On Penetrating the Dupe in a Hoax of Victimization

Last night I returned home in the dark. I had mail, several handwritten envelopes addressed to me, a belated membership card to Artists Space that had to be forwarded from my old office, by the girl who is their new me after I left. The local circular lists a black leather jacket for $10 call now, employing live-in help for an elderly man, tag sale this weekend rain or shine, barn sale this weekend rain or shine.

I use the light of my phone to unlock the heavy wooden door, careful to be clear of newly occupied cobwebs, careful not to let the door swing too hard against the porch, all the wood softly rattled with a brief but hollow gong sound, wood on wood reverberating. I get in through the screen and turn on the outside light, but notice something on the floor in the kitchen. It is a jar of cocoa powder. Smaller spice jars frozen in some dance, or running away. One of the cobra candelabras is fallen, resting against the stout glass of coconut flour. There is a shape of something dark and strange on the lid of a jar of almonds. 

The windows are not open and no one has been inside since me, three days ago.

I turn back towards the door but stop when the light of my phone, now forgotten in my palm, reflects off the entire first floor in pieces. I feel the light under my feet as I walk on what seems like a strange memory I am dreaming up in the moment. Caught off-guard. Caught you. Glass is everywhere. All over the floor in shards, tiny slivers, large weapons and fragments thickly underfoot in my thin soles. I see the window. It is shattered like a basketball has been thrown through, or a large rock. Or a brick. Or a heavy wooden beam. Or anything that is dense with weight and can be yielded with velocity.

Velocity = Distance / Time

The window is entirely shattered in an empty scream that haunts me, unyielding sound or movement. I am staring through what the glass had been made to imitate: clarity. I am seeing true clarity through the negative space, negative imagery in the construction of no image. Dark.

I turn on the light. There is no rock. No brick, no object. Just glass. Everywhere. I see it in the bathroom along the shower's edge, down the steps into the bedroom closet, behind the counter that blocks off the kitchen, around the stairs leading up to the second floor. 

I am frozen with confusion. And fear. But I am not processing what I am feeling. Am I a victim? Has something happened? Is somebody here to clarify what I am finding, either through violence or by rescue?

There is no landline, no cell reception, no Internet access at my home. And my home has been defiled. And I am finding it in shock. As in, I am in shock, finding myself inside my own home, broken. Is this the same as comforting someone who you have nothing to say to?

I turn on the lights. A bird, round and uncanny in its stillness, sits between the upstairs and the front door. I almost don't see it. But there is a feather by the kitchen sink, and excrement in blacks and browns and whites and greens, smeared around where you do not see it either. I cannot tell if it has died. It stirs. Do I hit it? I have not received protocol. I have no schema. Am I a victim? Do I hit the bird? I have nothing with which to trap it. I cannot tell if I get rid of it or leave. I think of the time I microwaved a piece of chocolate as a child and yelled "Fire!" after it began to smoke. I think of the time I dropped a jug of milk as a child and did nothing but stand watching it regurgitate its contents in heaves. I ignore the bird. It treats me the same. We neither exist the one to the other.

Distance = Change in Position

My checkbooks are still hidden, nothing seems disturbed. I leave the lights on, lock up the door, and leave to drive 15 minutes to the parking lot where I can place a call and steal the WiFi from the fast-food drive-thru while not needing to leave my car. The password is: WHOPPER WIFI. It is raining. My window is shattered. My home is exposed. I am processing. I am the only one in the parking lot.

Who do you call when you are found? I do not think to call the police. I text my friend in a town 30 minutes away but my texts don't send. I email asking if I can spend the night because I found a shattered window and glass everywhere, a bird, I don't know what to do. I have not been home. I found my home defiled. Am I a victim?

Of course! responds my friend, answering that I can come over.

Distance = (Final Position - Initial Position)

Do I keep looking for help? I am tired. What am I asking for help with? I don't know how to phrase an incident that I don't know happened; I only know aftermath. I only know the story's evidence. Is proof a wound? My home has been broken into. I only know what I have seen. I only know the facts that are after the facts, which is a fact without all its truths and don't you remember that if any part of the statement is false then it cannot be true?

I call the landlord. He sounds tired. He calls the sheriff. The sheriff calls me. I am told to wait for another call saying it is safe to return and meet the sheriff at the cabin. My home, exposed with the lights on and the front door locked and the window shattered. It will take me 15 minutes to get to the cabin, and I won't have any service to reach the sheriff. We'll let him know, I am told.

I do not ask the sheriff dispatcher if I am a victim.

I wonder if my neighbors, their farmhouses and trailers and dairy spaced down the dirt road from my cabin, think I have been murdered, their imaginations lighting up with the orange glow of the sheriff's car parked outside my cabin. The cabin with the lights on in the dark, exposed. The dirt road is a frenzy of jumping deer and feeding cows and racing kittens and one dog domesticated. They are colorful shadows behind the night as I drive past. I am not crying. I am not a victim.

The sheriff says no one could have come in through the window, the hole gaping but too small for someone sinister. Like an adult, even a young one. I let him inside. A lot of glass. And the bird. That's a big bird. That's a partridge, he says, as if pointing one out to me on a leisurely trail. It is 11:45pm on a Monday night and I have been up since 5:30am but I am not a victim.

Once I am the only living thing inside my home again, I sweep up glass from every room I can and clean up after the bird. But I am tired. It is past midnight now. To give an update to anyone or to restock my cleaning supplies, I would have to drive 15 minutes back to the 24-hour supercenter. I decide instead to eat a tin of sardines, extra olive oil, red chili flakes. I eat spice blends by the spoon. I eat more olive oil. I take off my clothes and fall promptly asleep upstairs, which has no signs of glass or feathers. I am not a victim.

I am amazed at the calm reactions I received when I reached out not knowing what to say, about not knowing what to do. I am amazed at my acceptance of the partridge penetrating my home, leaving a pane of defense shattered across every room, in chunks and in dust I will sweep and mop up again. I will disinfect the floors, the stairs, the countertop. I am amazed I feel so disturbed: me unvictimized, the partridge too alive unscathed. I am amazed there was no blood until I woke up to my period this morning, days earlier than I expected it to come. Can fear be a detox? Am I my own prey?

DistanceDisplacement