Merry Christmas from MorbidbookS!
“FOR ALL THE MARBLES”
Shitting in Tall Cotton:
CHESS MASTER HAS BEEN right about everything. She told me there’s nothing she can’t do, there’s no move she can’t make and there is no game she can’t win. I can’t disagree with her. After all, I’m sitting pretty in Paradise Acres. You’d think I’d be happy. Instead, I am crying in my comfy recliner, trying to get my courage up to do the do. I’ve got the knife right here. I’m getting comfortably numb enough to go through with it. I should just do it, already: right here and now. Get it over and done with, once and for all. My name is Orlyn Farr and the guilt pounding inside is just straight fucking killing me.
There is no one nearby. I am all alone as the distant cold sun shines on me. It cannot distinguish between the sinner and the saint. This is good. I turn my face up to feel its chilly kiss. I am above ground and beneath the solar-farmed, GRID powered, force field. We are protected plenty here at Paradise Acres. Trees and shrubs, flowering plants and grass flourish here. The GRID keeps the Little Ice Age conditions on the outside, where it belongs.
My flat looks out onto an Eden-like stretch of park land. The expertly designed and rigorously maintained park is exclusive to the rich seniors that live here. I am one of them. I can see my contemporaries as they troll and stroll about the grounds, with varying degrees of difficulty. These ancient shells represent the very top of the social and economic food-chain. Paradise Acres houses only those of us connected enough or rich enough, to buy back our geriatric years. A much smaller, but significant number of residents were lucky enough to win their spot by playing tournament BINGO.
Here I sit, still contemplating. All the residents here at Paradise Acres are continually monitored for our vital signs. The Medical care here is top-drawer. I am being monitored, too. No exceptions, so I will have to time this deal just so. If I’m going to go through with this, I’ve got to yank out all the indwelling sensors with quickness. The Medico machines are so fast. They will be here in two shakes of a lamb’s tail. It will make an interesting race: to see if the machines can get here before I expire. They probably will, but I have a very sharp knife and the proper amount of guilt required to see this sad business through, down to the bitter end. They won’t be able to re-animate me. Two big slices in the proper locations and I am done for, no matter how quickly help arrives.
The knife is on the table, right beside my right hand. It is all ready to rock and roll. I pour myself out another double-shot (why not?) of single malt and slug it back. I can feel the Demerol injection I gave myself earlier. It’s reeling in me, reeling me in. The Demerol sends out marching army ants of foggy bliss. They are taking no prisoners. I’m smoking the very best cloned bud-smoke that can be had. The smoke is priced per gram like posh cocaine. Here I’m a chimney stack. I’m treating this huge spliff of shiny-haired purple shit like it is only low-grade brick-packed dirt weed. I indulge in this manner, pert near every day. I will continue to be coddled in this amazingly civilized manner until the day my old ass kicks. This could be next week, or two decades from now. In a lot of very real ways, the timing is up to me.
The tears that fall free from my sobbing eyes would make my recent laser corrections sting something terrible, if it wasn’t for the Demerol. My sad display counters my opulent surroundings. This is the sort of despair poor people have, or sick people. I am neither. According to my last full-body scan, I am completely disease-free. I am comfortable inside and out. I will never, ever have to see a dark, dank underground tunnel again. I will never have to breathe in everyone else’s stinking re-cycled breath. I will never have to watch my own breath plume out cold and rancid before me; always shivering, never getting all the way warm. Here in Paradise, I can stroll about the park, the entire length and width, in super short sporty-shorts, if I choose. I can go to the Recreation Center and dance with the blue-hairs, or visit the brothel if I crave something I’d want to look at naked. I can get prescriptions for any flavor of narcotic I desire. Any and all of it at any time I desire. I am this rich. Yet I have a knife nearby. I am so very sad.
I think of Chess Master and then the little girl. She didn’t deserve what she got. Not by a long shot. I should have opted-out.
Determined, I reach for the blade.
“There are two classes of men; those who are content to yield to circumstances and who play whist; those who aim to control circumstances, and play chess.”
