I wasn’t sure if I dialed the right number. But I tried and tried until I was finally able to get a hold of the local police. I frantically gave out a description of what happened that night. I told the operator that I heard some strange noises and that I was really scared. There were some low screeching noises in the walls. The sound that it was making were cold, of tormented voices which can be simply described as hoarse and scratchy all the same. “It must be Gary, I really think it’s him!” I told the woman I spoke with. I was fidgeting and twisting the spiral cord of the payphone in the hallway.
There is something about the rain that calms me. There were nights that I wished that it would not let up and it would just spray like that forever — slanting, almost sideways, so in that way I would know that the wind was carrying it, like how my memories would carry my chest adrift.
But there wasn’t a single drop for months.
At midnight I would randomly call friends to relieve me of my self-inflicted agitation. And they would say that Susan – my made-up girlfriend– did not deserve me at all.
They said that I should just simply forget her and they gave me a fine lesson on how I should start anew.
I wrote to my folks to lend me some money because I spent most of what I had on cheap evening companions and prescription drugs. Of course, I didn’t tell them that. I used the excuse that I was struggling, coping in the big city.
I always felt that I was different compared to those low-life addicts. I separated myself from their filth but I also wouldn’t call myself anywhere near special. I guess the only difference was that I knew there wasn’t an escape, nor a commiserated vindication if there was an end to any of these.
A guy who lived down the hall dropped by one night and brought some drinks to share.
He lifted his foamy beer and drank, and used a plastic fork when he pinched and chewed on the fried tofu. As if harnessing holy powers from this, he told me — in a forlorn way — about his prevocational wisdom.
“We don’t really get fixed. We just think we do and go on by, mending until we’re all done for.”
I guess he’s right. The world is not equilateral after all.
“Until we’re all done for.” I repeated the line to myself and stood up to get us fresh beers from the fridge.
“Do you like horror stories?” I asked him while balancing myself on a chair with its two back legs.
“I suppose.” he answered coolly.
And I read him something that I wrote and asked him to critique:
He was lying on his side facing her. It’s been days now since he got admitted for an illness he still wouldn’t believe he’s got. And he stared at her and wondered on, in those kind brown eyes that seemed like bathing in a midsummer night’s moonlight. He knew what she did, all of her secrets.
There was shortness in his breath. There was also shortness in the nights that ensued.
“Can you talk about the house again? Just enough to get me to sleep.”
She indulged him and told him about their dream house as he would have wanted it. How they’d wander in and about the halls and the walkways together to the garden in that perfect warm morning sun.
It was just a matter of time she reassured him.
Then one of the evening shift nurses came in and administered a dose of penicillin through a syringe and gave him something for the pain.
Then he asked to be moved to face the windows. But there was a bricked wall that blocked the view.
After reading him the first lines, Gary gave a huge laugh and told me that I should seriously consider switching genres.
Flushed and rather ashamed, I told him that I was going for something more.
Sometimes, the easiest decisions are the hardest ones to make. I wanted to stop using, but the thought of strangling him seemed more plausible.
I knew exactly what he came for.
Then I switched my gaze towards the lock of my door and thought about the shortness in his breath.