White Whale Review: An Online Literary Magazine Untitled Document
Adam Moorad
Adam’s writing has appeared in 3 A.M., elimae, Lamination Colony, PANK, Pindeldyboz, and Word Riot.  He is the author of The Nurse and the Patient (Pangur Ban Party, 2009), Prayerbook (wft pwm, 2010), and Book of Revelations (Artistically Declined Press, 2011).  His forthcoming novella, Oikos, will be published by nonpress in 2010.  Visit him at his website.

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the jabberwocky

Adam Moorad


In a living room, a bald man was showing a woman what the Jabberwocky could do to her floor’s invisible dust sculptures.

“Some of them are sitting on your carpet right now,” he told the woman. “And more are hiding between your rug and the wood of the floorboards.”

The woman looked at her old upholstered furniture and said she didn’t know. She asked, “What if I can’t get used to it?”

He said the Jabberwocky wasn’t like her ordinary vacuum; it was hypoallergenic. People had been vacuuming with this exact brand for hundreds of years now, and its bags were biodegradable. The Queen at Buckingham Palace preferred it for her own rugs.

“It’s true,” the man said, nodding his head. “All new

models are hand-assembled by licensed artisans in the Special Capital Territory of Jakarta.”

The woman told the man about her current vacuum. He listened, scratching his bald head like an apathetic psychiatrist. She said she had found her vacuum on Craigslist, had purchased it from a college student for the bartered-down price of fifteen dollars. It was a Dirt Devil, which was to her something; plus, it was cheap. Sometimes, the Devil worked for her, but more often it did not. As a result, dust collected in lair-like glens all her house’s rooms. She kept the Devil in the wardrobe with all her winter coats and hats.

The man looked at the woman and said, assuringly, with asshole certainty, "You can keep the Devil in the closet, because he’s certainly no match for the Jabberwocky."

The woman touched her hair and mumbled like nothing mattered. The man looked down at the vacuum, then up at the woman, and then around the room. All she had was a small house without

any well-lit rooms. It was apparent that her life was missing the sorts of spatial expanses God had intended mankind to run circles in– physically, or at least through cognition.

She could tell the man could tell no one had touched her in a very long time. The man sensed this and felt the charitable urge to say something, so he said something about his kids; his kids play sports with balls. They live with his ex-wife who does a lot of Pilates. The man told more stories and infrequently stopped, as if out of breath, or confused by the broken links in his own plots. At one point there was a silent string of several seconds, and, all of a sudden, the man began staring at a smudge of the ceiling as if it were the end of some lost highway. He said, “This looks like a job for the Jabberwocky.”

Outside, a radio played from some neighbor’s car stereo. The man handed the woman the vacuum manual, filled with a couth self-confidence. He had had previously lives as a paperboy, a landscaper, and a municipally certified exterminator. At times, he carried the vague notion of a life in which he was

not a wandering axis traversing the suburbs, door-to-door, in biweekly commissioned movement. He was never surprised when that notion never panned out. One day, he’d be ambiguously doing one thing, and the next something else; he had alimony on top of car payments, and, thus, no chance to look back. Now, he sold top-of-the-line vacuums to clients he called “lazy shut-ins” behind their backs, after he’d made them lists of phony promises with limited lifetime warranties.

Sitting on her couch, the woman looked like a small Buddha. She was mostly just Buddha in the arms and face, but had some Cruella deVille in the wrists and spine. As her fingers tongued the pages of the Jabberwocky’s instruction manual, her hands were white moth-like insects.

The man spoke to the woman with an air of beginner’s luck. She seemed to exude the impression of one who spends her whole life on things that feel too heavy. It was the most natural way for her to live, the man thought, as intrinsic for her as sleeping and eating.

The bald man held in a sneeze and covered his mouth. The woman listened, looking around her living room. It felt like she was inside world’s smallest baseball stadium, with little dust bunny players running Sisyphean circles around the bases in little gray uniforms, but sometimes slipping and disintegrating into the air, making the bald man sneeze. She pictured the same little players getting lost at night and crawling into her nose in bed. Through her nostrils, the woman made an odd sound. The man briefly glanced at the woman and looked perturbed, although he tried to conceal it. He softly cleared his throat. The woman said nothing.

