[0400 in the morning. Thirty minutes before the alarm goes off. I’m blocked. Could sit there, drink coffee and Facebook my brain down the gutter. Or I start typing something. Anything. Make of it what you will.]
In one hand a cigarette, self-rolled and crooked, in the other a smoking gun. He puts it in his mouth, the cigarette, inhaling dry air. Sucking in tiny leaves of tobacco. He never liked self-rolled cigarettes. But it was all he could find in this place. He kicks over the canister. Spilling the last of the sharp-smelling liquid. Somewhere, someone moans. Quietly, dressed in underwear and agony. Another dry inhale. He fumbles for the match with one hand. With one hand, he scratches it against the barrel of his gun, then he holds both the burning match and hot barrel close to his face. Exhaling the first deep breath of relieving smoke, he tosses the burning match a few feet in front of him. He turns around, walks out the front door. Everything behind him goes up in thick, gasoline-fueled flames.
She waits in her car. Looking, guessing, waiting. She sits here every day, sometimes even at night. When he goes to work, she is here to see him. When he comes home, she will be waiting. Every single day. He never knows she even exists. He walks right by her, never knowing how much she cares. But she, this one she knows for sure, she will show him one day how much. She loves him. She needs him. There’s nothing she doesn’t know about him. Every detail, every moment of his life. Clippings of hair and nails, she dug from his garbage. Perfectly rolled cigarette butts. Also, what he has for supper. Kraft dinner more often than not. She smiles, thinking of their perfect life together. One day, she says, one day.
This morning, he doesn’t come out. She’s starring at the window. Second floor on the south corner. The curtains partial closed. As always. Enough to keep the illusion of privacy, but not enough to keep her from seeing him marching around in his underwear. Maybe he does know. Maybe he does pose for her, teasing her. Playing fun little games with his wife-to-be-one-day.
Today, there’s a stranger. Through the half-closed curtain, she watches him walk back and forth. He carries something heavy. A big bucket, maybe, or canister. Right in front of the window, with his back to her, he looks up. He takes out a pistol and shoots. Her heart stops for a moment. Then all her hopes explode in flames. She’s running. Past a stranger with a crooked cigarette. Self-rolled. The flames are coming closer. She runs worried. Panicked. Strangely excited.
He’s still breathing. He’s sucking in some smoke, breathing out more smoke. She crawls towards him, ducking under the burning ceiling. She holds him tight. She is here for him. Nobody else, just the two of them. Together in the heat of the moment. Now he has to love her.