This is a wee tale. First draft. Very rough. Me working out some ideas and seeing what is there. There’s the seed for another story planted here if I ever have time to swing back to it. We shall see.
He wasn’t sure when his choice had become his fate.
He wasn’t sure when the distant hum in his head became a voice and then a chorus.
He wasn’t sure when the bottle stopped being a party and became a sentence.
He wasn’t sure of much anymore, just that some days it felt as if the fog had cleared from his head and he found himself in a place he didn’t recall and he wasn’t sure where he had been, where he had come from, and how he had come to be where he was.
And it shook him.
To his core.
To his faith.
To the bottom of himself
But it never lasted.
The fog came back.
The voices returned.
And both seemed to be at the bottom of the bottle.
And they helped, the smiling faces, the nodding heads, and the open wallets.
Helped as much as they could.
But he wasn’t able to return their gestures.
Unable to repay their kindness with the truth because the truth was a sea he had not sailed in how many days, or weeks, or months, or even years.
He couldn’t even remember his age.
So he’d lie.
He lost his job.
He lost his family.
He lost his love.
He tuned out, he gave up, he walked on.
It was different every time, his earnest responses met with a pat on his shoulder and a knowing nod.
On and on and on he went, never sure where he was going, just that it was forward.
He has always seen himself cast in the part of victim in this play, as the man slighted by god, by society, and by his fellow man.
The truth of that lie though was revealed to him one day when the clouds cleared for him as he lay next to the bodies of two dead teenagers.
They couldn’t have been older than fifteen.
They could have been his children.
His daughter and son.
Their heads had been caved in, presumably with the shattered cinder block he was holding in his hand, their blood thick and sticky on his hands and face.
Their wallets were still on them.
There were no drugs around that he could find, and no booze.
The only clue he had was the change that was scattered around the bodies.
He looked around and saw that he was at the end of an alley full of piles of trash and burned out lights.
He wept beside them as he it slowly dawned on him that this probably wasn’t the first time he’d hurt someone.
He just couldn’t remember.
His left arm was itching and he looked down and saw there were two fresh cuts in the skin that were red and inflamed.
Two fresh cuts to go with four other cuts that were scarred over.
He took the boy’s wallet and the cash from the girl and covered them up with some boxes, the best burial he could offer them.
It wasn’t fair.
This wasn’t fair.
But if there was someone who understood how unfair this world was it was him, so maybe it was fitting that he was the one to usher them into the darkness.
And the clarity would fade, and the voices would get louder and they would drive him forward, telling him where to go and what to do as he slept deep within.
Trapped within the madness.
Trapped within his cage.
But as he shambled out of the alley and down the darkened city sidewalk a chilling thought came to him, a question that asked if these moments of clarity were not his true personality, his true face.
The face of the killer.
The face of the monster.
The voices were the lie, the sweet whispers to lull him back to sleep to keep him safe.
To keep him buried.
To keep him dead.