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Madness in every direction.

"Here is a trustworthy saying that deserves full acceptance: Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners- of whom I am the worst."
(I Timothy 1:15)

I twist the cap back onto my bottle of Snapple Rain.  It’s almost depleted, which means I’ll eventually have to go up to the kitchen, and everyone’s agreed, ironically for the first time, that I might not make it back.

I’m fairly certain that this one is real, no matter how bizarre, for everything’s been calm for at least 20 minutes, yet I’m still here on the couch, my rifle aimed at the stairs.   If this were another reverie, boredom would have forced me awake.

How innocent they began, example being one night three summers ago at Taco Bell.   A truly unique experience it is, trying to eat at the height of an acid frenzy.  Nothing sits still, especially ground beef.  The best thing to do is regress to your primate instincts and savagely devour your dinner.  The Fear doesn’t set in, though, until I go to the bathroom.  Posed in front of the urinal, I suddenly become flustered with a smothering wave of abashment, for I hear everyone laughing, and I find myself standing in my buddy’s dorm room, relieving myself on the television set.  The illusion passes as quickly as it comes, but I’m left quite shaken.

This one has yet to pass.

Empty 9MM cartridges scatter the blood-soaked carpet, a hundred at least.   It seems a bit excessive considering only seven cadavers share the room with me.

I knew this was coming.   The dream where you fall and fall but never hit the ground has been my reality for this half of my life, and lately I’ve sensed the bottom getting closer.  “We’ve got everything handled,” they reply.

They first spoke to me when I was 12.   Walking through the mall, my oblivion is intruded by a faint whisper calling to me.  I look around, but notice nothing, no one familiar.  I continue walking, only to be addressed once more, this time much clearer: “You don’t have a choice.”  Again I survey, and now people begin to gaze directly at me.  First an old man browsing through calendars, then the girl tending the jewelry shop, then the mongoloid sweeping the floors.  Before long, everybody is staring at me, chanting “You don’t have a choice.”  I take off for the parking lot, only to find that all of these people want to enlighten me as well.  It’s not until I reach the forest behind the mall that silence falls, but this is just the beginning.  I wake up two days later, sitting at my desk in history class.

The cotton brings me back, taking over my mouth, and I need relief.   Another sip reminds me that I’ll have to go upstairs soon- the Snapple is almost gone.

I scan the room and notice that the cards are still in place on the table, waiting to be shuffled.   I chuckle, reminded that something as nugatory as some asinine indictment was the spark that took.  Not something devastating or significant, simply “You’re full of shit- I know you stacked the deck.” SNAP  All the rage I’ve suppressed has been ignited.

Also on the table, my photo album lies open, and I’m taken back to a December afternoon.   I’ve left work early in order to surprise my fiancé with dinner.  She’s not supposed to be out of classes for a few more hours, so I have time to make this good.

Pulling in, I see her car in the parking lot.   Classes must’ve been canceled or something.  Oh well, I’ll still surprise her, so I creep into our apartment with pure stealth.  I make it all the way to the bedroom undetected and quietly open the door- to find her on top of one of my friends.  He spots me first, and his face drops.  Noticing this, she looks over her shoulder and, never breaking her rhythm, says “You’re not supposed to be home yet!  Come back later!”  All at once, my heart stops beating, I cease breathing, and the rest of my body goes numb.  Devoured by shock I stumble into the kitchen, then spin towards the sink, ejecting all the substance in my stomach.

Fuck this.   I sit down at the computer and within minutes she is withdrawn from all her classes, while her fees have quadrupled.  I now stroll back into the bedroom, push her aside, grab him by the throat, and throw him out the window.

Now, don’t be sore with me.   We live on the third floor, so all he suffered was a few cuts, bruises, some broken ribs, and his right leg was bent 45° the wrong way.   It’s the funniest sight I’ve ever witnessed: he’s down on the sidewalk butt-naked, spitting out blood and pieces of his teeth, and screaming like a 7-year-old girl in the midst of a hornet attack.  I can’t help myself- I grab the Polaroid and commit this memory to film.  I take a second shot for the horrified bitch huddled in the corner, toss it to her and add “Don’t let the door hit your ass on the way out.”

These lapses are quite interesting.   Most of the time I don’t realize when I leave but only when I come back, which can be days later.  The clock now reads 1:53, yet when I took my last swig it was 12:18.

I look over at the dead cop sprawled out at the bottom of the staircase.   Aside from the three in his forehead, all the bullets he accepted came through the wall as I fired at him while I sat here on the couch.  His walkie-talkie device took a few, and it’s now entirely useless.  It’s a shame- if the radio was intact I would know if backup was here yet, and, furthermore, if the kitchen was safe to enter.  My throat’s drying up, and this gulp reveals that the next one will empty the bottle.

Now that I think about it, why wasn’t the officer’s gun drawn?   Looking closer, I find it still strapped in its holster.  My neighbors, apparently desensitized to my ruckus as a result of months of exposure, must’ve simply reported that we were partying too loud.  Incredible- the sounds of screams and a ridiculous amount of gunfire were dismissed as some sort of revelry.

“Can’t you see what you’ve done?!   They’ll be here soon, and you’ll be locked up for the rest of your life!”

“He’s right, you know.  End this now.  Get it over with and eat the barrel.  It’s the only way.”

“Bullshit!   We’re going to fight until either we get out of here or they take us down, got it?!”

