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Fiction #473
(published February 11, 2010)
Antique Heroin
by Eric Suhem
They trolled the antique stores, looking for the hutch, table, or other piece of furniture that would be the final piece of their home's interior decoration puzzle. They went to "Antique Row" in town after town. They watched "Antiques Roadshow" religiously, and were openly indignant when an antique's owner on the show did not seem sufficiently excited after an appraisal. Eventually they found each antique component that they craved. They carefully restored each piece of furniture with intensity never before known, lining their house with agents of antiquity, and finally they knew bliss, because they had become complete.

That lasted a short time, until he was laid off from his job at the law firm, and her income as a paralegal dried up. She had stopped showing up at the office, instead preferring to spend days at home worshipping the antique furniture, dusting, polishing, kissing and nuzzling the wooden hutches, tables, chairs, cabinets, and footstools. Freed from his job of resolving legal matters, he could also spend days at home, splayed nude against the grainy mahogany of the recently-purchased 19th century armoire. Eventually the dollars began to run out. He and she were lying on top of the oak hutch and Federalist tables when the creditors started to swarm in. They both looked on hazily as the repo men struck, pulling one piece of carefully-purchased antique furniture after another out of their abode, leaving her and him lying on the floor, searching for tasteful objects.

Their addiction continued. At dawn they crawled out into the harsh sunlight, looking for the next fix, oozing from one garage sale to another, searching for the piece of antique furniture that would get them through the day. They waited early in the morning for the garage-sellers to set up. If the garage-sellers were late, he and she would start to sweat profusely, beady eyes searching for any sort of relief, gasping a sigh of gratitude when the leg of an antique table eventually slid into view, the seller dangling it in front of their eyes tantalizingly. One day they found a 17th century Russian wooden stool upon which they quickly pounced, sucking every grain from its essence, leaving nothing but a stub. It went on and on, until they reached a point where they knew that they needed help. Setting upon a program of recovery, they spent days splayed on their hardwood floor, wearing rubber ponchos, going through convulsions, vomiting into a bucket. The couple eventually regrouped enough to go through a short, unfulfilling period of what could be referred to as 'Metha-furniture', living with plastic copy replicas of what they desired. Daily, he viewed the plastic dining-table set with disgust. They read a book outlining the path they could follow to repudiate their previous lifestyle, planning to follow the 236 steps in the book to eliminate and/or manage the craving for antiques. Weeks later, well into this new program, they had been successful up through Step 233, until seeing an 1831 Bavarian hutch in the driveway of their neighbor, being unloaded for delivery. This drove them both into a relapse, and they dashed to an antique store to lick, kiss, grope, and do other unmentionable acts with an oak desk, pulling out its bottom drawer.

After some run-ins with the law, they returned to their recovery, and got jobs at the local fast-food establishment. Back in their empty apartment, looking at catalogs, toes caressing the hardwood floor, she saw a table that reminded her of childhood days, where she had eaten breakfast before her mother hurried her off to school. He looked through the catalog and also saw various pieces of furniture that resembled those of his youth on the frozen plains, hearing his family's voices. Using their fast-food employee income, he and she ordered this furniture, and it was soon populating the apartment, giving the couple, for the first time, a feeling of "sort-of-completion." However, he was eventually rehired at the law firm, and she was re-employed as a paralegal. Their next activities are better left unsaid.

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