Johnson, The OptomistMature

Fitz Johnson's anti-depressants just arn't working like they used to. They arnt seeming to dull down the terrible screams of his wife, the memorys of his niece , a man named Mitch his fate in February, and the sound of his name.

My alarm clock buzzed at about five in the morning, although I was awake way before then. Yet even after it buzzed about twenty times, I stayed tucked tight under the blanket on my sofa, while my cow of a wife slept peacefully, comfortably upstairs in my bed. Even though everything in our apartment, including my bed was built for two, there still wasn’t enough room for the both of us. I lay still upon the springs and the corduroy cushions, holding my ears closed as the alarm rang, until I couldn’t stand the noise. I hit the off button, and almost knocked the damn thing off the coffee table. As a car passed by my window, it’s blue illumination highlighting all in the living room amongst the darkness, I sat up and stared down at my hands. It’s February I thought. The month that I swore I was going to die, all because of a ten year old boy who wasn’t right in the head. He just ran to me, stained with blood and dirt and shouted to a few people behind me on the sidewalk one cold December morning. “He’s doomed!“ He screeched, straining his voice so hard that his next words were just rough noise, but still etched themselves deep into my mind and my soul. “That man’s doomed sir, he’s destined to drown under the highway bridge!“ He stumbled on everybody around as a few people who seemed to know him tried to grasp his arms. “He’s gonna find himself in hell, God help him!“ He stared at me with blood shot eyes, because he noticed I was the only one who didn’t comment about his spontaneous behavior and the only one with utter fear in my eyes. When he did shout, the first thing that came to my mind was February.

I stood in the shower for a good twenty minutes, I waited for the water to run cool on my back, and I loved it for some reason. I leaned my arm against the white tiled wall in front of me, and hung my head low as I counted the drops that flew past my body and landed in the tub. It was a big task to count them, they were all moving so very fast. I used the wrong towel again when I got out, and through it the floor with a grunt, letting it get wet from the water that escaped from the shower curtain. I thought it would be a nice surprise for my bitch wife, but I would do something much worse the next time I would find her deeply kissing my brother again. I put on my black suit instead of my navy blue one; I thought it would be something new, and elegant for work. Even if no one would get to see it. I put on my tie in a half-assed effort; I thought it would be hidden behind my desk anyway. As I barely clasped it on, I looked up into my mirror, dominated by condensation. I studied my face, how boney it was, how pissed off I always looked, and how my eyes were grey, instead of a bright and shimmering blue that lit up the soul like the rest of my family. Maybe eye color had to do with what kind of person you were. I backed out of the damn driveway and hit the radio button angrily, as if I was angry at how life comes to an end, instead of fearing it like I usually did. I switched the stations half the way to the office, as my brown and silver Toyota clanked and stopped and started all the way. I called some of the music shit under my breath sometimes, even what used to be my favorite song, “Where Are You Tonight, I Wonder“. It made me want to cry a minute, that I hated my beautiful song that mother used to sing to me before I went to sleep, and what I sang to my niece, she died as I sang it beside her hospital bed, and I kept singing as I cried on her young corps. Maybe it was just those anti-depressants I’ve been taking for all these months. I found it funny that so many people took handfuls of them, when the side effects were heart attack and possible death. I don’t know why I even bothered with them, they’re dangerous and they don’t do a damn thing.