I feel a migraine coming on, so I pick up the hookah by my feet.   Empty.  That’s right, we cashed it out right before the game.  Amazing: just hours ago I was living it up with these people, and now my friends have become my victims.

Nobody reacted to the first session I expelled.   In fact, we had the stereo up so loud, chances are that nobody heard me execute the couple in the spare bedroom.  I doubt even they knew what was going on, for that matter.  When I opened the closet to recruit my KelTec, they stayed on their present course unhindered.  They went out in a blissful ignorance, united as one.  I don’t believe that anyone was alarmed until I landed in the living room.

The refreshing splash of Snapple alleviates my throat. An ad for the Psychic Friends Network diverts my attention to the TV, and I listen as they declare that they can discern what the ordinary mortal cannot.

Why not?   I pick up the phone and call.

My “pathfinder” identifies herself as Tabitha.   After probing statistics from me she informs me that a vacation is in the near future, well deserved after finishing the amazing project I’ve been involved with at work.  I’m slow to anger, good with people, and the girl I’m considering for marriage is pregnant with my child, a “beautiful baby boy” to be exact.  “Aren’t you astonished by how much I see?” she asks.  I reply, “Suppose I told you that I work at a factory, performing the same monotonous tasks day in and day out, nothing ‘amazing.’  Furthermore, I haven’t been laid in a year, and within the course of this evening I’ve slaughtered 17 friends of mine. How would you decipher that?”  The nutty thing is that she took this call live on television, so I can see her face grow completely pale.  It’s hysterical.

My smile fades when I tip the bottle of Snapple to my lips: empty.   Dammit!  I heave the phone at the TV, cracking the screen and sending pieces of the phone ricocheting across the room.

Well, this is where I’m at.   No use in getting frantic.  I load my gun to capacity, along with four extra banana clips, and rise to my feet.  A chill shoots through my body, awakening goosebumps everywhere.

“This is crazy!   If you go upstairs, they’ll swarm you, and then what?  You’ll spend the rest of you life in a cage.”

“Don’t listen to him!   We’re running the show here, not them!  We’ve got enough ammo to take on an army; we’ve got this under control!”

I’ve long since given up reasoning with them, being that it only causes more conflict, with less clarity than before.   All I know right now is that I’m thirsty, and there’s an ice cold bottle of Snapple Rain waiting for me in the fridge up there.  My lips are starting to crack, my tongue feels like sandpaper, and it’s almost impossible to swallow.

The relief that awaits me is worth more than the risk imposed here.

Approaching the stairs, I look down once more at the cop’s body, just like I did when he fell.   For the first time, I’m filled with remorse.  This man was still alive when he landed here (despite the fact that I’d already shot him at least 20 times), and he looked into my eyes as I pointed the barrel at his face and squeezed the trigger thrice more, finishing him off.  My maniacal confidence is beginning to crumble.

“Enough of this shit!   You can’t pussy out now- just get up there and get the fucking Snapple!  That’s all you need!”

I examine the ascending hallway and can almost see the silence, as if it was a thin fog levitating just inches above the floor.   I slowly climb, ready to shred anything that moves.  One step at a time, a bead of sweat glides across my cheek and down to my chin.  This is survival of the fittest, and I’m thirsty.  Two steps from the top, I halt at the blare of… a pager?!  They’re here!  I’m probably surrounded!  As I begin to retreat, I notice a small red light flashing below on the cop’s hip- from his pager.  I take a deep breath, and turn around.

I pause once more at the next rise and listen.   Nothing.  Over the last, I’m now standing on the kitchen floor, ready for action.  Nothing.  I’m all alone.  I wipe the sweat from my forehead and approach the refrigerator.  I open the door, and behold: one ice cold bottle of crystal-clear Snapple Rain, waiting to quench this enervating thirst.  I reach forward, but I’m suddenly moving in utter slow motion.  At the same time, the back of my head feels as if it’s caught fire.  Blood explodes into the refrigerator, toppling my beloved drink.

There’s nothing very exotic or extravagant about Dewey Beach in Delaware, but stand on the beach at dawn, and you might experience something that money can’t afford.   As I’m watching the sun rise over the Atlantic, I’m enveloped with the sense of a new day, a fresh start, a second chance.  Pure orgasmic tranquility is the only way to describe this, and I don’t deserve it.  God knows I’ve made so many wrong choices in my time.  Yet with this, I feel vindicated.

I flash back to the kitchen.   My hand is still extended, trapped at an almost complete stand-still.  Once again I’m consumed with remorse.  Not because this is the end, but because I stole so many futures tonight for no good reason, only to appease my rage.  I replay each massacre, and I am reminded of every individual expression as I delivered to each an undue sentence.  Off in the distance I hear bells ringing.  They must be for the innocent, for they fade as I feel myself sinking deeper and deeper away.

I hear the bells again, but this time they’re different, more lucid.   I open my eyes, and realize that someone is here, ringing the doorbell.  I roll across the bed and grab my pager from the nightstand.  It appears that a message was left in my voice mail about an hour ago, at 8:34.  As I come to, I remember: I’m going to the race tracks today.

After letting my guest in, I return to my room and open the blinds.   It’s beautiful outside this morning.  The sun is already shining, and the air is fresh.  I enter my closet and notice my rifle mounted above my clothes.  A smile cracks my lips and, in defiance of an explanation for what just went through my head, I praise God for this new day.  I get dressed and walk down to the kitchen, empty-handed.

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