Realistic Story

I had a dog inside my eyelid—

Wait, we can't start off like that.

This is a realistic story. I have my head on straight.

To be certain, there are realms of science that would indicate I have not and will never have a dog inside my eyelid. The dog would be too large, being the idea. And also: how would a dog end up inside my face? That, sir, is absurd.

But what could it have been inside my eyelid that morning that caused me such discomfort as I lay on the floor beside my naked mother?

There was something twitching in me, a little meat noise, some kind of something scrunched and so much blood.

There is always something in me.

I asked my mom to sit up and look into my eye some and see what it was there but my mom would not sit up. She had her arms over her head, squealing. She feared the roof would soon collapse—come raining down on me and my mother and all our precious junk. My father was up on the roof again. My father with his hatchet, peeling up the shit job the Mexicans did replacing the shingles my father ordered off the online, shingles made from living women's skin.

Shit, man. Fuck.

The shingles weren't made of women's skin. That is ridiculous. Worse, that is completely unrealistic. Who would kill someone for shingles? Even if they had, if I could be convinced, how would we know for certain the skin was female? I can not believe in, and therefore even conceptualize or therefore read, a story that would allow that kind of flagrantly willful admission. What would be the father's motivation to do such a thing as line his home with dead women? Tell me at least where and when the narrator was born and whether he has a moustache! Tell me who he loved and what he wanted and what he would become—this is what we need to know. This, for holy fuck tits' sake, is what makes a story we can, with our eyes, read.

So then the roof shingles were made of whatever your common everyday roof shingles are made of—though really, I'm not quite sure of even that. Is it paper or like cardboard or something? I'd look it up, but couldn't I just say roof shingles?

What kind of shingles appear on the roofs of homes and houses in short stories by William Trevor?

That's what I should find out.

God, my ass is starting to leak again.

Look, let's just you and I, let's forget I ever said anything about my father's ill-planned carpentry, and the bit I haven't mentioned yet about how the holes got in the roof in the first place (pssss…it was by the weight of my dad's big dick). Let's just say my father, who does have a moustache, though a pretty sparse one, which he only uses to cover up his cold sores, let's say on the afternoon that Dad was up there walking around on the roof (February 24th 1989, to be exact, a rather frigid afternoon indeed for Tempe, Arizona, Time! Setting!), let's say that old man was a little drunk. People get drunk around here these days still, right? A person could perceivably be expected, albeit if in a state of psychological disarray, to get wasted and tromp around the roof, scaring the family, yes? This could happen?

Right, then this is what had happened.

Reader, are you OK?

Back to about my eye, then—

There was something in my eye, I tell you, swollen up all bright and warm with pus, and something else layered behind it, the sore just a cap on something bigger. I could feel the slosh inside my forehead when I stood up, when I looked this way or that. There was something in me growing. If not a dog in there, it had to be something.

This feeling was very, very real.

Because my mother would still not look at me, her body quivering, sodden with sobbing mucus, dew, the liquid pouring down in through the rooftop where my father was banging, screaming his name, because I knew we did not have enough money for a doctor (Rubbish! Who does not have doctor money!?), because I could feel the tumor on my brain, what I did then, right there next to mother, was I stuck my whole arm in my eye. I really did! A trim fit at first, my eyelid ripped some, my eyelashes tickling my skin, but still I aimed and pushed and centered, and fist by wrist by forearm I went in. I reached my whole arm into my forehead, and I swung my fist around inside my meat.

This is exactly what fucking happened!


I beat the fuck out of my cerebrum. I ripped my nails into the cell walls. Whatever had bored its way in there, I would find it, this thing that tickled in the night, this thing that always kept me sneezing, that soon, I knew, would grow to take my entire body on—I had to kill it now, to rip it out, if there was any chance of me going on as my mother's very good boy. I would rip the shit out of the dog—fuck! I mean the cyst, the rind, the button, the district manager, the whatever the fuck you might believe could be inside a person—

Cancer! It was cancer!


This is a story about cancer.

This is a story about me defeating cancer.

Me, the product of an abusive, undone home.

My father on the rooftop, the sick fuck terrorist, ordering women's body parts off the online!

Did you hear me mention terrorism?

How about a detonation!

Did I mention there was a missile silo off the coast of our small town, primed and aimed to shoot through and erupt our home to smithereens, just nearly seconds after this realistic American short story ends?

Did I mention we will be made putty, we will not receive proper burial, how our corpses will be raped?

This is a realistic story about terrorism and human suffering and human fear!

This is what happened!

This is a realistic sentence in a realistic story!

This sentence was heavily line-edited in an attempt to alter its lack of reckoning of human love.

I, me, the narrator, am a character who you could get to know as a full person, who reveals myself to my creator in sidelong bursts, who has a heart a name a wish a want a will to exist a special purpose.

I will not talk about my dick inside this story, because that would be disheartening.

No talk about my dick, or David Lynch or rooms or vomit, or spores or the apocalypse or crud, or anything of the other things the author of this very special story tends to go on too much about.

This realistic American short story is getting far too off its course.

I'd like to direct your attention back to my father, on the rooftop, buck ass naked, swinging his massive scrotum at the trees.

My father with his goiter the size of my whole forehead on his foreskin, scraping with the shingles' skin (please disregard this line).

This sentence was included to somehow qualify the previous sentence by covering it over, wising up.

This sentence is very tired.

Here, though, is a plot twist, strategically centered in the last third of the plot's progression—my father is William Trevor!

My father's drunken roof-beating stupor came about during a fit of artistic distemper during the creation of his next short work!

My father, William Trevor, moved to emotional brutality in a fit of veiled political rage!

And yet there is an upside to this revelation, a spoke in the light that will make everything, you see, worthwhile: the thing what my father had failed to tell me, that this most recent forthcoming story of his would be sent to the New Yorker in my name!

My father would demand they publish the story as mine as they tremble in the furor of his massive neon authorial brow!

My father had a kind side, which would explicate his awful ranting, and therefore enable you, the reader, to understand him as a person in my life.

Within three to eight weeks after the story's acceptance, I would have a three book deal with a major house, despite the fact that I have never written a word in my life, including these words, which I insist, are very real, and that I, the narrator, did not myself write, because I am ink.

But lo!

This sentence is heartwarming.

This sentence is a real sentence.

William Trevor is Phillip Roth.

Phillip Roth is Alice Munro is Anton Chekov is Barack Obama is a sandwich is oinken blarzstensen is a steaming pound of need.

This thing growing inside me, which I did not know at the time of this story's occurrence (Time! Place!) was actually the engorged black pustule of my impending rise to literary power.

As I reached my hand into my head then, on the floor next to my trembling mother—I really did!—I could feel the incantation thumping through my fist fingers. I shuddered in the rhythm of the barking of the black heathen dogs I held inside me, the black dogs that would bark each syllable of my prizewinning realistic American narrative all the way to bank, the blood bank and the black church inside my mother's knee.

It really had been a dog there in my eyelid. I knew it.

Go fuck yourself you doubting fuck.

My dad—Phillip Roth or William Trevor, whichever—laughing into America's clitoral hood with eyes and lips and thumbs of blood.

Blake Butler