I sat at my desk and paid the company’s bills, which I still had no idea what they were for, no one did, and we worked blindly. But we worked without complaints or questions, because we all knew what our boss Kevin would do. Of course, I always thought the impossible; I thought he could do much worse than fire me. I paid bills, did a lot of math, and had to always keep a cheap calculator in my left pocket. I kept a post-it note over my first name on my plastic name tag, so only my last name “Johnson“ shown. Everybody called me by my unoriginal last name, I didn’t mind. I was just happy they didn’t call be Fitz, the most shameful name to ever have. Under a blinking light, my co-worker Mitch sat at his desk, right across from me. He never worked at all, not one day, and he still never got fired or even scolded. He drew amazing and detailed sketches on yellow lined paper he swiped from Kevin’s personal office. Before he left for home, to be alone again, he asked me to hide them in my desk with a smile. I wanted to tell him that sooner or later Kev would notice that bills are missing and yellow paper was disappearing. Mitch, being as positive as he always would be would say, “He won’t notice“. He didn’t draw at all that one day in February though, and he still didn’t try to work. He went on without lunch or a drink, or a trip to the men’s room. I doubt he even blinked. You know what he did, he stared at me. At me for Christ sake, a disgusting appendage that just happened to sprout out of this earth. I tried not to look back, but when I did, he either smiled or jumped. I hated it when he jumped, and swished his head away from me, to be honest I love to be looked at, kind of makes me feel human or like I am actually interesting. I don’t know why he stared, maybe he wanted to get something out of me, wanting me to finally crack from being constantly watched. I thought for a while he wanted to know who the insane boy was... So I worked for six hours straight and tried to get around a fire wall for a good long time, trying to check my god damn Twitter, until Kevin screamed at me for digressing. I looked for something to eat in the little kitchen we had, all painted beige and empty. All it had inside was the cheap fridge Kevin must have bought from a yard sale or something, and the plastic covered counter that always smelled like lemon Pledge. Of course, the fridge was empty except for one extraordinarily aged can of Pepsi. I stared at the long expired can, and actually considering drinking the damn thing, because I remembered my niece loved Pepsi. Yet the last thing she ever drank was horribly bitter medicine. With her on my mind, I closed the fridge, and stood by it, listening to the silence being broken by the peaceful humming of the lights and the fridge motor. I didn’t want to move, I loved the noises that were already there. In the office it was the same, except the clacking of fingers to keyboards broken the beautiful noise I wanted to hear. I sat down as my rolling chair sighed beneath me, and I typed numbers, did the mindless math, and paid more bills. All while Mitch watched me.

I always leave the office after everyone else leaves, because that was usually when Mitch left. “You have anything? I asked, although I thought he didn’t do anything today. Yet he did, sketched on a yellow piece of lined paper, with the graphite smudged. I wondered when he did them, and when he handed them to me I looked upon him like some sort of super human. “In the far drawer please.“ His voice cracked and he ran the hell out of there, instead of walking with me. I sat in the office, with almost all the lights shut off, only the one above me and one far on the other side of the room where left on. I unfolded the paper, pausing every time it crinkled, as if I was afraid for people to see it. I unfolded it, and saw sketches of skinny men working at desks, very detailed, very beautiful, but I looked at the paper shredder once when I realized...they were drawings of me. I drove home in the dark, and I was the only one on the road all the way home. The only lights I saw where glowing orange from old street lamps, left over from the 80’s, and the traffic lights, illuminating my car with a bright red, then green. I thought though, at least I didn’t have to worry about traffic jams. I started to drive slower when I came to the bridge, the highway bridge, and I was still the only one. I slowly drove, inch by inch, knowing it would take me forever to get over it but at least I wouldn’t crash into anything. I drove slowly, my heart pounding like a hammer on a nail, and I quickly took looks at the massive river that ran under the bridge, shining with the last hints of the sun, and the old street lamps on the bridge. It was beautiful, and a peaceful place to die I thought. I heard a creak from my car, and thought it was the bridge giving out. I swore under my breath and drove like hell, recklessly. I almost lost my side view mirror when I was inches away from hitting the bars of the bridge. When I was off, I kept driving, with my motor roaring, just as fast as I was. I skidded to one side a few times, always the left side and took out a few mail boxes. I actually panted as if I was running, thinking that the bridge might somehow chase after me. I took out our own mailbox when I pulled into my drive way. I didn’t stop to fix it, I just hoped to god that my god damn wife wouldn’t notice that her seventy dollar mailbox was completely crushed. As I stopped the car, with barely a gallon of gas left in it, I rested my head on the wheel, and thought about what could have happened. If I did happen to dye, I looked on the bright side and thought I would see my niece again. Healthy, her eyes no longer watering and crusting over. She would be like she used to, I comforted myself, she would hide behind my back and give me a kiss secretly, she would hold my hand as we went window shopping, and she would sleep on my shoulder when at my brother’s boring cocktail parties like she used. Neither of us ever wanted to be there. She wouldn’t be rushed to the hospital every week because of violent sickness in the middle of the night, and she wouldn’t call me in tears, telling me to come to the hospital office as she was getting pricked by a needle. I thought then of every time she called me, crying, wanting me to come over there so I could hold her hand. I was always heartbroken by her cries, for I could never come, Kevin wouldn’t let me. I always came to get her after work, and she would cry in my arms. I wanted to cry, too, she was practically detraining before my eyes from the mystery disease. I gasped when I remembered how she looked in the hospital bed the night she died... her skin being eaten away and parts of her blackened like she was caught in an awful fire..... I decided I needed a stiff drink.

