You’re a loser.
You’ve realized you’re never going to amount to anything in your life.
Your dreams are exactly that, dreams. Your only escape from the miserable life you lead. You’re sitting in your boss’s office, Mr. Montgomery. Floor manager, he has a real nice last name with debonair and such, but he’s a slob, comes into work drunk from the night before, bags under his eyes. You know what kind of guy he is because he got you this job, you were drinking buddies at a local watering hole before your mom got you into rehab. Money’s gone missing and you know who it was, but it’s your word, the word of a 26 year old dropout former drug abuser working at a department store part-time for some extra money versus the word of a 16 year old with a 4.0 GPA who comes off as if she shits rainbows and pretty unicorns.
So you’re sitting there, taking it, and it isn’t so bad because Montgomery’s voice turns into a buzz in the back of your head as you retreat to your happy place. Your grandmother’s house, Christmas Eve, before your family became the fucked up piece of shit that it is today. The serene stink of pine tree and sugar cookies, trying to remember the joy a child would feel tearing the wrapping paper from their presents was always the hardest.
Your life is so fucked up, you realize how often you try to get away.
In the back of your mind, it festers and bubbles, the ugliest thought anyone could ever have:
“You deserve this.”
“Your life is what it is because you screwed everything up, and you deserve this.”
You don’t meditate on this thought, you push it to the furthest recesses of your mind, you bite back the hurt that comes with it. You stand from the chair after being dismissed, trade glances with the little 16 year old shit that you’re being put on unpaid suspension for. You know you’re being laid off, that you’re basically going to be fired, and you know that it’ll be almost impossible for you to find a job these days with your credentials. So nothing would please you more than knocking this broad in the teeth, but you just head to your car and sit in the parking lot for a while.
You finally get home, your dad’s bitching at you about your room, about finding a better job, about finally moving out. Your girlfriend calls, bitches about how much of a fuck up you are trying to be encouraging, tells you how her life sucks even though you’re trying to make it better for the both of them. She’s salvation to you most of the time, the world is shit, but she makes it better.
You made the mistake of calling your mom from the parking lot of the mall to tell her you lost your job, your dad hears word when she gets home, he kicks in your door and starts yelling down at you and it feels familiar. You’re bigger now, bigger than him, so he can’t beat you now, but it still feels like you’re five years old and you’re terrified out of your mind. You try to brave it, put on an angry mug, maybe he’ll go away and stop emasculating you while your girlfriend’s on the phone, but he doesn’t. He goes on for five whole minutes, and you never think to hang up with your girlfriend, because that would be an issue, but then you realize once he’s done and she starts chewing you out about losing your job that you should have.
This is your bed.
Lie in it.
“This is what you deserve.”
You hang up, find out you have a text, opening it to find it’s one of your girlfriend’s friends. She sends you a long text message about how they had a falling out, but that you’re a nice guy, and you should know what’s going on. The message is cut off, in the next one sent there’s pictures attached of your girlfriend with her lips wrapped around some other guy’s dick. Another text, another picture, this one of her smiling, hugged up with some guy. Your initial thoughts are of disbelief and anger, then you start thinking about how this guy’s dick is clearly bigger than yours, how he’s better looking, you go from anger and disbelief to that same thought.
“You deserve it.”
After a good ten messages all filled with pictures, she ends the conversation by telling you how your girlfriend’s only excuse was that you were bad in the sack. You didn’t pay enough attention to her. That she had an itch and found the perfect person to scratch it. She even went on to tell you about how she was thinking about dumping you for this new guy, but she found him too dumb for her taste even though he had a lot more going for him, and he was okay just fucking her.
The strength leaves your arms, you drop your phone between your lap and you sit up against the headboard of your twin-sized bed. You can’t find the will to call your girlfriend to ask her about it, you debate on whether you should talk to her again, ever.
Your thought process leads you to this being your fault.
It was your inability that did this.
Your love wasn’t enough.
The tears eventually come.
