Larry just couldn’t cool off. It was a cool morning; less than 66 degrees, but Larry was still sweating. He’d tried a cool glass of milk but the sweat on his upper lip made it taste funny. He took a cold shower but as soon as he got out he started shivering from the heat. He’d stood naked in front of the air conditioner and cranked it up as high as it would go but his back side was still drenched in sweat. He took his temperature with a thermometer and it was normal. So it wasn’t a fever. He started to wonder if he was dying.
He fell back onto his bed hoping it would be cool, but it wasn’t. It seemed just as hot as everything else in his house. Larry could swear he could see the wavy heat lines coming off his body. His legs seemed heavy and his head felt like it weighed 200 pounds. He tried to clear his throat but it felt like his esophagus had been replaced with shards of glass and sand. He stood up and wavered as he felt another wave of heat course through his body. He wiped his sweaty nose.
Larry’s phone started to ring and he went to answer it. It was his boss, wondering why he hadn’t come to work yet. They were all expecting his presentation on the Care Management account and Mr. Perkins was waiting. Larry tried to explain that he was too hot; that it was just too hot to worry about Mr. Perkins and the Care Management account. His boss didn’t seem to understand the words Larry was using because he just kept saying, “What?”
Larry hung up on him. He knew that he had probably just been fired. It was okay though; he didn’t much care for the job anyway. He went to his window and tried to see if there was any kind of cool morning breeze that would wash over him and provide some relief from this unyielding heat. There was none. There was only the constant drone of the world going to work. His hair was soaked with sweat. He started to feel like he was covered in ants, fire ants, and they were trying to eat their way across his naked skin.
He ran back to his shower as fast as his heavy legs could carry him and turned on the cold water again. He hopped in and could swear steam started coming off him as the cold water met his flesh. He thought there might have been a sizzling sound. There were no ants on him. The cold water provided a moment to clear his head.
“Hell”, he said out loud, “I died and went to hell”.
He then dismissed this idea since he was pretty sure hell wouldn’t have cold water readily available in the shower, although that was just Catholic hell. What if the Greeks were totally right about Hades? Maybe it was his curse to be forever uncomfortably hot. Perhaps it was his punishment for being so lusty in life. Perhaps he shouldn’t have been so hasty to dismiss sweet Connie DiCastro that night after prom just because she was just a little overweight and not one of the “hot” girls. Maybe he was drinking too much coffee. Maybe he was putting too much Tabasco on everything. Maybe the sins of his mind were somehow made real and this was his enflamed curse.
Larry felt his grip on the world loosen. The cold water was now useless as he still felt his body was on fire. He thought the tub was filling with his sweat faster than the water rocketing out of the shower head. He threw open the shower curtain and looked at himself in the bathroom mirror and screamed.