So here's a taste of today's work. To fill you in, the Deacon from the last post has given Matt a gun that might be able to take out the ghost in Matt's house, and Matt's buddy Willy peer-pressured him into trying smokeable speed. Nothing like an armed lunatic on crank, is there? (Again, all rights reserved, copyright Sean Craven, and do I really strike you as the kind of guy you'd want to plagiarize?)
I turned the knob of the door and stepped into the entry hall. I could see the white of the walls, the tobacco-spit brown of the ratty shag carpet and the patterned yellow floor of the kitchen.
“Jeff!” I said. “Here I am!”
I held the gun up, barrel pointed at the ceiling, and stepped into the living room. I stood under the broken fixture and screamed at the stubs of the burst light bulbs.
“You want me? You want to get me? Here I am!”
I pointed the gun at the fixture and almost pulled the trigger; impatience snagged at me and I went to the kitchen and stood under the milk-glass dome of the overhead light and tipped my head back, exposed my throat.
“Come on! Fuck you, fuck you, FUCK YOU COME ON!”
The natural rage born of my body and mind swept past the speed and overwhelmed it and my muscles locked and froze. I stood there, arms spread, gun in hand, head tipped back. All of a sudden my pose made me think of Christ on the cross and I felt ridiculous, which made me madder. I stomped hard and fast into James and Dierdre’s room.
My left hand thumped rhythmic dents in the plasterboard of the hallway as I went. I hesitated for a moment at the door – it’s not my room – then stepped in and pulled the hamper to one side and lay on the floor and screamed into the socket that had powered the alarm clock.
“Are you fucking scared of me? Get out here, you fucking chickenshit get out here get out here get out!”
Inside me I felt chains and gears locked and running, ready to cut, and I tasted blood in my mouth. I jerked back and forth and kicked at the floor, rage filling me to overflowing. I wanted to feel something give way and my flesh was all I had.
I slammed my hand into the wall by the outlet and hit a stud. The whole house shook. I punched the other side and put a hole in the wallboard, then gnawed the tatters off my skinned knuckles.
Then, just like in the kitchen, I saw myself. Rolling around on the floor, punching holes in the walls, cutting myself from the inside. Throwing a tantrum. Pitching a fit.
This ridiculous petulant creature was me.
The energy drained out of me like water from a sieve and I lay on the floor, weak and twitching and helpless. I couldn’t stay here; it wasn’t my place. I was the intruder in this room. I rolled over and crawled until I could stand, then set the hamper back where it belonged. I got up and walked out and shut the door, the weight of the gun dragging my arm down. I went into my room and lay down on my waterbed.
As I lay on the soft, yielding surface the initial bob and slowly dying waves were followed by stillness.
I wanted a bong hit; I wanted a million bong hits. I knew this wasn’t the time.
The feeling of water beneath me brought me back to my time floating in the pool. If I was there I would be forgiven. The thought made my throat ache and my eyes water; I hate to cry. It hurts and it’s ugly and it makes me feel weak.
In the silence I heard the bullets singing. This wasn’t all about me. I wasn’t the center of the world. I took the gun and slipped the catch and opened it, tilted the chamber and let the bullet fall on my chest.
I dropped the gun to the side of me and held the bullet to my ear and listened. It made me think of the story of the ants and the grasshopper; this would be the last song the grasshopper played as the snow came down. Whoever this had been had led a small life and the Deacon thought that…
It wasn’t my place to judge the Deacon. He had to fight monsters with what he had and I couldn’t know what brought him to do what he did.
But I knew that I could not take someone whose weakness and misfortunes had led them to become a soft, helpless monster and use them, destroy them to destroy something else.
I was no better than they were. But if I tried, if I worked hard, I might be able to avoid being worse.
I remembered the last words Jeff had said when he and Arnie came into my room that first time in the Limbus. “Don’t do it, Arnie.” The words I’d heard from him just now. “I can’t find Arnie.” It had been bad having Jeff in the house but what had he done to me, really?
I pulled the other bullets out of my pocket and lined them all up on my chest.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “I’m sorry.”
I hoped Jeff could hear me.
What was I going to do? What was I…
And that’s when it hit me. When a problem is more than you can handle you have to break it down into smaller parts and deal with them one at a time. What was I going to do was really two questions.
What kind of man do I want to be?
And what would he do?