More than anything, Oscar wanted to be beautiful. A wireless speaker buzzed near the counter edge with the booming bass of a motivational speaker: You have to eat the dream. You have to sleep the dream. You have to dream the dream. He squeezed his chest striations in the yellowing light. He flexed his abs as he stood tall and returned to the Pine-Sol scented shower.
He snatched the tube of scrub and squeezed into his palm a silver-dollar amount of honey almond scrub. The micro-grains tingled, then cooled like almond milk moisture on hot lead. He grit his teeth for the cooling sensation of the exfoliating Erno Laszlo cleanser. You have to want the dream more than you want to breathe. He let the water rain down, sometimes cold, sometimes hot.
Oscar moved the razor around his body like a tiger tongue, making his golden skin free with the flick of a blade. Outside the trailer, a forest stretched for twenty miles in all directions. Nobody asked questions or wondered, for example, how a 26-year-old man appeared at the end of an empty road in a shithole forest. The truth was, some podcasters dug up a so-called secret witness with a testimony that would put him away like his father. Then, just like that, Oscar left town without a trace or word.
Oscar refused to use a speckled mirror to inspect his body. You’ve got to be the dream. Though the trailer and surrounding yard were in shambles, he kept the bathroom in order. He sprayed the mirror with foam glass cleaner and wiped the residue with a microfiber towel. He plucked a 3⁄4 inch long eyebrow hairs with tweezers and cleaned his ears with the same towel. He used the towel to stretch his shoulders behind his back, causing his bicep to ball and his cephalic vein to surface with ichor swell. God himself would use his chest as a throne and his shoulders as shelves. Oscar wanted to be an ornament in God’s house.
The speaker bounced to the floor and rolled behind the toilet. Oscar spread a moisturizing hemp lotion over his stomach, and around to his lower back. He put a bronzer under his arms and behind his knees. He removed the creams, soaps, and scrubs from the cabinet. He’d make due until he saved enough for Botox and laser hair removal. He checked his triceps and saw they were small, and he decided he wouldn’t show his face in public until he did 500 dips. His phone buzzed with a text. You’ve got to marry the dream and satisfy the dream every night. A tinder date cancelled dinner because he she wasn’t feeling it. They always canceled, but they were entitled to their reasons. Oscar scooped cold water into his face.
You’ve gotta touch the dream. You have to see it, until nobody else sees it. Feel it when it’s not tangible. Believe it when you cannot see it. Oscar clenched and rippled every canyon in his body. You’ve got to be possessed with the dream. Like a lion learning his rage, Oscar ripped the curtains and thrashed hot water around the bathroom. He dirtied the mirror with a wet hand and left wet foot prints through the trailer, emerging in the woods naked and hanging to grab his wood splitter and workout his abdominals and obliques. Shower water spilled over the mangled curtain and onto the floor.
He drew the splitter blade close until the steel was all he saw. He pouted his lips in the blade and wished they were a dark red, as dark as the sacrament. He held the blade into the sun and thought a thin scar down the length of his arm would remind him to possess the dream. He closed the eye to make the cut as straight as possible. You’ve got to bleed and die over the dream. The speaker shut off and his connected phone rang. The tinder girl was calling. She changed her mind and wanted to meet up, but wanted first to hear his voice to know he wasn’t crazy. For dinner she wanted a perfect, pink steak, pink enough that you know it was once alive, and potatoes with butter and garlic. She knew just the place. He ran back to the bathroom. He couldn’t go out looking like this.
Tanner Lee can be followed on Twitter @heytannerlee.