Sep. 14, 2017
The words stared back at him, peering into the very depths of his soul as the cursor blinked at the end of the line. Joe leaned back in his chair and rested his hands on the back of his head, the stale taste of whiskey filled the room as he exhaled and closed his eyes. Every night, ‘Every god damned night,’ he muttered to himself, as he sat at this computer in the dark listening to sirens scream by outside his dark windows. All of the self help gurus, or con artists as he liked to call them, said the same thing day in and day out. ‘No regrets! Live every day to the fullest! The past is the past, tomorrow is a new day!’ Yet every night Joe sat at his computer and ran through his day, word for word, step for step and found that he regretted it all. Every step was in the wrong direction, every word was wrong for the situation, every smile fake and every hand shaken was with a person who should have been shot instead of embraced. Every decision made that day was wrong and he regretted each and every one of them.
The streets outside buzzed with life as people rushed here and there. Sometimes Joe would watch them from his darkened apartment, enjoying the fact that they couldn’t see him as he started down at them. This didn’t last long, though. Typically after ten or fifteen minutes Joe would grow impatient or angry, unable to understand why that one girl smiled or that one guy laughed. Whys should they be happy? They were pathetic. It was he who should be happy, he who should be laughing. He’d pull his gun off the table and marvel at the weight as it hung limply by his side and he’d watch them laugh. Once in a while he’d even aim the gun at one of them as their neck craned backward and an exclamation of joy escaped their lips. He’d peer down the sights at them as they smiled and reveled in the moment. ‘They do not deserve it,’ he would tell himself as he checked to make sure the gun is loaded, ‘they do not deserve to be happy.’ Every time he’d put the gun down, if they didn’t deserve to be happy they definitely didn’t deserve him to either give his life to take theirs or for him to sacrifice his life to prison to end theirs. ‘One day someone will be worth it, then it will finally be over,’ he would say as he set the gun down on the table, leaving the safety off.
Tonight the gun sat on his short wooden coffee table in the center of the room, away from the window. Joe listened as the sirens faded into the distance, wondering who they were off to abuse or arrest. He clicked the button below the monitor to shut off the screen, leaving the apartment dark and silent. He loved the moment before his eyes adjusted, when he was completely lost in the darkness, unable to see his own hands in front of his face. It was as if he had been transported to a different world, one less horrible, perhaps. But like all good feelings, it came to an end as the ugly apartment slowly faded back into view and his eyes adjusted to the new level of light. Joe’s apartment was spotless but mostly unfurnished. He had his desk with the single monitor on it. A simple mouse and keyboard then the rest of the surface was clear, save for the occasional glass of scotch or perhaps bottle. He had a futon and a coffee table but no tv for it to face. Shelves or cabinets were only for people who owned things and Joe owned nothing. His studio apartment felt more spacious and empty than most three bedroom homes but there was nothing inviting or warm about it. The entire unit was a reflection of its owner; cold, alone, and depressed. Joe loved it and yet he hated it at the same time. He constantly regretted not buying a tv or some bookshelves, not making the place more habitable. Perhaps if he did he would be happier. Of course, he immediately regretted that thought, the things you own end up owning you and it was pathetic to think otherwise, and so the cycle continued night after night.
The street was quiet tonight as Joe stood from his desk, he didn’t even own a chair, he sat on a wooden crate he had used to transport his computer when he moved. Not many people milled around and he enjoyed a rare moment of silence. When the streets were empty, these were the only times that Joe felt truly happy. As if he was the only one left in the world, left to die alone, the last human, allowed to live beyond all overs due to his superiority over all. It never lasted, though, and soon a cab pulled up in front of the building and a couple got out. The man got out first and ran around the back of the cab, opening the door for the lady and helping her out. Joe grimaced with disgust at this act of chivalry, it was disgusting and pathetic, treating another human being like something other than a sack of meat with falsely derived emotions. As he pulled her out of the car she giggled and waved to the cabby. The door shut and the two stepped onto the sidewalk, watching as the car pulled away and around a corner, disappearing into the night. They laughed some more and engaged in conversation, kissed here and there, it was all too much for Joe to take. He stormed away from the window in a rage, snagging the bottle of scotch off his desk as he swept by.
Joe clutched the bottle of scotch tightly as the wind and rain pelted his face. He squinted down the street, his head reeling slightly and his ears ringing. ‘How did I get here?’ He wondered silently to himself, trying to recall the span of time between grabbing the bottle from the desk and leaving his apartment. The street was silent again, no cars or laughter. ‘The couple,’ he sneered to himself, remembering their horrible smiles that were obviously undeserved. He took a step out of the doorway to his building and peered both ways down the street. Not a soul in sight. Joe ran his hands through his hair, letting the water drip out and onto his face. As he turned to head back inside there they were. The happy couple sat awkwardly, propped up in the doorway of his building. Blood trickled down the stairs and washed away in the rain, creating a pretty red smoky look on the sidewalk before disappearing down a drain. He stared at them, then down at his hands. He was still holding the bottle of scotch, there was no blood on him. ‘They deserved it,’ he shrugged and pushed past them into the building.
Joe sat back down at his desk he poured himself a tall glass of scotch. As he lifted it before his eyes it seemed thicker than usual, and darker. He sniffed and caught the heavy smell of iron. In shock he pushed the glass away from his face and watched the thick liquid swish around violently, not spilling but nearly splashing out of the glass. His gaze shifted from the glass to the window, then back to the glass. His memories completely evaded him but something felt different, a feeling of relief had washed over him outside and he was experiencing a calm that he had never felt before. He brought the glass to his lips and tipped it slightly, letting the warm liquid touch his tongue. The taste of iron evoked a horrible gag reflux and he was forced to set the glass down on the desk for a second. Breathing deeply and clenching his fist he picked the glass back up and tossed it back, swallowing the liquid in a massive gulp.
Suddenly the memories washed over him. He was standing in the doorway with a hammer and the bottle of scotch. He threw back the scotch and drained the bottle, then set it down gingerly in the doorway. As he stepped out the couple was happily kissing in the rain and remarking on how romantic and odd they each were to do such a thing, it was stupid. The hammer was heavy in his hand as it caved in the mans skull from behind, forcing his face into the woman with such force that she fell back, slamming her head on the pavement. She made a quiet squeak then fell into a deep rest on the ground as Joe stood over her, hammer dripping with the blood of her lover. He smiled as her face caved inward with the hammers blades and cursed as it became stuck in her skull. Finally, he was able to pry the bitch off of his weapon and drag them both to the shelter of the stoop where he used tattered pieces of their clothes to soak up blood and squeeze it into the bottle of scotch.
Joe sat in his chair, an eery smile playing on his lips as he thought through these events over and over. Each step, each action played over in his head a thousand times from a thousand different angles. It was like a beautiful ballet as he watched himself dance around his victims, ending their lives without any regard for his own. As he played through the evening events he realized something that he had never known himself to realize before. For the first time in his life he had done something that he truly did not regret. He laughed aloud and began to dance around the room to the music in his head, laughing gaily as he did so. A life without regret and without consequence was freeing and exciting. “This is the first day of my life!” Joe yelled, craning his neck and screaming into his dull white ceiling. “I regret nothing!”