Metamorphosis Variations

As I awoke one morning, from a blue-dark night of drinking and uneasy dreams, I found myself transformed into a cockroach.
Figures it’d be a cockroach, skidded a deadpan between a head full of swollen thoughts.  With newfound prehistoric maturity, I resigned myself to this evolutionary switcheroo, but I must confess to feeling a little disappointed that I hadn’t awakened transformed into a praying mantis, endowed with ninja-like coolness, or a scarab, with exotic ties to Egyptian mythology. Yet in my insect heart of hearts, I knew that a cockroach was exactly what I was meant to be; that God, that idiot savant, had instinctively banged down on the right combination of keys, when he outlined: Man goes to sleep drunk as a skunk and wakes up a hungover cockroach craving the hair of a dog.
   Mandibles twitching, I scuttled through the darkened apartment, en route to the kitchen, to fix myself a drink.
   As I awoke one morning from a night of uneasy tubercular dreams, I found myself transformed into a cartoon character. A cartoon wolf, to be specific. My entire body, coated in bristly brown fur, gave off a radioactive luminescence, and my oblong snout, which was the centerpiece of my narrow face, had a dark shiny marble of a nose perched on its tip. I rose from my bed, and stood on comically disproportionate legs—the ankles and shins were sinewy toothpicks, whereas the thighs bulged obscenely, as if each one had swallowed a soccer ball.  The slitted lantern-yellow eyes staring back at me in the mirror, underscored by razor-sharp teeth, gave me a menacing quality, and I strode out of the house, humming—Who’s afraid of the Big Bad Wolf?
   I immediately tested out my cartoonishness by stepping in front of a speeding bus. I was flattened, yet as expected, I didn’t die and didn’t feel an ounce of pain. I inflated myself back to three-dimensional by blowing into my thumb. All those years of education—sitting in front of a TV, watching cartoons—were finally going to pay off.
   God, that psychotic five-year-old with too much time on his hands, had done right by taking away my humanity. From here on out, my life would become a savage jest, bright and full of nothing.
   As I awoke one morning, from a night of syringes and cough syrup, I found myself transformed into a woman dreaming she had been transformed into a scream She, meaning I, awoke, the taste of mercury on my tongue, nerve-endings tuned to the residue of the scream I had been, the dead with polyphonous voices.
   When the trembling in my legs quieted down, I swung them over the side of the bed, planted bare feet on the carpet, and stared at toenails painted calico and tulip. In staring, my head bowed down, and my hair, a sleep-warmed autumn, fell to either side of my jawline. I knew that to return to my pre-dream state—I was a man of some sort, I think—I would have to pass through another scream, would have to release something primordial, a catch of hard existential candy lodged in my larynx. I would have to feel myself woman.
   God, a plastic surgeon wearing a false moustache and dark glasses, raised her scalpel, and told me—Not all screams are created equal. Then she laughed, the blade moving swiftly.
Lights up. A bedroom.
Male, white, blue-black hair, early thirties, awakens in the dark, wondering where the morning has gone. And the world. And God.
End of Act I.
Act II. Lights up. A bar.
Man passed out on the bar counter, dreaming he is
a butterfly humping a dewdrop
dreaming of God.
End of play.
   I awoke one morning, inside another man’s wife, and found that he, the husband, playing God, had shot me through the head three times. My body was no longer warm, but the wife’s was, so I stayed in there, a squatter with hopes for, at best reincarnation, at worst an uneasy merger. I waited, in darkness, trying to recall the woman’s name, and if I had worn a condom.
   I awoke one morning, after an uneasy night of crunching numbers, and found myself transformed into Franz Kafka. Thin, bauble-throated, and standing barefoot on the precipice of a panic attack, I could feel the numbers crowding my mouth, a harem of vultures scavenging dead pink flakes from my tongue. Unable to scream, I knew there was only one way out. I picked up my pencil: Gregor Samsa awoke one morning, after a night of uneasy dreams, to find he had been transformed into an insect.
   And I saw that it was right, and I saw that it was good, and I told God his services were no longer needed.







About John Biscello

Originally from Brooklyn, NY, writer, poet, spoken word performer, and playwright, John Biscello now lives in Taos, New Mexico. He is the author of three novels: Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale, Raking the Dust, and Nocturne Variations, and a collection of stories, Freeze Tag. His fiction and poetry has appeared in: Art Times, nthposition, The Wanderlust Review, Ophelia Street, Caper, Polyphony, Dilate, Militant Roger, Chokecherries, Farmhouse, BENT, The 555 Collective, Instigator, Brass Sopaipilla, The Iconoclast, Adobe Walls, Kansas City Voices, and the Tishman Review. His blog--Notes of an Urban Stray--can be read at Broken Land, a Brooklyn Tale was named Underground Book Reviews 2014 Book of the Year.
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