Mr. Big Winner:
I’M THE LUCKY ONE.
My knees popped and cracked as I stood victorious. I stood too quickly, too excited. I forgot to hold my breath. I took in a big one to let loose my WHOOP. The sedative in the foggy mist made me swoon as soon as it touched my wet lungs. I could barely rebel out my victory yell. Hands grabbed hold of me from all directions. They belonged to the Halflings that made up most of Chess Master’s goon squad. Hands are a bit too generalized. Nevertheless, I witness a cacophony of swirling flurry of flesh, feathers, fur, claws and scales. In a furious rush a protective shield is forced roughly over my face. One of the more expensive dental implants in my mouth has been loosened in the exchange. I tried my level best not to choke on it as they try to hustle my old ass out of the gaming hall.
The goon squad surrounded me on all sides. The swarm of players de-crying their fate got shakily up from their places before the BINGO screens. Dozens of them began hurling themselves at us. The goons hit the oldies with neural disruptors, making them vomit and shit themselves. The biggest goons used their thick and strong iguana tails to snap at and toss bodily the other geezers out of our way. The weakened geriatric bones of these hapless players shattered on contact. It was soggy and gruesome to hear. Their screams were deafening. If I’d still had a heart, it would have been wrenched right out of me.
I watched as a goon’s fistful of claws sliced across a senior’s carotid artery. The hot spray lashed out, stinging my eyes and making my cloudy cataracts blunt even more so. I couldn’t see for shit, but I really didn’t need to. The oldies were fighting for their very lives, attacking me and my guards as the exit neared. A blue-haired wig flew past my field of vision. I could not even see who it belonged to.
It was bad. Even through the mask and face shield that was meant to protect me from the knock-out gas, I could easily smell the fear as the shit exploded out of hundreds of dying assholes, seemingly all at once. They were begging for mercy from a God that is long gone. A still twitching robotic lower leg prosthesis for a below-the-knee amputation bounced off one of the goons clutching me. The sedative mist was getting thick. The dull, yellow lights came on, sending a ghastly glow on all the frightened, saggy flesh. A pair of corneal implants flew by, hit a wall and bounced on the floor before being crushed by the panicked herd. The noise in the confined space of the gaming hall was deafening. The goons kept shouting orders in my near-deaf ears. With the noise I, of course, couldn’t hear a blessed thing.
One of the doomed tried to shove his way into our group. I don’t think the goons even noticed him at first. He began hacking and coughing. His face turned as dark as frost-bite as the old fart tried to gamely bring up his artificial lung. He probably meant it as a bribe. When they finally did take notice of the lunger, the goons straight dome clocked the poor sap.
By then the floor was slippy-slick with urine, blood and feces. I was the moving middle of the goons. They held on to me tight enough for it to have been painful. Even so, I slipped on the wet floor, completely out of control. I was sliding most of my body one way, while my right leg went the other way. My poor knee exploded as it folded under me. I hit the deck, but the goons hauled me straight once more. I was cringing as my destroyed leg was bent at a painfully inappropriate angle and was being dragged on the floor behind me.
It got progressively worse, the closer we got to the exit. Another contingent of goons awaited us on the outside of the plexi-glass viewing wall. The bettors were banging raucously on the wall beside them, just like the deranged hockey fans of old. The rich bettors were all drunk as a skunk and high as a kite, spitting while they yelled. Their breath smelled of smoke and drink and real meat protein. Their pupils were the size of dinner plates.
The crowd on the inside with us was all bunched up. They threw wild punches at one another, choking the shit out of each other with an all-out, end-of-the-world kind of madness. All the while this Roman spectacle played across the view screens, far and wide. It was the most popular sporting event in the world.
Betting on the right player to be The Big Winner is one thing, but most of the Fed Notes made on the tournament involved what was happening right here and now. Bettors bet on everything. They bet on who dies first, last, the fights, how close their horse made it to the wall before succumbing, who was hurt, in what manner, and on and on.
The players’ pleading shouts overwhelmed the sedative mist that was supposed to make them docile. It’s not working and things were just getting worse.
