by Matthew Dexter
Attracted to the carbon dioxide of our snoring and thoraxes filled with phlegm, the
mosquitoes feasted on our faces, and we listened to the drone of their wings beating, and in
the morning when we peeled the lesions with our crusty fingernails–pasted them onto those
wet walls and window where we twiddled time in a suburban dungeon–we were dizzy and
different. Our labyrinthine boogers crumbled and caked the corners where darkness seeped
into steams of urine borne by fresh puddles. Obstinate mosquitoes entered this windowless
We listened to stomachs growling, counting the wounds with the blood and pus and
malnourished skin of our bites. We disfigured ourselves so the chiropractor could no longer
crack our bones before prying his appendages into our orifices, which used to be teenage
and chubby, but have succumbed to beatings and teeth marks of an old man. He cracks
necks as clockwork; treasures unearthed with a sweaty erection and a knucklebone to the
abdomen if either of us dares nurture his seed.
The mosquitoes seeped from the man’s pajama pockets, cockroaches crept through
the walls while we wrestled spiders for the driest spaces on the elevated cement which
smelled of semen. We listened to the television, the sitcom laugh tracks, the stereo and
mariachi music floating through cold cement–and his footsteps against the world which
moaned till midnight, or noon–as if there was any difference.
The craters on our faces were gaunt and the roman candles burning behind our
eyeballs had sunken into labyrinthine veins. Sunlight through the snow: the yellow glint of
winter before the grassy orange cataracts of spring. Sometimes, I gazed at her armpits
above the elbow where the flesh smelled of cockroaches that the bucket of rainwater
couldn’t clean. My teeth on her thigh in the dark amid the laugh track, with fireflies stuck
to the window, lost, far from home, frozen.
During famish, the mosquitoes ended up dead on the cement and the silence
absorbed our crying and the summer rolled into one crescent chiropractic table. We peeled
their wings from their bodies and sucked the nutrients from their folds, munching on their
heads and bursting bristled thoraxes, human blood trapped in banded abdomens.
Cicadas entered the basement when we lost ourselves in the flavors and moans of an
old man, and occasionally he took us away, free for a few minutes, we could climb wet
walls where our beauty clung like cancer cells. We sung into the soggy corners, praying.
Our voices reverberated, and he disappeared, warm blood rushing toward our temples as we
curled into garter snakes.
When he apologized our blood boiled and we promised never to let him take us
again, but sometimes we were kidnapped through time and thickness of mosquitoes dying,
and his breath so full of sustenance and shining. The chiropractor pried us open, the aroma
of magic carpets drifting into tomorrow.
Matthew Dexter lives in Cabo San Lucas, Mexico. Like the nomadic Pericú natives before him, he survives on a hunter-gatherer subsistence diet of shrimp tacos, smoked marlin, cold beer, and warm sunshine.
[…] Have You Seen Your Neighbor’s Basement? Matthew Dexter […]
First I read you at Olentangy Review this week, now here. You’ve got a thing for insects! Love this strange story. Some great images in here.
Thank you for your kind words and reading. Yes: must have been an insect-themed tangent I went on during this strange period. Must have been inspired by bugs in Mexico?