So when they finally got all the bad stuff outta my head and put me back together again I felt pretty good I guess. The docs said I was gonna be fine, and I wanna know that to be true, but sometimes I gotta wonder. Docs said, Gonna be fine. You’ll see. All over now.
Step on out into the cold and the door closes behind me. Guess I knew it was cold. You lose track of that stuff in there. Like the docs said it had been three years and I started tryin’ to remember three years. Lotta blurry shit there now. Probably the meds and the other stuff the docs did, but I needed them to get me back where I am.
Pull my coat up around me and try to figure where I wanna go. Got a jillion places I could go, but where to first? Feelin’ that wiggle in my stomach so I guess it’s a good time to eat.
They got the heat up too high in the diner, but the food smells good when I go inside the place. Order a big double burger and onion rings. Love onion rings! Lady brings the rings and I start in like I ain’t had no food in years. Burger is good and the cheese is all melty the way I like. Eat and sip my glass of water. Been a long time since I been all regular like this. Think I’m suppose to take some pill, but I don’t wanna have to dig that pill bottle outta my pants so I say, Wait and eat. Damn this food is good!
When I’m all done eatin’ I stand up, pay my bill, and head on back out into the cold. The wind is really strong now. But it feels good to smell the air and get that freedom feel all over. Been a long time and I need to feel it all.
Down Crandall Street some guys are throwin’ dice against a wall and puttin’ money on the ground when they throw. I walk on by and they don’t even pay me no mind.
A block on down an old man is sittin’ outside next to a cart with fruit on it. I think about buyin’ an apple but I ain’t really hungry so I walk on.
Outta nowhere I think about Ma and Dad, and of course little Danny. Damn I miss them! Docs said not to live in the time gone by. And hey, I know ya can’t, but still I kinda wish it was all the way it was back then. Or at least most of it.
The docs told me all the time, It ain’t gonna be easy. You gotta adjust to a new you and a new everything else.
And hell, they’re right. ‘Course they are. But I just gotta keep walkin.’ Gotta keep movin’ on.
I maybe walk another few blocks before I hear the music from this big red brick building. The lights are on and it sounds like people are singin’. I look up at this really pointy roof and see that cross on it. I say, Church and start to cross the street to the other side but I change my mind and walk in.
I get inside and this guy hands me a piece of paper even though I really don’t want it. I sit down on one of the benches in back and the singin’ stops a few minutes later. This man in a big heavy robe stands up in front of the place and starts to talk, sayin’ It’s such a blessing to be in the house of the Lord. A couple of folks mumble amen and I watch as the guy starts to put on a pair of glasses and read from a big book he has in his hand. He says: The Lord is my shepherd….
So this guy you put on all this big deal for tonight is a shepherd? I think I know what he’s talking about, but I only been in a church like two times my whole life, and the more I sit there I start to know why.
I start feeling like I can’t breathe and it ain’t cause it’s too hot in there. It’s just…it’s like I know I don’t belong and all the people know it, too, and they’re all thinkin’ What is he doin’ here? Why did he show up?
Look back up at the man in the robe with the book and he’s sayin’ all these fancy words but the only one I feel deep in me is when he says, Damned. He looks at me when he says it so I nod, stand up, and go to leave.
I don’t belong here. I don’t belong in a place like this. Probably don’t belong anywhere except back with the docs and the nurses. But I can’t go back there. I can hear one of the docs telling me, Don’t get caught up in the past. Start over. Not just anyone gets a second chance.
And then I’m back on the street and thinkin’ I need cigarette, but I can’t even remember if I ever smoked before.
Just the other side of Baker Street I see her. She’s wearin’ this short skirt and a really thin shirt that shows off what makes her special. So she looks me over and says, You wanna party?
I know what she’s talkin’ about. All the meds the world could never burn away that feeling in me I get when I see a really pretty one. I may be just gettin’ back from that time with the docs, I but I ain’t forgot what matters.
