THEY'RE NOT DIRTY PILLOWS, THEY'RE BREASTS, MOTHER! OH, NO, THEY ARE
Leo has a little friend named Flatty. He has had this friend since he was eight years old, possibly earlier. "How nice," you might say. "Leo has kept in contact with a childhood friend all these years! But why does Flatty have such a strange name?"
Well, Leo keeps in very
close touch with this little friend. It is his pillow.
Yes. It is a flat, bedraggled feather pillow that Linus--I mean Leo--has been dragging around for at least, by his own conservative reckoning, 27 years.
Before Flatty was dragged by a little boy's sweaty palms (and later an adloscent's hairy ones, if you know what I mean) through three different continents, countless tear-filled, post-rejection late nights, and a couple different live-in girlfriends' beds, it was an attractive thing. My guess is that it was once white and had a delicate floral pattern covering its light, airy billows.
Flatty's relationship to that former self is a bunny's relationship to the bloody, fly-infested hair pancake that the Department of Transportation eventually scrapes off the interstate. Flatty is now a macabre, unctuous mass of sebum, skin cells, and, presumably, parasites.
Flatty stains pillowcases from the inside out. Every fine white linen that is pressed against Flatty by Leo's giant head emerges looking like a Jheri-curled short-order cook was using it as a hair net as he went bobbing for French fries.
When Millie was born, Leo and I switched sides of the bed so that I could be nearer her crib. We don't have a headboard-- the bed and pillows are just pushed up to the wall. Behind where Leo was lying, the circa 1920 wallpaper was darkened as if seasoned with Crisco. Within a few short months, Flatty leeched his oils into the other side to match, so that now, if you remove the pillows from the bed, two great, greasy fleurs du mal
stare out over the room. Sleeping there is like sleeping in the bed in "A Rose for Emily."
I cannot bear to touch Flatty. Sometimes when I think about where Flatty's been, I wonder how many dust mites and crabs have hopped ship and taken up residence in my fresh, virginal pillow. Is it true that when your pillow sleeps next to a pillow it sleeps next to every pillow that pillow has slept next to?