Fred woke up early. He was fifty-seven and unemployed. The sun hurt his eyes that he winced when the morning light was drawn in. There were sirens wailing outside vanishing into a fade. The room was strange, bare, and rather small. It was a birdcage. He looked under the sheets and found out that he wasn’t wearing his pants. He got lucky. He had no recollection of it but the fact still remained. He processed this, mulled it over while he nursed a hangover. What is it all worth if one can’t trace any of it? It felt like vanishing footprints in the sand. Shame, it could have been special he thought. It was like a nice dream that you couldn’t recall. There was a note on the side table. It was a woman’s handwriting. It wasn’t signed. There wasn’t a name on it. What was her name? He asked himself over and over. He simply couldn’t remember. She probably doesn’t have one.
He found the bathroom and took a quick cold shower. He wrapped his arms around the toilet and vomited twice and crapped right after. There wasn’t a pantry. The fridge was empty. There were vegetables he could blanch but he preferred pork fat and grease. He wanted something hot for breakfast but what he got instead was the warm beer that he picked up from the floor. Coffee was going to help. If only there was hot coffee the day would start out nice. He finished what’s left of the beer and headed out.
There weren’t any convenience stores around. But there was the bar. There was coffee. But there were a lot of bourbons too. He found another friend. The barkeep poured happily.
“I guess I am a focused man.” Fred defended.
“But that’s not how it works, I’m afraid.” Said the barkeep.
“Should I change then?”
“You can compromise, I suppose.”
“Like a lot?”
The barkeep paused to think.
“No. Just keep it centered.”
“Do you think it will work?”
“No, I do not.”
“Because I’ve seen it too many times.”
“I am too.”
When he got home, he collected most of his mail and the subscription magazines his ex-wife used to read. He couldn’t remember why she liked those. He doesn’t remember much. He wasn’t sober much either. He leisurely read the same columns she followed before throwing them all in the trash. Fred was fifty-seven and unemployed. His wife left him. The kids do not talk to him anymore unless they needed something. The problem was, he spent more time with his typewriter and it was like a black hole, Agnes would complain.
After getting the stamps, he mailed a copy of his book to her. He wrote an inscription which said “I hope you find something good here. For what it’s worth, our story looks good on paper, all things considered.
P.S. Try not to use a bookmark here. Humor me, please. Write soon.”
Just before noon, the phone rang while he was lying on his back. He was watching an old Scorsese film. He thought about it but didn’t pick up. It must be Agnes or one of the kids. Ray Liotta was driving around paranoid, evading a helicopter after snorting coke.
The phone rang again. And again. Ray Liotta was still driving around, still evading the helicopter. He has to get his money back. He has got to convince Jimmy. The guns were sitting inside his trunk in a crumpled grocery bag.
But there was the helicopter still. He has to shake it loose. He has to keep his cool together.