As we neared the exit, the goons were locked and loaded. They began inadvertently shooting down anyone that wasn’t me or a goon. Bald heads and liver-spotted faces disappeared in an exploding vapor of blood and brain. The door opened and the goons forced me through the opening and the safety of outside. We found ourselves in the hallway, right next to the viewing wall. The goons shut and secure-lock the door to the gaming hall from the outside. The gomers were pasting themselves pleading against the wall.
The bettors screamed with both joy and dismay at those who made it to the window. The big time ticked down. The cyanide pellets were dropped and they broke open in perfect deadly harmony. The players panicked anew. The bettors keenly observed through the glass as well as the over-hanging viewing screen, the order in which the horses were dropping out of the race. And they did not die straight away. Cyanide takes up all the oxygen receptor sites, so dying isn’t instantaneous. The sedative mist is supposed to calm the players down enough to be accepting of their fate. This crowd was anything but docile.
The betting crowd wasn’t much better. They got themselves so worked up, that they were practically foaming at the mouth. They were shouting at this one to hang-in there, and that one to just fucking die, already.
The players were suffocating to death, no matter how much air they were able to breathe in. And because the sedative mist was short-changed, they all died with their eyes wide open. It was horrifying to witness.
After making a hole in the betting crowd, the goons tossed me and my fucked leg onto a stretcher. I pulled the mask and face-shield free and let it drop to the floor as they hurried me along. They wheeled me to the VIP Infirmary. Just as I pulled the displaced dental implant from the back of my throat, we rolled through the door. I felt an instant of relief. I made it. I clutched the dental implant with a tight fist as the Medico machines took over. They shot this old boy up, straightaway, thankfully narcing me into bliss.
What a fucking day. I was still awake, but feeling no pain. I glanced over to the partition. The curtain separating us was billowing out and I caught sight of the poor fuck who’s donating his knee. I say donating, because I suspect it wasn’t the boy’s idea. He was kept on stand-by because we were matched, him and I. My body won’t reject his parts. There is a great deal of Fed Notes to be had from genetic harvesting. Fresh viable organs also bring in money, but if you can find an exact genetic match, your avatar can keep you alive far beyond what is your right. Like everything else, harvesting takes Notes and connections.
From the way he screaming and carrying on, it seemed to me like the boy had changed his mind. But he’s appears to be a young buck. He’ll recover with a robotic replacement, just fine. Besides, I’m sure he had already given the honorarium of Fed Notes to his loved ones, so he has to go through with it.
The boy is a pawn. I’m smiling through my thick veil, feeling even a little sorry for the poor kid that’s got to give up his knee for me. But I don’t feel too bad. We are all just game pieces, waiting to be moved about at the whims of the Chess Master. I put the king in check-mate when I got BINGO first.
I slipped all the way under as the Medic machines scooped out my bad knee and replaced it with the boy’s. It’s a great knee. Sure it’s a previously owned one, but it’s got low mileage.
When I came to, my new knee felt numb and full, but I’d expected that. What I didn’t count on was both my ears tinny buzzing and hurting like a motherfuck. I began stirring and a Tech came over.
“We, hello there, Mr. Big Winner!” she said, sitting down beside my cot.
“That’s me,” I replied, then asked: “Still no word on Vanessa?”
“I’m sorry, Mr. Farr,” she began.
“Call me Orlyn,” I interrupted.
“I’m truly sorry, Orlyn, but unfortunately there is still no word from The Harbor. I’m sure they are searching high and low for your granddaughter.”
I nod. Naturally, I wasn’t expecting any good news from back home. There are scores of underground tunnels in The Harbor, and Vanessa could be anywhere. I knew they were pissing in the wind, but it was important that I was seen asking after the girl’s welfare.
“Do you feel up to a little chat?” the Tech asked me.
“Sure,” I enthusiastically replied, “If you hit me up with some more of that happy juice you’ve got flowing into me, I’ll talk and talk until I start making shit up. I’ve got the worst case of self-induced flu you ever did see.”
