By: Jacob Wilde
Petey is wandering in pre-adolescence. He paces by the front door, his Christmas jumper frizzled. Under an orange sun, he watches the neighborhood through the window. A thick cuticle of snow lies over the suburban plain, scattered with convertibles, picket fences, and oversized mailboxes.
He turns away from the window. He’s about to go to the bathroom mirror to look for pimples when something catches his eye.
“We’ve got unicorns!”
“In our house, Mom! They’re a big problem.”
“I know. I’ve been thinking about calling someone.”
“Billy’s house has unicorns, Mom. He’s weird.”
“Petey, could you fetch me my matches?”
“Table in the kitchen.”
Petey walks past the living room. “There’s no matches here, Ma.”
“Christ! They were there five minutes ago.”
“Try the cutlery drawer.”
“That’s just filthy! Where are all the bloody matches? Are there any beside the icebox?”
“Uh huh. Found ‘em.”
Petey’s slippers make no sound on the hardwood floor. He brings the matches to his mother and watches her light up, the smoke billowing around her curls, deep purple.
“I feel like I buy five match boxes every week, but they always go missing.”
“Do you smoke too much?”
She stares at her Sears catalogue. Petey nods, as if this makes sense, then turns and walks to the kitchen. He fills a small blue saucer with milk. As an afterthought, he adds a spoonful of sugar.
“I’m gonna catch one, Ma!”
“Petey, look. I’m really tired. Just a few minutes and I’ll do something with you, ok?”
The front hall is now ablaze with setting light. Petey sits on the bench and places his saucer on the floor. Outside, a family is walking down the street, their daughter holding a new doll, their son holding a plastic gun, fresh from the wrapping paper. Petey blinks. He hasn’t seen a toy gun since summer camp.
He kicks off his slippers, rests his elbows on his knees, and waits, his eyes on the crack in the wall, the saucer of milk six inches from his feet.
It takes four minutes.
A unicorn large as a mouse emerges from the crack, first horn, then neck, then shoulders and flank. He moves jerkily toward the saucer, his head low. Then his body turns, and Petey spots the bold erection jutting from his underbelly. The unicorn’s coat has the sheen of sweat. His horn looks sharp.
Petey releases his breath. To the unicorn, the noise is a storm on the plain, and he charges down the hall as the thunder shakes his ears, his tail swishing, his erection slapping away against his thighs. The sound dies as he disappears behind the kitchen door.
“Mom! We’ve really got unicorns! Big ones, too!”
“Yes, Petey. I saw one this morning.”
“But did you, Mom? Did you really see it?”
“Swept him out with a broom. Filthy bugger kept trying to chew the bristles.”
The cigarette smoke smells like Christmas cake and sour hay.
Petey frowns at his mother, his blue eyes tight. She prods the rollers in her hair with a finger. At the same moment, Petey hears a nicker from the kitchen.
He creeps down the hall, sliding his hands along the plaster like an explorer approaching a cave filled with treasures and smoke. He reaches the kitchen door and peers around the frame.
He can’t find it at first, but then his eyes pick up movement and he spots it at the base of the stove. The unicorn is reaching under the oven, straining against the cast iron, soft nose avoiding the dust bunnies. His flank is muscled and lean, and as he pulls away, Petey spots the flowery font of a small tattoo just above the tail: equus.
The unicorn turns, a red match held gingerly between his teeth.
Petey gasps. “Matches! They’re stockpiling them.”
At the sound of his voice, the unicorn’s eyes go wide, his teeth gleam unreasonably, and he erupts into a gallop, hugging the trim of the cupboards and weaving between table legs before bolting past Petey towards the front door.
Petey gives chase. As he reaches the crack in the wall, breathing heavy, he falls to his knees and puts his ear to the plaster. A faint ‘clacking’ can be heard, ascending inch by inch, and as Petey’s follows the noise up the wall, he hears more pairs of clacking, then snorting, and low ‘whinnies.’
“There’s more of them,” Petey whispers, his fists clenched, his brow dark and treacherous.
“I’ll get you, unicorns.”
Petey runs upstairs to mother’s bedroom. He drags the tool bag from beneath the bed and pulls out the hammer. Its polished head shakes with excitement, and Petey grins at the thought of smashing into their world, exposing their nest.
He gallops down the stairs and faces the section of wall. His hammer rests gently on his thigh, and his shoulders are squared like a boxer before a fight.
Petey silently raises the hammer above his shoulder, smashes it high into the drywall, and pulls back.
“Oh – .“
A unicorn with purple hair is kneeling on a washcloth rug. Another stands over her in an erotic crouch, a matchstick strapped to his crotch with twine. He moves slowly, the stout matchstick bending with the force of his thrusts. Her eyes are wild, her mouth frothy. She whinnies, and a particularly sharp thrust sends her head bobbing uncontrollably until, as if overcome by the desire to feast, she chomps at the rug beneath her hooves and chews furiously.
Behind them, a unicorn with a fat belly stands behind a miniature camera on a tripod. Another unicorn with sunglasses and a braided mane nods his head in time with the thrusts, his horn twitching in the swarthy glow like a conductor’s wand, keeping the beat.
A large sign hangs at the back of the room.
Petey drops the hammer. At the sound, the thrusting stops.
The matchstick stallion chokes on a scream and pulls out sharply. Too sharply. The match ignites. For a quiet moment, all pairs of eyes fall on the burst of flame raging between his thighs. Then the stallion frantically jams his match head into the rug, bucking and spinning like a raging bull. Petey backpedals, arms flailing, his eyebrows raised to his scalp line. He leaps to the bench beside the door, hugging himself as the unicorns abandon their Scarborough studios.
His blond hair is tangled and frayed. The shade of his peach fuzz moustache is darker on his upper lip. He hears his mother yelling, hears her stamping towards him.
Petey’s blue eyes are wide, his voice a whisper.