The Dollar Purchase

by kdillmanjones

You wouldn’t expect much from a dollar thrift store purchase. Sure, you have those rare finds, the antique necklace or the precious piece of China, but not in the dollar basket.

“Oh, an African mask! It will look perfect, right next to the Mexican one. You know, the one from Juanita?”

“Hmm,” he shrugged. He didn’t care. I would put it up and he would never know the difference.

I paid in cash, I remember. When it’s only a dollar, it’s easy to whip out the soggy bill, the one that accidentally went through the wash and had to dry on the clothesline. It was easy to get rid of it finally. Easy to exchange one thing for another.

“Love you. See you tonight.”

That was all we needed. A quick lunch together, a few minutes in the thrift store. He’d go back to work for the afternoon and I would go home to find a nail and hammer.

I can still see the mask’s innocence in my memories of that day, its elongated face and neck, the dark hazel of the wood. It bounced just slightly in the passenger seat as I crossed the railroad tracks at 43rd Street. It could sense my naiveté.

It never looked quite right on the wall. It was too long, too thin, too dark. When Michael finally fell asleep that night, I tiptoed out. I stared at it, stared at it like I had no control over my own eyes.

I found it sitting in my hands, found it landing on Michael’s face. You never remember the way these things happen. You just remember standing in your doorway, sweating.

The horrors of the alchemy that transpired then, the terror that began that night, will forever be burned onto my memory. The mask, it altered. The damn thing fused with Michael, reified, gained a life of its own. The dark beady eyes shifted and focused, on me.

“Michael, I–”

“Mimi mwenyewe wewe.” I own you.