"There's a story within me that has yet to see the light of day. I owe it to myself & the world to read it in its entirety one day. I don't care if it becomes a lousy paperback shelved at Jewel or if it becomes some teenage soul's bible. I'll finish it one way or another..." ~ Lauren ManickePenny for your thoughts... Submit
I took my “Sometime Around Midnight” and changed it up quite a bit by giving it a romantically depressing twist.
xo Lauren ox
Robotically planting one foot in front of the other, he didn’t even have to put any effort into it. Treading up to the door that had been plastered with band posters and stickers, hands shoved into the pockets of his black pea coat. As if the bar itself welcomed him back with open arms, the door swung open. A couple on their way out held the door for him as he made his way into the nicotine haze.
He fit right into the place: dirty, unshaven, reeking already of cigarettes and whiskey. The purple bags under his eyes and four day old scruff added about a year or two to his face which bore no expression under the chaos of light brown hair.
There was a slight squeak under his bowlegged tread from the freshly showered pavement outside. The sound of his boots hitting the floor matched the beat of a tragic tune being played by the headlining band of the evening. The turnout was pretty decent. The band might have been something he would consider listening to. But even if there could have been one hundred naked Playboy Bunnies jam packed into this place or the singer was zombified Kurt Cobain— he still couldn’t give any less of a shit than he did already.
He was there for one reason and one reason only. He found his way to the bar and slumped onto the closest tattered stool before him.
The bartender took one look at him and didn’t even bother to card him. What did it matter to him if the kid was underage or not? This was a career that catered to the hopeless, lost, stressed, heartbroken, and depressed. Thirty years of the job under his belt told him that this kid had been to hell and back. The bartender put down the glass he had been wiping dry, and tried to make small talk. The kid just slouched over the bar, locked in a thousand mile stare. By the intensity in his eyes, the bartender could tell that there was a battle raging in this kid’s head.
All the kid uttered was three words: “Whiskey. Straight up.”
Without another word, a glass had appeared before him. The brown liquid sloshed up the sides of the glass as the bartender filled it half way.
The bartender watched as he tossed it back without even wincing at the taste. He nodded to the bartender who refilled it again. Whether it was out of pity or convenience, the bartender left him alone with the bottle to take care of other patrons.
As more people flooded into the bar, the noise level sky rocketed. This was exactly what he wanted, to not be able to hear himself think. If the liquor didn’t numb the thoughts, then the noise would drown them out.
In a matter of thirty minutes, the place was completely packed. Out of the corner of his eye, the sparkle of a brunette woman’s dress catches his attention. He does a double take—his heart begins to race.
Is it her?
Anxiety kicks in, but only for a few moments. A wave of disappointment washes over him as she turns around.
He runs through the same motions a few more times until it finally set in: It can’t be her.It’s never going to be her.
His hands gripped the glass like it was the last shred of hope he had left. He sunk the third glass then refilled it himself. He glared into the glass, projecting his memories onto the swirling surface of his drink.
Jolting his forward, someone had knocked into him causing his barstool to rotate slightly. When he lifted his head, his heart dropped as their eyes met. Like a hurricane attacking the ocean, the memories swirled and collided with each other in his head. He shook them from his head as he hesitantly smiled a “hello.”
She seemed to glide over to him in some form of beatific grace. The room started to spin around them as he tried to rationalize her being there. He attempted to piece words together to create the questions that attacked his brain and heart from all directions, but the knotting in his stomach and a pain in his chest seemed to shackle them, keeping them from escaping.
She delicately placed her hand on his arm as she leaned in to press her lips against his cheek .
Doing this, he caught a whiff of her perfume, though it was faint, it was still as he remembered. He could never place whether it was fruity, floral, or both. She dragged her lips over to his ear and whispered ever so softly, “Come find me”.
She then pulled away. He noticed that she was wearing the white sundress he bought for her birthday last year. It triggered another memory that he had to force his eyes shut to fight back the tears. When he finally was able to get hold of himself and muster up enough oxygen to gasp her name, a small train of three or four people cut between them creating a temporary wall. Once they were gone, he was fixated back on her… Only she had disappeared.
He craned his head and searched every in every direction. Nothing. She was gone.
