Saturday, July 9, 2011

The Man Who Died

A man walks down the street and falls down dead. It seems like a joke, but it’s not. The man was going home at the time. He was going to meet his wife, a bitch of a woman with a half a mile of forehead. Would he have made it home, she would have killed him. He made a handful of enemies in his truncated life.

The reason his wife wanted to kill him was she was crazy and a bitch of a woman. She planted a high backed armchair in the front hall and she was waiting with an ancient shotgun she had inherited from her grandfather. She puffed on a Pall Mall cigarette and kept spitting the taste onto the blood colored carpet. Various voices in her head promised her the secret to happiness for a blood sacrifice and the man had never been a good husband. You see, this man's wife was greatly depressed, which was odd because she regularly saw a psychiatrist. Maybe it was the fact that the psychiatrist was a drunk or maybe it was that the two of them fucked more than they talked. The psychiatrist had known about the voices and did nothing. You could lose your license for that.

The psychiatrist really couldn’t be blamed though. His wife had died three times and he was distracted by that. The third time had stuck. The first time was a car crash. The psychiatrist was driving and her heart stopped for a full minute. The psychiatrist was drunk, of course. He clipped another car and spun out and then T-boned into a partition. The psychiatrist shattered his leg and needed a cane to walk. The second time was a suicide attempt. The psychiatrist found his wife sleeping inside the oven, her long hair baking. The psychiatrist’s wife was crazy too. She said she saw Jesus when she died the first time. The two of them had made love and had been impregnated with the Second Coming. The only problem was that she miscarried when the paramedic revived her. The second time she died, she was dead for two minutes. She was miserable when she was brought back again. She said that she stripped nude and burst through the pearly gates, but Jesus had rejected her. She said that he was anger that she lost his Second Coming. The third time was a suicide attempt too, but it was just to die. She wrapped her lips around a pistol the psychiatrist had purchased after his life had been threatened by a former patient.

The story isn’t about the psychiatrist or his dead wife. It’s about the man that walked down the street and fall down dead. On his person, at the time, he had a copy of William R. Burroughs’ Naked Lunch which he had read almost two thousand times. He had read that book everyday since he purchased it. He found the book on a supermarket shelf in between the canned peas and the canned peaches. He’d put it into his basket and the cashier wouldn’t let him leave with it without paying for it. He hadn’t thought to lie and say the book was his. The book had been frayed and dog-eared and it would have been a believable lie. Instead, the cashier made up a price for it and he paid it.

When the man died, his pockets were emptied out by a drug addict and the book was stolen. The drug addict also stole the man’s wallet and shoes, but that’s to be expected. By this time, the book was almost destroyed and was held together with a rubber band. The drug addict undid the rubber band, expecting the book to remain intact. All the pages fell away from one another and he read the book out of order.The drug addict died of a heroine overdose while wearing the man’s shoes and reading the man’s novel. While reading the book, the drug addict thought back to his father who never said he loved him, but once said he hated him. As a child, the drug addict stole a single bottle of whiskey from his father’s liquor cabinet. The legacy of the drug addict’s family was a history of incarceration and that particular bottle of whiskey. A tradition the drug addict’s father had was a toast to the drug addict’s grandfather with that a glass of that particular whiskey on the anniversary of his grandfather’s death. The drug addict’s grandfather did the same for the drug addict’s great grandfather. The drug addict drank it with his friends in the woods. They gasped and coughed and choked on the 20 year old bottle of whiskey. Their eyes watered as they denied that the whiskey was the worst thing they ever tasted. A police officer happened upon them and in a panic, the drug addict chucked the bottle away. It smashed out of sight and the drug addict never knew he threw away his own legacy. The police officer figured out that they were drinking, mostly because of the guile of a group of boy. The police officer took the boys home and the drug addict had to explain what happened. Once the officer was gone, his father muttered ‘I hate you’ before collapsing into his easy chair. The drug addict had expected a beating, but he wasn’t relieved. That short sentence was the most honest thing he’d ever said to the drug addict. The drug addict’s father died that night. It’s possible that the drug addict knew he was taking too much heroine, but wanted to kill himself become his father never said ‘l love you.’ It might also be possible that the drug addict toasted his father with his last fix of heroine.

