By J. Jenkins
Danton passed the recliner in his family’s living room every morning before waking up to the sound of his mother calling him to get ready for school. His mom always told him never get near the recliner, as it wasn’t meant for young boys. His Grandfather, who had stayed at Danton’s house before leaving forever as his mom put it seemed to never leave the recliner. Danton would pass him, tilted back on the recliner in the early morning while he tip toed to the bathroom fearing the creeks of the floor would cause his Grandfather to go on a violent yelling fit at Danton for disturbing his utter tranquility. After his Grandfather left, the recliner had collected dust in the corner of the room. No natural light in the morning would reach the corner of the room where the recliner was placed, but Danton could still see its red velvet sheen in the darkness.
Danton ate a piece of chocolate pie for breakfast as he left for school. As he walked to school, all he thought of was the red velvet glimmer in the darkness. He tripped once on the sidewalk and ran into two different street signs just on his way to school, as his mind continually drifted off in thought about the recliner. At school, during library hour, he read through decade old furniture and home decor magazines, cutting out his favorite sofas, loveseats, chairs, and recliners and keeping taping them into a red notebook, which he had colored the front with a darker shade of crayon to mimic the same hue of red the recliner had. His friends thought it was strange, but the teachers found it creative. His art teacher even showed him names of famous designers who were responsible for creating innovative furniture decor, jokingly telling him if he ever became famous be sure to drop her name as she handed him a stack of papers with names, examples of their work, and specifications of the furniture. He felt gratification and excitement at the growing number of resources he had, but still upset he couldn’t find the recliner in any of the pictures or images he had.
Danton stood blankly staring at his mother in the kitchen, who was screaming at him with tears in her face as she held Danton’s red notebook in her hand. The numerous papers his art teacher had given him laid sprawled out over the kitchen table, crumpled from being stuffed under Danton’s mattress. Danton’s mother had just returned from a parent-teacher conference, where she found out from Danton’s teachers of his obsession with furniture, and his constant mentioning of the red recliner in his house. She shrieked at the top of her lungs at Danton, asking him why he would care about a piece of furniture, and she’s told him a thousand times he will never be able to get near it, as it’s not meant for him. She grumbled to herself, blaming his obsession on herself, and wishing she had never agreed to move the recliner into the house to begin with, yelling that it was all Danton’s fathers idea, and sarcastically quipped of how great that turned out for him. As she threw the notebook in the trash she walked over to the recliner and kicked the side of it, hitting side level kicking out the extendable base. She tried pushing it but it wouldn’t budge from its corner in the room. She screamed and stomped off to her room, yelling that she can’t even drag the thing near the goddamn TV to actually put it to good use. Danton slumped down in the kitchen stool, his eyesight beginning to white out in an empty state.
Danton sat the pen down at his job as the lead architect patted him on the back, complimenting his unique design and perfect alignment of the housing complex’s blueprints. Danton had become the lead assistant drafter of the architecture firm he worked for, and constantly received universal praise from customers and coworkers alike for his diligence and dedication to creating the best products. He clocked out of work and rode his bike from the office and to his house, the front yard cut and maintained with precision. Danton looked at his stubble in the mirror of his bathroom as he rubbed his drooping face. Peering past his reflection in the mirror and into the living room, he gazed at the recliner, which had a large black tarp draped over it. It had been 6 years since Danton’s mother shot herself in the head in front of the recliner, her suicide note only reading “I WILL FUCK THIS CHAIR IN HELL”. Danton insisted to the investigation unit that removing the chair was not necessary, as it reminded him of his mother. Danton swallowed two large pills from the medicine cabinet in the bathroom with pain, slumping out and to the kitchen table. He decided to obey his mother’s wish and never sit in the recliner, but even with his preventive medication, his obsession with the recliner lingered in the back of his mind. Sitting at the kitchen table he began to draw on the back of a worn newspaper a design the walls of a house.
Danton laid maniacally laughing outside of his house after falling backwards trying to unlock the front door. It had been six months since his insurance began denying his medication, and four and a half months since he lost his drafting job and health benefits. Slumping into a wreck of pain and suffering, Danton woke up every night in a hot sweat. With his head spinning and heart pounding, Danton could only see the color red in his eyes. He would slump into a fetal position, squeezing his head feeling as if his head were close to splitting open. When the fits would subside, and before his electricity was cut, Danton would see the early AM time and the sun rising. He had run out of coins to call the crisis hotlines, and struggled to maintain his front yard, the only thing he managed to occupy his time with.
Danton patted the dust off the black tarp as he pulled it off the recliner. It was 3 AM and sweating in an unwashed pair of underwear, he could no longer take another night of restlessness and suffering. He felt the red velvet’s warmth roll onto him, and instantaneously all his pain and anguish vanished in a second. He sat back in the recliner, the cushions sinking in against the weight of his body; Danton no longer felt the night sweats on his body, even feeling refreshed. The sensation of relief soon turned into a sensation of pleasure as he leaned back in the recliner, his head filled with euphoria and bliss. Every kink and knot in his legs and back felt pushed out and massaged, his lungs, finally able to breathe full and clear for the first time in months. Danton felt his eyes roll into the back of his head as he smiled a smile of ecstasy, something he hadn’t done in years, stretching widely backwards with relief.
Danton sat motionless in the recliner at 5 am as the morning birds began chirping. Though the sun was beginning to rise outside, darkness still enveloped Danton’s living room. Still smiling vividly, Danton’s eyes were glazed white, his left eye twitching in ten second intervals. His nearly naked body, sprawled against the extended-outwards recliner, lay motionless. His arms and legs, sticking straight out, and; not visible at first glance, had small velvet red strings threaded around each limb. His mouth, slightly opening, began to open more as black liquid began trickling out and a large white ball of a thick substance soon began rising from his mouth and spilling across his face and neck. The red threaded strings along his body began to grow and spread like vines along his body, gaining the appearance of large veins all over Danton’s body, getting thicker and thicker. Crunching noises began shaking Danton’s body as indentations began to form across Danton’s body, giving him less and less standard anatomy structure, until he appeared to look like a crude imitation of a human body. His skin was now a dark grey color with the exception of bright red vine-like, pulsing tendrils across his body, which began to grow in size as Danton’s body began to suck into the red tendrils like jelly, the crunching sound changing to a slurping sound. Minutes passed and Danton’s body had slumped into skin around vague lumps where large bones used to inhabit. Blood trickled from small punctures the tendrils had pierced and drain Danton’s body, as well as Danton’s own unrecognizable face, ooze seeping from his empty eyeholes and jawless mouth. The red tendrils, becoming flaccid on Danton’s skin slowly crept back into the recliner. In a final motion, the recliner itself kicked its extensions back inwards and sat upright ag
Danton was listed as a missing person like his father and grandfather after neighbors of Danton filed a complaint to the city for his yard becoming embarrassingly unkempt and making their neighborhood look irresponsible. Police knocked in his front door, and found little evidence of anything but a man with nothing to lose skipping town, with no friends, family, or acquaintances to give insight or explanation to his motives. One of the Police Officers strolled around the living room and noticed the handprints on a black tarp, and a warm red velvet recliner nearby it, as an Investigator headed towards the front door called Danton a cold case, telling the officer to meet him pack at the PD. The Officer, leaning back in the recliner with a warm smile on his face, yelled back he would be there in a few, moaning in pleasure.