I stared at her old school picture, while doing a number on my last bottle of scotch. I blew the dust of the frame, and watched it twirl in the air. I chuckled when my wife breathed it in. “You’re still looking at Jessica.“ She said without a heart, her spinney fingers rubbing away at dirty plates, with a blackening wash cloth in hand. I slowly shifted my eyes to her, imagining her as she used to be. Heavy, smiling, kind, and actually pretty. “Yeah.“ She snarled. “Come on, Fitz“ “I’ll punch your teeth in if you call me Fitz, one more time.“ I snapped and stared at her, like a teacher scolding a student. My eyes shifting to her one last time, and took a massive swig of my scotch and continued staring at my poor Jessica; I noticed in that photo she had a bruise on her face... and I suspected it wasn’t from her sickness. My wife gently slapped my face with her disgusting wash cloth, and some water from the sink splashed onto the frame. “Are you gonna help me with the damn dishes?“ She snapped and waited for an answer as I took another swig of scotch. “I don’t feel like it.“ I swallowed. I turned my head from her while placing the frame on the table, face down. “Of course you don’t,“ she spat with her shrill and unkind voice. God, I missed her, how she used to kiss me when I got home. “You never feel like doing anything, you’re so useless sometimes.“ She turned to the sink, but still wanted a reply out of me. She paused, and waited. “Hello?“ “I’m not going to talk to you if you’re going to be a bitch all night.“ I growled. I slowly lifted myself up, leisurely, with my back cracking. I grasped my bottle by its neck and tried to stumble my way out of the kitchen, but my god damn wife stopped my, standing in my path almost straddling. “Why don’t you put down that damn bottle for once?“ I ignored her, and turned around, but I walked slowly, and I was suspicious that she was staying so silent, instead of trying to tear my head off with her words. Then I heard a smash of glass, shattering all over the ground, and the tearing of paper. I paused and listened for anything else, and then I craned my neck back and gasped when I saw the picture frame in pieces on the floor, and my wife ripping the photograph of my dear Jessica into shreds. I ran to the ruins. “Oh Jessica!“ I cried as I knelt down to pick up the shards of glass scattered across the floor. Then she let go of the torn pieces of the photo, and let them fall down on my like snow. “You’re obsessed!“ She shouted. “She was a whiney little brat and you know it, now help me with the god damn dishes!“ I shot up and struck her across the face and through my scotch bottle across the room. It smashed into a million pieces, just like the frame and stained the walls with the remaining liquid inside. “You bitch!“ I shouted with tears in my eyes. “You god damn bitch!“ I roared, and flipped over our dining room table, which was only a piece of outdoor furniture. I stopped myself, I thought I would destroy the whole house, but I just stood there and stared at our small kitchen, which was in ruins. My wife stared at me in horror, having no idea that her small, weak little husband could even lift a bowling ball. She transformed he shocked face into a scowl, her eyes filled with utter hate. “Get out.“ She whispered. “Get the hell out.“ Still slightly blinded by rage, I gave her a quizzical look.“What.“ “Get the fuck out of my house!!“ She ran over to slap me, slapped me again, aiming to break my nose. I walked quickly across the house as she forced me to take my god damn shit with me, the first things I put in my jacket pocket where my Abilify pills and a ten dollar bill, mangled and kissed with pink lips stick from whoever left it in the street. “I hope you do die this month!“ she shouted and followed me as I picked out my junk. “I hope you die and remember no one loves you!“ I tried to ignore her, but her words got to me, because she was right.... No one did love me. “Do you know that now?“ She followed me out to the car as I still said nothing. “No one will ever love you again, you bastard!“ She shouted as I pulled out of the driveway, in the pitch dark. “You bastard, you bastard!“ I stared at her out the window, and really decided that I hated her, how could she say anything like that about Jessica? “Go die, Fitz, his name is Fitz every one, die Fitz!“

