The season was spring. A moment ago he had been walking on a sidewalk leading to an apartment building’s lobby. Now, every part of him hurt. His neck and shoulder most of all, because, of course, he’d been stabbed. The cowards would never have tried it alone, but they weren’t. A group of five of the kids was enough, and he knew that, so he slipped his wallet from his back pocket slowly, deliberately, and handed it over.
For whatever reason his money wasn’t enough and they attacked him. It was infuriating, because now he’d have to wait before paying Dan a visit. The disappointment was the worst part, until the world began to leave him and he thought, for the first time, that this is the end.
What happened then was a blank, but he had a feeling of a great lapse of time. It felt distant, a long ago memory like the one of the junkie he married. Rachel. Her sister had jumped from a far up window while visiting Rachel at the university. He had met her that way, had helped her through the grief. So distressing was her sister’s death that she gave up the rock herself. At least he thought she did--she said she did--but years later when the same door-to-door salesman visited his house twice in one week and was just leaving upon his arrival both times, he suspected otherwise. The salesman was Dan, and he really was a salesman--she hadn’t lied about that.
Rachel couldn’t withdraw money from their joint account without him noticing, he figured, so that must be why she had been paying Dan with the only other thing she could offer. That was something he knew for sure; he’d discovered its truth in a terrible way. It was the third time he’d seen the salesman, but this time he hadn’t been seen. They hadn’t even closed the door. Dan hadn’t even taken off his shoes.
After that, he waited outside, heating, boiling. He followed Dan to an apartment building and waiting outside for six hours, tossing this decision to fate as a fifty-fifty chance that Dan lived onthisside of the building. Dan did--second floor, third from the left—and by then he was beyond angry, he was ready not only to kill but to agonize and torture.
As soon as Dan had gone back inside the apartment, he stepped from his car, jumped the muddy gutter full of trash left behind by the spring thaw, and then happened upon a group of teenagers. Recalling it again, he must relive it again, but that didn’t bother him much. All he wanted was to release this hatred that had been with him since that day so long ago. Fucking Dan. Fucking Rachel. Fucking kids. Next chance he got, he would make something of it.
He was confronted by the teenagers, was stabbed, fell to the ground. His consciousness bled out. He could hear nothing, see nothing, feel everything, smell the sodden trash, taste the grainy mud. Then the scene gave way to another, like a single stream of consciousness moving erratically through time and space. He was in a an apartment, this time in the living room facing an empty couch. It had to be Dan’s. The layout matched the geometry of the building, and anyway, it just felt right.
The downward angle of his newest advent allowed him to see under and behind himself, where the shapes of two people laid atop the familiar mattress and under the blankets. They were Dan and his girlfriend or whore or wife--it didn’t matter. Shame it wasn’t Rachel.
Just as he thought he would--he was getting used to this now--he was moving slowly, this time backward, but still toward them. Like every other time, always toward them, toward justice and, as he imagined, the indescribable relief of releasing his rage.
It seemed slow. Too slow.
His mind wandered from one tortuous action to another until he forced the images from his mind. He’d rather the violence come from within, and only at the time of release. Then it would be his emotions, everything he feels, all of it dark, all incarnate in physical form.
He passed the threshold of the accordion door.