The Man sat cold, barefoot on the couch with a glass of watered down whiskey in one hand, and a pencil in the other. It was well past the late of night and into the moonlit visage of the early morning. A notepad sat on his lap where he wrote his thoughts and imaginations whenever the muse missed him enough to pay a friendly visit. It was usually during moments of intense feeling. She gave him that. The Woman. His wife. The happy times. At least in the beginning.
Loud laughter came from outside and a car sped off from the cul-de-sac . The Man heard it and recognized it, although he did not move. Keys jingled from outside, falling on the ground, now back up again. The lock turned with much struggle and the woman came in, laughing the whole way.
She stopped at the threshold.
“What are you still doing up?” She asked. Her evening of fun had been cut short.
“Just writing down some things.”
“Oh yeah? Well you wanna talk now or what?”
“No I don’t wanna talk now. Go to bed.” He said, not even looking at her.
“Oh great… Now you don’t want to talk but a few hours ago you wouldn’t leave me alone.” She was working into a sort of angry excitement.
“Yeah, well… I’ve had enough time by myself to calm down.”
“No, this is what you do! You get all sour, bring me home, and then you just decide that you’re not going to talk. Just great.”
“That ain’t what I do.”
“Of course it is. Its what you allllways do. Always.” The Woman walked off down the hall, leaving the Man to the quiet, save the shuffling around in the master bedroom. He took a sip of his drink and attempted to return to his work. She came back out. “I’m going out tomorrow by the way, so don’t worry about staying up when you get home.” The Man didn’t respond, his mind choking the right words from his throat. The words he wanted to say, but couldn’t pass. He couldn’t even visualize them. What they looked like. Every time he thought of something, he censored himself. Too harsh. Too weak. Too convoluted. Too cerebral. There was always a reason to censor.
The next morning he opened his eyes to darkness. The clock said 5:42. She was fast asleep as an island next to him, and would remain there for at least four more hours. He got up, put some running clothes on, and took off down the road along his three and half mile morning trail. He had managed to stay in excellent health, despite an injury to his knee he received in Afghanistan. It bothered him the first mile, but after that it became almost unnoticeable.
He used his run to collect his thoughts. To calm his storms. A man’s storms are his alone, and are his alone to navigate. The ship’s wheel is an untamed mare, and no sooner from fair seas is a man thrust into treacherous waters for which he has no recourse. These are the things he contemplated when he ran. These and others.
He returned home, and made himself ready for the day’s work. He would drone in the office for eight hours, poring over expenditure reports to find new ways to cut costs down, while attempting to reconcile what his life actually meant. Out in town, when asked who he was, he would respond, as most do, with his work. It wasn’t that he didn’t want more for himself, or that he didn’t see his job as a means to keep his life afloat, but something else. He felt himself floating through life and consciousness, struggling to reconcile his day to day routine with the expectations he had of himself. He didn’t have that problem when he was in the Corps. His duty and purpose went hand in hand, bringing him to the limits of human struggle, and ultimately self-fulfillment.
After work, she was gone as she said she would be. He went to his kitchen and pulled for himself a small drink of Tennessee whiskey neat. The fire awakened him, burning hot through his body and mind. Finishing the glass, he went to the garage and stood in front of a large case, sealed with a padlock. He was a man of faith, but didn’t completely buy off on the prevailing schools of thought as to where this sort of thing stood in the eyes of God.
Samson didn’t seem too make out too badly. Hopefully he understands.
Late in the evening, as the drinks began to subside, the guilt began to thicken. The Woman, seated in the back of a taxi, struggled to balance her conscience as she headed towards home. Having a few too many drinks, she had accepted advances from a man at the cocktail party. Enough to not be able to lie to herself. Enough to sear her conscience. Then again, what obligation did she really have to him? Sure, she felt that sense of loyalty and devotion in the beginning. But things were so much different now. Even her friends didn’t fault her. She contemplated not saying anything about it, but she knew she wouldn’t be able to act the same. She could blame the alcohol. But even she understood that was a child’s excuse.
She arrived at the house and stumbled through the door. An open bottle of Tennessee whiskey and a single glass sat alone on the kitchen table. She searched the house room by room. He was nowhere to be found. She passed the door that led to the garage three times before deciding to open it. Blood was pooled on the cement floor, with more spattered across the walls. He was bent over sideways with the rifle next to him. She couldn’t see his face, nor could she stomach it.