Sunday, 29 July 2018

A Perfect Day (Funeral Portraits #3)

Adulthood aka Childhood by Blemished Art

David was having a perfect day. His body was buzzing with so much energy he felt like he could do anything. If he were a religious person, he'd have said it was a blessed day, but he hated that word, "blessed." However, there was undoubtedly something mystical about it. Everything seemed so easy. At work, he even made small talk with colleagues he'd usually avoid. He told Jack from receiving that two Albertans have hit the jackpot at Lotto 6/49. Jack was visibly pissed. He was an avid lottery player, and he answered that, if he won the lottery he'd buy a house with a big basement where he could play video-games 24/7. Given his gargantuan size and grumpy manner, Jack was not a chick-magnet or a human magnet for that matter, and David was not surprised that the troll harbored such escapist dreams.

None of the usual small, annoying accidents happened. David didn't drop any boxes of strawberries or mushrooms, didn't hit the skids full of produce against the empty wheelers or the stacks of merchandise arranged along the side wall of the stockroom, didn't bang his shins while using the fork pallet jack. It was like he was wrapped in a warm, protective bubble. As if, after years of working in that tiny, cluttered, stinky stockroom, his brain finally calibrated the weight and behavior of all objects around him and now it functioned in perfect harmony with its environment.

As he sipped more of his morning Starbucks coffee, David also remembered this was a special day for other reasons too. It was payday and him and Rose were about to buy their tickets for their Mexico vacation this evening. He could almost smell the sea and the sand and taste the margaritas as he was putting the new stock away. Plus, he was close to hitting another 500 hours with the company, and that meant another raise. Moreover, Friday night meant Rose would get a rise out of him. She'd probably be extra-horny because of the vacation. David smiled at the thought. And, on top of it all, the money he was making today was still going into their vacation fund. It was so great; he didn't remember the last time he'd felt so happy. Life was bursting with meaning.

During the lunch break he talked to Rose, who was working on cash that day, and saw the glint in her eyes and her willing smile. She was as excited as he was. She told him she took her four-year-old, Jordy, for his vaccinations and the doctor was tremendous. The doc sang a song to Jordy and poked him with his finger to make him laugh so that the lil' guy didn't even notice when the needle stuck. Then Rose went on about her fear of needles and David stopped paying attention but focused more on the fine line of her neck, her lips, and the soft sway of her boobs through her shirt as she was gesturing. When she went to grab her coffee, he had a chance to admire her bubble butt. His mind was swarming with different sexual positions.

"But you take him to your folks tonight, right?" David asked anxiously when Rose sat back on the couch. Not that he disliked the lil' booger, but he was an attention-starved brat and David felt like getting all the attention tonight.

"Yes," Rose answered and laughed knowingly.

David relaxed and offered a pleased smile.

After the lunch break he finished warehousing and went on the floor. It wasn't busy, so his mind wandered as he replenished the onions and potatoes, the lettuce and bell peppers, and cut corn with his knife. An old memory popped into his mind. He remembered the crazy doctor who sliced him with a scalpel when he was in middle school. That summer he had been to camp and helped to gather wood for the bonfire. A splinter got stuck in the palm of his left hand and David couldn't take it out, not all of it anyway. He paid no mind to the incident until, when back home, a little white spot appeared where the fragment was buried under his skin and the area around it had turned an angry red. Then that white spot grew bigger and bigger and more painful. It got to the point he couldn't sleep at night, feeling the infection digging deeper into his flesh. He finally told his parents, and his dad took him to the doctor the next day. The doc was an old bald guy with glasses and a hunched back. A portly nurse asked David to lie down on the bed and applied some brown liquid on the wound and injected an anesthetic close to his wrist. Then the doctor came, sat next to him on the bed, grabbed a scalpel from a tray, took David's left hand and stabbed the blade deep into his palm and then pulled it out. Two vicious, expert motions. Blood and pus jetted up from the wound and David began screaming and crying and hitting the back of the merciless doctor with his knees. His dad looked anxiously from behind the curtain and, unable to bear the screams, he decided to call David's mother. When the quick procedure was done, the doctor left and the nurse bandaged him up. Then let him go. He was to come back the day after so 'Doctor Sadist' could check how the wound was healing and cut the dead skin around it. Outside, David sat on a chair and cried, and his mom came and his parents looked at him sadly. David felt like shit as he had been wearing a metal t-shirt and was supposed to look like a tough metal guy but there he was crying like a pussy. David's mom tried to encourage him by saying that he was as resilient as a pirate as he suffered surgery with no anesthesia.

David didn't feel much like a pirate or anything. He felt humiliated.

Now, working on the floor, David kept thinking of this memory and the smell of hospitals. How parents can never really protect you from the pain. The memory didn't dump his mood. He felt detached from it, like watching an entertaining movie in the theater of his mind. He was still happy and upbeat, talking to customers and offering smiles to everybody, his hands doing the job in a fast, methodical fashion. When his shift was over, he took the wheeler with the empty boxes back to the stockroom. On the way, he saw the meat-lady go outside for a smoke, and she asked him to look after her department for ten minutes. David said yes as he had experience working in meats but, deep down, he knew he lied to her.

Ten minutes, that was enough to do it. David went to throw the empty boxes in the garbage and then looked around the receiving area. Jack wasn't there. No one was. Perfect. He stepped into the meat cooler. It was cold, but his hands were suddenly sweaty, and he felt dizzy, high on his anxiety. He grabbed the knife from the pocket of his tool belt and, in a quick motion, stabbed it deep into his neck. Hard and savagely, like cutting through steak. Without hesitation this time. David thought he almost heard the tip of the knife hit one of the cervical vertebrae. Then he slashed through his jugular, muscles, tendons, and arteries. Quick and fast, with surgical precision. Bright arterial blood and dark red venous blood splashed the shelves and the floor of the meat cooler. David was terrified, but he knew terror would come. He didn't cry or scream; but ground his teeth so strongly he felt some of his molars crack. A scream would alert them. All that came from his ruined throat was a low, gargled growl. He was no longer a pussy like he was as a boy. He was now a Viking pirate. No cries, no ambulance, no paramedics. No more being manhandled and secured to a gurney. Instinctively, his right hand went to his throat to stop the bleeding, but he moved it away once it was covered in gore. There was no going back now. Next, his knees turned to water, and he collapsed on the grey, concrete floor. The heart pumps five liters of blood in one minute, David thought. There are only five liters in a person's body. One other thought formed into his mind, but his oxygen depleted brain couldn't read it fully. Some regret about how his parents weren't there to appreciate his courage. Then vague thoughts, sepia-colored memories, he knew all this and was prepared for it, just signs of his brain shutting down. A smile touched David's lips. He had done the hardest thing on the most perfect day.

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