Friday, December 18, 2009
Catsup soup -- flash fiction
David stood in front of the open refrigerator looking at its meager contents. Nothing. Nothing appealed to him at all. And no wonder….. the sticky shelves held few options. He took in the entire contents of the fridge in one mournful glance, his eyes telling his stomach it could choose between some really old takeout, a few slices of questionable cheese and various jars of condiments. That was it. Not even a jar of pickles. He looked over at Jessup who was also hoping for something marvelous from the refrigerator and said "I could kill right now for a pickle, Jessup."
It had been a lot better when Molly was around. Molly could whip up something delicious out of nothing. Even in the middle of the night. He'd open the refrigerator and stand there looking but not seeing anything worth the trouble of eating and Molly would wander in, nudge him gently out of the way with her hip, take out a few leftovers and voila they'd have a seafood burrito or western omelets or some potatoes and ham fried up to crispy perfection. Molly was a leftover genius. She could make nothing into something in under ten minutes.
That was back when David thought that he knew what nothing was. Back before the incident. Back when he could still look at himself in the mirror and recognize the self that stared back. Back before the constant noise in his head. Back before the cracks appeared.
After that day things had spiraled. In a matter of months he had lost his job, his car, his house, his health insurance, his self esteem, his friends and finally his wife. But that wasn't Molly's fault. He'd driven her away. When Jessup needed a place to stay and he'd brought him home Molly had looked at him and said that having another mouth to feed just wasn't possible. But David had insisted that he needed Jessup to talk to since Jessup understood him. Three weeks later Molly had left. She had kissed him on the lips and said "David, I love you but I can't live like this any longer. Please get some help. You're spinning into the abyss."
Now most days David walked in the park. He knew a lot of the other regulars by sight and would nod at them but never made an attempt at connecting further. He would do his chin ups and walk his three miles and then trudge back home to sit on the floor in the empty living room and talk to Jessup until they both fell into fitful sleep.
The only variation to the routine had been one day last week when he'd found the gun. It was lying on the ground under some leaves and he had just happened to see the sun glinting off the short blue black barrel. It was a small hand gun, maybe a .38 caliber, maybe a .32, David wasn't sure. It had one bullet left in the cylinder.
"Jessup I don't want you to think that I'm crazy. But I keep thinking about why the universe would supply me with a gun with one bullet. You know I don't believe in passing up opportunities given by the powers that be. We discussed that at length the night we met."
David closed the refrigerator and crossed the room to open a window a couple of inches so Jessup could squeeze out afterwards.
Then he put some water on to boil, opened the refrigerator again, pulled a couple of things out and put them on the counter.
"It's all settled then, Jessup. It looks like a piece of cheese for you and catsup soup for me."