H. Domesticus

            Theoffice felt constricting. This Mae Young noticed immediately. The walls werehigh and the area tight, the door a solid slab of metal. The color scheme couldonly be described as “suburban beige”, but the physical interior of the roomwas unable to duplicate this pristine suburban vibe. The chair her rump restedin hardly allowed a goodnight’s sleep, but instead perhaps a few restless hoursof tossing and turning and an eventual surrender to the infomercial-riddentelevision programming stretch into the early morning.

            Maelooked downwards, half expecting a pair of handcuffs, or at the very least atrough. She continued to sit in silence, feeding on the wasted time, readyingherself for slaughter. Toher right stood a circular coffee table with a pile of seven-month-old Healthy Livings stacked upon it. All sheneeded was some water, and behold: lunch.

            Thesecretary that kept watch over Mae was an incompetent person, all around. ThisMae was grateful for. It was this farmhand that scheduled her interview in themiddle of her interviewer's lunch hour. It was 12:47, he would arrive promptlyat one.

            Theincompetent secretary was also wrong about this, for his lunch hour was notfrom noon to one, but from 12:30 to 1:30. While Mae was upset by the wastedtime, she decided to silence her squealing, since the mistake allowed her tomake a good impression by being early to her 12:30 appointment by 55 minutes asshe walked in at 12:35.

            Thesecretary offered Mae a mint for the wait.


            Shethen decided to pick at her nails, just another interviewee under the gaze ofthe farmhand, ready to be cut up, cooked, and devoured. In that order.


- - -


            Fast-forwarda few months.

            Thewarming summer days were usurped by the brisk hands of winter, and graduallythe artificial external skin of the local humans became thicker and longer,covering up their brittle, hairless bodies. The local Lake Michigan began toice over, and chilly puffs of machine-made clouds puffed from the heads of themulti-story giants that watched over the city.

            Therewere no more birds. Circumstances didn’t allow them to lazily remain in huddleswithin the confines of the north as their human counterparts so willingly did,but did allow them to fly from one summer to the other, never subject to thebleak, frozen months. The infamous winter was always in the future for thesebirds, and they knew how to avoid it. They contently lingered in the past,constantly comfortable in sunny nostalgia.

            Maewas not like these birds, nor was her species. At the moment, during thetragically repeated tree genocide, she was being ripped from her past and throwninto the cold, unknown future.

            Thisshe did not realize. Her mind took on the set of the bird, migratory, withinthe realms of constant summer. But soon, the winter would hit her, and withunrelenting force.


- - -


            Maewas successfully served, her devourer appeased, and with the turn of seasons,she found herself employed.

            Thisonly fed into her blind optimism. This was her conversation with herparticularly irrelevant friend soon after the welcomed news:

            “Soyou got it?” Travis said ecstatically.

            “Idid, I can’t believe it. Who woulda’ thought? Me, working for a magazine!” Maesaid, sipping on a beer.

            “Whendo you start?”

            “Nextweek. I’m not sure what sort of stories I’ll end up getting, but either way, Idon’t care. Life’s too good for me to be too picky. Things really work outsometimes, don’t they?”

            “Theydo, they do.”

            “Itell ya, I’m going to make it big. Just watch. I’ll get my own column, and, andmy name, Mae Young, I can see it. It’ll be in the magazine every month. Can yousee it?”

            “Technicallyno. But yeah, I can see that happening.”

            “Life’sgood, Travis, life’s good.”

            Sheplaced her beer back on the bar counter. Mae hadn’t always drunk. She used tothink it was disgusting, and bad for her health. She used to want to avoid it. Nothinggood could come from it.

            Butthen she tried it: instant gratification.

            Humanslike that. They’re impatient, and want to feel good now.

            Ifpast Mae saw present Mae sitting at a bar indulging herself in yeast excrement,by golly she would throw a fit.

            Butit happens.

            Now,we fast-forward again, another month into the future, into the dead of winter.It was a Chicago winter, or a fictionalized form of it, at least. Mae sat inher cubicle, finishing up a fluff piece. Alas, her editor strolls in.

            “Ms.Young,” he proclaimed.

            “YesMr. Marshall?” she stammered back, swirling around in herswirling-around-chair.

