Insignificant - A short story by J.D. Flom
I looked down at the glass of whiskey. I used to write stories, and I saw that glass of whiskey in most of my stories. I used to call it a godly amber liquid; and, when it touched my tongue and slid down my throat, would sing like angels with a philharmonic orchestra. I wish I could say these were pleasant memories because that was my blood on the pages. In retrospect, it seemed my impotency was in my own voice.
I shook my head, and then finished the whiskey. It burned all the way down my esophagus until it met and dissolved my stomach acid, but I pretended not to care. I looked around and realized no one else cared. I burped up some of the now sour whiskey, but I swallowed it, then ducked out without tipping and vowed never to return to such a dive. The s--t talking bartender probably preferred that had he not also deserved it.
Snow was piled a few inches high, so traffic was sparse but slow. Well, for f--k’s sake, it was one am anyway. I put my hands in my pockets and felt the familiars. In my right pocket: my wallet, at least a decade old, gaunt and falling apart; and, a snub nosed pistol. I gripped the pistol and caressed the trigger. I couldn’t recall if it was loaded. In the left pocket: my keys, my cell phone, surprisingly still in one piece, and some unknown mind altering friends. I grabbed a handful of whatever I could find in my pocket. It felt like dried mushrooms. I mashed them in some snow and ate it like an apple. It probably tasted disgusting, but I honestly can’t remember. It might not have even been mushrooms. Maybe I swallowed some pills, or maybe it was both. Before it kicked in, I was just aware enough to realize that I didn’t know where I left my car. I didn’t know what city I was in. I didn’t know where I was.
I called a Taxi, only I didn’t, I called Ted. But I was obviously drunk and fading fast. He answered, confused, and all I could go on about was to have him find me near the Christmas tree. Somehow, through pure coincidence, which is how I chose to remember, Ted found me. The only thing I could remember is the blur of headlights and traffic lights and that melting feeling, tugging at me to close my eyes. I wanted to listen to Creedence or the Stones, but all I could hear was talking. I was actually weighing in my mind if this was the worst thing that had ever happened to me.
I remember one year, when I was probably twenty two, and I got a bonus in my paycheck, but blew most of it on a seventy five dollar pair of Ray Ban sunglasses. Four strong long island iced teas and a shot of Johnny Walker Fuchsia for all I f--king know, and I later find myself in the bathroom. I couldn’t tell you if I was squirting on my shoe, or hitting that purple piss cake, but the urinals had a small reservoir. Maybe it was some kind of fancy European themed hipster club. My phone vibrated and I tried to answer it. I dropped it; and, since I’m such a techno-slave, I instinctively leaned over and reached for it. My glasses fell right into the reservoir of piss, and I had to get a new phone the next day. That day was much better than today.
“What the f--k is going on?” Ted asked me.
“I needed to unwind. You would too if you only knew.”
“You’ve been unwinding for several weeks. When’s it time to go back to work?”
“Who are you? My f--kin’ dad?”
All I could think about was how Ted was a f--king asshole. The rest of the ride would have been awkwardly quiet had I been sober. I couldn’t tell if it was raining or if I was hallucinating. In the back of my mind, I wanted to justify everything by telling Ted that I deal with my issues the way I like to and that’s what works for me. I didn’t tell him anything.
I decided to call it a night and sleep it off. My bed swallowed me up and made me feel safe. I woke up the next morning in several puddles of vomit and piss while cold, liquefied s--t stuck to my ass and legs. My skull pinched my brain with every heartbeat, but I somehow managed to clean up. I smoked some pot to get rid of the headache and realized I was only starting over again. I told myself I would stop after a few hits. No drinking, no pills, no ‘shrooms, no coke, no X; nothing except pot. I considered a different plan when I remembered the gun, which now rested on my nightstand. Before I could look at it, my phone rang. It was Ted.
“Are you alright?” he asked.
“Are you sober?”
“I need to come inside.”
“Jesus, are you outside my house?”
Something felt amiss. Ted walked in. I was half expecting an intervention. We both knew what I had been doing for the past three months, which I had eloquently euphemized as “several weeks” when people asked about me.
“I have something to confess and I wasn’t sure how to tell you.”
I was overwhelmed with so many questions. The anticipation made my heart race and my palms and forehead sweat.
“I may have said a little too much about your work when I discussed it with Arthur. He was going to publish it, and I mentioned your methods… and that’s why he scrapped it.”
I was now drenched in sweat and my heart was trying to escape my chest.
“…but, but, now look at you; you’re a mess.” He stammered. He must have known my reaction would be unpredictable. I still didn’t even know how to process it. That definitely explains why Ted has been keeping tabs on me. I guess he felt bad. I had visions of what my now destroyed life would be like had Ted not fucked it up for me. I’d be published already, maybe doing some signings or readings, and working on more. I would only be high for the sake of my fiction, not to cope with being insignificant, broke and unloved.
When all of this hit, I just stared at Ted with visceral rage in my eyes. I thought about that gun. I played out the scenario in my head. This might be a crime of passion, but I was planning it right now. I grabbed the gun, chased Ted down and emptied every single bullet that gun could muster into the back of his head. Felt good for about a second, but I’m still a nobody. Maybe it would be better to use the gun on myself as I so often contemplated. Would that make me significant? Perhaps, but for the wrong reason.
I said nothing. I did nothing. Ted left. I went back into my bedroom. I saw the gun looking back at me. I went to take the bullets out, only to realize there were none. Maybe there were never any. I don’t know. Before I could remember where or when I got that gun, I was sitting on the couch, four healthy shots of Crown Royal downed, 400mg of Vicodin in one hand, and a burning joint dangling from my dry lips.
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