So she leans in and whispers the price in my ear, says she has a place not too far where we can go. I pull out my money and hand it to her. She takes my arm and we start down the street with her tellin’ me, It’s gonna be better than you ever had.
Her place is just a one-room walkup that needs more heat. Place is fuckin’ freezin,’ but I didn’t come all this way to walk out now.
I watch as she starts to take off her clothes and say some really nasty things about all she’s gonna do to me. It all sounds so good I don’t even know where to start so I figure I’ll let her decide.
Then we’re on the bed and she’s takin’ off my pants, then my shorts, and she whispers, Lemme take care of everything. Lemme take care of it.
I close my eyes and can see those lights flashin’ real crazy like just behind where I can see when I open them. Like seein’ pictures on a screen but then you look closer and the screen’s still blank. Strange, man. Real strange.
I hear the door open on the far end of the room and see him walkin’ in, sayin’ he’s gonna make her pay: You fuckin’ bitch, you gonna pay me every dime you owe me!
And me all the time thinkin’ real sharp, bad thoughts that make red rise up all over me like a lightnin’ storm or somethin’ lots worse.
I see Dad standin’ over Mom, hittin’ her again and again, calling her a whore, tellin’ her she’s useless and how he never shoulda trusted her ever ever again. Not gonna make that mistake again.
Suddenly I’m standin’ in the doorway and I feel the metal in my hand, heavy and so cold. I raise up the gun and I shout, No, Dad. No! Not anymore. Not again! Dammit, not ever again!
And you know what the bastard does? He fuckin’ laughs at me! Tells me I’m a waste of sperm and that he shoulda smothered me in my crib. He stinks of booze, cigarettes, bile. He smells like what you figure the dead smell like a week after you bury them.
All of it, all the bad, it just comes rushin’ out of me like a flood and then all I hear is my heart beatin’ in my ears and the click click click of the hammer on the gun. Click click click it says to me. I close my eyes and it says, Click click click…who’s next?
I know it ain’t me, almost like I’m seein’ it outside of who I am, liftin’ the gun again and more clicks as I start to scream. I can feel my teeth grindin’ in my mouth and taste metal back in my throat. I wanna be sick, but nothin’ comes out but my screams.
When the screamin’ stops I hear that click click click again and that’s when I rush down the hall to Danny’s room.
Danny’s under the bed cryin’ and I wanna take him in my arms and tell him it’s all gonna be OK again. Danny, it’s gonna be OK! It’s all OK, just like the docs said it was gonna be. The docs made all the bad go away, Danny. All but the headaches, but lotsa folks gotta live with worse. That’s what the docs said. They said, Be thankful for what you got. Some got nothin’ when they leave. Nothin’ at all. Makes me almost wanna laugh when I think of it now.
So Danny crawls out from under the bed, and when he starts to walk to me I hear that clickin’ again. That same sick click click click and that bad taste in my throat that must be what it tastes like when you wanna do one thing but see yourself doin’ somethin’ else.
Click click click.
Voice in my head says, How could you do it? How could you do it?
I’m beatin’ the walls now with my fists. So mad, so scared, so full of nothin’ but darkness. I don’t even know what the girl means, but I hear her say, I’m callin’ the fuckin’ cops!
Little while later the guys in uniforms are takin’ me by the arms and tellin’ me it’s fine, it’s totally cool, it’s no big deal. They can take me back to the docs and I can tell them what it was all about.
But what can bring back Mom or Danny? What can bring it all back?
I’m cryin’, wailin’ like a fuckin’ baby as they lead me outta the room and to the car. How could I do it?
It’s gonna be fine pretty soon. Sit down with the docs and we’ll have a big laugh over it all.
Wish I could have Mom and Danny come visit, but they’re gone and it’s all my fault.
But it can’t be! I loved them.
In the back of the car when they turn on the siren I start to feel really cold deep in me. But it’s all just a dream—gotta be—just some bad things I gotta try and forget and all the pictures I ain’t never seen.
Copyright 2015 by Andrew Bradford. All rights belong to the author and material may not be copied without the author’s express permission.