            “I’mimpressed with your work, truly, I am. You have a gratuitous amount of talentfor someone of your age, and I feel there’s a plethora of accomplishments youcould accomplish in the long life ahead of you.”

            Mae’seditor was one of those people who felt that using unnecessarily large words inconversations made them come off as meritorious.

            “Uh,uh thank you sir,” Mae said with a knowing grin.

            “Anyways,”Mr. Marshall went on, leaning on a wall of Mae’s cubicle, coffee mug in thehand of the draped arm, “I have an exciting assignment for you. You’ve provenyourself. I think you’re ready.”

            “Whatis it?”

            Mr.Marshall placed his mug carefully onto Mae’s desk, then spread his hands in theair. With eyes glazing over, he simply said, “A story on Addy Stevens.”

            Mae’sjaw dropped.


- - -


            I’msorry about that last line. I really am a better writer than that.


- - -


            AddyStevens, a name synonymous with “star,” “powerful,” “good-looking,” and “really,really cool famous guy.” An actor, a businessman, a philanthropist, a rockstar, an athlete, everything everything ever.

            Maeidolized him. He was a god among men, a lover among women, a caretaker amongchildren, and a beam of light in the corrupted world of the entertainmentindustry. He was The Addy Stevens. Pure perfection. The alpha male of society.A hunk.

            “SoMae, you think you’re ready for this?”


            “Alrightthen. It’s going to be a hard-hitting piece. No fluff. He’s open to doing a bare-allstory, and that’s what we’re going to do.”

            “Noproblem, that shouldn’t be difficult. What could he possibly have to hide?”


- - -


            Thebiting, Chicago wind gnawed at Addy Stevens as he approached the building thatencompassed his office.  He tuggedhis black fleece jacket even closer to his shaking body as he zeroed in on hisdestination. He pulled his hat further onto his skull and averted his eyes fromthe other pedestrians, temporarily hiding his identity from the curiousobserver, an enigma ad interim. He shifted his messenger bag’s weight slightlyas he entered the looming structure. In this bag was Mae’s destiny.


- - -


            BeforeMae could look, a man dressed in black dashed from the elevator and into AddySteven’s office. The office doors slammed as soon as they opened. A few momentspassed and the secretary nonchalantly stated:

            “AddyStevens will see you now.”

            Sucklingon the complimentary mint, Mae stood up, knees wobbling a bit.

            Shehad been preparing all week for this interview. It was her big break, and it couldn’thave been easier. Her task was to write a hard-hitting story on a perfectspecimen, an unmatched individual.

            Shewalked past the secretary.

            Agiver to the poor, an entertainer for the masses.

            Shetook in a deep breath, took in the moment.

            Agenius, an inspiration, a universally loved…

            Shepushed the office doors wide open. And there sat Addy.

            No,there sat Addy, wearing a pig mask.


            Maefroze, utterly confused.

            “Why,hello Ms. Young.”


            “Er,hello Mr. Stevens. Um. Why… why the pig mask?”

            “Whatpig mask?” Addy said through his pig mask.

            “Thepig mask. On your face.”

            “Idon’t know what you mean.”

            “You’rewearing a pig mask. Why are you wearing a pig mask?”

            “Ms.Young, I must tell you, this is no way to start an interview. You are actingfar from professional at the moment. I’d expect more from—”

            “ButMr. Stevens, sir. You’re wearing a pig mask. That seems far more unprofessionalthan—”

            “Ma’am,that is enough. I am wearing no pig mask. Look at me, look at my face.”

            Maelooked at the pig face before her, demented and rubbery, the heavy fluorescentlights casting devious shadows below the eyes and across the folds

            “It’sthe most recognizable face in the world,” Addy proclaimed while swirling hishands around his pig mask.

            “Yeah…Mr. Stevens, are you trying to pull one on me?” Mae said with a tiptoeingvoice.

            “God,you do not let up, do you?” Addy said, voice muffled by his mask.

            “I’m,I’m sorry. I was just startled that you—“

            “It’salright. Please, don’t worry about it. Sit down. I know what it’s like to havea joke go too far, trust me. Let’s forget all about it.”

            Thetwo sat, one across from the other, Addy’s desk sandwiched.

            “So,let’s get this interview rolling.”

            “Alright,”Mae stammered.

            “Let’sgive the world the true Addy Stevens. No holding back.”

            “Alright,if you say so.”

