Tag Archives: madness

Happy Fourth

Billy turned down the volume on his car radio as he pulled into the empty parking lot. He checked his map. This was the place. An old strip mall full of abandoned nail salons and Mexican restaurants. A general sense of unease coated the area like grease on fries. He was a long way from the suburbs.

“Hey Billy!” A familiar voice shot out from one of the buildings. “Come on in! Glad you could make it!”

Billy couldn’t help but smile. Red was always coming up with these crazy shenanigans for the holidays. And the Fourth of July would be no exception. But he had never taken the group so far into the south side. Still, Red’s voice seemed to melt away any inhibitions.

Billy shuffled out of his car and into the dilapidated building. It was once a Payless shoe store. The kind Billy used to go to in middle school. It was weird seeing it in such bad shape. It was an empty concrete husk with scrap metal laying haphazardly along the edges of the floor and a single barrel in the center of the room. Red leaned against it as he shook with excitement. Another figure lurked in his shadow, Billy recognized him as someone from his school but could not seem to place a name to the face.

“How the hell are ya Billy? It’s been too damn long!”

“It’s been two days.” Billy shot back with a grin.

“Well, do I have something planned for us tonight!” He gestured to the plain looking kid next to him. “This is John. You probably know him from Algebra.”

Billy and John made brief eye contact before turning back to Red.

“So John here!” He clasped him on the back upon mentioning his name. “He says we can shoot fireworks at him for $50. He needs the money or something I guess.”

Billy smiled sheepishly and stepped back.

“What the hell is this man?”

John spoke up. “Look, I need the money and Red said I could stand all the way at the back of the store while you shoot. Just do it man, everybody wins.”

Billy tried to play off his comments with a shrug, but he still felt uneasy about the whole situation. Red was not helping with a manic energy that shook Billy. He was not sure why Red wanted to shoot fireworks at this kid and it was unlike him to be so outwardly mean.

Before Billy could protest, John was already walking to the other side of the room. Red was suppressing a deep chuckle. He inched a bony elbow into Billy’s chest.

“Hey Bill.” He whispered. “So you know how my Pa was fired from the plant the other day?”

“Yeah?”

“It was this fucker’s dad that fired him.” He gestured into the barrel.

Billy’s stomach flipped over. He could tell this was not going well. And when he peered into the barrel he was expecting the worst. Only to find a standard pack of fountains and sparklers. The relief was breeze that swept away his anxiety. If only that was all he found in that barrel inside that abandoned payless shoe store.

“Check it out man.” Red lifted the fireworks and underneath were two hammers. One for Red. One for Billy. “Let’s fuck this guy up. By the time he turns around and realizes it, he’ll be trapped.”

Billy paused for a moment. This was wrong. He knew it was wrong. But Red was his best friend. He reached into the barrel and grabbed his hammer. His hand shook with the implications of what he was about to do. When would they know when he had enough? What if they accidentally killed him? So many questions. He looked over to Red who was already getting in a few practice swings.

Red flashed a toothy grin. “Happy Fourth Billy.”

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Sleep

I opened my eyes reluctantly, hoping to hold on to my dreams a little longer.

While I slept I would roam the endless plains of North Dakota. Back to the freedom I once knew.

When I woke, I knew I would be returned to this nameless hellhole. My whole world was everything a 60 watt bulb could illuminate. My freedom, restricted by a chain link fence hooked up to a row of car batteries.

A pure darkness laid at the periphery of everything in my existence. Occasionally I could hear water dripping, but I tried not to fall into its hypnotic rhythm. Lest I slip into madness.

I never found out who had trapped me here, how it had happened, or why.

The only escape was to make it disappear. I tried- Forced myself to sleep.


REAL TALK

Depression is something I struggle with. Sometimes when I am content a voice from inside tries to convince me that it is just a dream, and I am destined to wake up to the reality that all the hope in the world was never real to begin with. I know that’s not true- but I can’t seem to escape it sometimes. The battle, at least for me is to remember that depression is the dream. It’s not real. And at some point I will wake up.

Disillusionment

I was but a bright eyed boy when my dear mother passed. Her throat slit while she slept. My father was sent to prison under suspicion of her death where he eventually fell ill and expired. Of course, he was entirely innocent of the crime.

It was a drifter that came to our door that day. He was soaked through his heavy wool coat. Bones rattling to a deathly rhythm, one that had shook the life from his eyes. I distinctly remember a dark presence burdening him, radiating like black steam. I begged my mother not to take pity. But she was a foolish woman. Too kind for her own good.

When the man had finished with her he rooted through our kitchen and stormed out the back. Not before giving a patronizing pat to the back of my head. It was at his touch that the darkness began to take root. The feeling was that of a hand crushing my skull, fingernails digging ever deeper into the depths of my mind. A madness that to this day has failed to cease.

Perhaps I should have stayed. With my testimony, my father surely would have avoided his unjust sentence. Instead he came home to a dead wife and policemen welcoming him with shackles in hand. The only witness had slipped out the door.

On the road life was less than pleasant. Every passing day was a testament to will and desperation.

Travelers would occasionally stop and offer whatever help they could. Though never enough to loosen the grip on my head. Once you have seen evil it becomes a part of you. A part that if not properly drowned, will pound electrifying spasms of torment into the chest. I think that is why I kept walking. Each step staved off the darkness, I knew nothing else.

I woke this morning unable to make it to my feet. Three weeks of hunger and exhaustion had taken its toll. I fear death will take me soon. But more than that, I fear the thoughts that encroach while I lay here.

Before it all goes black I will see true darkness.