You ever watch a man dick-deep in Benzedrine swing a sledge or war at studs with a crooked Sawzall while you tried, desperately to keep his aluminum ladder steady?
It’s fucking terrifying.
And you know what?
I don’t actually think he was a nice guy at all. I just said that for REDACTED. Sure, he was pretty damn friendly with me and the crew but so were the Nazis and if even one third of his backstory was true, he was a monster through and through.
I mean, at first, I took him for some sort of redemption story: a man steeped in sin, reinventing himself through love and time and labor but the more he gleefully recounted his history of violence, the more convinced I became that had I ever met him in the wrong temperament, I would’ve found myself belted in the stables, jaw shattered, shins splintered, half naked and shivering piss in the headlights.
But he’s dead, now.
Passed a few weeks ago.
REDACTED invited me to the wake but I couldn’t make it or wouldn’t and I thought about sending flowers or contributing to the fund set up to support his wife and daughter but I didn’t.
Two days after the service, he showed up in a dream.
He had a gun.
“Get on the floor and close your eyes.”
“What are you going to do to me?”
“C’mon, kid. Don’t be a pussy.”
I ground my head in protest.
He came close, put the gun to the base of my skull and whispered, “You’re wondering what happens next, aren’t you?”
“What happens next is nothing.”
I shook my head.
“You don’t believe me? Okay. Let’s try something.”
He put a piece of bacon in my mouth.
“You taste that, kid? You smell it? Feel it in your mouth? Now chew…and keep chewing. If there’s a next anything, you’ll be able to take a little bit with you.”
I tried to focus, to savor.
“You got it?”
There was a sting and a flash. A twitch. The black came so fast I didn’t even hear the explosion. I lost sense of my hands, then my arms and legs, my heart, my breath and all my thoughts raced to feel my teeth and tongue and when I lost connection with them I chased their memory and then I scrambled to remember the idea of a body and the then the notion of a self and then the…
And then there was no then. There was nothing. Nothing and nothing and nothing and then no sense of nothing.
I had become absence.