by Marc Littman

Larry didn’t hear the mirror shatter. Mopping the stubborn stain of his son’s heroin overdose on his bathroom floor, the grief stricken father pressed so hard on the handle it was like driving a stake in Dracula’s heart. The blood stain yielded and so did the mirror as the mop jerked violently backwards.

‘Seven years of more bad luck,’ Larry snarled as he spun around and confronted his splintered reflection in the mirror. ‘Well, I ain’t fixing it, just as I couldn’t fix Tony, not that I didn’t try Lord, if you’re listening.’

Silence thundered back. Larry flung the wet mop through the open bathroom door and it bounced on his bed and splashed the wall.

‘Rest in peace,’ Larry spit and shoved off.

It took an adjustment but Larry accepted his distorted image as he shaved, washed his face and combed his hair. A handsome middle-aged man with chiseled features, Larry’s chin now jutted sideways, his forehead sank, his ears turned askew and his eyes, already swollen, slanted inward.

‘You look crooked, Larry,’ said an unsuspecting colleague at the paint store where Larry worked. ‘Have you seen yourself in the mirror?’

Larry, who hadn’t told his co-workers or even his friends about his teenage son’s death three weeks ago out of shame, shrugged.

‘I’m just out of sorts, Maria. My hip hurts so I must be overcompensating, throws the whole body off.’

 ‘And your face. You look like you’re being tortured, Larry.’

Larry forced a wan smile and disappeared in the backroom to check inventory. 

That night Larry’s wife, Lisa, fighting her own demons, took stock of Larry’s frayed emotions as she tentatively traced his concave cheeks with a raw nail bitten finger.

‘Can we talk about it?’

Larry reached for the TV remote. ‘You can,’ he turned away, hiding his slack jaw.

When Lisa blocked the screen and insisted they come to grips, Larry sought refuge in the bathroom only to look in the mirror and discover the part line in his thick greying hair zigzagged. His whole face seemed lopsided.

Larry smashed the broken mirror with his fist. Holding the bloody hand to the mirror, he recoiled in horror as his chest now buckled and his gut twisted in a knot like a Picasso Cubist painting.

‘Lisa, I got to replace the friggin’ bathroom mirror!’ Larry shouted. ‘It’s making me look all goofy. It’s an easy fix. I’ll go the hardware store. Back in a jiff!’

But at the store, the man once known as Larry Never a Worry, threw a tantrum when a nebbish in front of the long line spilled a dozen mismatched wood screws on the checkout counter and the checker had to check the price of each one.

Arriving home, Larry blew through the door like a tornado, his features so jumbled Lisa gasped in horror.

‘Larry, you need help,’ she pleaded.

‘No, I can do this myself! If Tony was here, I’d make that lazy stoner get off his bed and help like I should’ve from the start.’ Larry shucked off his panicking wife. Stemming tears of rage and self-recrimination, he banged the bathroom mirror into place, but when he stepped back to inspect his handiwork, he still appeared a mishmash, a broken man in body and in spirit.

Marc Littman is a former journalist whose short stories have been published in Flash Fiction Magazine, E-Fiction, Long Story Short and other publications. He has also published two novels, Eddie and Me on the Scrap Heap and The Spirit Sherpa. He lives in Los Angeles, California.