“I’m sure you do,” she begins with a cheesy grin.
“It was the last hurrah, after all,” I explained.
The organizers of the Annual Sixth Decade BINGO Tournament kept their peepers on us at all times. I suspect our hotel rooms are monitored. Hell, they probably even have sensors in the shitter. Bettors will do anything to get an edge on the betting. So, the Tech could easily have been sitting behind a view screen, watching me partying my ass off from the other side of the resort. Maybe she was calculating the final betting odds.
“You really tied one on, didn’t you, Orlyn?” She asked me, nodding her head like she understood. I nodded back at her, but sheepishly. Fucking that zombie boy still kind of freaked me out. It’s not something I do every day of the week. “I’m sorry you are still feeling poorly,” she said. Let me see if I can help you with that,” and dialed me up another nice dose. “How’s that, then?” She asked. “Are you getting enough?”
I smile at her, appreciative. They weren’t stingy with the pain-killers, either. I could vouch for that. I ran my tongue exploring around the inside of my mouth. My dental implant was imbedded, right back where it was supposed to be. They fixed it and I am grateful to them. As I began to feel the warmth encasing me, the out-processing began.
“What’s wrong with my ears?” I ask, wondering about that high-pitched, uncomfortable buzzing.
“Now that you’ve won, Orlyn, you are entitled to Deluxe Medical. So, we took the liberty, while you were unconscious, and installed a nice new pair of cochlea implants.”
“Well, isn’t that fabulous,” I stated. Deluxe Medical is wonderful!
“That’s right,” she stated cheerfully. “The implants were approved by Chess Master, herself.”
“She approved it? Why?”
“Yes, Sir, she sure did and when the buzzing dissipates in a few days, your hearing should be as good as new. As to why, all I can say is that she was adamant that you’d be taken very good care of.”
So, that’s why I am conversing with a human Tech. Normally, I would have been out-processed by a micro-processor Medico machine. Instead, I got a real flesh and blood human. She wasn’t even formerly-living, as the dead zombies prefer to be called. Now that I think of it, the dead probably aren’t with-it enough to collect information and crunch data anyway. Mostly the cold dead tend to be on the unskilled side of the labor pool. But Mr. Orlyn Farr got himself a real live human being type person. Damn, I was moving up in the world!
“Will I be talking with her, again?” I wonder. Not that I really wanted to, but she might.
“Well, as I’m sure you are aware that her time is exceedingly valuable, so probably not.”
“Of course,” I replied, “I was just wondering.”
“Is there anything I can help you with? Any questions, perhaps?” the Tech responded.
I looked up at the Tech, who was still smiling down at me. I did have one question. It was the only one I had an interest in being answered: “How long until I get my Winnings?”
“You will get your prizes, very soon, Orlyn. Out-processing won’t take long at all,” she promised. “And then it’s off you go to Paradise Acres!”
“Perfect,” I said and closed my eyes. They don’t need to be open anymore to talk to this Tech. So, I lay there, answering all her fucking questions.
I tried my level best not to ruin it by thinking too much about little Vanessa.
“Chess is ruthless: you’ve got to be prepared to kill people.” -Nigel Short
My Last Meal and Testament:
THE TOURNEY OFFICIALS ORGANIZED the BINGO Cabaret and Mixer for us tournament players and volunteers. It was being held in the fancy-schmancy grand ballroom of the Bogota resort. It’s always a first-class wing-a-ding, and this year’s was no exception.
I was waiting in my hotel room. I was smoking a nice, fat, complimentary joint while receiving some complimentary head from a re-animated corpse. Although she was cold and blue and not much of a conversationalist, the formerly-living did suck one Hell of a good dick.