It’s late at night, you go to the kitchen, open the freezer and pull out some ice cream you bought the week prior. Your brother in law ate most of it, but there’s enough left over, so you don’t complain. You sit down at the kitchen table and dig in, then you feel the creaking of the floorboards and the approaching footsteps, you feel him on your back and you feel like a little kid all over again. Just the way he used to watch you, you felt like he was just waiting for you to fuck up, waiting for you to do something stupid so he could give you a good swat in the teeth.
He knocks your ice cream off the table and onto the floor, tells you never to touch his fridge again. You snap, you stand from your chair and before you know it, you’re on the floor, clobbering your dad’s nose. While you’re doing it, you’re thinking of all those things you did together, of all the good times. That one time he took you to the airshow and you watched the jets fly by while sitting on his shoulders, him running alongside you and holding you up on your first two-wheeler, that one time he found you trying to be him in the mirror and while you were scared at first, he laughed.
Your arms feel heavy, and you don’t want to lift your fists anymore, he’s under you seizing, shivering and shaking. You don’t ask if he’s okay, you know he isn’t, you look at your hands which are coated with his blood and drool that dripped from the edge of your fingernails. You back away, wiping the sweat from your face with your sleeve. No matter how much you didn’t want this, you feel good, you feel great.
You deserve this.
Your dad is an NRA type, so you go through his cabinets, find his revolver and stuff it in your boxers. You wash your hands off, put on your pants, throw on your shirt and take your dad’s keys. Your piece of shit car has a tank that’s empty, you hop into his pick-up and the first thought you have is to head to your mom’s, explain what happened, get help. You don’t, you follow through with your plan, thirty minutes later you’re in front of your girlfriend’s house. You smoke a cigarette, a good jack every now and again keeps you off hard drugs, keeps you away from the pot and the liquor. It takes the edge off, but was there any edge?
She wonders what you’re doing here at three in the morning after calling her up and telling her you’re outside. You tell her to get in, she’s in her pajamas, she thinks you’re trying to get a quick blowjob so she scoffs and goes to turn away when you point the revolver at her. She gets in, tells you to stop fucking around. You show her the pictures, specifically the ones of her with another guy’s cock in her mouth. She starts tearing up and crying, hopelessly laying her head back.
You demand that she tell you who he is, you do it without raising your voice, you even put the gun away. You realize just how far you’ve gone, how much you’ve snapped, but it feels right. They did this to you. She calls him and you talk to him, you have a long conversation, you have to pull your gun on your girlfriend a couple of times to keep her big mouth shut. He eventually hears the weeping on the other side of the phone and asks if she’s okay, you insist that she is. He goes on the record and tells you that he has a girlfriend of his own to worry about, one that not even your girlfriend knew about, so you laugh heartily into the phone before hanging up.
You cock the hammer back, tapping the cold barrel against your girlfriend’s temple. She flinched.
You tell her to get out.
Another thirty minutes later and you’re walking through a smoke-filled billiards bar, rounding one of the pool tables and taking a seat next to Montgomery. Without thinking, you put a bullet in his leg, then another in his chest before he can finish reacting. He did the least, he said some harsh shit to you, but he got you the job in the first place and here you were, putting rounds in him instead of your cheating ex or the father that used to beat you until you blacked out. Montgomery was far from a good person, you stand over him as the bar clears out, watching him gasp for air as his lung fills with blood.
You deserve this.
The thought wasn’t as ugly. Here, in a bar, surrounded by liquor, it almost seemed attractive.
You take a seat on the floor next to your former friend, your former boss. All those times he mistreated you, made you work extra hours, didn’t believe you when you told him it wasn’t you taking money from the register. You groan, and in your final moments, you relapse and wrap your lips around a cold beer while pondering. The sirens and lights drew your eyes to the window, and you realized the most hideous thought of all.
They’ll remember these people, all of these people, as the victims. They’ll never know about how you were beat within an inch of your life when you were thirteen, or how your girlfriend treated you like shit or about the guy that was fucking her, or why exactly you lost your job. They’ll see a series of irrational actions, and they may have well been irrational, but what degree of irrational?
How irrational was all of this?