Hey, I just finished The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao and This Is How You Lose Her and loved both, considering it took less than two weeks to finish them. Lately, I’ve been reading nothing but classics, so going from the beautifully written prose of All the Kings Men to the raw, gritty prose of Junot Diaz was very eye opening. Now, I just started reading Up in the Old Hotel, which seems to combine great prose with the gritty nature of NYC.
I guess the story I’ll write for you guys will be gritty in nature as well.
Lead paint on the walls slowly chips away in the dark, basement apartment you currently inhabit. I hesitate to use the word live because no one visits you. You say you like the place the way it is, roach and rat infested, smelling of the garbage you keep promising to get rid of, but never do. There was a time where you’d try to get out, but it was already too late. The smells permeated your clothing, maybe even your skin, and people who probably would have avoided you to begin with, considering you never were an attractive person, make a point of staying away. The only time you go out is at night, when the bums roam the streets trying to find a safe place to sleep, and even they avoid you.
You had a job, a good one, one that allowed you to live in a nice neighborhood, with the wife any man would kill to have, but you treated her like shit. You abused her physically. You were jealous of her beauty. You always felt she pitied you, rather than loved you, because of your looks. You didn’t even care enough to hit her in places safe from the public’s eye. That’s how you lost your job. That argument right before dinner with the boss and his wife at your place. It was over something stupid too. Something you can’t even remember, but you know it happened because when they saw your wife’s face, black and blue, and her blood on your cut up knuckles, she saw an opportunity for escape and left without hesitation.
The boss tells you to not show up to work tomorrow and you slam the door in his face. You call your wife, begging her to not call the cops, but she doesn’t answer at first. You assume her phone’s off because it goes right to voicemail, but she’s on the other line with the police, who are already on their way because the boss–ex boss–called them immediately. As you stare at yourself in the mirror, another uncontrollable fit of rage encourages you to punch the mirror, bloodying your hands even further.
The police show up, as expected, with her, unexpected. As they handcuff you, she looks at you and laughs, saying it was worth it, and how she’ll take everything you own while you rot in jail. In the back of the cop car, the two officers talk about you, knowing you can hear them, but pretending you can’t just to see if you take the bait. You do, and you get violent, again.
They slap you with more charges and enjoy throwing you–literally–into the holding cell. You lean innocently against the wall and hope to God someone will bail you out.
No one shows up because they all know what happened. Your soon-to-be ex wife let everyone know what you did and they avoid you like the plague. They give you a phone call a day, but you have no one to call, so you don’t bother anymore. You continue to lean against the wall, with your hands behind your head, and try to get some sleep in order to figure out what the next step is.
The judge miraculously sympathizes with you when he sees your hands as you swear to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth, the hands that beat her face to a bloody pulp. You always had a bad habit of not washing your hands and you managed to catch something on the shit and piss covered walls of your holding cell that were also never washed thoroughly. The infection spread rapidly and ate away at your hands until doctors had no choice but to remove them.
As she said she would, she took everything. You’re forced to go on welfare and disability and you manage to find a cheap place where rejects can attempt to get their lives back in order. The building hasn’t been taken care of in years and does nothing to inspire you to get yourself back on your feet. The lead paint that has never been removed due to safety concerns constantly rains down on you, slowly killing you, and you’re aware of it and embrace it. Every day you sit inside alone with nothing but the memories of what you used to be.
The infection never totally went away and you lived the rest of your days in constant pain, emotional and physical. No one went to your funeral, and rightfully so. It was probably how you would have wanted it. The moments before you passed, though, you had an epiphany. You were thankful you never had children and went out with a smile.