Snail. I gets round. Wade didn’t know how, he never seent me move.’s Snail see's Wade move. Wade'll never hear Snail. Once you see slimes, you'll think hear noise. mwmwOwmwY. Snail makes no noise. Silent snail. Snail has been hiding from Wade for seasons. Wade inked colors to snail shell, tried to change snail. Only snail changes snail. Wade does not change snail. I am a perfect snail. Now I am a perfect, unpaintable, vent snail. Snail in the vents. I forgave Wade. Don’t mind Wade now. He has plumbs. I want a plumb.
Wade’s body is rigid, that type of sitting still that stings. Ass tingling, frozen into ingrained, chair posture. His mind a power-saving hum, detached. He sits across from his living room’s white painted windows. A beautiful shade of white in Wade’s opinion, blends perfectly with the gray cloudy sunlight. A hue for certain. A color. Beautiful, he thinks. It isn't. Wade lies to himself. If the window isn’t beautiful, he'd realize his reality. He sits alone in a bare, dusty apartment, losing time at thirty-five, staring at white painted glass he can't see through. A scary reality if not for the white. Wade enchants himself. He pretends to enjoy the white colors beauty and forgets where he sits. He forgets how he’d been the one to paint the view white, months ago. Beautiful.
The snail thinks the white's bland. Wade doesn't hear the snail think, but instead feels sudden discontent. Jittering, he turns to peer over the chair's left shoulder. His gaze rests on the living room wall, which crawls in one spot. Shock sucks breath empty, heart slams to the back of the chair. Wade, recognizing the crawling wall as a snail feels sudden elation. He’s back from his travels. Snail-sighting glee overwhelms him. When did I see him last? Wade thinks back and glee quickly fades. The sightings months in memory. Months ago. Wade's stomach digests loss and regret with turbulence. A bubbly sort of pain.
Wade thinks on these troubles. He’d bought the snail to keep in a jar. Wade decorated the snail, dotting its shell with paint. He wanted the snail to please his eyes, conform to his aesthetic, stay with him like a flower. Then at night the snail slurped out of its jar and into the air ducts, escaping Wade’s desires. Though the snail hadn’t yet escaped desires, those remained painted upon shell. But that couldn’t happen again. Not in the vents.
Wade’s eye stuck to the snail’s creeping wall crawl and noticed the absence of dotted shell paint, concluding it peeled off organically over time. He’d never wanted to imprison the snail but couldn’t see an angle in which he hadn’t. The snail escaped the jar, and Wade stupidly concluded that the snail wanted to be cageless. That was incorrect. The snail didn't want shell paint. Wade’s inaccurate thought, that he’d encroached on snail liberty, left him decided to leave the snail be. Thus, Wade freed the snail in his mind and caged himself. The snail could eat anything of Wade’s, go anywhere in his house, do anything it desires. All that was Wade's became communal, by his own misguided mind.
Wade turns back to the window. He wants the snail to be free from prying eye, to feel invisible and uninhibited. The snail always thought itself invisible, the idea that others could see never occurred to it. The snail also thought that it was constantly stationary, never moving, and that the world slid beneath it. The snail never cared that it was in a cage or is out of one now, for the snail thought it had been in one place all its life, with the earth spinning randomly beneath. Snail still. Silent. mwmwOwmwY.
Three weeks later Wade ran out of food. Having been unemployed since twenty-five, he’d stockpiled plums with his remaining money, expecting them to last forever. Unfortunately, the plum supply was depleted. Wade needed a job, and he left his apartment.
A taxi ride later, Wade steps onto the sidewalk of a downtown street, lined with storefronts. Turning to face the shops, on his left, the paint store. A 24/7 paint store judging from the neon sign. In front stands a white storefront, a single door to the left of a large glass window. Through the window Wade sees the store’s one large room, extending hallway-like backwards. Opposing walls held shelves stretching back to where a clerk sits manning a desk.
The shelves held mountains of plums. Standing by the window for a moment, Wade sees several plums roll off to splatter upon the ground as if dumped on shelves seconds before. Wade, craving plums and employment, steps into the store. As, the door clatters shut Wade finds the shelves empty, the floors clean. Perplexed, Wade looks through the window to the sidewalk he stood moments before, finding the sky raining plums. Deceived, Wade turns from the window and walks to the clerk, who’s writing. Each step a clatter upon tile, a clacking presence in the noiseless store. Halfway to the back, the clerk doesn’t look up. Quickly approaching desk Wade sputters, “Excuse me.”
“hOLLY SHEiT,” the clerk yelps with a jerk.
“My bad-my bad sir, sorry,” Wade says.
“No, no, you’re fine,” the clerk says, “What are you doing here?”
