[Read this out loud, if you can. All the way through. Don’t read the brackets out loud; just do what it says]
He crosses the floor, looks into the old shoe box and pulls out an old 45 record from his modest, but meaningful collection. He slips it from its paper sheath, and smiles to himself as someone who has such a thing in a time when few people still have such things.
He calls over his shoulder to the sleeping figure on the couch, and he stands. “You awake?” He is only answered with a soft snore and the shifting of a body on the couch.
He pauses for a moment, flipping the black single over in his hands–ever vigilant and careful to not put his fingers anywhere but on the very edge. He smiles to himself, takes two breaths and then steps to the record player.
Holding the record carefully in one hand, he lifts the lid of the player with the other, switches it on, and sighs. He puts the album on the turntable, drops the needle on the record and then strides into the kitchen. [Open this in a separate window and press play now and continue reading]
It plays the first scratchy sounds of nothingness before the rhythmic tapping begins, and a few moments later, the song starts in earnest. Robert Smith. The Cure.
He opens the cabinet, pulls out a glass, puts it on the counter with a soft click; reaches for the freezer door, gets a couple of ice cubes, deposits them in his glass and absent minded, puts the half full tray on the counter. He reaches up into the cabinet, pulls down a bottle of whiskey, pours three fingers of the stuff and puts the cap back on.
He sips it, feels the hot dragon blood of the liquid set fire to his mouth, his tongue, that one sensitive tooth in back and then his throat. He swallows hard, holds his breath for a few moments (tick tick tick tick) and then lets it out slowly, evenly.
There is little other noise in the house, other than a few soft snores from the couch, the constant hum of a fan, and the click of ice cubes as he drinks (drip drip drip drip drip). The music is the center of it all, driving, heavy, repetitive.
He finishes the drink, sip by sip by gulp. Repeats the process of filling it: Ice cubes, whiskey, sip, burn, sigh swallow.
He walks back to the living room, moves her feet to one side, sits down, and then places them, gently on his his lap, closes his eyes and listens. He listens, sips, listens, and attempts to clear his mind of thought, or for that matter, of care.
It’s all about something, he thinks to himself. It’s all about something.
It was shaping up to be a much different Saturday evening than he’d imagined. But that was par for the course, wasn’t it?
He sits and listens until the song plays out, the player arm mechanically, automatically raising and returning to ready position, the turntable slowly spinning to stop. He rises, puts the song back on, and heads back to the kitchen, pours another.
He sits at the table, sipping fire water, listening to 10:15 Saturday Night and thinks of just what he was expecting of the night. It’s all about something, right? It should be about something.
He finishes his drink, sets it down on the dining room table with a soft clunk, stands and walks to the bedroom. He kicks off his shoes, tears off his socks and flops onto the bed, which is wide, empty and cold.
“You coming to bed?” He calls out to the dark room beyond. There is no answer, but the soft stir of a body shifting on the couch, heavy breathing and echoes of a Saturday night.
As his eyes slide close, he drifts into numbness that can only come from the nothing of sleep.
He is stirred from sleep only once, by a distant, mechanical click; if he dreams, he won’t remember them in the morning.