Extract from 'The lives of mammals'

Mr. Sotto, like a remote control aimed at a broken television, was not responding. He drew in through his oxygen mask every few moments with an effort, his eyes were opened, but fixed on the now black screen. A forlorn, defeated look lit his face between the croon he adopted each time he took a breath. In this way he looked almost comical, from effort to dog gone defeat, the absurdly recurrent and short lived vicissitudes of a man with his soul hooked up to the festive lights, blinking season’s greetings, between rasping laboured breath, wet like dish water being sucked through a plughole.
It is possible that the man pacing the room, well, picking himself between the webbed wires, took this as mockery. He was very far past holding his temper, chagrin stuck his shirt to his back, and swelled red in his cheeks, he seized Mr. Sotto by the shirt:
“Where?” he breathed.
“Is” he breathed again.
He erupted, shaking Mr. Sotto clean out of his chair, he fell like a stuffed animal, toppling from its exhibit at a museum, his oxygen tank tumbled to the ground too -- it being attached to him like an umbilical chord. His eyes remained on the television, his posture unchanged, although now transposed, huddled as he was, on a safety net of cables.
Mr. Sotto rasped on, his face blinking exertion and perplexity, like an animal in an electric shock experiment. The man stood beside the empty chair, and the blinking buoy face of the beetle in the room’s cobwebs, and began to also despair, but unlike Mr. Sotto’s sawtooth vacillation, the man’s despondency was smooth, and ever increasing, soaring with each watery breath Mr. Sotto pulled in through his mask. The man looked down at the chair, there were heavy creases where the folds of Mr. Sotto’s body had sat for the last however many years. Despite this, he sat down, and it felt, he reflected, how a hermit crab must feel taking home inside another’s bones, with hair and gristle still fresh on the walls.

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