I drove far away from my house, and tried to keep myself in one piece as I tried to find a place to park my car and sleep. I got closer and closer to the office, and I was on the edge of bursting into tears. I don’t want to die. I thought, and started to doubt if I would see Jessica in the next world. I wondered if what I did, or anything else I did wrong made her hate me. My little Jessica, who I thought loved me so much. I suddenly pulled over on the side of the silent, empty highway, and just broke down on my wheel. I bawled like I was being torn apart be machines, maybe my heart was. I embraced the fact how no one loved me, how my wife wanted me to die like the little boy said. My heart ached, and I felt a lump in my throat. “It’s okay.“ I tried to comfort myself, by whispering to myself with a quaking voice, as if someone was there. But I was alone in the war, on the highway, in the world. “It’s okay.“ I cried and hit my head as hard as I fucking could on the steering wheel, as if punishing myself. I almost choked on my tears, and did something only out of sorrow and stupidity... I took five pills of Abilify, and passed out right there.

I snuck into a nearby rec center and took a shower in the swimmer’s locker room. I was lucky that I was already wearing my black suit, but I woke up three hours later than I was supposed to, so I was heavily scolded when I walked into the office. Kevin shouted at me for a few minutes, and demanded to know why I was late. “My alarm is broken.“ I lied. I despondently dropped to my chair, and listened to it squeak. Of course, Mitch was there with a yellow piece of paper hidden behind his keyboard. He smiled at me, his hands neatly folded on the keyboard, hunched over them, pretending he was taller than he really was. “I was afraid you weren’t coming in.“ He chuckled. I turned my chair to grimace at him, and he jumped, like I wanted. But I regretted making him share my pain when I saw his shiner, fresh around his eye. Every day was just like that, I slept in the car, took a shower, and had a menacing face glued on me all day at the office. I didn’t talk to anybody, not even kind Mitch, who kept on sketching me, by the way. It snowed every day, and sometimes I watched it fall outside one of the large windows. I always thought the snow was supposed to stop during February days, but I was glad it didn’t. The blissful snow made me feel better about marking every day that passed off on my calendar with a red sharpie I found on the floor. I held my breath as I counted the days left, and wondered how I would die. Seven days left, six days, five days, four days... three days. But when I looked outside, and watched the light and young snow twirl and gently hit the ground, I forgot I even existed. I like it that way. I wound down in my car after work, without dinner, and listened to the news on my radio. It was mostly filled with all those reports of hate crimes against gays in my town, and I didn’t care much, I didn’t really care about anything happening in the news. I cared about what was going to happen. Mitch came in with a new bruise on his face, or a scratch, even a bleeding cut. I wasn’t concerned, he never complained about them or pointed them out, but I did wonder what was happening to my friend. Yet one day I wanted him completely out of my life, because he was out of his desk one day, the last day of February. I was coming back from the kitchen, embracing it, thinking that day will be the day. I studied everything, the counter, the fridge, and the undrinkable soda, which was still in the same place, wasting away in the very back of the icebox. I breathed in the lemon scent for one last time, and unhurriedly walked out of the room. But when I shut the door behind me, I gasped in anger, as I saw Mitch looking under the post-it note on my name plate, and reading my name with his eyes sparkling. I stood still as a phone from far away rang, and then I stormed to him, with rage boiling hot deep in my gut. “Get away.“ I slapped his hand, and he quickly stood up. “Get away, damn you!“ I threatened to hit him were his biggest scar was, but he only stepped away slightly, like a frightened dog. “But Johnson,“ He whispered... and never finished his sentence. He backed away from me, and sat in his chair, rubbing his hand and then his scar. I stared at him, and didn’t sit down for a while, as if keeping him at his desk, like I didn’t want him to go anywhere. I saw a piece of yellow paper in the corner of my eye, and spat,“ Why don’t you do some actual work for once,“ I turned to my desk, but kept my gaze on him. “You would actually do some good.“ He gasped quietly and looked down at his feet, hurt by my words, like I was hurt by my wife. Fuck you. I thought as I stared at him intensely. I didn’t care about him at all at that point, I didn’t care that he felt like I did, I also didn’t know something about him...How dare you look at my name.

