Jerry did not have a family, a wife, or even a valuable relationship with anyone but his mom. And that relationship was more like a sentimental keep-sake at the back of his closet.
And yet he called himself popular. He went clubbing every friday night, picking up random drunk girls, and pretending he was the king. His friends were but a hoard of familiar faces and names, their personalities and egos flaring, and their cheap humour only potent enough to cause a drunkard to snort whiskey from their nose.
Jerry had no career, but most importantly, he had no purpose to his life. He had plenty of obsessions and desires and addictions, but he lived for not a single passion. His mind revolved around sex, alcohol, and the badly mixed music from the slums of the american pop charts.
But tonight, through the wash of intoxication, the droning beat of the music, and the flaring hormones, he could feel that something wasn't quite right. The mood was wrong. Something inside of him was unsettled. He'd seen something and it'd made him uneasy. But he had a hard time conversing with his emotions at times like these, and so he'd ignored it for the past hour.
Stepping outside for a breath of cigarette infused air, he felt the heavy cement through the soles of his shoes and the mist of night rain against his sweaty face.
Something was terribly wrong. Maybe he was going to be sick. But this early at night? That was rare. No, it was something different. He'd seen a face. He'd recognized it from a dream. Who's face?
The answer was at the edge of his mind when chaos suddenly arrived as a pair of headlights fell across his face and an engine's roar shot toward him out of the night.
He gave a hoarse cry and dove against the brick wall of the building. The jeep narrowly missed him, and he could feel the wind as the vehicle whipped past in a squeel of tires and a grunt of power.
The jeep came to a skidding stop, honked twice, and then accelerated into the night.
Jerry climbed shakily to his feet. "Shit!" he exclaimed.
The bouncer raised an eyebrow. "That was a drunk driver," he said mildly. "They'll be the end of you."
Jerry felt a chilly sensation rise up around his shoulders. He gave the bouncer a glare. "Shit," he repeated. "Does that happen often?"
"Every night," the bouncer replied. He was a young man, maybe twenty-two, but his physical shape and powerful stance made him look more like thirty.
Jerry moved to slip by him, but the bouncer took a step to the side. Jerry's mouth gaped. "Get outta my way," he barked. "I just came out, and you know it. So lemme back in."
"That's all for you," the bouncer said. "Go home."
"Fuck," Jerry complained, "Stop messin' with me. I've got a girl waitin' for me back in there."
"You've had your chance with the girl. And you screwed it up; now get lost."
Something in the back of Jerry's mind knew that the bouncer was referring to some other incident. "You got somethin' against me?" spat Jerry.
"Yes," the bouncer said. "You're still here." He crossed his arms and his black leather gloves turned into fists.
Jerry would have fought, he would've shoved, he would've spat, but something in the bouncer's eyes told him it would be best to walk away.
And so Jerry left. But he was most certainly not going to abandon the night. He would find another club. But to his dismay, that horrible haunting feeling returned with full strength; each new welcoming door of sound and light became suddenly blocked.
"That's all for you," each bouncer would say. "Go home."
By two o' clock, Jerry had lost it, and he promptly ended up in jail by three. And as he was sitting in the police station with the eyes of a raging lunatic, the haunting face finally came back to him. Only this time the face was on the other side of the glass.
It was a man in his late thirties with razor cut facial hair and light brown hair. His eyes, colder than any Jerry had ever seen, watched him from behind a pair of blue spectacles. And Jerry recognized the face. It sent fear through his entire body, but it was an animal fear without a shard of reasoning behind it.
The man whispered a few words to the tall, commanding officers, and then he laid a single glance upon Jerry before striding from the room. Moments later, Jerry was released without any charges but the familiar demand of, "Go home."
And so Jerry stumbled home, passing out on a park bench for three hours along the way, but finally arriving at his grungy apartment by six thirty in the morning.
He shuffled in with muddy socks upon his feet and his shadowed face puffing with the odor of rancid alcohol. And he was halfway to his bathroom when he heard the sounds from his living room.
"I don't know Bert," the happy voice announced, "but I sure think families are great."
Jerry froze, his eyes staring ahead without seeing, his ears perked up, and his head ringing.
"Families are such happy things," laughed the voice. "There is the father, and the mother, and the..."
And then the faint sounds of the muppets vanished into the background as Jerry heard a new voice, one full of innocence, music, happiness, and joy. It was a laugh, and it'd come from his living room couch. Someone was watching Saturday morning cartoons on his plasma television.
As if he was a cartoon character himelf, Jerry stumbled into the living room. And there, sitting on his couch, jumping up and down with excitement, and clapping her hands to Bert and Ernie was a child of about three and a half years old.
Jerry looked at the tv. Then he looked back at the child. Then he wished he could pass out.
The child gave him an adoring look. "Papa?" she asked.
Jerry shivered, and then suddenly he knew what had felt so horrible wrong.