The drug addict doesn’t matter at all. It’s the man who walked down the street and fell down dead that mattered. The man had been confused for a homeless drunk and was left alone. The body was left on the sidewalk for almost two hours and then an old man jabbed the man in the side with a broom handle.

“Sleep it off somewhere else.” The old man demanded. The man did not move. He smacked him once in the head with the broom handle and decided that the man wasn’t drunk. He called the paramedics and then hid the broom handle, horrified that he might be arrested for assaulting a dead man. He smacked the man in full view of anyone available to see. The old man knew this and considered running, but he didn’t have a car or even a bus pass. The old man thought about killing himself. This seems ridiculous, but the old man had his reasons.

The old man was guilty of a lot of horrible crimes and had only gotten by because no one was paying attention to him. In fact, the old man was directly responsible for fifteen murders and indirectly responsible for twenty-one more. Most of the old man’s murders happened while escaping prison. He’d made an explosive out of soap and blew up a bus transferring prisoners. Seven prisoners and four guards died and the old man crawled from the wreckage. It was believed that the old man had died and the old man preferred it like that.

Well, anyway. The man who walked down the street and died was carted away. The ambulance had its sirens off and both the paramedics rode in the first half of the ambulance. They told old, dirty jokes and ignored the shit smell coming off the man. They unloaded the man and took him to the morgue. A sleepy coroner took the man and cleaned him much like a dishwasher cleaned baked-on food from a pan. The man was moved onto a steel shelf and pushed away into darkness. It there that the man woke again. His eyes opened, but his body would not move. He wasn’t sure if he was alive or not. He felt numb and could see nothing. He could barely hear anything, but the fact that he could hear something made him doubt that he was dead.

What the man was hearing was the muffled cell phone conversation of the coroner with his wife. The coroner’s wife was threatening to leave him. She had suspicions that he had become a drug addict. The coroner was, in fact, a drug addict, though he didn’t see it that way. He had back pain all his life and he had a prescription for pain killers. He had friends in the hospital who didn’t mind writing them. It was in that fashion, that the coroner stayed in a perpetual state of numbness and fatigue. The coroner had nodded out in the middle of his conversation with his wife, which hurt his case largely.

While the coroner was unconscious, the man gained use of his left leg and used it to bang on the metal shelf. He did that for days and days or hours and hours or maybe only for a few minutes. The man had expanded whatever energy he had and then tears welled in his eyes and he thought of all the horrible things he’d done in his life.

He tied a cinder block around a cat’s neck and tried to throw it in the river, but the cat scratched his face and he left it alone.
He’d broken his brother’s wrist by pushing him off a diving board.
He’d keyed CUNT into a stranger’s car door.
He shoplifted a glass bottle of Coca Cola.
He punched his father in the back of the head and never apologized.
He pissed in a client’s sink one summer when he thought he’d be a plumber like his father.
He stole $36 from his college roommate during a party and blamed it on a boy who had slept with his then girlfriend.
He tossed a brick through a window of his ex-girlfriend after she cheated on him.
He slept with a married woman while her husband slept in a hospital bed.
He ignored his wife and tried to divorce her when she went insane.
He thought to kill his wife to escape his marriage.

The man was finally released the following morning. The coroner had thought he’d heard something and then he gasped as the man turned to look at him. The man was shivering and sickly, but very much alive. The man was moved up into the hospital part of the hospital and was checked over. The doctors weren’t sure why he’d died or why he’d revived. He was released, wearing the clothes he wore when he died. That man walked down a street and walked up the steps to his house. He opened the door and caught a bullet into his chest. He fell dead.

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