The day went by slowly, and I truly thought then no one even cared about me, and I regretted shooing away the only soul who would even happily interact with me. I felt terrible, but I didn’t apologize. I was sure I was going to die any minute, and I held my breath often, as if I thought that would help anything. When the sky grew dark, and only I and Mitch were left, he finally stood up, and I didn’t look at him. With the piece of paper behind his back, he inched towards me. Slowly, he lifted his arm and placed a folded piece of smuggled yellow paper on the pile of bills to be paid. I crooked my eyes to him, and gave him a look that told him he was really pushing it, as I leaned back in my chair. He tapped his thin and gentle fingers on the paper. “You don’t have to hide this,“ he breathed. “Just keep it.“ He slowly walked away, but never left the room. I reluctantly unfolded the paper, afraid that Kevin would hear me. It was just another drawing of me, and text. “I love...“ was all I wanted to read, and I threw it in the waist basket. I heard Mitch sigh as if he knew, I didn’t care. I lowered my body deeper into the cushion of my chair, and put my feet up on my desk. I tried to relax, but Mitch just would go away, I never heard the door click. So I groaned and picked the paper up, expecting to read a sappy apology from him, and suggestions that we could go get beers. But no, as I opened the paper again, I looked at the drawing and finally read the words, “I love you.“ My heart pounded and I blushed for the first time in years. “Please don’t hide your name, Fitz, it’s beautiful.“ I read it a few times, and each time it was even sweeter. My wife was wrong, Mitch and I were both men, but I didn’t care, someone loved me, and it was someone wonderful. I decided then that maybe my death was all in my head, that it was just an unwell boy, and not a sign from god. “Mitch.“ I called him back tenderly, and tried my hardest not to smile. He turned without an expression himself. My back cracked as I stood up, and tried my hardest to walk to him, although I was afraid, I don’t know why. Shoving the paper in my coat pocket, I cleared my throat and stood in front of him. We intently looked at each other in the silence, and we were thankful no one was there. I studied the scratches and scars on his face, how they crossed across his eye, his cheek, and his lips. They looked like knife wounds to me.........then I remembered...what I heard on the radio. “Say my name...“ I looked down at my feet, and mumbled. He had to ask me what I said again. “Johnson.“ He whispered. I shook my head. “No,“ I spoke gentle, trying to avoid all shakes in my voice. “My name.“ He smiled. “Fitz.“ I smiled back, put my hand by his scared but innocent face. “Say it again, please.“ I forgot about my wife, I forgot about Kevin, I forgot that Jessica was even dead. “Fitz, Fitz.“ He stepped closer to me, probably relieved that I wasn’t avoiding him anymore. “Again.“ I gently grasped his face with both my hands, and whispered in his ear. He said my name again, so many times that I loved hearing it for once, it sounded nice that it belonged to me, and I couldn’t believe that I tried to change it. “I love you, Fitz.“ He added in his storm of my name. Such words that I thought I would never hear again...they almost made me cry on his shoulder. I love you, Uncle Fitz...Yes Fitz, I’ll marry you...Marry Christmas, Fitz, we love you.....................................I hope you die alone, Fitz. I just couldn’t help myself, I kissed him tenderly on the largest scar he had, and whispered his name in return. “Mitch.“ Although when I did say his name, he back away from me and laughed. “I’m Michael.“

He snow came down lightly outside and sparkled orange under the old streetlights, identical to the ones on the bridge, which I didn’t have to worry about then. We walked out of the building together, side by side, and stopped to watch the snow fall. My breath came out in heavy bursts, because of all the stairs we had to climb down. It turned to thick clouds of steam, and was carried by the light wind until it disappeared. Mitch... or Michael, seemed to be holding his breath, and looking behind him, on the sides, all around like someone was after him. It kind of took me a minute to remember people were. He shivered, so I took his hand I struck and blew on it between my hands, making it warmer, but also stealing a kiss. We stood for a long while, and we both forgot everything, I even forgot my car. We just clasped hands, and walked. We had nowhere to go, and had no plans, but we didn’t want to stay in this town anymore, and I didn’t want to be reminded in my mail to keep taking Abilify. I didn’t want to see my wife on the streets, I didn’t want to cross the bridge, or just remember the sad times with Jessica. I had almost forgotten the good times with her until then. I through my car keys out of my pocket, because I wouldn’t need them anymore, and I wrapped Michael in my coat, and he nuzzled his poor beaten face beside me. Taking one last look at the office building, we disappeared into the dark night, and we never came back to work.

The End

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