"Just sign the agreement here, and I’ll let you have it for a few extra weeks for no money down,” the man said. “You can always call the 1-800 hotline if you’d like someone to come and take it back.” He spritzed his tongue with a spurt of Binaca and said, "The dotted line is right there."

The woman abided by the man’s ballpoint pen, writing her name is sloppy blue cursive, and then she was silent. The man wasn't sure if she was okay.

He thought she probably wasn’t given where she was and how she took care of herself. The man straightened his tie in the reflection of a window and slipped the woman’s signed contract into his breast pocket. He smiled at her and thought: It’s like she didn’t even know that ‘no’ was a choice.

Outside of the woman’s house, the man faced a row of rotund bungalows; rain had withered their shingles, and the antennae on their rooftops looked bent by wind and rust. The woman’s house had creepy widow’s peak awning above a front door that the sun wouldn’t touch. Benefit flyers and newspapers had formed miniature Aztec temples around a fraying welcome mat atop her brick steps. The woman had bought a plant once that died and now looked like the skeleton of a dog choked around the black spokes in the stair’s railings. In each mortar seam between two bricks, moss grew in green, parallel row. The man descended the woman’s stairs and, at the bottom, passed a trashcan full of broken glass, rainwater, and thirsty mosquitoes guarding their larvae. On the sidewalk, he flattened his feet against the ground and felt the breadth of earth slowly bend through the soles of

his rubber shoes as he walked towards the next house.

Inside, the woman curled-up where the coils made a crease in her couch cushions. Her carpet looked black with petrified dust. She stood and fumbled with her new Jabberwocky’s cord, attempting to fit it into the wall like a key. It seemed impossible, but when she finally managed, the electricity appeared to be shut off because nothing turned on. She grew confused and then was filled with only the desire to sleep.

The woman moved the vacuum with her like a walker towards her bedroom. Her feet touched the carpet uneasily. Dizzy with the fear of her floor, she spotted a long log of dust in the corner. She swung the appliance by the shaft toward the dust in a swift sword motion and cut the log in half. Then, the woman yawned, wheezed slightly, and yawned again. She thought she would sneeze, but didn’t. She held the end of the vacuum cord close to her lips. For a moment, it felt like she and the vacuum were kissing each other. She closed her eyes and thought: It doesn’t get any better than this.

The woman switched all the Jabberwocky’s buttons; some of them, she made click. Like a dog, she sniffed the contraption’s handle; around it, she clenched her fist.

The woman took her shirt off and held it around her wrist. She felt excited when the Jabberwocky’s plastic touched her skin, and she pulled the vacuum into bed with her to sleep beside it on the mattress. She tucked the electrical converter in a tunnel she made with a goose down comforter. She propped-up its neck up with the pillow that made hers itch.

The woman tried to sleep with her eyes open on the Jabberwocky but, confused, she couldn’t catch one wink. With her fingers in the dark, she discovered a button that felt like a power switch.. The woman leapt out of bed and ripped the vacuum through her sheets. She was too eager and almost dropped the machine.

Into the wall, she plugged the cord’s silver tongs into an outlet as if they were her own pronged fingers. When the wall streamed electricity, it did so into her, and from her it poured into the

Jabberwocky. The woman kept both hands on the vacuum’s handle and held them there tightly as she moved the screaming device with the whole of her body. For the woman, it felt like she was, for the first time, doing just what God wanted.

A minute later, she grew tired and let the vacuum idle, suctioned in one place. Her arms were christened with a fishy sweat and she could not move; still, she was unable to let go of the Jabberwocky before her. It sucked the ground so tight to its plastic teeth that the woman and machine gradually became fused together into an inanimate space. On a molecular level, the woman felt like she would never be able to move from this precise position for the rest of her life.





Copyright© Adam Moorad. White Whale Review, issue 2.3

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