The teacher said “Don’t use dreams as a plot device, it is too typical”—well Hey, guess what, in my dreams there really is a man who pulls down his pants and instead of a, you know, he’s got a Shop-Vac hose, and it’s turned on, waving around and sucking and sucking and it's pulling at my shirt until it comes off, and I’m in my bra, and the man laughs and chases after me, so what am I supposed to do? The man chases me all through the house and his Vac thing is sucking up dust bunnies and quarters and jewelry, getting stuck in the carpeting, and he trips over it and swears, and I’m looking back and trying to stay ahead of him, thinking how to get out of there without getting sucked and then he corners me in the kitchen. I back into the basement door and open it, and he chases after me, clomp clomp clomp, down the steps into the dusty cement darkness, and I head for the breaker box, but he has my hair in his Vac, pulling it out in strands. I tear my hair away and open the breaker box, switch all the switches off, and all around me in the big house things are powering down with small mournful sounds, and the Vac Man is swearing and saying “No, No,” and I don’t know what I’ve done, but he is on the floor and his thing isn’t vacuuming anymore and then he looks up and says, “Please, I’ll die!” (and No, fyi, He’s not my father; it’s not a Freudian thing). He wants me to turn his power back on, so I say, “Where’s my shirt?” realizing how chilly it is down there. He points a shaking finger at the corner of the basement, where a key ring dangles from a nail. I go and fetch it, and I plug the key right into the man’s back, and open him up. “Inside,” he says, and liquid pours out of his back, his guts are all there, pumping and burbling. I reach in and feel around, squeezing and pushing, palpitating and fingering for fabric. “Hurry, please,” gasps the Vac Man, expiring there on the concrete floor. I find it near the front of his body, tucked in next to his liver—How did it get there?—and then I close him back up, hang my shirt over a pipe to drip dry, and go to the breaker box to restore power. I flip the switch, and his hose starts sucking again, but that’s it. He’s gone already, his thing sucking away at the cold basement air, and I won’t be able to write about it for anyone.
Caleb True writes stories. He lives in New England. He holds an MA in History from University of Massachusetts. His favorite food is Pad Kee Mao. His fiction can be found either right now or in the future in The Portland Review, Moon City Review, and elsewhere. He exists online at calebtrue.tumblr.com.