The tears stung and blurred his vision. He rubbed his eyes hoping, to smudge the memories from his sight. Bit by painful bit, he was dwindling away into nothingness. After his fifth glass, he was hoping the alcohol would’ve drowned whatever was left of him. If not, it should’ve at least knocked him on his ass by now. But he still didn’t feel anything; nothing but the agony of his thoughts. His grasp on the glass tightened and tightened until a faint cracking sound came from within his hand. Strangers around him began to whisper and with wide and disgusted eyes, gawk at the sight of this walking human tragedy, but he didn’t see them; only her dancing in and out of memories in his head.
He grabbed the balled up wad of crumpled cash out of his pocket and dropped it down onto the counter. Whatever was in there would pay for the amount that he took.
The other patrons watched intently as he shoved off from the bar and sauntered out the door. Once he disappeared, they swapped curious looks with each other, and then their eyes settled on the glass that he left behind: a nasty crack branched off from the bottom of the glass all the way to the brim.
He shoved his hands back into his pockets as he made his way down the block. Armageddon was raging in his brain. So caught up in agony of her memories, he didn’t even realize it was pouring and that he was soaking wet from head to toe. His body set to autopilot, and before he knew it, he heard the rusty screech of the iron fence.
He didn’t even need to read the cold marble structure, his body just simply knew as he fell to his knees. Sobbing, he lowered his head to the ground and cried into the ground. The raw emotion seemed to surge from every inch of his being. Broken up and choppy, the air managed to find its way back to his lungs, but it hurt like hell to exhale and killed to inhale.
“I’m sorry,” He whispered to the earth, “I am so sorry…”
Finally, He pushed himself up off the ground and took off, not before kissing the headstone before him.
Fiddling for the key to his apartment, he made up his mind. He opened the door, and headed straight for the bathroom where he shed his wet clothing.
Rubbing his hair dry with a towel, he paced around wracking his brain for some form of solution. He tossed the towel in a corner across the room and then dropped onto his bed and focused on the ceiling. He couldn’t keep doing this. Life without her—it just wasn’t an option.
A knock sounded at his front door. He forced himself up, and answered it. There she stood looking as radiant as ever. Just like the day they met. She merely stood there smiling.
“Found you.” He whispered.
She responded by wrapping her arms around his neck, and pressing her lips to his as she shoved him inside and kicked the door closed.
At 9:15 the next morning, a young man was found dead upon the bed in his apartment. An empty bottle of Rohypnol was found beside him on his nightstand.
“It was 22 years ago when I made my first suicide attempt. My umbilical cord was tight and ready around my neck. It’s pathetic—even then, I knew I was doomed to a worthless existence. The doctors cut away at my mother’s flesh—splitting her womb trying to save my already twisted soul. Who would have thought my attempts would run my life.
When I was six, I managed to drink a fourth of a bottle of Drano before my mother caught me and called 911. All I can remember were those obnoxious flashing red lights and the Asian men in the back of an ambulance trying to calm my mother down. It was yet another nasty ordeal at the hospital—little did I know I’d be back there three years later for slicing my hand while carving a pumpkin.
Some would just say that I’m accident prone…But who’s calling them accidents? I was always a happy child, believe what you will, but as time dragged on I could feel the cold noxious fingertips of this insane asylum of a world take hold of me. The daisies died off and became weeds, the butterflies faded to moths, and dreary peaks of morality settled in where the happiness once frolicked.
Who’s depressed? Mom would always accuse me of such a pathetic diagnoses that doctors throw around to make it seem like they have the answers…but do they really? Was there not once a time when a human being can go around stating the poignantly despicable truth about the exasperating lives society leads without being seen as a mental patient? No, I think not.
What you don’t see are the faces those shrinks make when they aren’t putting on their acts for the public eye—you know which one I’m talking about. The one that makes the realization that they are exactly like us…or should I say like me? Behind the closed doors of this place, you’ll find that the people running it are exactly like us, if not worse: vile, eccentric, uncontrollable, power hungry, perhaps even a bit…insane. They are addicted to our pleas and cries to go home—to them, it’s like a whole new high. Hell, even last night one of the patients was given the ole traditional Aleremy Virtuance Asylum greeting; they strapped him in a jacket of which they allowed him to hold himself as the symphony of his cries were muffled by the padded walls and floors.
