Jim woke up to the scent of cottage cheese.
Over the course of an hour, it drifted him from the heated drool of his slumber into the lukewarm pothole of his living room.
By 2:00, Jim realized that he was no longer rummaging through the trash bins outside the local Arby's with Rodney Dangerfield, but was actually waking up on the brown shag of his actual life.
Jim opened his eyes and looked up at the ceiling. He wondered why he had awakened so early today. His tired brain stumbled through the list of possibilities. Did he have a date with someone? Was his mother in town? Did he have a job to get to? Was he giving a speech anywhere??? A tiny pang of anxiety reverberated between his temples as these thoughts sloshed through his mind.
Ah, whew. Relief flooded through Jim's body as he realized that the answer to all of those questions was a resounding no. He didn't have shit to do today. Jim closed his eyes for a moment and savored the feeling.
Perhaps, if he had much feeling left in the cancer infected recesses of his lower face, he would have realized that he was smiling.
So Jim laid on the carpet. Kept the low burn of his eyeballs down by keeping them closed for a precious few extra moments. After all, he deserved it. He had succeeded in not terminally fucking anything up for yet another day.
But something was amiss. In spite of his relief, one thought continued to pester Jim. If there wasn't anything important to be done, why the hell was he awake?
Jim's face winced (not that he realized it).
Unable to enjoy resting his eyes, Jim opened them. With great effort, he ignored the haze of the sunny living room and looked down.
Past the red beard he had grown partially out of an attempt to hide the mysteriously hideous deformation of his jaw that had appeared in recent years and partially out of a more general sense of apathy regarding basic hygiene, he saw the ulcered, pock-mark blob that was his body. The little red bumps layered across fatty tissue gave Jim a secret sense of accomplishment. They had set in some time during the past few months after Jim had made the decision to switch to an all Doritos diet. He didn't have the slightest sense what the causal connection was between his mass ingestion of the Nacho Cheese flavored corn chips and the red marks that had seemed to be living off of his skin, but counting them provided a kind of daily entertainment after the cable got shut off and he was no longer able to jack off while watching the Lizzy McGuire Show on the Disney Channel every afternoon. There was something morbidly fascinating about the slow, subtly painful growths. Jim had come to think of it as the foremost point of his existence during the past few weeks. There was something in the red pustules that was more than him... beyond the level of every-day human understanding. Jim figured that there had to be some kind of basic human truth in their rapid proliferation across the boundaries of his body... not that he had any idea what it was.
But Jim had not awoken because of the red growths. He was used to them by now and had gotten used to ignoring their tiny pin pricks when he needed to fall asleep.
Jim looked to the left. His arm was covered in empty beer bottles. This confused him for a second, until he remembered the disastrous discovery, late last night, that the house had no more beer for him to drink. The last images that he could remember before blacking out involved him searching through the pile of empty bottles in the living room in the desperate hope that he would find enough precious drops of unfinished booze to help put him out of his misery for the night.
Needless to say, it had been a sad night.
The memory made Jim zone out for a moment. As the pile of empties began to blur together with the greasy hair of his arm, it suddenly hit him why he was awake.
The smell of cottage cheese.
Jim snapped to a state of absolute awareness. Huh? Why the fuck would there be cottage cheese in my house? Jim inhaled deeply to make sure his senses weren't being fooled, but in spite of the damage done to his olfactory system back in the 80s, the scent was unmistakable. It was definitely the aroma of cottage cheese.... just like his grandmother had served to him at the age of five in her cottage in the Ozarks.
The bottles clinked as Jim brushed them off his arm and stood up. The moment he reached a standing position, shards of pain jabbed into his back and forced him to groan as he bent over, hands on knees.
Shit, man. You should be more careful about that.
Jim winced and made his way over to the kitchen. Where the hell else would you look for cottage cheese?
Jim entered the kitchen and discovered that the scent had grown stronger. His eyes scanned the piles of filthy, maggot-encrusted dishes that layered the floor, counters, and oven top. The sight made his stomach turn. Jim was usually pretty good at not looking around very much during his brief trips to seize a beer from the refrigerator.
Jim tried to ignore the quietly rising feeling of nausea and began to push pots around on the floor with his feet.
After about ten minutes of doing this, Jim gave up.
What the fuck? He thought to himself. I cannot fucking deal with this. This is fucking disgusting. I am above all of this shit.
So with that, Jim promptly gave up on his search for the source of the sour cottage cheese scent. He stumbled out of the kitchen and back into the living room, where his aching mass fell over onto the green sofa his grandmother had left for him when she kicked the bucket.
A spring jabbed his lower back, but Jim ignored it.
He reached out towards the nightstand where he saw a pile of white pills and an open can of Pepsi.
Jim put the pills in his mouth and choked them down with the syrupy, who knows how old remains, of flat soda from the can. He closed his eyes and imagined a young boy and girl on a seesaw, singing the theme song from Miami Vice. With this image in his mind, he slowly passed out.
As the weeks went by, Jim got used to the smell. It got sharper for a while, but he quickly stopped noticing. It just got absorbed by the gray, bland mess of blah that was the rest of his life. Whenever crunch time came, he figured out ways to get more Nacho Cheese flavored Doritos and beer. Sometimes he had to settle for Safeway Select generic chips or PBR, but as always, his mind got him through the hard times.
The red pustules grew and itched more.
His jaw disintegrated.
And he was happier than any of your lazy ass mother fuckers will ever be.