Two Capricorns used to live next door. The tall one’s name was Linda. The one that carried the ferret’s name was Circular Saw or something that sounded like Circular Saw. They were lovers and they had matching goats on their right ankles and they were often bandana’d.
I gave the Two Capricorns a streusel cake as a housewarming gift. I baked it while I watched the Texas Tech women’s volleyball team take on Baylor. A Red Raider took a spike in the face and the referee had to switch the ball out because it had noseblood all over it.
“There are toothpicks in this.”
That’s what Circular Saw said when I handed her the silver cake pan.
“Why toothpicks, if there’s no frosting?”
Linda told me that Circular Saw wasn’t trying to nitpick, that I was very sweet.
“The toothpicks prop up the saran wrap.”
Circular Saw scratched at a mosquito bite on her left leg.
“Of course they do.”
I was watering hydrangeas with a hose. Linda was throwing a frisbee against the side of the Two Capricorns’ garage. It kept hitting the bricks and falling into a prickly bush.
It was a hot day and when I asked Linda if she wanted to drink some hosewater, she said definitely. Then she hopped the smallish metal fence that separates our yards.
“This is, like, squeezed out of a glacier.”
That’s what Linda said when the cold hosewater hit her thin lips. She held her red hair back while she drank. I liked the way she held her red hair back while she drank.
“That’s pretty much what I thought about it.”
Linda smiled at me and it felt like my brain was waltzing.
Circular Saw once asked me if I’d like to join the Two Capricorns for dinner on a Thursday. I could tell there were a number of other people she would’ve rather invited. Dentists, maybe a stenographer. A golden retriever.
“I would be honoured.”
I said honored all British, did a little curtsy thing. Honoured. Linda laughed. Circular Saw did not.
“We’re gluten-free, so…”
I asked what I could bring. Cantaloupe?
“We’re gluten-free, so…”
Linda teaches very small children how to paint with their fingers. That’s what she told me one day while we watched Working Girl on her couch. Circular Saw wasn’t there. She was at the foundry.
“It’s more, like, shapeshifting than anything.”
That’s what Linda’s mouth said but her hands were twisting air, like she was wringing out a wet towel.
“Shapeshifting is important. Your job is important.”
We kept watching Working Girl and Tess told her boss that she wasn’t a steak, that he couldn’t just order her.
“You’re like Tess McGill.”
“You’re really thick. Like a Chipotle.”
That’s what Linda said when the movie was over and we were still on the couch and I was moving around inside her zone. I could tell she used to have red hairs around her zone but on that day, she didn’t have any hairs at all.
“You guys are ruled by Saturn.”
That’s what I yelled to the Two Capricorns one time, when I saw them carrying groceries up their back stoop. I also waved.
“You share an earthy demeanor with Virgo and Taurus.”
Linda waved back. Circular Saw did not.
On July 4, 2009, I invited the Two Capricorns over to shoot off bottle rockets. Only Linda came. Circular Saw said the explosions scared the ferret and someone needed to think about the ferret because the fucking ferret wasn’t going to think about the ferret. It was like Circular Saw shot a ferret out of a bazooka and into Linda’s face, the way she said it.
Linda and I stood in the middle of the street and held the red plastic ends of the bottle rockets until they took off through the telephone wires and blew up over the White Hen Pantry.
”Would you ever trade lives with a koala bear?”
I wanted to kiss Linda for asking but I could feel Circular Saw’s stare through their window, bazooka’ing a ferret into my face.
I helped the Two Capricorns move to Montana. I did so by standing lamps and bookcases on their ends in the back of a U-Haul. I also lifted two couches and boxed up a ventriloquist dummy.
Linda smelled like Big League Chew when we hugged goodbye. Her body felt sharp. My body felt full from too much meat ravioli. I don’t remember what Circular Saw smelled or felt like because she was in the cab of the U-Haul, texting.
“You should get a parakeet once you’re settled in.”
“I will miss you very, very much.”
It wasn’t a very Capricorn thing to say but I’m glad Linda said it.
“That wasn’t a very Capricorn thing to say but I’m glad you said it.”
I felt Linda’s palm against my face and it was just as sweaty as my sweaty face from all the humidity.
“You’re, like, pretty inexperienced when it comes to Capricorns.”
Linda took her palm back and put her body in the cab with the other Capricorn. I slammed the back of the U-Haul shut.
“Somewhere on Earth, a baby just farted.”
We watched the sun do this weird thing where it dissolved into the treeline like an orange Alka Seltzer. Then the U-Haul backfired and it made the air around us smell like an electrical fire.
Thomas Mundt lives in Chicago. His new(ish) stories have appeared in places like Anobium, The Northville Review, Curbside Splendor, and Petrichor Machine. The whole megillah’s at dontdissthewizard.blogspot.com.