him just because you’re upset with me.”
“I hate you,” said Kara. Charles turned away from her and a zombie pressed its rotten genitals against the car window.
“O.K.” said Charles. “Fine.” Another zombie leaned against the car and exposed itself, and then came another and another. Rampaging zombies crowded around the car. They pushed their bodies against it and climbed on top of it until it was completely covered: a green-red, puke-ish, rotting, fleshen lump. “Hate me,” said Charles. “Fine. Fine. Fine.”
A few weeks later Charles and Kara went back to Super Wal- Mart. They bought bed skirts, decorative pillows, down comforters and duvets, electric blankets, throw rugs, slip covers, panel curtains, floor lamps, wall lamps, touch lamps, ceiling fans, sectional sofas, microfiber ottomans and faux-leather chaise lounge chairs, bar stools, wine chillers, rice cookers, slow cookers, jug blenders, citrus juicers, electric can openers, sonic toothbrushes, oral irrigators, extrawide hair straighteners, self-cleaning shavers, deep cleaners, wet/dry upright vacuums, yard rakes, garden claws, oscillating sprinklers, bamboo fencing, spade shovels, pick mattocks, corded and cordless screwdrivers, lithium-ion inflators, handheld GPS navigators, cellular telephones, digital music recorders, DVD players, sling boxes, flat-panel televisions, home entertainment systems. They bought ninety-day replacement plans. Three-year warranties, lifetime warranties, etc...