Midday Nightmare

by Liam Conor

midday smThe ice slowly melted into the clear brown liquid. The chill rolled down the glass as he slowly turned it round and round in his hand, leaving a slight trail on the old dining table. The small square table rested in the dim light overhead. The forty watt bulb kept feeding the shadows forming in his mind; the uncertain future. The dated brass octagonal clock seemed to tick loudly for the first time in years. With each passing tock, a little of his soul seemed to chip away. The smoke from his half burnt cigarette filled his tiny space of his trailer. His muscular, tattooed frame was clear through the smoke and the shadows of the dim bulb. Smashing his cigarette out he quickly reached for another, struck a match igniting the slender white stick. Tock, a small flinch from his hand as the clock passed another second. His face shone crimson in the phosphorus light of his match, blood; the dark red color masked his features as it gleamed in the light. It was fresh, wet and still dripping down his face. His red, watery eyes marked the time in history that he will never live to forget. Spinning the matchbook onto the table, he reached for his glass and drank it down in one draw. Another tock chipped away at his soul. He glared at the timepiece, tock, tock, tock. He reached his bottle of Red Label. Pouring three fingers and slamming the bottle next to a shiny revolver that sat smeared with blood as the clock struck once more, tock.

He closed his eyes and tried to remember the last fifteen minutes of his life. He jerked as the clock chipped away at his soul once again. His mind swimming in a dark tunnel searching for a way out; slowly everything came into view. He couldn’t hear anything except the tock that rang through his soul from the damn clock. His mind started to focus as he remembered watching football and sitting on his brown felt stained couch that smelt of whiskey and old sex. His whiskey touched his lips as his team scored another touchdown. Quickly jerking upright the whiskey splashed from his glass. He stood having to wipe it from his chin and shirt.

Looking down at his shirt he witnessed from the corner of his eye the cold stare of his wife. Disapprovingly her lips were moving and her brown curly shoulder length hair was vibrating as a dashboard hula dancer that was carved to look like the Michelin man. Her massive frame, round face and thick finger pointing at his face as her other hand is habitually placed on her hip. He couldn’t remember the sound of her voice; maybe that was by choice. Slowly he pulled his shirt from his body and raised one of his hands and began to walk past her. Her finger cut his path as her face started to turn red, her lips moving more violently than before.

Slowly backing up, his palms raised to cover his face “I’m sorry, I’ll fix it.”

She smacked his hands aside, putting her thick cigarette stained finger in his face, her voice still fell silent in his memory. Her finger was close enough that he had no control but to close his eyes and smell her last cigarette. That’s when he felt the familiar massive palm strike across his face, followed by the other side of his face, the impact of her dry skin scraped his face. His mind went dark as the blows continued, one after another. Tock, the clock broke into his memory. He sat trying to remember how many time she hit him, but it was useless. Maybe a dozen in the thousands he received in his lifetime.

His eyes opened and he slowly pulled the smoke from his cigarette, filling his lungs and exhaling as he raised his whiskey to his lips and once again emptied the glass in one swift pull. Tock, tock, tock, as he looked up at the clock; and pulled the calming smoke into his lungs once more. Smashing the cigarette out and reaching for his bottle for another three fingers of forget me and taking it once more in a single blast of sorrow. He was lost in his own world; the sounds of voices gathering outside his home seemed unreal, just another commercial.

He reached for his pack of smokes, lighting and pulling deeply on the amber lit cigarette and he closed his eyes once more. Remembering the blasts of anger he was enduring, he felt his body slowly crumble as the first closed fist struck his stomach, then his face; stomach, face, stomach, face, face, stomach. Then without warning the pummeling stopped. Breath came to him as he opened his eye in time to see the rolling pin flying towards his face. Tock, he jerked awake to the rhythm of the clock or was it the thud of the rolling pin. He grabbed his whiskey and took a drink from the bottle to find his courage and hopefully some calm. Inhaling a slight drag on his cigarette, he closed his eyes once more to finish replaying his life. The feeling the blows of the rolling pin strike his head and body were fresh in his mind, two, three, four, five, six. He laid there for what felt like an eternity as his warm blood began to cover his face. Every blow he felt on his body, bruised and bloodied. The fresh blood was still pouring down his face.