Now that the chamber of my geriatric love gun has been emptied, I could finish getting ready. The honor bar was unlocked. Inside were pills and powders and tiny syringes of clear fluids galore. They were all labeled by name, as well as action. I was trying to decide what all I wanted to imbibe. I was getting frustrated at all the choices. Usually, the only drugs I saw were the ones other people were doing. I racked my memory banks, but it had been so long, I don’t even recall what I used to like, besides weed. So, I chose the pragmatic route and took them all. I tossed a few random pills down my gullet. I laid out some of the powders and snorted them with a rolled Note until I started feeling really strange. I looked in the mirror and could hardly see my reflection. Between the drugs kicking in and my cataracts, my vision was seriously flawed. I saw my vague reflection morph into two and then I knew I was ready to go. I left my room and headed to the grand ballroom. When I got there, the Mixer was already in full swing.
It was a wonderful collection of the freaky and deranged. I could see that they had a cabaret show going full bore up on the main stage. On two side stages, amongst too many manned mini-bars to count, the fetish proms were located. Full humans, Halflings, Pit Demons, ghosts of the damned and the formerly-living zombies were filling up the ballroom. Folks were suspended from hooks piercing the flesh of their backs, spinning with their heads thrown back, in big circles above the crowd. A bright red demon girl with fake heavenly angel’s wings walked around, offering quick injections to the party-goers. The demon girl called the shots ‘angel kisses’. Judging from the animated reactions of the injected, the ‘angel kisses’ housed some really killer speed.
I was anticipating a kiss myself when my progress was thwarted. A huge bouncer type motherfucker stood as an impenetrable wall of blue and green scales. He looked at me with his giant yellow lizard eyes, having scanned my wrist. I started walking into to the festive fiesta and the bouncer stopped me cold.
“You not going in, Mr. Farr,” he growled. His breath smelled like fermenting piss.
“The fuck I’m not, Gargan!” I told him, right to his pierced nipples. Lizard-boy hadn’t a clue what I had to do to get here. There was no way he was going to stop me, no matter how big he was. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not brave. I’m not the rough and tumble type, but this gigantic ass clown was not going to keep Orlyn Farr from getting down on the get-down. I was bunching up, waiting for shit to escalate when he deflated me in an instant. Instead of answering, the behemoth handed me a note. It was handwritten on fancy, pricey parchment. I already knew who it was from, so I stepped out of line and opened the note. It read:
My Dear Mr. Farr,
I apologize for keeping you from the public festivities. You must understand, Sir, I have a rather large investment in you, as per our agreement. I cannot allow any public indiscretions, nor can I take any chances on you getting injured or ill. I must insist you return to your hotel room, where a private party is being prepared for you. If you do not comply, you will automatically forfeit your portion of our contract, and you will be remanded for an immediate opt-out.
Well, shitballs! Having no choice, I turned on heel to go back to my room. Once there, I went inside and saw that the cabaret had come to me.
A pretty young zombie man greeted me at the door. He stuck a needle in my thigh. I began smiling uncontrollably for the rest of the evening. We walked around the mostly zombie party.
They weren’t interested in eating or drinking, slugging or drugging, so there was more of everything than I could ever consume. But I gave it my best shot.
When I finally passed out, hours later, my testicles hurt from overuse and my head was swimming and spinning. I vomited most of the real animal flesh I’d gluttoned down.
The zombie boy helped me get into the big, comfortable, oversized bed. His cold kiss is the last thing I recalled.
The next day at high noon, the BINGO tournament began.
“The older I grow, the more I value Pawns.”
– Paul Keres
Hedging My Bets. Spilling The Beans:
I JUST TURNED 60 annums old. The BINGO tournament in Bogota is less than a month away and I hadn’t a pot to piss in. I was forced to live with my kids and their kids in a cold, cramped domicile. It was underground in The Harbor and it forever smelled like stale cabbage and unwashed flesh.
When my son looks at me, I can tell he looking forward to me opting-out. Neither of us can pay the after 60 tax, for it is purposefully prohibitive in cost. We had no political connections. I suspected he’d already spent my Death Insurance he’ll get when I go up top and freeze to death. He also looks at my corner, and I can read his face like an open book. It was filled with thoughts on renting my corner to a relative that actually had the funds to pay for it.
