Saturday, 22 January 2011

Focus on the Chaos - Michael S. McInerney

There was a time, man. A time where you wanted to right all the wrongs, and build those bridges backwards. There was a time where you were a fool, a kid, but you didn't know it, you made all those twists and turns, and you burn and burn. You burned the past, like a photo album soaked in gasoline, you spat matches; you trudge forward, always forward. You were the king of the swing, babe. You “wheeled and dealed” in fancy words, you stayed clean on the path of least resistance. Your suit stayed white and your shoes stayed shiny. Shiny like that polished revolver - six bullets but you only need one to fix everything - or complete the mess. For if everything goes wrong, then you at least make it seem right by making it complete. A complete mess, with nicely tied ends. You never left a mess.

He squirms in the seat you tied him in, but he gave up grunting some time ago. He lost his voice long ago, and now he just sits there and waits to shuffle the mortal coil as you stand there and contemplate the whole thing. You always were a procrastinator, right? The inevitability and the absolute insanity of hope - he watches you, lost in thought, and still wriggles and shakes, hoping for a loose knot and a moment to run. He clutches to life and doesn't take that one important moment to really realize how much life means - instead he runs on instinct, impulse, the survival moment. His wrists are bruised but he's beyond pain now. The pain keeps him going, at least.

You made a fine mess of things. You went too far, always thought yourself smarter than the rest. Always made the right choices. Knew the right people. So you went to cross that last bridge with your clean suit and fancy shoes and it just fell apart. Crumbled before you. What to do? What to do? And you turn back, to trace your steps, but now you've become isolated, victim of your own arson - the same arson you ignited with a smile and a handshake. They say you can't erase the past - maybe you can, in a manner of speaking.

He watches you as you stare at your polished piece, fixated only on you as he dreams of just one more In-N-Out Burger, Animal Style, a nice plate of fries and a big ol' Dr. Pepper. The finer things in life. Did he mean well? Did you? He doesn't know what you think, and you don't care what he thinks - there's just this moment, stretched into hours, these hours stretched into eternity. He thinks "someone must know, someone will come to save me," but you know they won't, and he does too. It's just you and him on this lonely island, this scarred conduit of pathways, surrounded by choices that were and no longer are. There's nowhere to go for either of you, no where to go but down. But you don't know this, and neither does he. And you stand there and stare at the gun, your mind on fire.

You don't even remember why you're doing this anymore. You would have done the deed after you made your speech, and you can't even remember what you said anymore. You stare at the gun, focus on all of this entropy, of things falling apart. You stare at the gun, trying to remember why you're going to kill this man, but the more you flip through your memories like an index, they more they disappear, like suicidal Rolodex. The evidence washes itself away, carried through the synapses of your brain like a sewage system. With each breath you become less man and more like animal as you lose all the pieces and parts that defined you as a person. For hours you've stood there, and at first you just thought about the whole thing, and why you were about to kill this man. You let the rage build up and thought about how good it would feel when you resolved all of this. Somehow, that would make everything better. It'd be different than when you were a stupid kid who thought he was an adult in college, and you wanted everything until you got it. No, this - this was going to be the thing that defined you, and you didn't care what it said. This was pure - this wasn't the bullshit you put yourself through. But you don't even know that anymore - gone just as soon as you thought it.

He wonders what the hell you could possibly be thinking about for hours. He holds to the idea that maybe you knew this was wrong and you'd let him go. The sad thing about it is he'd never tell anyone; he'd actually be so grateful he wouldn't tell anyone. But you couldn't ever know that, or trust that fact even if you did. In the back of his mind, he knew that, but still he clung to the hope he could continue the simple, unfulfillable life he led. He wants all of it now, the job he hates, the debt he can't pay, the family that hates him, and the divorce settlement. Even if he could only see his daughter once a week, once a month, it'd be okay. All of the nonsense would be okay for just that. Hope is all there is now. You respond to no sound that he makes, no gesture. He just stares and squirms, trying to read your eyes.

You see the reflection of yourself in the gun; those dead eyes, connected, trapped in the gun, shooting back up at you. In the moment before death they say life flashes before your eyes, but you find it takes you hours when you were the one doing the killing. Once you were happy and innocent as any child, capable of making or breaking the world. Your parents cared for you and you smiled and slept as any child with no worry, no responsibility, just wanting to be older, wanting responsibility but not understanding it. Getting to play bigger and better games. You wonder if anyone as a child imagined that one day they'd be the bad guy; but no, you still felt justified now. Still, you knew you were the bad guy. For once, you break your glare into the gun and look over at him and he screamed like he never had before, hoping to connect to you. But you didn't understand, for now you were a child, you knew no future as you barreled backwards through your past, and you knew then that he thought you were the bad guy, you were the villain. He blamed you. And as any child, you hated being scolded, hated the stares, the implication that you weren't loved. You turn your back to him, ashamed of yourself for just a moment. You sat alone in your room, wishing your parents would love you again, promising to yourself that you'd do anything. And then it singed away, disposed of, more discarded humanity.