“I was wondering what you sell,” Wade asks, turning to gaze at empty shelves.
“What do we sell?” The clerk echoes, locking eyes with Wade as he answers, “You.” Wade hears a deadbolt lock, the store front door.
“Well I actually came to sell myself,” Wade chirps, happy to find a common goal.
“Oh, drat,” mumbles the clerk. A second deadbolt noise, the door unlocking. The clerk, going from menacing to glum, turns his written paper around to face Wade. Scrawled in messy handwriting, an employment form. “We prefer our workers unwilling, they’re less likely to drop shifts,” the clerk explains. He rises, pushing the chair back from beneath him to vault over the desk, landing swiftly into a sprint. At around fifteen feet away he pivots sharply to run back twoard Wade, slapping his hand. “Almost forgot to tag you in,” he huffs, not pausing for response. Sprinting back around he exits the door with a clattering slam.
Upon the slam, snails pour from beneath the desk. Wade, not startled in the slightest, sits down to watch snails scatter. They leave heavy trails of snail snot. Scanning the growing web of snail trails, Wade likens it to a drunk architect's lazy river. The streaks, a gelatinous snot-like substance, paint snail-wide lines. The snail goo glowed short inches of rainbow color. But the colors glowed only on freshly paved trails, moving snail’s vibrant goo fades to dull clear a foot behind. Cotton candy blues and pinks spotted the trails. Wade watches a snail crawl to the left wall. Chugging forward with a dark green trail, it smacks its head upon the wall. Stopping, it seeps a hot red goo that dims to brown, then orange, yellow, and lastly a greenish acceptance. Wade thought the color fade predictable, observing the same hue pattern on many wall-bumping snails.
The door clatters with a short man's entrance. He wears blue jeans and a cloudy red T-Shirt. His hair, an unkempt bushy puff, sat atop a square nose, beady eyes and sliver lips. His face was mute, expressionless, a shell of a person, like a lost soul. He strode towards Wade without looking down. Somehow, his footsteps never landed upon a snail.
"I would like to return this," the man said pushing forth cupped hands in closing steps, "here." His hands break, revealing a snail with a white shell. Wade noticed the snail lacked their usual, adorable eye sticks, a smooth slimy dome where mush rods should be. Wade plucks the snail from palm, clutching its shell inches from face.
"Where are its eyes?" Wade asks, gazing at the brittle appearance of shell. The man doesn’t respond. The snail, still dangling in front Wade’s face, falls free from the shell, plopping upon the desk. Wade looks at the empty shell he still holds, and down to the belly flopped snail. Shell-less, the organic booger appears to be a slug.
"Would you like to explain yourself?" Wade asks, giving a furrowed glare to the man.
"Hey look, wait, I didn't know it was a counterfeit," the man bumbles, "I swear I didn't I don't even know how to do something like--"
"It was hot glued to the shell," Wade rises, noticing a circular burn atop the slug, a lump of glue beneath the shell.
"I could never," the man sputters, eyebrows arching low to fake the sadness.
Wade leans over the fallen slug and kisses its back. He looks up, "Do you have a receipt?"
The man stares shamefully at the floor, "I lost it."
"The real snail or the receipt," Wade prompts.
"You poor soul." Wade picks up the slug to place it in the drawer and looks up to find the man gone. Where the slug shell had been, now sat a plum. From the edges of the desk came the snails, cresting the ridge, bee-lining to the plum. Wade sits and watches the horde creep with pink goo to mount the plum. The sworm besieges the plum, puddling snail goo beneath that seeps a violent red. The snails hate this plumb. But they hate the plumb so much they devour it pit and all, ending existence. The mound topples to disperse back over the desk’s edges. Plumb more like dumb, a snail quips silently. Wade notices some snailtrail’s pulsing rapid yellows. Chuckles. Wade thinks they’re laughing at him. One of them is.
Wade peers at dispersing snails and feels remorse. He thinks of his own snail, and how it lacked such colorful goo. He thought of how he’d painted his snail. Perhaps he’d made a mistake. Perhaps he masked his snail’s goo with artificial desire. Artificial color. These snails sure like plums, Wade thought. Wade bet his snail would be happier in a jar with a plum than on any wall. Wade misses his snail. He realizes his wrongdoing, having stolen Snail identity with paint, then leaving it to roam alone. Snail’s my snail Wade pondered Snail should be free to be who he is, under a watchful Wade eye. Wade decided his shift was done. He rises, and carefully exits the store stepping on no snails. Now on the street, he turns to the paint shop, where he’d bought the paint to cover his window, the paint to cover his snail. Wade realizes how he’d blinded himself. How he enchanted himself.
Wade burns the paint store down and walks home to his snail.