Dear Future Ex-Boyfriends,
1. I will leave a note for you taped to the packaging scale at the Central Santa Rosa Library on a Tuesday afternoon. You must only retrieve it between 5:45 and 6 pm that evening. The note will have directions to our meeting place, including what time to arrive and a list of belongings you must return to me during our meeting. Follow the instructions carefully. Failure to do so could cost you your measly, sad excuse for a life.
2. As instructed on the note, you are to arrive at what appears to be a condemned meth house on a forested hillside in Monte Rio, on the south side of the Russian River. There is no cell service, electricity, or running water at the house so bring a bottle of San Pellegrino and a six-pack of gluten-free beer (for me, not you). Park approximately 30 yards down the dark, winding dirt driveway and enter the house through the back door, which will be marked with the fresh warm blood of a mysterious wild animal.
3. You will notice a short white stool next to the inside of the door. It will be covered with vibrant, fall-colored poison oak leaves. This is where you will place all of your belongings, including your car keys, wallet, cell phone, chapstick and every article of clothing you are wearing, including your socks. Any body jewelry must also be placed on the stool.
4. As you reach to lock the door behind you, you’ll notice a black cotton strap hanging from the doorknob. This is a blindfold. Tie it around your head, covering your eyes completely, and stand there naked, waiting for further instructions.
5. At 8:17 pm, when the house is completely dark (you won’t know, because of the blindfold, obviously), and a cool rush of air enters through the west facing window in the kitchen, you will hear music playing upstairs. If you listen closely, you’ll recognize the tunes as Nick Cave’s Murder Ballads. The album will be on shuffle, so as to not offer you any predictability or familiarity while you stand there naked and blindfolded. When the first song ends, you may make your next move.
6. To your right, there will be a staircase with an unstable, shaky, and splintery wooden banister heading to where I’ll be waiting for you. You may walk, facing forward, up the stairs. Don’t walk too slowly, or the rats that have infested the house may claw and chew at your bare feet and legs. Once you reach the second floor hallway, stop again and wait for further instructions from my assistant.
7. Soon, you will hear the sound of knives being sharpened. The rhythmic swish and swash of metal against the butcher steel will be your next cue. Turn your back to the sounds of the blade and begin walking backward. When you feel the fluttering of bat wings across your shoulders and a swarm of biting flies buzzing in your ears, you’ll know that you’ve entered the room where I’m waiting to hear your bullshit.
8. This, ex-boyfriend, is where you begin to crawl, still backwards, toward my feet. Yes, I know the floor is covered with broken glass. Yes, I know it hurts. Yes, I know you may cut your hands and knees. That’s the point. I’ll turn Nick Cave down at this point, and I’ll stop sharpening the knives so we can both listen carefully as the shards of our broken relationship crunch and crack under your weight.
9. Only once you have reached my feet without a single complaint, moan or teardrop — and only after you’ve returned the books I’ve loaned you and any miscellaneous earrings or undergarments I may have misplaced in your apartment or car — may you begin speaking to me. You’ll have seven minutes. If your testimony is worthy, my assistant will return your belongings and release you. If not, we’ll fight; me with my freshly sharpened cutlery and you with your bare, bloody hands.
Best of luck to you,