The urge to acquire more and more luxuries consumes countless Americans in these modern days, luxuries far exceeding the judicious want of a well-crafted couch, that staple of American Goodness. In the old days the members of a family had very little material comforts beyond the couch, and we were quite satisfied with that; in the old days we were to confine ourselves to the occasional sexual fling with a friendly neighbor’s spouse and drinking large quantities of imported rum, for in those days the colonial ambitions of the Empires had not yet been expunged from history. And, of course, these simple comforts were all performed upon the couch of American Goodness. In fact, it was upon our very own couch that we fed each other our bodies as we lounged about with Tim and Joan listening to the news from across the world on a tiny radio Mr. Bath had assembled before he was arrested and shot.
The trains are at the station at each top of the hour, we were told. And the bodies were delicious. And the couches came in an assortment of colors to fit any lifestyle. American Goodness Vermillion, for example. American Goodness Sapphire, for example.
“What is the beauty of entertainment?” Joaned wondered, plucking the petals of a tulip from Mrs. Vandell’s garden.
“For the proliferation of paradisiacal germs,” answered Tim, rising from the couch and pouring himself another.
“Please don’t, Tim.” Joan was worried about Tim’s drinking.
“Fuck you.” This was, admittedly, a little much from Tim. But in the old days, with the way the world was going, it could be, if not excused, at least understood.
The radio news bulletin reported explosions here and there, but we were naked on the couch of American Goodness, and of course the bodies were delectable and satisfying. My husband made love to Joan upon our very own American Goodness Seafoam, while Tim cut off his fingers.
“We are such infinite creatures,” I remarked, watchful.
Afterwards, we said goodnight to Tim and Joan. My husband reported the incident to the proper authorities and I settled into bed to read a little before sleep, a little tract on microscopic life, since a new couch, American Cleanliness, was being inaugurated soon on the American market. Germs are horrid and so small that you cannot see them. They are always ready to attack and can make you deathly ill. Since they are especially enamored with dirt, you can defend yourself by keeping clean and healthy.
That night I dreamed of the couch in my childhood home. A stately American Dream that burned up in the fire that consumed our house when I was seven. I awoke in the dark with the hands of memory and hope tightly clasping about my neck.
Adam Graham is a writer and artist based in St. Petersburg, Florida. His works explores the role language plays as both a force of connectivity and a force of disintegration.
This is the author’s first work to appear in print.
FEBRUARY 15, 2020 / MUSEPAPER STORY PRIZE #49 / THE COUCH