For just a second you look over at him, and in his eyes was that sort of desperation you've only read about. His eyes were full of both fear and hope - the moment where he could either connect to you, or realize that "this was it". For what seems like his whole life, his head dances, shifting focus between your hand and your eyes. The hope brings his eyes to yours, hoping to connect man to man, and the fear drags his eyes down to your hand, expecting the worse. And this dance continues until you turn away. It was the worst torture. He was never allowed to meet, to accept the end. It was as if like some horrible orgasm denial - forever coming to the brink; never allowed to savor the moment that was truly the end, never allowed the clarity that should come with something like this. His pants were already dry and his bladder long empty. His body and his mind had both given up on how to react.

You craved attention. Hold me. Touch me. You were no more than a vessel of what could be, consuming, growing, developing. To some a beauty, and a parasite, to others. Your parents never really wanted you, wanted this, but it's something they'd never admit to you, or to each other. But they both knew it. Around the world, so many unwanted byproducts of broken dreams and the things unexpected wandered around, living, breathing, using. The clay of flesh and blood made real by two things that knew not what it meant to create. A genetic disaster, raised on false love, false feelings. The lies that hurt the most are the ones spoken from someone who thinks they're telling the truth. And that damage is the worst, the damage you don't know, the damage you can't recognize, the flaws beyond sight and sound, beyond DNA. Everyone told you that you were special, perfect and you believed it. The pride they had, the love they gave, the sacrifices they made, all in vain, all trickery of the mind. The fools who let their lives fall to fate, fell to slavery in the form of you, they were God in your eyes, and they could do no wrong.

This was all a catastrophe.

He didn't even know you and him were the same and neither did you. You were the same in everything but his desire to live and your desire to kill. He, like you, came from the most functional of families, the ones full of love and acceptance, the ones that praised you and sent you along on your way, full of good words and feelings. And he could do no wrong and nothing could stop him, not adversity, ill will, or cold hard facts. And when life left him cold, he already had a daughter of his own with someone who couldn't truly love him, someone else who was another empty vessel of impulse, another victim of people who came together because it was what was expected of them, people who wed because that's how they were raised. The only path they knew. He hoped your daughter would have it better than him; he couldn't ever know she'd live the same empty life as her mother and him, make more bad choices and die with them. The both of you were so far beyond being able to fix the flaws of the American dream - both of you born damned from choices made generations past.

No, no, no, you think. You can't think, you don't have words, to an extent you "aren't yet." For this moment, you're just an animal, no identity, no sense of self. In essence, just a parasite to your mother. For months you enjoyed your home of peace, comfort and security, although you weren't entirely aware of it until you were ripped from your home, forcefully ejected, violently spat into this flawed life. It made you angry, made you fierce and defensive. And it was the last thing you could remember, the first thing you ever knew. With a whoosh, it was gone. You had no thoughts. You aren't a person anymore. Now you're just instinct and anger. No reason, only action and reaction. You turn around.

As you turned around, he had just given up hope, completely discarded any possibility of future, both his body and mind exhausted from the tortuous tease of what might be. And before he could react to your turn, the bullet was already in his head. Forever denied the clarity, the moment of judgment, his life abandoned, to be repeated for nobody. No moment facing the end, just a quick clean break after the fall from the island of burned bridges. It was dark on the descent and you couldn't see a thing. You'd never know when you hit the ground, not even when you did. That's how quick a choice can be.

You watched with animal curiosity as this other thing hit the ground. This thing you held caused this funny effect. You pulled back the hammer of the gun and jumped at the clicking noise it made. You smell the barrel of the gun, freshly fired. You taste it. Your finger finds the trigger and you pull it, and just like that man, you go flying backwards. You were wrong; you needed two bullets, not one. But you can't think this. You can think nothing. This simply is.

Eventually, the police come and find you sprawled out over the bed of the cheap motel. The chambers of the gun holds four bullets still. The two unaccounted for are in the room; one passed through your head and the other lodged in a wall. In front of you is a chair with ropes around it, and a bullet hole in the wall behind. No body. There is no note, and there was never anyone who could figure a motive, and your dead parents and your scornful wife and your innocent daughter would all never know why what happened.

But there are things they would never know either, about themselves, at their core - the choices made without their consent and the truth beneath they'll never admit and never be able to. Your death brings no greater knowledge, no answers, only more questions.

-Michael S. McInerney has never really considered himself anything but an artist. From incessantly drawing and pursuing fine arts as a youth to later gaining an appreciation for writing, film making and photography, he has spent most of the time of his life in pursuit of his next creative project. Michael attended Five Towns College and holds a BFA in Film, and currently works as a video editor for a stock market news website. In his spare time he tries to further his work with his media production company, Collective47 Productions, pursues photography projects and, of course, writes.

-Photo TVFH : Eye layer:   Michael S. McInerney