It’s morning when the man appears… early morning and only when i’m in the shower. My showers are only five minutes because he insists I only have five minutes to wash myself, and its exactly because these showers must last five minutes I adopted a soundtrack to play along in my head in order to keep time. Smells like Teen Spirit’s recording time is five minutes and one second… it’s what play every morning, and I guess Morning Man is okay with this as i’m still alive, still returning to the bathroom to clean myself and continue each day going about my usual business.
Thing is, I can’t ever see Morning Man even though I know he’s there. I can feel him, though, floating somewhere just beyond the periphery. He appeared in the corner, where the shower curtain and the white tiled bathroom wall meet. You’d think a full grown man with a tall black hat holding a knife that glints in the bathroom light would be easy to see, especially in a place as small as a suburban condominium bathroom… but he has a real fuckin knack for slipping out of view when I finally get fed up and pull the curtain aside to look. Keeping an eye on Morning Man’s whereabouts is useless, but I go through it anyway, everyday… and he continues to slip away before resuming his pose there in the bathroom, pale and silent, holding his knife, his eye bore through me.
So I keep the shower curtain open and sing to myself my favorite Nirvana song, keeping time, the beat and the lyrics as near to the recording as I am able to orchestrate… steam rolling up into the vent or hanging there in the little bathroom, caught on the mirror, the faucet and the sink, the towel rack. The water white hot. And even with this precautionary measure, Morning Man persists. I turn, and I see nothing.
Morning Man tells me how long my showers will last. He also tells me other things, too. Like what time to wake up, or go to bed. Mom and dad do that stuff too, but it’s different when they do it. Morning Man tells me how they’re fucked and they shouldn’t have gotten married, and ultimately it was me who drove them apart. I hate how Morning Man makes me feel about my parents, but he insists on it, just like he insists on a lot of my other shit too. Like what happens alone in the basement, or when friends sleep over on weekends. Morning Man calls it all fucked, pathetic… and if you don’t straighten up and fly right you’ll end up just like them, too. Like all the rest of em. Morning Man can be fairly dramatic.
His knife hasn’t penetrated me. Not yet. When I step out of the tub all wet, open the door to the hallway with the shower running… thinking maybe I heard him somewhere. Early enough nobody else’ll be up yet so… it’s fine. Fine and whatever, its five minutes. I return to the shower, still hot, press play on the song resuming in my mind, the steam rolling onto the hallway carpet as I rush through each step with my heart coming through my chest.
He leans against the tile wall, his faded cartoon black hat and pale eye. The knife clean and shining.
If I don’t take care of things like… I dunno what’ll happen to me. If I don’t straighten up and do it right. I won’t be there to see it. Morning Man says I have asthma. Cancer. That i’m fucked. Doomed. He gets all big with me when i’m walking to the bus stop to go to school. I don’t talk about Morning Man, and I try not to believe in much he says, but it doesn’t matter much to me if eventually I turn up dead.
The shower’s off. Toweling dry in front of the mirror I listen. I hear my parents talking, or fucking, doesn’t matter which I still listen. Silently I plot a path to the bedroom door at the end of the hall and move. I can barely breathe. I hear something. A thud, a silence stirring. And in the darkness of morning with all the house lights out and my face pressed against the bedroom door, his long and silent fingers slowly prey.