He began to open his eyes as his attacker stood overhead, her finger pointing in his face as her hair swung violently back and forth. He tried to rise off the floor and was thanked with two solid kicks to his stomach then one to his face, forcing his head to hit the wall behind him. She turned her back and walked into the kitchen; slowly he rose to his feet and made his way to the back room. A dark, musty room covered in wood paneling and pale green curtains, the matching carpet was stained with blood from when Reagan was president; it’s been a long time feeling his wife’s special brand of love. He began to remove his shirt and revealed his muscular frame from years as a hardworking man, destined to a lifetime of manual labor and daily torment. His body was covered in tattoos, but as he looked into the mirrored closet doors, his tattoos merely covered the scars of his wife’s affection.

Looking at his bloodied face, wondering how many stitches he would need this time and what would he tell his coworkers, he began to roll up his bloody shirt to wipe his face as the door crashed open. A thick yellow finger once again pointing in his face, silently yelling as fear built up inside his heart, her voice still lost to him. Suddenly he realized her other hand wasn’t on her hip as usual. He looked down and saw a large silver kitchen knife, be backed away, keeping his shirt in his hand. She moved forward, now pointing the knife to his heart as her red face violently shook her curly mop of hair. Walking backward, he made his way around the bed. She flew herself at him, as he moved aside using his blood filled shirt to shield him and ran over the bed, shutting the door behind him. He quickly stopped and turned, opening a closet door in the hall, blocking the bedroom door. He reached high, under a set of old blankets.

Tock, he looked up at the clock, blowing a lung full of smoke away. He closed his eyes once more and felt the closet door slam into him as the knife broke through the cheap wood, narrowly missing his face. His search stopped as his hand grabbed the nickel plated revolver he bought and hid so long ago he hoped it still worked. Quickly, he slammed the door back the other direction and turned ran back to the living room where his game was still playing. His hands shaking as he tried to open the revolver to check to make sure it was loaded, he wiped the blood from his eyes covering the shiny gun in his blood. As he closed the wet pistol, she slowly made her way to him. He raised the gun, shaking, emotions and adrenaline taking over. Thirty years of fight or flight and always chose flight until this day. As she saw the weapon in his hand and her face turned a hate filled red. She began to scream again, pointing the knife, her eyes full of rage. Fear had built inside him, a fear he never felt before, or could it be courage.

He pleaded as his crackling voice rang in his head, “please stop, just leave, no more, please, please just leave.”

Her body grew firm, as she lowered the knife, her face released all emotion. Her mouth curled in the corners as her eyes turned red. He knew at that moment, it was a special love like she always said, she felt hate for him. She raised the knife as she charged, ready to drive down her final punishment. He closed his eyes as he squeezed the trigger five times. He was standing, opening his eyes he looked down and there was his nightmare lying dead on the floor with three large holes in her chest and her eyes wide open. As he stood with the gun in his trembling hand, he remembered every beating for the last thirty years, every scare, every hospital visit, every lie he made for her, and every night he fell asleep praying that he would wake the next morning. Slowly he lowered the gun and walked over to the television and pressed the power button.  He grabbed his bottle of Red Label, his cigarettes and his glass taking his seat at the dining table.

His eyes opened to another thunderous tock of the clock, still unaware of the voices that had grown louder and now joined by red and blue flashing lights outside his window. Tock, the clock shook him one last time. He grabbed the pistol and fired into that clock with his last bullet. Relief came over him as he knew the clock wouldn’t tear him down. As the sound of the shot echoed through the house a loud crash came from the front door, two bright lights found his worn and bloodied face. Screams echoed behind the lights, but his ears ringing from the sound of the gun he could hear a word.

He quickly dropped the gun and raised his hands, “don’t shoot, don’t shoot,” he cried

The voices behind the lights ordered him to the floor. Still unable to hear, a felt a hand reach from behind the light and grab his neck, forcing him down. A massive knee landed on his back as his wrist found the cold metal of handcuff relaxing.

“I’m better off without you, no matter what happens,” he said.


Category: Fiction, Short Story, SNHU Creative Writing, SNHU online creative writing