Everything Is Super Normal and Definitely Nothing Is Weird at All
“The House Guest,” a story by Beau Golwitzer
There was a wife and husband.
The wife and husband were named Lindsay and Steve.
“Hi, my name is Lindsay, and that’s my husband, Steve.”
One day, Steve and Lindsay were entertaining a house guest; however, neither of them knew who the house guest was, exactly.
The house guest had just appeared, exactly.
Suddenly, the house guest was just standing in the middle of their kitchen, exactly.
Lindsay offered the house guest a sandwich. “Would you like a sandwich?”
The house guest’s face lit up. “That would be excellent!”
The house guest had this rather large, square face that when lit up looked scary.
At the sight of the house guest’s face lit up like that, Lindsay turned white, then she went to prepare the sandwich.
While Lindsay was preparing the sandwich, Steve sat with the house guest.
The house guest smiled at Steve and Steve smiled back.
Steve didn’t know what to say, so he remained in silence, but smiling.
Finally, Lindsay slid a plate in front of the house guest. “Eat up!”
The house guest took a rather large bite of the sandwich.
“Wow, what a big bite!” Steve said.
“Thank you,” the house guest replied soberly, then with his next bite ate the rest of the sandwich.
The house guest licked his fingers, until he had licked all of them — one, two, three, four.
Which was when Steve realized that the house guest had only four fingers.
“Oh, God, I have to use the bathroom,” the house guest declared.
“The restroom,” Steve corrected him.
“Where the fuck is it?” the house guest asked, smiling.
Steve and Lindsay both turned white.
Lindsay pointed upstairs with a shaky finger. “The bathroom is up-up-upstairs.”
When the house guest had gone, Lindsay whispered, “Who is that, Steve? He really liked my sandwich.”
“He loved your sandwich, Lindsay, and I don’t know who it is.”
Steve thought for a moment. “Is it Tamara’s brother?”
“Wasn’t Tamara’s brother killed in a water-skiing accident?”
“I almost hate to say it, but he was impaled upon a ski,” Steve said, shaking his head.
“Horrible,” Lindsay said, shaking her head.
The house guest returned. “Actually, I couldn’t find the restroom. I searched and searched.”
The house guest was covered in some kind of white powder, but both Steve and Lindsay were too afraid to ask why.
“Perhaps I gave poor directions,” Lindsay said.
“Language is slippery,” the house guest said.
“One, two, three, four,” he said, counting with his four fingers.
“I’ll take you upstairs,” Steve said.
Steve led the house guest to the bathroom and then returned to the kitchen. “Maybe it’s Kristen’s brother? Do you remember Kristen’s brother?”
Lindsay thought for a moment. “Didn’t Kristen’s brother — ?”
“That’s right,” Steve said, taking a deep breath. “The common cold.”
“In any case,” Steve continued, “I keep feeling like I’m about to recognize him, then I don’t. It’s like that time in the mountains. Remember?”
“When we were hiking and suddenly that man appeared?” Lindsay said.
“Yes, and then he stayed in our cabin for the night?” Steve said. “The next morning, though, he wasn’t there? And we thought we had dreamt him?”
“Then, I couldn’t find my passport?” Lindsay said. “And we thought he’d stolen it? But then I found it later?”
The house guest returned to the kitchen. “I thought all I had to do was pee, but then I had to take a shit.”
Steve turned white.
The house guest laughed. “You turned white, Steve. Is that because I took a shit?”
“I hope it wouldn’t be too much trouble for me to spend the night,” the house guest proposed.
Lindsay looked at Steve. “Of course not. Then you would be a real house guest.”
Steve turned to the house guest. “My name is Steve.”
“No duh, Steve,” the house guest said.
“I’ll get the bed ready for you, Steve,” Steve said.
Then he laughed, somewhat maniacally. “I called you Steve — when I am Steve!”
The house guest looked very serious. “I am not Steve.”
As Steve was getting the bed ready, Lindsay sat with the house guest in the TV room.
“Do you want to watch a documentary?” she said, turning on the TV.
Soon, she had found a documentary — on elephants.
The elephants on screen were bathing themselves in a pool of muddy water.
“That gives me an idea,” the house guest said. “May I have a bath?”
The elephants on the screen seemed to look directly out at Lindsay and the house guest — perhaps with a look of concern?
One of the elephants lifted its trunk and blew out a loud snort.
“Of course,” Lindsay said.
On the way to the bathroom, they passed the bedroom, where Steve was struggling, wrapped up entirely in one of the bedsheets.
In the bathroom, Lindsay plugged the tub, turned on the faucet. “Do you like it very hot? My name is Lindsay.”
“I like it steaming, Lindsay!” the house guest said. “I like to hurt, Lindsay!”
Lindsay turned red.
The house guest patted his pants pockets. “Dammit, I forgot my toothbrush. I go nuts if I can’t brush my teeth.”
Trembling, Lindsay said, “I’ll see if we have an extra one.”
She dug around in the bathroom closet. “Steve!”
Steve limped to the door. “I think I pulled a hamstring.”
“Is there an extra toothbrush?”
The house guest was pointing at his mouth. “Ah ah ah.”
Steve looked in the closet, but couldn’t find one.
“Steve, if I may use yours,” the house guest proposed.
“Yes,” Steve said, with his head down.
As the house guest bathed, Lindsay and Steve huddled in the hallway.
Steve held Lindsay’s hand, caressing the back of it with his thumbs.
“Maybe it’s my cousin, Max,” Lindsay whispered.
“No, Lindsay,” Steve whispered.
Soon, the house guest had rejoined them.
He was wearing Steve’s clothes, and they were soaking wet. “I couldn’t find a towel so I put on Steve’s clothes.”
“The towels are,” Steve began.
“The towels are what, Steve?” the house guest asked.
“The towels are white,” Steve said, “in case you’re looking for them next time.”
“Thank you, Steve.”
The three of them walked through the kitchen, and then out onto the back deck.
The house guest went into the yard, picked a blade of grass, threw it in the air. “There’s no wind.”
Steve and Lindsay returned to the house.
At first, it appeared the house guest had not returned with them.
Then, he was standing there with them.
“What do you think we’ll have for dinner?” the house guest said, smiling.
“I don’t know,” Lindsay said disconsolately.
“Then breakfast, then lunch?” the house guest continued.
His weird square face lit up like a burning house.
Lindsay looked at Steve helplessly.
“Dinner, breakfast, lunch!” the house guest began to chant. “Dinner, breakfast, lunch! Dinner, breakfast, lunch!”
He made a conducting motion with his arms, ordering Lindsay and Steve to join.
“Dinner, breakfast, lunch,” Lindsay began to chant.
“Dinner, breakfast, lunch,” Steve began to chant as well.
“Louder!” he demanded.
They got louder. “Dinner, breakfast, lunch! Dinner, breakfast, lunch!”
“One, two, three, four!” the house guest shouted. “Now we’re doing it!”
Steve and Lindsay, chanting, huddled together.
The house guest joined them, putting a hand on Lindsay’s shoulder, the other on Steve’s head.
Steve screamed, Lindsay screamed, the house guest smiled.
About the Author
Beau Golwitzer’s writing has appeared in such journals as BOAAT and Wigleaf. He lives in Chicago with his wife.
“The House Guest” is published here by permission of the author, Beau Golwitzer. Copyright © Beau Golwitzer 2018. All rights reserved.