There’s no place I can run to, so I was planning on just going in early, opting-out, and getting it over with, when the message came in. It was coded and secret, which was strange all on its own. I have never in my fairly pointless time on this frozen shitsicle of a planet got an important message like that one. I couldn’t receive it at home. Instead, I must make way through The Harbor’s tunnel system to the Postal Center. There, after I give them a drop of blood from one of my fingers, I can retrieve the momentous message.
I left immediately for the Postal Center. Once there, I had my wrist scanned for the legal bar-coding chip we legal Harbor citizens have for ID. My finger tip was punched for the blood sample. It naturally beeped at my age, locking me into the security pod until the machines sorted it out. It unlocked, seeing that I have a month left to live, and allowed me to proceed to a private viewing station. I went inside the station and secure-locked the sliding door with my thumb-print. I centered myself in front of the screen. As I did so, it lit up. A beam of light scanned a bust shot of me, no doubt a redundant security measure. Whoever I was about to talk to wanted to make very sure I was who I said I was. In a moment it was done. An old human woman came on the screen. She had to be every penny of 80 annums old. I’ve never seen anyone that old before. Not in person, anyway. She must be important in a way I can’t comprehend. She looked pretty healthy too. Her eyes were clear and sharp and she had a full head of hair. When she smiled, I could see that the woman had all of her teeth. It all must have cost her a fortune. The only thing wrong was the hissing of medical gases and the slight blue tinge to her lips.
“Greetings, Mr. Orlyn Farr, I am Chess Master,” she began. “You are 60 annums old. Have you made your final arrangements? Have you found your peace?”
Stupid, I know, but I started laughing. There’s just no way it could really be her. Ever since she took over, Chess Master ran everything in The Harbor. And she probably wasn’t limited to just our shit hole. I’d never seen an image of her. I don’t know anyone who has. Yet, she was supposed to be here, conversing in secret to Orlyn Farr, a guy who can’t even pay for one more year of his ridiculous life. No way. And then I got scared, for what if she is who she says she is? What the fuck do I do then? Begging would be a good start. I stifled my laughter like it never was.
“Greetings to you, Chess Master,” I replied, not knowing any of the protocol for this sort of deal.
“I can see from the blood that has drained from your face, that you believe me?”
“Um, uh, well – yes, I do.” I stammered like an imbecile. She seemed to take it in stride.
“Good, because I don’t have any time to waste, Mr. Farr,”
“Yes, Sir,” I replied.
“Then answer my question, Mr. Farr: have you made your final arrangements?”
“No, Sir, I haven’t.” I frowned. The realization I guess just hit me with full force right then. “I mean, I can’t afford the tax, so I guess I will have to opt-out. I’m far too old and sick to run.”
“What about your family, Mr. Farr? They can’t pay the tax for you?”
“No, they can’t, Sir. Painfully, though, I don’t think they would, even if they had the means.”
“You don’t get along with them?” Chess Master asked me.
I thought about it, but only for a moment. I said: “I think I take up valuable space that my son could get rent for.”
“He’s probably counting your Death Insurance too, I’d imagine.”
“Yes,” I said plainly. “Opting-out is for the best, I’m sure.”
She said nothing for a moment. Chess Master was looking down at something, below my view screen. Checking on something, she seemed to be.
“Have you considered BINGO?”
“You mean the tournament in Bogota, Sir?”
“I couldn’t even afford to take a bicycle taxi to the Teleport Station, let alone the whole package, Sir.”
“What if I was willing to sponsor you, Mr. Farr? I’ll go further and say that since time is such a concern for me, I can tell you, in complete confidence, of course –“
“Of course, Sir,” I replied. I was quite intrigued by then.
“Good. What if, in addition to sponsoring your costs, I was to insure that you win?” she asked.
I’ll tell you some truth: a dropped pin could have been heard. I stared at her bluing lips and how they had darkened as she spoke. Chess Master was keeping her composure intact, but I could see she was suffering. Her lips lightened as she breathed in the medicated mist.
“How can you do that?” I asked Chess Master, the fear of her momentarily lapsing. “You can’t do that, no one can.” I insisted.
