< The Man Who Was Pretending To Be A Lamp
The Man Who Was Pretending To Be A Lamp


D. Harlan Wilson

A man was pretending to be a lamp. The sun wasnít bright enough for him, and the bulbs that illuminated his night life were of an insufficient wattage. He needed more light. So he positioned his body on a street corner, locked his knees, fastened a lampshade to his head, and folded his arms behind his back, waiting for somebody to turn him on.

He waited for a long time. Days. Nights. There was traffic everywhere. Speedwalkers whisked down the sidewalk, minicoopers darted down the street. But nobody pulled over and indulged him.

The man who was pretending to be a lamp decided to relocate to a living room. He hurried to the nearest suburb, selected an unassuming-looking house, and crawled into one of its windows ...

The next morning, a wife shuffled into the kitchen. She fired up a coffee maker and removed a carton of eggs from the refrigerator. One by one, she scrutinized their shells, checking them for graffiti.

A noise escaped from the living room. "Psst. Psst. Psst," it went.

The wife poked her head out the kitchen door. No lights had been turned on in the living room, but the window blinds were open. The sunís rays were all over the place.

The man who was pretending to be a lamp said, "Itís dark in here, donít you think?"

"Husband!" shrieked the wife.

The ceiling thundered and quaked as the husband rolled out of bed, rolled down the hallway, rolled down the stairs...

"Grits!" he growled as he scampered across the living room towards his wife. "Bacon! T-bone steaks!" As always, he had neglected to conceal his uncooked nakedness with a robe. "Eggs! Waffles! Buttermilk pancakes!"

The wife stood there in the doorway, stiff and cold as a popsicle. Pointing...

The husband skidded to a halt. He stood up on his hind legs. "Wife?" he panted.

She didnít move. He fixed his attention on the tip of her index finger and followed its invisible line of flight ...

"Hello there," said the man who was pretending to be a lamp.

The husband scratched himself. "Grits," he muttered, snapping his fingers. The wife yipped and disappeared into the kitchen.

The man who was pretending to be a lamp straightened out his spine, pushed back his shoulders, made certain his neck was in place. He was standing next to an armchair and end table. On the table he had positioned a six pack of beer and a carton of cigarettes. On the armchair he had positioned a blowup sex doll. "Drink? Smoke? Sodomy?" he intoned.

The husband could barely contain himself. Little did the man who was pretending to be a lamp know that he had always wanted to pretend to be a human being. Unfortunately the husband was unaware of the man who was pretending to be a lampís objective, and when he sat down, he failed to turn him on, forcing him to seek out other possibilities...

He decided to relocate to a lamp store. To aisle ... 62...

A salesman happened to be ushering a herd of octogenarians down aisle 62. He was trying his best to pitch them, sermonizing about the benefits of proper illumination and pointing out representative products.

The octogenarians had no interest in buying anything. Madness had recently assigned them the strength to escape from an Old Folks emporium. Their vision was so poor, their psyches so corroded, they had no idea where they were. Once they worked up more strength, though, they knew what they were going to do: pounce on the salesman and tear him to shreds...

The man who was pretending to be a lamp had wedged himself between a halogen and pendant lamp. His eyebrows and armpits started to sweat as he anxiously anticipated the passing of the salesman and his pathological entourage.

Overhead the shellacked mahogany blades of a ceiling fan swung around their glinting brass heart in slow motion. The deep-seated swoosh of each blade thumped against the man who was pretending to be a lampís eardrums...

"Light is like sausages," the salesman was saying as he skipped down the aisle. "The juicier they are, the more you want to rub your tummy and go, ĎMmmm.í Do you understand?"

The octogenarians grunted like hypnagogic hogs. One of them croaked like a sun-dried toad.

The salesman pointed at the halogen lamp and said, "Take this model, for instance." He reached over and flipped its switch. "There now. Doesnít this remind you exactly of a sausage?"

"Psst. Psst. Psst," said the man who was pretending to be a lamp.

It was at this point that the octogenarians, experiencing a sudden surge of adrenaline, leapt onto the salesman. Cackling and hooting, they demolished him. The salesman called out for his mother as his flesh was devoured, his bones picked clean. When all that remained of him was a residual pile of spitshined shards, the octogenarians collapsed with fatigue. They curled up into fetal positions and slipped into soft comas.

In their dimly lit dreams, the lamps of the store removed their shades, turned themselves off, and lazily filed out of the front door into the daylight. Only one lamp remained behind. Its shade was stuck to its head, and since it couldnít turn itself on, it couldnít see where it was going...


D. Harlan Wilson has published over 100 stories in magazines, journals and anthologies throughout the world, most recently in Albedo One, Simulacrum, The Cafe Irreal, Red Cedar Review, and soon in Gargoyle. He is the author of The Kafka Effekt, Irrealities and Stranger on the Loose; his next book, Pseudo-City, is due out early in 2005. Currently he teaches writing and literature at Albion College. For more information on Wilson and his work, refer to his offical website at www.dharlanwilson.com.

E-mail: dharlanwilson@yahoo.com

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