A man walks into an office with a gun. There is only one bullet. He gathers together everyone on the floor and forces them to watch his spectacle. He claims he will now turn the 39th floor circus into his own private Russian roulette show. No one tells him his gun is an automatic. A window breaks as he dies. A secretary calls maintenance to fix the window. As an afterthought she advises them to bring a mop for the blood.
All things end, he thought. He was not the crying sort and would shed no tears over his loss. He thought he loved her. he thought she loved him. He was wrong, clearly. That was all there was to it, right? He began to drink. There was only half a fifth of Zdenka vodka and a jug of Sunny D in the house. He made do.
All things considered, he told himself in the middle of his oblivion, it’s better that she left now than later after I did something really stupid like give her that ring I bought. He cursed himself for not realizing she was fucking around on him. He was a trusting sort; he figured they really were just guys in her drawing class. He went outside for some fresh air and promptly got himself lost.
He couldn’t remember his name or how to spell but he was able to count out enough money to buy a pint of Early Times and stumble into a park. Correction: cemetery. He woke up with a mouth as dry as a crypt above the crumbling remains of one Ethel Johansson, loving wife and mother. He felt dead. He felt reborn. His right wrist was bleeding slightly. He wondered if he had miserably failed to kill himself with a broken bottle or if it was just a drunken accident. Not really giving a fuck, he wandered down the aisles until he found his shoes laid neatly as an offering to Carl Joyner: dead before his time. He put them on and headed for the exit, a beer, and the effort to rid himself of the last remaining cobwebs of his previous life. Today was going to be a very good day. And tomorrow would be even better.
Well, you certainly left an impression.
That was the idea.
So I gathered.
Was it a good impression or a bad impression?
Two guys are vowing to kick your ass; a few girls think they are in love…
Good to hear. Any bars in the area?
It’s not even 2pm.
I need breakfast. You’re buying.
A man walks into a room full of people he does not know. He insults them and leaves. Life continues as it did before. In the room there is much posturing and vows of revenge that will never be acted upon. They think themselves free as their cages shrink. Go to sleep, little birdie, I laugh as I throw the shade o’er the top. The man feels better about himself, continues walking, gets in a fight with a stranger over a matter of twelve dollars. Neither die, nothing is solved, nothing is changed. The man walks on with a black eye, time well spent, and a little bit more amused than when he left his apartment in the morning. It has been a productive weekend. He thinks he may actually return to work on Monday. Though he remains uncertain and unconvinced. He does not like his job and is considering whether or not Monday would be the appropriate day to go down in blaze of glory. Perhaps, if his horoscope is markedly appropriate. Or wildly inaccurate. Either would satisfy his sense of fate and destiny. All his father ever taught his was how to throw a fight and how to fail to impress a classy lady and end up owing a hooker and fighting a pimp. But he gets by and he enjoys himself. And that’s more than I can say for you.
Spectacle is everything. He is a people watcher. He sits and stares as the world passes him by. He makes notes in his journal, on napkins, wherever. He notices the way they dress, the way they walk, they way they interact with each other. He gets good at it and can pick up minor nuances. He can spot a new relationship, a best friend who is sleeping with the others wife, a dishonest accountant. He characterizes them all, writes everything down for further analysis, files them away for later. He makes up names for his subjects, they are often wrong, but more often than not more appropriate than the actual. He is very good at this game. He is very bad at life. he has no friends, less money, and will die within the week. But he does not realize that he should be miserable with his lot, and so he does not act as if he is miserable. He dies with a smile on his face and a house full of files on all the people he watched making a go at living the life he was too afraid to begin.
I never made her smile. It was a startling realization. We broke up two weeks later. There was a minimum of indecency and afterwards they went their separate ways without rancor. She died 67 years later. He never saw her again and did not think of her that often. As far as how her life turned out after that day, I do not know. I didn’t pay attention and don’t feel bad about the situation. That is, as they say, life.