This skeleton, who may or may not have a name (maybe somebody named it once, and I agreed? But have since forgotten), is a relic of a past relationship. Fortunately, the aura of that relationship, which didn’t go very well, has dissipated, and now the skeleton is just a happy and slightly crazed-looking wooden figure hanging around by our fireplace and grinning like one of those I Can Haz Cheeseburger cats.
My ex-girlfriend and I found The Skeleton (I guess he has a name after all) while we were apartment sitting for a schizophrenic friend named Allan.* Several years later, Allan moved into a building where my wife (not the ex-girlfriend) and I lived. Allan became convinced that he was having a sexual relationship with the girl who lived in the apartment next to him, even though he had never actually spoken to her. His courtship consisted of listening carefully through the wall for the random noises that the girl would make in the course of the evening, occasionally echoing her bumps and scrapes in the impression that they were secretly communicating. The sex would happen in the bathroom.
We didn’t want to know too much about how Allan had sex with a woman in a different apartment, but at the same time we were dying to know. So I asked. It’s weird to ask schizophrenics about their sex lives. But here’s how it went. Allan would listen until she went into the bathroom to take a bath or a shower. Then he would get in his bathtub and place one hand against the wall, operating under the assumption that she was placing her hand against the wall as well. This was a spiritual, almost astral connection between the two of them, as ethereal as it was sexual, with pure consciousness passing through layers of plaster and pipe. Anyway, that’s how he masturbated, with one hand against the bathroom wall and a whirlwind of misfiring neurons in his head. We listened to Allan explain his very complicated relationship and hoped to hell that the girl down the hall had no idea that she lived next to a horny schizophrenic investing his emotions in the noises she made while bathing.
On the second or third day of apartment sitting, after we’d gone through Allan’s movies (he had a small VHS collection of high-end Europorn and Oscar-winning titles), we started exploring the building. The place was a crumbling, shifting brownstone with tilting hallways and occasionally squishy floorboards, like a waterlogged set from Inception. In the cramped, corner-ridden corridors of the basement we found two sculptures: a crude sculpture of rusted iron plates and pipes that formed a vaguely human figure, and The Skeleton. We decided to take them both home. My ex-girlfriend liked to bring home used, ugly things, which I guess would be called “thrifting” these days.
Both The Skeleton and The Cowboy (a name my wife and I gave the iron sculpture when I outfitted him with a Stetson) outlasted that relationship, and now they live with us. The paper lei came from a Hawaiian themed office party, where we drank pop, learned Polynesian dances and watched as our hosts roasted a pig on a spit. I remember the blackened face of the beast growing more demonic as the skin scorched and warped over the flames.
*Positively not his real name.