“For the most wild, yet most homely narrative which I am about to pen, I neither expect nor solicit belief.”
– Edgar Allan Poe, “The Black Cat”
A Bottle Removed
Waking up the day after the event, I realize I had lost it all. It mostly wasn’t mine, it was my wife’s, but it did somehow lower my sensibilities, not as much as the booze though. For this corruption was neither so sweet the taste, nor clever the intent; I did what I had to do. I do believe. At this point I made a save at face.
I had been arrested before, for drinking and driving- not dangerous, and other odds and ends- I’d prefer not to mention them, or go into grave detail; however, this one occasion struck me as odd. I had never been brought in for abusing my property, attacking my very own child, while egregiously losing my heritage. I was at a loss. Though my explanation warranted no further investigation from Sherriff John (small time fool); I would plea out and leave, on to the next.
Could this grog stick to my person all day, if not all week, month, year, etc.? The smell of this miscarriage hung on my clothes as bleach specks misplaced. Would it end soon, or would I do myself in with it. I hunt solely for the bottle.
She had a smiling way of going about it, until opportunity had passed. She thought she could fool the lot. She did only me! She had the fucking papers- the pen, the words, the sub-plot, and I sold myself away with numbers and letters- my unimpassioned signature. It was that easy. The fool’s smile, I saw it unknowingly, and gave it all away—the whole $60,000, she had so distastefully earned. Entirely to personage who befriended me for the sole purpose of taking my money, while pitting me against my own kin, this is the point where I lose myself, and act as though others are to blame. Which they are, of course… You see?
My concept of life stems from the reality that I have no reality. I am a lie. The money I spend is not my own, I have no aspirations, and I lack the education to create any change, at all. I think in drops rather than thought. I must run on with this charade autonomously, there is no manual, this is normal; my real. I could therefore otherwise not function proper.
Lines were drawn; I am as a train on tracks, though late and purposeless, running for a fallen bridge: Eselsbrücke. I live in one direction with one shallow mindset. I am signing it all away- though, yesterday that was.
Presently, I stare at the ceiling. It is white, shadowed, and blank, as I am. I wonder if she knows. Does she lie here next to me in dreams or nightmares? That Gone Girl psycho… My phantasmagoria, I live. We no longer sleep together naked, hardly touching; there is no sex except for that business transaction, a symbolic appeal at labels.
Does she wake every night to the sound of distant screams, the dreadful faces I see, with that thing in the shadows? The carpet looks blue, as the outside of the house, when I walk in. The person inside is there, but nowhere to be found. It was behind windows distorted. I have come to screaming again in the grey light of morning, no rest for the wicked. What have I done? That thing once had a name, now has a smell, a shadow, a presence, a feel, and exists nonetheless…
She fooled me, I say. The Dame, she had my grandfather’s lot, will, entitlement, whom I once robbed of light cash to pay for my drug debts some past years earlier, but she has it now! No matter, I am a changed person, now; but 5 minutes difference. I am not the same person I was a week ago, and because I am a lie I hold no accountability for said person. I need not bother with any more detail, you brother, were you true. What you know is what I tell you, and I force those around me, those who claim they “love” me, to discuss only euphemisms, never truth-isms.
This morning feels no different; no better, no worse. I wake, she lies in bed, I go and look at my newly acquired business (one that is now mine, but I had little hand in its assemblage). I wonder, am I as good as I should be? Have I just leeched off of those around me because I lack a clear and realistic purpose? NO! -There is no way!
She brought me in. She sat me down. The Dame, spoke to me in a companion tone, falsely. It was true, someone was set to make a profit- it was not me now, though, I am afraid I know. I have found! I signed it all away against my own wisdom. The Dame and I are no longer copacetic, it turns out she was using me for my name. Mine own kin won’t speak a word to me. I hear naught but the sound of silence, which slowly, and agonizingly, turns to a far off hum never to be muted. I clasp my ears shut in these times! To no avail!
Though my wife paid for my prize I feel the tightening of purse strings coming to my sides, about me. The Dame was not to be here, but for a sick and twisted deal, ever common.
On my wife: I lie and she stays, I lie and she goes. In these words…That is how it works. I wonder if I am lying to myself. I play such a fantastic part!
Although the act is real, the problem is more and more present: That thing still comes around at night,
sometimes during the day- this, frequency. That thing is in the back my head; I know it when my hair stands tall on my nape. There is no shaking it away. Doomed I tell you.
Furthermore, The Dame kept an extra house; she did not love my grandfather, save for his money, his situation; the epistemological symbolic status of “marriage” was titled, but not utilized befittingly. It was a real and important thing in such a Dorf. It happened as such. She spoke of never selling, yet now she sells to me. How did I not see it?
My feet move hastily along the bedroom floor. I miss the dirt, the dust, the black cat now. Who knows me? Does anyone anymore? Do I fit the mold? I tell stories of past times with my grandfather- gaily, the fun we had, though I never really knew him recent before his passing. I chose not to speak a word to him. I did this because of my problem, which of course I deny as well.
The thing, it’s more or less a thought. It suggests right from wrong. I don’t want it there, but it shows up. I don’t want to believe it or consider it idealistic, morally, ethically, yet I sometimes do.
