1. It shouldn’t occur to you while preparing for the dinner party that the hosts may have disappeared, or that some catastrophe may have befallen the underlying structure of their home.
2. Should it occur to you, brush it off and watch that your garlic doesn’t crisp up too much in the pan.
3. “You always put it in too soon, fucking dingbat.”
4. Surely they’re still there, living all around you doing what they do; not gone, not sinking deeper, dissolving, into the dreadful hole the second coffee is burning through your….
5. “– it’s just that they haven’t been returning my texts, you know – do they need anything – cups! – for fuck’s sake?”
6. Try and take it easy on your drive along the bay, where the feathery clouds stretching in the hopeful autumn air shush down the buzzing, gray, eternal —
7. Undying Season of Junk Death.
8. “Gah! Don’t be so dramatic, moisty boy. Gilroy is right there on the side of the house, he’s…”
9. Doing the Change Vomit trick, but we can’t spot a dirt bike kid in sight. (The trick is a fraud and everyone knows it. He never swallowed the quarters, but kept them anyway.)
10. “I didn’t mean it. I didn’t. I just needed a little extra to save for the turkey ties,” he says, and he leads us up the porch into a yawning hole, melted flesh and charred bone, the shattered glass of a heat lamp beside an exploded stove, where once, moments before, the dinner party might have been, maybe.