“My dear fellow,” she hissed, angry. “You’ll find that there is nothing I can’t do. There’s no move I can’t make and there is no game I can’t win. I say the word and you will be sent to Bogota where you will win the BINGO tournament. Your reward will be anything and everything your little heart desires.”
Something tiny, hope I suppose, began building inside me. It started to swell to the point where I could think of nothing else. She is promising me the moon and the stars. Strangely, I knew she could deliver the goods.
But, what, I wondered, did she want in return? I had absolutely nothing to bargain with. What did she want?
“What do you want in return,” I went ahead and asked her. “You must know that I couldn’t possibly have anything you would want or need, Sir.”
“On the contrary, Mr. Farr, you have exactly what I need,” she explained. “Or, rather, your granddaughter, Vanessa has.”
“Vanessa? Sir, she’s only 6 annums old, she’s barely started school.”
“I’m aware of her age, Mr. Farr,” she replied, testily. “I need her because my heart is failing and she is my exact genetic match.”
The clouds parted and the angels sang. I got it, but could I do it?
“I see,” I managed.
“Yes, well, time is of the essence, Mr. Farr, which is why you are being made this exclusive offer. I’m afraid there is a great deal of work yet to be done, so I will need your answer, straightaway.”
“By when,” I asked “a few days?”
“Sorry, no,” she replied. “I’m afraid I need your answer right now.”
I thought about it, I’m not ashamed to say. I even thought about saying no. But, in the end, there’s no I in TEAM. But there is one in BINGO.
I told Chess Master where little Vanessa could be found.
“Chess can be described as the movement of pieces eating one another.” – Marcel Duchamp
Go-Time at Paradise Acres:
BOTH VANESSA AND I were nothing more than just pawns in the Chess Master’s big game. I guess I’m the lucky one, because Chess Master has been correct on all counts. I do have everything my wicked little heart desires. I am here at Paradise Acres, as promised. I am fine and all should be right with my world. She did her part, playing the big board masterfully. All should be just ducky, but I’m telling you it is not. A young life should not have been sacrificed for an old one. Not for Chess Master, not even me. Hell, especially not me.
Here is the knife. Two quick jabs and a harsh rending and it will all be over. That is the answer. My guilt will finally be assuaged. I pick up the knife. I run the sharp tip along the underside of my jaw line. I press the knife to the beating artery. My eyes are still crying and my heart is still breaking. I suppose I am not the Tin Man, after all. I should do it and I intended to. I need to, but I stop just before plunging the knife in and opening up my neck. I hesitated, right at the moment of truth. I stop right there, considering everything anew.
I place the knife back down on my recliner-side table. I wipe my eyes dry. I’m not going to do it. I can’t kill myself, not today. I just recalled that today is Felatio Friday here at Paradise Acres, so I just can’t. I can’t kill myself today. Instead, I haul my ass out of the recliner. I make my way with a new grin to the hot shower and my ample supply of erectile dysfunction meds.
The hot, soft-water shower hits me with a thick spray. I’m thinking, whilst I soap up giving extra attention to my gray-wired groin. I’m scrubbing myself with so much vigor I am scraping my skin off. Tiny beads of blood bead up. I am having second thoughts about my second thoughts. I am thinking, perhaps, bleeding-out onto the floor is the right move to make. I can even go as far as sending a message back home to The Harbor, telling my son that he will never find Vanessa. If I told him what really happened to her, he would hate me, for sure. But maybe, just maybe, that knowledge would give him some closure. He can grieve and get on with his life. I wasn’t much of a father, or grandfather, as I recall. I have decided.
But, no! Because then I remember how my son was going to let me be thrown out, up-top, without any hesitation. Cash in the insurance on me and celebrate the extra domicile space. So, yeah, fuck it, I say. I’m not going to kill myself. Not today. Maybe tomorrow, though. Probably it will be tomorrow, Saturday.
Yeah, Suicide Saturday has a much nicer ring to it.
“Most gods throw dice, but Fate plays chess, and you don’t find out til too late that he’s been playing with two queens all along.” – Terry Pratchett