What Becomes Of The Broken-hearted?
“Suicide is the most hapless action one can make – because it involves returning the most valuable gift one can possibly receive.”
- J.D. Boatwood
If I close my eyes, squeeze my fists really tight, I wonder if I’ll feel anything. Time will tell. How heavy am I? How fast will I go? I wonder if I’ll ever have the chance to choose my direction? Will my mind be lost forever? What about my memory and my dreams? Where will they end up? There’s way too much sadness for me to cope. It’s easier just to float. Look at me, I’m flying...
Morning street noises broke his slumber wide-awake. Hissing, squealing dragons called Kenworth and Volvo destroyed his fantasyland. He’d been dreaming of a beautiful young woman when the dragons struck. She had long dark hair and straight teeth that glowed when she smiled. Her eyes captured every lustful thought he invented and returned them tenfold. He woke up with a raging hard-on. As the dream faded, he considered masturbating to relieve his frustration, but he wasn’t willing to show the dragons any sign of weakness. Instead, he waited until he was flaccid.
From his bed, he looked at a large mirror from an old dresser, which reflected his room, his life, in reverse. He remembered finding the mirror, back in the better times, the good days. He was coming home from a day spent at the Glebe markets, holding her hand, feeling mighty, feeling in control.
They had taken a shortcut through an alley near his place, when they found the mirror amongst a pile of rubbish outside a back gate. He carried it home propped on his left shoulder, head bent to the right. He remembered looking into the mirror, watching the street disappear under his feet. He’d felt like a hunter. Kelly had flitted around, giggling and checking other piles of rubbish for any further treasures. These were his happy memories, his laughing days. These were the only things he would miss.
His second floor bedroom was large, and made larger by its emptiness. Except for the mattress, the mirror, heavy dark curtains, a small crooked set of drawers and an old, scarred clothes rack, there was nothing to give the room any sign of his character. No pictures to gaze on in peaceful moments, no photo’s to prompt memories, no personal touches of any sort. Just bluetac stains on the walls and dank shadows holding precious little but dust.
He stood, the bare, dirty floorboards groaning under his feet, as if protesting any movement. He walked across the floor to the mirror, which was sitting on an upside-down milkcrate. He was scared of the ghost-like image reflected. He saw a tall, thin, pale young man with sad blue eyes and down turned mouth, obviously unused to smiling.
His shoulder-length oily brown hair was stuck to his head in knotty clumps. It did nothing to improve his looks. His narrow shoulders, his sparsely haired, sunken chest, his forlornly drooping penis surrounded by wiry ginger pubes, his skinny legs and ugly feet, even his posture, had a look caused by his persistent bouts of depression. The image oozed sadness into the dim room. The little amount of light that had made it through the curtains quickly escaped back outside into the humid air of the nearly half-over day.
He grabbed a pair of dirty jeans, which had been carelessly thrown over one corner of the mirror. He pulled them on, not bothering with any underwear. “I’m goin’ commando”, he said to his ghosts.
He remembered the first time he’d said this to Kelly and she’d laughed about for hours. But she would not laugh at his witticisms anymore. Opening one of the crooked drawers, he pulled out a faded black Bonds T-shirt, shoved his arms through the sleeves, and then pushed his head through the hole. He walked to the window, pulled back the curtain, letting the sunlight in to properly play. He bent down to the floor near his bed, grabbing a cigarette from an open packet and a lighter. The clear light turned smoky blue as he lit the cigarette and exhaled his first drag, highlighting dust particles stirred by his movement. He sneezed; watching the particles zoom around in eddies created by the sudden rush of air.
A ridiculously small car with a ridiculously loud stereo system went past on the street below, playing some techno shit of about 200 beats-per-minute. The window rattled in time with the music. He undid the catch, pulled the window up and yelled at the car to shut the fuck up, even though he knew it wouldn’t do any good. It used to make him feel better anyway. But now he would never feel better.
He looked up from the road at the city he had come to conquer. When he’d first moved to the area, he’d felt invincible. But the city had chipped at his battlements, eaten his optimism and eroded his resolve to the point where he spent more time locked in the house, trying to work out where he’d gone wrong with his plans to take the city.
With the window open, the dragon’s breath oozed into the room. The stink of unleaded petrol and diesel, of shit and piss, of murder and mayhem, of failure and neglect all attacked his senses at once. The cigarette was his shield, blocking out all but the worst of odors, giving him something to blow back into the fucking city’s rotten air.
