Don Hucks's fiction has inhabited a variety of niches, including decomP, Why Vandalism?, Bartleby Snopes, Ghoti, The Pedestal, and
Sleep Deprivation Affects Problem Solving in the Post-Industrial Male
Civility has limits. After a while, I couldn't take it anymore. I was exhausted, and the neighbors had to go. I waited for them to
leave for work one morning. Then I went into my closet and climbed into the attic and down into their side of the duplex we
shared. I conducted a quick inventory. Then I began to steal.
I took the raisins from their raisin bran and the salt from their corn chips. I took the crunch out of their peanut butter. I took the
dandruff prevention from their shampoo. I took the stripes from their toothpaste and the minty flavor from their floss. I took the
color from their framed photographs and the color-safe bleach from their laundry soap. I took the heat out of their habanero salsa
and every last black speck from their all-natural vanilla bean ice cream. I took the second ply from their toilet paper. I took the
holes from their Swiss cheese slices. I took the starch from their white shirts and the lavender scent from their pillowcases. I took
the chamomile from their tea. I took the tingle out of their liniment. I took the creak from their closet door and the wobble from its
knob. I took the ruby red from their grapefruits and the seedless from their grapes. I took the delicate cedar notes from their
cabernet sauvignon. I took the caffeine from their espresso and the clove from their smokes. I took the soft from the white of
their sixty-watt bulbs. I took the broken-in-ness from their jogging shoes. I took away the singing of magpies outside their
bedroom window at daybreak.
It must have taken them several days to discover, bit by bit, all that they had lost. I can imagine their horror growing with each
new discovery. Soon, they must have begun to fear they had a ghost. Or that they were going insane. Or that one of them was
going insane. They began to bicker and then to accuse. They denied, and they raised their voices, and they pleaded, and they
cried. I could hear them through the wall.
A few weeks later, they finally moved out. And they took that goddamn dog that had kept me awake with its barking, every day,
while they were at work.
The new neighbors, I'm happy to say, are cat people. I'm sleeping much better lately; the cats are nocturnal, like me. As long as
they don't start crapping in my flower beds or digging into my garbage, I'm sure we'll get along just fine.