by Jon Bishop
You’re an idiot, you say to yourself. You’re a complete and utter moron. Your hand is gushing blood, adding color to a day that matches the warmth and tone of the sidewalk.
So why did you do it? Why did you smash the glass? Why did you reach in and grab that gun? It’s not loaded. But you knew that already. So why did you have to have it? Why did you need to touch the cold firearm, feel its grip, its weight? Some fantasy of yours? Some power thing, where you can wave it anyone who passes you by, tell them to die, tell them you’re a big and important man who can’t and won’t take it anymore? You’ll head to the nearest bank and rob it. Just because you can. Just because it’s there.
Oh, God. You weren’t thinking. No, not at all. You have visions of court dates in your head, a gruff police officer shoving your hands in cuffs, time in a jail cell, phone calls only rarely, people seeing your story on the news or hearing about it via word of mouth. You were always nothing, you hear them say. You were average and mediocre, and we always knew you’d end up doing something stupid. You think this impresses us?
Okay. Breathe. Remember what your doctor told you: your anxiety will get the best of you if let it. So don’t. Master it.
So what if you haven’t been able to find work in, like, two years? But who’s counting, right? Don’t think it matters anymore. Move on. Reach for the stars and all that. The last time you did anything worth mentioning was when you handed in all of your homework for a week in third grade and so received a gold star, an award you cherished even years later, when everyone had forgotten about it and would have laughed at you if you had brought it up. You’re a gold-star kid. Get back to that mentality.
And so what if you couldn’t make rent and now are virtually homeless, lying to friends of yours about sleeping on the couch, telling them you’ll just be here for four or five days? None of them know. You’re good at keeping secrets. Put that one on the resume.
You pause when you see him across the street. He’s wearing a business suit and glasses and has perfectly combed and shaped hair, the kind you’d see at a yacht club, and he watches you kneeling on the ground, your hand bloodied. He hears your heavy breathing. He pulls his phone out of his pocket, dials, starts mouthing words.
They’re coming, this means. They’re coming for you. You recall the time your father was arrested: he’d swiped some cash from the register at the store he managed and some of the employees found out, and soon police were at the door. And they took him away, and he had to do some community service; but life was never the same at your house, no, because after that, mom and dad would fight all the time—until, one day, he stormed out. And you never saw him again. You were 16, and you found out only a year ago that he died.
You look across the street and see Yacht Club is gone. He’s done his duty. He doesn’t need to be here anymore.
Now what? Do you run? Why did you have to grab that gun?
A few others have shown up. They’re all whispering to each other. They’re pulling out their phones, filming you, taking pictures—all so they can put you on their Facebook pages or their Twitter pages or so they can snap you to their friends. They are laughing, and you hear them laughing. And why did you have to break the glass? And why did you have to grab the gun?
And now, in your head, you see your mother hearing the news; and she’s collapsing to the floor—Why? Why? Why? Why did you have to embarrass me like this? Why?—and you remember this happened when you went to visit her and you said you had no job, but you tried and you tried. And mom, you said, can’t you see that I worked really hard? And that there are all kinds of things in my path? No, mom. Please. Don’t cry, you said. I tried. And then you couldn’t think of anything else to say, so you started sobbing, just sobbing, choking on the air.
You’re sobbing just like you were then. You can’t see the people across the street anymore, and you don’t notice when they move closer, crowd around you, look down on you like you’re some kind of animal you see at the zoo—pass the popcorn; you want a drink?—and start laughing like they were before.
You realize the end of your life is no longer an intellectual exercise, an experiment you pull when you’re feeling particularly depressed and angry, but is here and now.
You don’t see the police officers approach, first by car and then by foot, weapons drawn the whole time. You don’t hear them shout for you to drop the gun, to get up and put your hands behind your head. Do it, you don’t hear them say. Come on: Stop wasting our time. You miss that, too.
In your head, you imagine firing the gun—not at anyone in particular but at a building or a lamppost, sending the bullet ricocheting in all directions and giving you time to escape and run away. They’ll never know who you are. They don’t know your identity. But that won’t happen, you realize, because you are stuck, just like you always have been.
Oh, God, you think. Help me.
Category: Fiction, Short Story, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing