(note: i rewrote parts of day one for continuity)
my life is a series of lists, a repetition of itself until it’s over.
two days ago. i wake up. shower. dress. walk to starbucks. coffee. venti. large. whatever. cream. two sugars. i walk to work. argue with my boss about my performance (a mere formality so that she has something to get paid for). back to starbucks. vanilla latte. venti. i hate that word. walk home. newspaper. sitcoms. try to sleep.
yesterday. same as everyday. wake up. shower. dress. starbucks. coffee. cream. two sugars. work. argue. starbucks. latte. venti. home. news. tv. sleep.
today. wake up. coffee. work. argue. starbucks. latte. there he is.
he still had the same sign; the same plea for help. however, he wasn’t holding it this time. the torn sheet of cardboard laid bent and soaking in a puddle of melted snow. black splotches of ink bled across its face and slowly ate away at the scribbled words. instead of sitting on his makeshift wheelchair, his cold and frozen body stretched out on the concrete sidewalk amidst a crowd of voyeuristic onlookers. i barely caught a glimpse of his face before they pulled his gray wool blanket over his head. blue and motionless. that’s all i could see. no distinctive feature. his face was blank and abstract. the more i tried to give it features, the more it became mine.
blue flashes signaled the arrival of a police car and the crowd opens up to let them in. i’ve seen enough though. he’s obviously dead. end of story. downing the rest of my latte, i bundle up and continue walking home. i try to think of his face, but i only see my own. blue and frozen. motionless. silent. dead. his efforts to survive were in vain. braving the cold to make it past the winter was pointless and meaningless. i could just picture him saying to himself, if you can just make it past this winter, everything will be okay. just make it past the cold and the spring will bring warmth and a new chance at life. there is hope on the other side of the rainbow. he was wrong. the rainbow was an abrupt stop. all the begging. all the hope. all the efforts were meaningless and futile.
i get home, grateful but disgusted by for the warmth inside. the evening news is pretty much a repeat of yesterday’s, the day before yesterday’s, and every day before that’s news. a bomb in the middle east. a dozen dead. still no sign of the missing child. most likely dead. multi-car accident on the freeway. three dead. they’re all dead. cold, blue, abstract, and gone. their stories have all met their end, just as mine will. picturing them all, i see myself. bloodied and dismembered, i’m scattered across the israeli restaurant. molested and bruised, i’m under seven inches of permafrost in a makeshift canyon grave. pressed between a steering wheel and the passenger door, a pool of blood builds up beneath me. all of them are me; different paths to the same end.
i turn off the television and head to my bedroom, all the while reciting some lyrics in my mind. some forgotten song or poem. he who was living is now dead. we who were living are now dying. with little patience. so true. i kneel down besides my bed and dig underneath, pulling out an old orange shoe box. nike. probably an old pair of cross-trainers. removing the lid and reaching inside, i pull out a ruger vaquero. it’s like something from an old western. a gift from a friend. six-shooter. ivory white handle and blackened steel barrel. .45 magnum. i’ve never shot it, but there isn’t always time for a first. i pull a bullet out of a box of shells and slide it into one of the six open chambers. spin the cylinder and lock it in place. my private little game of russian roulette. i’m such a coward. the barrel tastes black and cold as i pull the trigger.