One thing about this thing is it is nearly impossible to trick, deceive, or manipulate. Some have called it conscience. I would not feel it when I wear drink, just a drop I say, but I get carried away, and then I forget, but at this moment, this morning, I long but lack. I have no more urge to conceal this seed planted in my brain, I wait…No more.
Ten minutes later I am in tears. I cannot block this thought, this thing, I need a drink. I must- it is a necessity, though I am not supposed to- by law, but that’s a bylaw: say it with me: bye law. Goodbye. I must avoid this. I must, I can’t. Succumbing to the bottle, I take a long gulp. This pull is like no other. I feel a sudden malaise. I fall to the floor, dizzy, something moves in my stomach. I crawl to the toilet, and open up world. What’s with this bottle removed?
It has never tasted like this before. The thing is stuck in my brain. It asks WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY WHY? My wife asks if I am okay. I am surprised; she has since our wedding been nothing short of estranged. “Are you okay, Nicholas?” I shout back with a guttural “FINE!” I think, get away wench, you deceive ME! I hear her hasten from the door, she must be scared. I can’t stop. I lose my stomach; dry heaves. The pain, the thoughts, the thing, I am stuck in myself. There is no denial anymore. I take another drink to drown them out. I repeat the toilet scene. In my abdomen is a black hole, the universe expands.
I am no longer able to drink. This taste is rank; the chemicals. I have lost my appetite, still (Shakespeare’s: always) I thirst for relief. I want a swill to kill this thing. This conscience; I have never had it before long enough to think on. Now that my throat and stomach burn, wrenching hot heat, I must consume this spirit. I need this thing to fly from inside me. My sallow paunch, trepid, hangs low as my person. I am on the ground, lower than the toilet seat high, au fait. NO! WHY!?!?!
The Dame cashes a check, drives a new vehicle, and lives in my stead, under my grandfather’s name, in solitude accordingly. And I paid for it all. In my deception I was deceived. Conceive that notion! I was confounded and now I must live with it! Goddammit all! I am in tears, crying on the floor in the bathroom, as my wife packs up my bruised child and leaves. I make no chase. I sit in this. The thing has driven me to… It is not my fault.
I see relief. Drano from earlier… Something was clogged… But what is this? There is a difference. What is that smell. It smells of sweet booze, a bottle removed. I wonder, in my wife’s disdain for my drink, had she switched the bottles? Now, a cap removed. Had she hidden my vice in plain sight, under a different pretense?
I knew there was reason for me not to enjoy the intoxicating liquors within the bottle. She had disguised them. She had switched the Drano for booze, in hopes of killing me, and the booze for Drano. I would show her, here and now. -But first a drink.
I pulled from the red bottle as hard as I could. One hand held on the toilet seat, one hand stood tall on the floor, liquids splashing my visage. I balanced. This countenance, and contents, would prove me. The liquor tasted as sweet at the first time. I was suddenly and potently inebriated. I could not get enough. I laughed aloud now, TAKE THAT WIFE! I will show you. I could hardly stand. I crawled towards the door, blurred vision. The thing had left me. I was no longer trapped in thought, what a person could not think… I had seen the fast one pulled on me and pulled the rug from out from und… er… it…. It was a dead tell.
A try at stand did not work. I found myself incapacitated. I hung to the doorknob and wait. Could she be that far gone my wife? I yell, a mumble, no more register. I wait at the door, she will find me, I say to myself, alone. The red and black bottle on the floor near empty, what drops of liquid left were of a thicker spirit than I had become accustom. Perhaps the switching of the booze made my drink stronger. My wife would pay. I wait, coming harder of breath. I wait longer. The thing is gone. I wait… Collapsing I fell into silence waiting for the hangover that would never come.
Nothing but a scream was heard minutes after the wife’s return home. Nothing… The neighbors of this small community had heard tales before. Yes, he was a drunk, he had a few. It was considered a convivial practice. Yes, he had done it before; the physical harm. Yes, yes, yes. But they could not believe he had gone so low as to drink what remedies a clogged toilet. This thing, a clog in the brain, perhaps; conscience, was it that strong? Had this deed of selling his soul made him more or less a human, one which must wear his past at present?
No one knew. Everything told had come from one mouth, or another, housewives; one thing. What people knew and what was truth were two things different equivocally.
The police registered the events as disturbing, though they labeled them in a way as to make it less offensive for namesake, for the public. They knew the family, they knew their situation. It was no-thing to record and forget to save face, as was the abuse, as was the drinking. Just push it under the rug.
Sherriff John read the report with haste. “Can we let this one go, again?” He says to the rookie cop. He thought the town paper would have a field-day with it. A local man poisons himself with Drano under the assumption that it was a good idea. John could not understand it. The man sells away his grandfather’s belongings to The Dame, a sworn enemy, and then calls it a day. I don’t understand it. He really threw it all away. John couldn’t comprehend. A fixture of the town buried today. He contemplated… I guess that is how she goes… Dropping the paper down, he put his coffee mug to his lips and smelt the musk of darkness below. That is life…