            “Whythe worried face? I’m Addy Stevens, what’s there to hide?”

            “Nothing,”Mae said, staring at the pig man before her. “Nothing at all.”


- - -


            “Isthis a joke?”

            Maelooked from her editor to the pig man standing behind him, and back again.

            “Apig mask? Really?” her editor exclaimed.

            “ButMr. Marshall, he’s wearing it right now!”

            “Ms.Young are you out of your mind? I entrust you with a highly sought after story,one many would kill for, and you give me this garbage,” Mr. Marshall‘s mustachebristled as his face turned a bright shade of pink. “I cannot have this kind ofunprofessionalism on my staff.”

            “Butsir, I was merely telling the truth!”

            “Ms.Young, I see you don’t quite understand how it works here in the real world. Iknow they teach you ‘how the industry works’ in college, but it’s all lies.Idealistic lies. The world is not a truthful, just place. Nor is it a place foroptimism. You will be crushed. You are being crushed. Your idealism will be thedeath of you. Truth is an illusion, a magic trick, it is built up to fool, toguide agendas. You don’t understand that. You are nothing but an amateur, achild. I’m sorry Mae, but I must let you go.”


            “Pleasepack your things.”

            Maepushed herself up from her chair with a justified huff. Mr. Marshall continuedsitting at his desk. Addy stared on with cold eyes through his pig mask as Maeturned and walked through the doorway.

            Thepig was above all else.


- - -


            “Shit.”Mae plunged further into her drink. “This is bullshit.” Mae hadn’t alwayscursed. When she was a young girl she had been told these words were bad, butnow she knew what they were: venting words. For the most part they were harmless,only harmful because society labels them so. There are exceptions, but for manyof the more common words, shit IS shit.

            “Iguess this is the real world, eh?” Peter said.

            Mae’soptimism was breaking. She was growing up. She thought it would never happen.She never would have thought she’d start drinking, cursing, fornicating beforemarriage, losing her religion.

            Maenever knew what it meant to grow up.

            Nowshe did.

            Growingup is naught but accepting vices and injustice as normal, unavoidablecomponents of life. It is giving up childish hopes and dreams in order to snapto reality. It is stealing medicine to save your wife’s life. It is filming adrowning flood victim instead of saving him. It is the discovery of gray in aworld once black and white. It is to be a card-carrying member of cynicism. Itis to bow down to power, to humble oneself. It is realizing that life is not agift, but a burden, a constant string of disappointments and upsets. It isn’trealizing Santa Claus is just a story, but passing that story onto your kids.It isn’t a transformation from child to adult, it is the gradual build-up ofexperience and heartbreak on a perpetual child’s back. It is conforming andsuppressing, it is surviving, and it is normal.

            MaeYoung grew up when her name was blacklisted.


- - -


            Thesun lurched into the sky, silhouetting a farm, a lone form on the stark plain.As the rooster crowed, a man slammed open the screen door of his modest homeand stepped forward into the yard. He walked across the clean cut grass towardsthe dilapidated, rust colored barn. A sty encroached his vision. He approachedit, tobacco held firmly under his lip. Tucked under his arm, a bucket of slosh.He poured it, and the pigs came running.

            “Lovely,lovely swine, comfortably in their sty…”

            Theround creatures snorted and fought, slopping at the trough.

            “…withouta care in the world, they live their dull lives…”

            Thefarmer stood back, hands held out, palms facing the heavens.

            “…Icome to them with food, and they eat at my feet…”

            Hestepped over the fencing, booted feet encompassed by mud.

            “…Soonthey will be at my table, not as guests…”

            Witha grin, he turned his attention towards a pig at the corner of the hog pile.


            Hisgloved hands grasped the back hooves, and with a strain of muscles, began todrag the thrashing animal through the mud.

            “…Squealall you want, squeal what you will…”

            Hekicked the gate open, and continued.

            “…yourlife leads you right to the mill…”

            Thepigs stopped their wrestling to watch their cohort dragged to its demise, butquickly averted their commune gaze, and refocused on the trash in front oftheir piggy snouts, relieved it was not yet their turn. The farmer’s singsongvoice echoed across the forest of corn, reverberating against their slendergreen stalks, and the day progressed as planned.


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When an interview goes haywire, a woman's naivety dies. Oink, oink.
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