This is part of the Death in Technicolor series. Beware: this story contains strong language.
It was a Monday. The worst always happens on a Monday.
I woke up to an empty apartment save for the hum of the ceiling fan, fending off the heat wave brought upon by the holidays of 2012. I rise and sit upright on the side of the bed, hunched over like a bear.
I open my eyelids and rub my temple as I ponder the number. Twenty twelve. Slow-cooked clusterfuck.
My breath reeks of whiskey.
I don’t remember having any whiskey.
Yet, lying on the floor next to me still giving its last breath is the fuming carcass of one Jack Daniels bottle. I still don’t remember where the bottle came from, but I trust I must’ve brought Jack over to talk about my problems.
Inconsequential, though. Inconsequential and irrelevant after gazing upon the flip book calendar I got for doing the graphics for Piece-of-Crap Mind-Melting Spaz Fair vol 4. Right there, circled with a red Sharpie four slots to the right and four slots down, my problems stare right back at me.
A cold shiver runs down my spine; I feel a weight loom over my shoulders. With a helpless sigh, I rest my forehead onto the palm of my hand.
No escaping it. I feel it here already.
Today is the day.
Today is the last day of my existence.
– “Today is the last day of my life.”
I pause, thinking about what slipped past my lips.
Porto Diao presents
– “I need a shower.”
The shower head only shoots hot water when the bathroom light is on, but my hangover has rendered my eyeballs helpless to incandescent light until further notice.
My worries shall keep me warm.
I rub myself with soap further, falsely believing I can drain my problems away with body wash and some due diligence.
The mirror is no better. I stare into the face of a man as he brushes his teeth in disinterest. A zombie. A dead man walking.
What would you do if your time was about to run out?
What would you want to do, anyway?
– “Might need some condoms for that.”
Underwear, black suit, white shirt, black tie.
Wayfarers, house keys and 5 minutes later I stand on the sidewalk in front of the convenience store across the street from my building, chugging down an orange juice carton while I try to remember what I have to do before my time’s up.
– “The list.”
The list. A way for me to organize my life as much as a constant reminder that I have way too much shit to do. I pull out a folded notepad sheet tucked in my suit’s pocket. After unwrapping it, a list appears with 23 items scribbled down in neat handwriting. All items are crossed out, but three:
- Meeting with Yonki @ 2:30 – MB
- Get some green!
– “Damn Yonki. I don’t wanna do that-“
A telephone rings. Vintage.
I paralyze, frozen to the rumbling inside my front left pocket.
On the screen of my shitty smartphone I see a picture of a shadowy silhouette distorted by pixels. A corrupt image file of reality.
That, and a name.
A name to end all names.
*FUCKING DEATH is calling*
And I can’t bring myself to pick up the phone.
I will not pick up. Maybe it’ll be ok if-
Can’t be any worse than the others.
A moment’s breath, and a text message arrives with a solitary trio:
Now I know.
I whip my eyes at the clock on my shitty smartphone.
– “Ten forty-six.”
I need to sit down. I need to sit so I can borrow my face deep into the comforting darkness of my palms.
This is horrible.
– “I gotta get my shit together.”
A text. Friendly.
For uncertain times like these, there is only one place I know where I can make sense of it all. Pulled by a tractor beam of ethereal energy I waltz my ass over to the heart of this wonderful neighborhood: the park. The place we go to recharge our good vibrations.
6pm seems so far away yet so close.
What am I gonna do?
I can’t believe this is happening. What’s the point of doing anything at all if in the end it’s all for nothing? Why even bother?
Why bother making a list if it’s not gonna matter at all come tomorrow?
Why bother doing anything at all? Why did I get out of bed in the first place?
I would be in my undies, under the covers, waiting for it. It makes no difference one way or the other and yet here I am, sitting on a bench at the park, waiting for time to take its toll on me.
What did I accomplish, really?
I had my whole life ahead of me… endless possibilities, turned to waste.
– “I’m an idiot.”
That’s right, Jai.
You’re an diot.
That’s not me.
You should’ve done more. Spent your time a little better.
Who is that…? You sound just like me, but-
Maybe you should’ve learned to play guitar. Or write. You always liked writing.
Why won’t you answer-
You know who I am. You can’t avoid me. Now shut up and listen.
What did you do, getting into graphic design? You chose a profession that’s basically the whore of the marketing industry: your talent, wasted. Your bank account, embarrassing. Your clients, douchebags.
Everyone exploits you and then they want discounts.
– “All bullshit in the end.”
It’s true. My work sucks. My life is wasted. I never bothered to look into it. Now, Fucking Death is knockin’ down my door and I’m just now starting to notice. I’m settling. Just like-
What. Is. That?
Suddenly, time halts. The handful of people at the park slowly settle into stationary positions, as if to not divert our attention from it. Like out of respect for what is about to pass. But, what is it? Who is that?
Who is that girl? No. Not a girl.
My eyes, usually wandering and free, find themselves fixated on one thing, and one thing only: her legs. As long as stems, growing out of her small, tight shorts. Summer legs. Long, curvy… with a certain shade of sun-kissed gold that has graced her skin whole, but we’ll get to that. In a minute.
What are you doing distracting yourself like this, Jai?
Cinnamon legs, sweet as sin.
From her calves to her knees to the dimples on her thighs that get lost in the fabric of her cut-off shorts.
Stop it. Why are you ignoring what’s really happening?
White shorts, bright colors to accentuate the majesty of her skin.
You won’t do anything anyway. You’re setting yourself up for disappointment.
Her shorts, Daisy Dukes, hug the curves of her sex in the space where “effortless” and “intention” make sweet love in endless bliss. They tell the tale of a woman who has seen a lot but not enough; her sway leaves trails of rosemary with a scent so enchanting it glides along with her as she walks, her fingers gently brushing through the air.
You’re a fool. No self restraint. You imagine a whole future with some random woman off the street you’ve never met, and won’t. You’re perfectly comfortable being the innocent bystander and fantasize…
Her voluptuous curves don’t break the wind, but let it embrace her in sweet caress…
You could have her, Jai.
She’s noticed you. Your dumbstruck face can be seen from outer space.
Cut the internal monologue.
Move your mouth and say the words.
Suddenly, a third voice appears.
– “I thought I’d find you here.”
Marty extends his hand in salutation; I stand in front of him, trying to confirm it was him talking to me all this time and not somebody else, but all I get is his equally dumbstruck face looking past my shoulder.
The lovely woman in the white shorts strolls from behind, brushing past us without a care in the world.
Saved by the bell. What a surprise.
I can hear myself tear me down.
Like there’s someone else in my head with me. Could it be…?
I think I’m losing it…