A pale reminder.

We’re gathered around the dinner table, even spacing between the four of us.  A silence lays over the conversation when the landline rings; it’s 5 past too late for anyone to call. I remove the receiver slowly from its resting place. A monotone voice speaks out “Hello is this Karl?” I clear my throat, “Yes, do you know what time it is?” The voice ignores my question, “Sir, we’re calling you because you’re the emergency contact for one Tori…” The phone slips from my hand and knocks onto the table. With shaking hands, I pick it up. “What’s wrong, what happened?!” The voice tells me where I could find her, what hospital, the rest I’ll need to find out when I get there.  I thank him, completely forgetting my company I grab my keys and drive. Twelve million scenarios race through my head as I drive to the hospital.

I barrel through the doors and make my way to the nurse behind the counter. I give her my information. She types all of it in before quickly stopping and looking up to me. “What is it?!” I ask. “Sir, can you have a seat I’m going to have one of the doctors come see you.” She said as she picked up the phone. I walked to the linked chairs; I sit for a second then stand and pace back and forth. Like a movie, a middle age doctor walks through the double doors. I make eye contact but his eyes dart to the ground. He removes his paper cap, he mouths the word ‘shit’ then speaks. “Karl, I am Dr. Sanchez.” He reaches his hand out but returns it with haste as I did not greet his with my own. “What’s going on, what’s happened?” I ask. “This may be easier to tell you if you’re sitting down.” He said with a gesture at the seat behind me. “I prefer to stand.”  I said. He lips the word ‘shit’ again then continues; “As you are the only contact, I am sorry to inform you that Tori Nakamura decided to end her life this evening. We’ll need…” Everything he said after that was a blur; I signed paperwork  made some sort of payment, other arrangements. They could tell I wasn’t all there as they recommended I just finish the paperwork tomorrow and head home. I place the manila envelope on the passenger seat. I nearly destroy my steering wheel with the beating I was giving it. I pull my device out, wipe my eye sockets, and head back.

I fall onto the sidewalk in front of her home. I stand up and dust myself off. I slowly walk the stoop, Bright Eyes echo’s from the loft. I don’t even knock and open the door. It was unlocked which was unusual for her, but this wasn’t going to be a usual evening after all. My fingers slip over the stereo’s volume knob turning it to a manageable level. In her broken English voice, she still sings the chorus “you will, you will, you will…” The bottle and the gun accompany her on the floor. I sit down across from her as the next track starts. “Have you heard these guys before, they’re perfect.” She said. Her eyes were bright with a “watch the world burn” mentality. “Yeah, they’re pretty good. Are you alright?” I ask while I reach for the bottle. Her tiny hand grips hard around mine for a second then retreats. “I have days that are better.”  She said as I took my sip. “So do you want to explain that?” I said pointing at the snub nose S&W .357 resting on its side. “Oh, just, uh, cleaning her, she needs it, she needs to be cleaned.” She said I make no mention to the lack of cleaning supplies. “Well, she’s just going to get more dirty here on the floor.” I said while picking the pistol up, walking over to the stereo to place it on top. While removing the one round she calls to me. “Change it to song 10!” I hit the next button till the heavy guitar strum starts. With the bullet in my pocket I go to the kitchen, a bottle of dark rum that I left here, where I said I would come back often to drink it, sits next the fridge with dust on it. I blow it clean and pour myself a glass. She remains on the floor but the pistol has returned to in front of her. I sit again across from her “She was lonely, like me, way over there.”  She said with an awkward chuckle. “Is it ok if I stay the night? I don’t want to go home tonight.” I asked. She looks up to me. “This song is too cheerful.” She stands and changes the CD in the stereo. Sonic Youth plays. “I like these too.” She moves back to her seat and picks up the pistol and examines it back and forth. “I guess sometimes you have to notice that the end of a pistol still fits in your mouth.” She said with a scary smile. I yank the pistol from her hand. “Enough of the games, what the fuck is going wrong, you’re not acting right!” I yelled “Not acting right, how is the fuck am I supposed to fuck’en act, I know no one here! And maybe the person I do know can give two shit cents about visiting!” She yelled back. “I get caught in my work, you know the kind of things I dabble in, it’s not like I can just drop by every other second for a quick fuck and how you do?! I got shit too!” She slaps me across the face hard then runs to the bathroom locking the door behind her. I quickly put all the pieces of the asshole puzzle I am together and chase after her. “I’m sorry.” I said trying to reach her through the bathroom door. “You’re mean.” She said between her tears. “I know, and I’m sorry, I was angry and scared. I mean you have a gun, booze, and depressing music, what am I supposed to think!?” I stop myself and breathe some more. “Can you please come out so we can talk about this?” I asked. The lock disengages and the door opens. Her eyes were red but she stopped crying. She hugs me and we walk back to the living room and sit. “I’m not a quick fuck.” She said. “I know.” I said. “You’re an asshole.” She said. “I know.” I said.

In near perfect timing “Unwind” begins to fill the room with dreamy guitar as we sit on the couch finishing our drinks. “Is this fair Karl?” “Nothing’s fair, but we’ll make do.” She tilts sideways and falls to sleep on the couch. I remove the bottle from her hand and stand. I put her legs on the couch, cover her up, and make my bed in the arm chair. “Little Trouble Girl” plays as I close my eyes and drift to sleep.

It’s an interesting human condition that every now and then we need to be reminded of our existence, even when it stares back at us with tired eyes. It seems to require a second party’s opinion on the manner. So do someone a favor and remind them they exist.


1 comment on “A pale reminder.”

  1. P & C


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