He pressed his head against the windowpane, at first relishing it’s cool surface. After a few seconds, he could feel the throb of unnatural beasts moving back and forth, over his head and under his feet and the glass warmed under his touch. He felt like smashing the window. It was at this point he decided he’d call Kelly one last time, just to see whether the demon that had possessed her had moved on to another plaything.
He walked across to the closed bedroom door, opened it and listened. He couldn’t hear any other movement in the house. Good, that meant the arseholes he shared with had all started their days. He walked down the dark hall, then down the narrow stairs to the bottom floor. The stair way dropped along one wall, ending in the lounge room. A hallway, running along the same wall, led to the front door.
The lounge room consisted of junk furniture and milkcrate tables. Faded posters, edges curling and stained with rising damp, were bluetacked to the walls. A window, on the far side of the room, had been covered with cheap, ugly stained-glass transfers. Red, blue, green and yellow colours lay in lonely patches on the dirty carpet. The room stank of pot and cigarettes. The phone rested on an upside-down tea chest. He walked over to a rickety wooden chair next to the chest, sat down, picked up the handset and dialed Kelly’s number.
He listened to it ring, tapping his feet nervously, wanting her to be at home. The phone clicked and the answering machine kicked in. "Hi, you’ve called Kelly, Stu and Dominique. We’re either out or too busy to answer the phone. Leave a message after the beep." It was Kelly’s voice; in the same beautiful Irish accent he’d fallen in love with the first time he heard her speak.
"Ah, hi Kelly, it’s me, Brett. If you’re there, please pick up. I just want to talk, I promise I won’t hassle you." He waited for a few seconds, then said "Kelly, are you there? Kelly, please pick up." He knew he sounded like he was begging but he couldn’t help it. He waited a few more seconds then said "Okay, I guess you’re not at home. Please give me a call." As he went to hang up, a voice came on the line.
"Hold on, I’ve just got out of the shower. Who is it?" The voice was Stu, Kelly’s brother.
"It’s me, Stu. Is Kelly there?"
"Fuck, Brett, why are you doing this to her? Don’t you think you’ve caused Kel enough fucking trouble already? Man, just fucking let go!" Stu’s Irish accent was stronger, so that when he said ‘Fuck’, it sounded more like ‘Fook’.
"Listen, mate, don’t hang up. I just wanna talk to her. I know I’ve been a bastard, but I just wanna talk." Brett waited for a reply. In the background, he could hear someone ask Stu who was on the phone. Stu said something that Brett couldn’t quite make out. Stu had his hand over the mouthpiece.
Brett could hear Stu saying something else, then coming on the phone, he said "Hold on, Brett, if you upset her, I’m gonna hurt you." Brett had been threatened by Stu before but knew he didn’t really mean it. Besides, no one could hurt like he was hurting now.
Kelly’s voice came on line. "Hi, Brett, what do you want?" She sounded tired and a little scared. He hadn’t really done anything to scare her in the past, except get pissed and have a go at the bastard who stole her from him.
"Kel, I know I’ve asked you this before, but is there a chance you’re gonna leave that weasel and come back to me?" He could hear her sigh, but before she said anything, he jumped in. "You know how much I love you, how much I need you. I’m going absolutely crazy without you, Kel. Is there any chance?" Tears welled up in his eyes.
"Listen, Brett, there’s something I have to tell you. The weasel has asked me to marry him. I said yes. I love him, Brett, can’t you understand. I’m sorry you are sad, but you’ll get over it..." Kelly went on to say a bunch of things he’d heard before, but he wasn’t listening. Mid-sentence, he hung up the phone. The prick had won. Cracks appeared in the earth, great hoards of demons leapt skyward, consuming everything he’d loved, everything he’d achieved. Dragons roared and spewed toxic flames into his soul. The world had ended. Armageddon was here.
He sat in the chair, staring at his hands. The phone rang a couple of times, but he didn’t really hear it. He knew it would be Kelly, trying to patch things up, trying to pretend that they still could be friends. His princess was never going to be rescued. The dragons had her and would never give her back.
He sat there for a long time, feeling the emptiness of the world gather around him like a heavy bleak-black shawl. Instead of making him feel warm, it’s touch caused shivers to run through him like electricity. He was incapable of ever loving anyone again. Fate had presented him with only one choice. His head felt like it was going to explode. He longed for a bullet-shaped pin to relieve the pressure.