Sure, I’ve been in there, but the doctors were disappointed by the results: no screaming or crying—just the lovely sound of silence as they left me there in the darkness to mull over my…actions.
I stared at the door for those long four hours until one of the wardens came and got me. To tell you the truth, I think it’s quite nice inside there. I don’t have to hear the nurses gossiping about their drunken escapes with their one night stands, or the custodians shameless eyeing them as they slowly sweep past them.
Filth and greed surround us, yet the majority of those people who actually realize this are much too occupied in these grotesque walls that will too soon be our mortuary… We’re all just waiting to be burned or buried alive in this wicked place. I’ve already made peace with this when I was in my mother’s womb…mother. I can still smell her cheap floral perfume and her ostentatiously blonde hair. She had wanted to be ever so much like Marilyn Monroe.
I had no problems with my mother. We were simply acquaintances in a lifetime. From the moment I was born, she mentioned to my father, who hated me from the start, that I was an evil child…little did she know my plans for her in the future.
During my thirteenth attempt, the realization hit me…maybe-just maybe my purpose in life wasn’t to lop myself off. I loosened the noose and stepped off the chair that I made in shop class, and grabbed the camping pocket knife that my father got me—hope I’m man enough for you now, Dad.
I walked down the hall straight to my parent’s room. My father just took a hot shower after coming home from working on diesels and the dock. I don’t know why they say the weapon of your first kill always feel heavier than the rest…but the knife in my hand was light as a feather. I walked over to him, as if about to ask him for something as little as money, and the next thing I knew the lovely crimson pooled around the lump a flesh that now occupied a huge space on the floor.
I would’ve just left it at that, but it’s better to be safe than sorry—so a few more jabs and slices were added to secure the job…he didn’t scream, or shout, or even flail about. He just laid there gurgling and spitting, trying to get out one last retort or request. I shrugged and headed for the stairs. Now that I look back on the beauteous occasion, I think my old man must’ve been in shock—oh well; it’s over and done with now.
I slowly slunk into the living room. I could hear my mother commandeering a whistle to Frank Sinatra; every now and then bits of lyric would escape from her cherry red lips. She bobbed a bit while she finished up making dinner. Everything was set and ready in the dining room for an adorable all-American family dinner, too bad I’d be the only one to enjoy it. As she took the ham out of the oven, I waited for her to set it down onto the kitchen table before I took my action…waste not-want not.
She looked satisfied with herself, as if she’s never made a ham before, taking in her pride as she danced over to the phone on the wall to call up our neighbor Betty to brag. I couldn’t do it while she was on the phone: witnesses.
Her hand reached for the dial when I drove the metal deep within she let out a loud shriek that shook a few of the glasses on the yellow counter. She tried stabilizing herself by holding onto the phone jack, but she fell, hitting the temple of her head on one of her favored table chairs…no movement. I kicked her onto her back to see the nasty gash on the side of her head—it suited her!
Like I did with my father, I made sure she was gone—slicing and jabbing major veins. Slowly, her bleach blonde Marilyn Monroe-esque hair, started to turn scarlet. My work here was done.
I clearly remember mocking what my parent’s reactions would be if they saw their bloodied Picasso house.
“Tisk, tisk, tisk,” my mother would scold, “What would the neighbors say?”
Dad would huff, “You’re going to pay for all of this, even if it has to come out of your college fund!”
I laughed it up a bit. Freedom sunk in. Sure, I felt big headed for a while, but I grabbed the ham and the side dishes and set the table for one. I ate peacefully that night, for it had been the most joyous night of my life. I’ve broken from the womb of humanity—cut my ties to society—drank in the ever lasting moments of insanity while I sliced, with the same knife that brought me to this liberation, the sweetest ham I will have ever digested.”
The psychologist dropped his pencil and let it roll around on the floor. His jaw was dropped and the left eye twitched.
“I’m sorry, doctor. Was it something I said?”
Sometime Around Midnight
By Lauren Manicke
Robotically putting one foot in front of the other, he didn’t even have to put any effort into it. Hands shoved into the pockets of his coat, he tread up to the door that had been plastered with band posters and stickers, and as if the bar itself welcomed him back with open arms, the door swung open. A couple on their way out held the door for him as he made his way into haze of cigarette and cigar smoke.