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A. R. Curry
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couldbe.jpg
Art by Gordon Purkis 2010

The New Him

 

 

A. R. Curry

 

 

He shaded his eyes from the sunlight pouring in through the curtainless window. Such a peaceful day, he thought, seeing tiny particles of dust floating throughout the sun’s rays. Such a goddamn peaceful, serene day.

 

Nonsense, he whispered to himself and then ripped his gaze away, directing it towards the rotten, cabbage-colored carpet instead. That’s more like it. That’s more fitting. He could see the tracks and the few strands of torn-up carpet where he’d dragged the couch over to the doorway. And at the doorway, there were dents and chipped paint from him forcing the couch out.

 

He surveyed the rest of his one-room apartment with the wall-less kitchen tucked away in one corner and the bathroom in another. Both empty: no dishes, no food, no towels or toiletry.

 

Throughout the entire house, besides the dirt, trash and mildew, only the refrigerator, the oven, and the solid oak television stand, too heavy to carry, remained. Everything else had been burned or pawned for the soul purpose of buying the blue, pin-striped suit he now wore.

 

Inside its jacket pocket peaked the corner of a concealed letter. This, he calmly removed and set at his feet, half expecting it to blow open to reveal his final words, and half expecting it to crinkle up all on its own. He shot a glance up at the opened 2 x 2-attic door. He had slid the television stand beneath it so he could reach it when the time came.

 

           A pale indentation circled his ring finger. She’ll be back, he thought, looking down at it. She always leaves, then she always comes right back the next morning.

 

But if she’ll be back, then why’d I pawn my wedding ring along with everything else?

 

He rubbed his face as if splashing himself with water.

 

Because, because I’m fed up. No more of this. I’ve changed now. I’ve come a long way. I should be proud. I really should. No more being married to me and running off nights with him. No more of me waiting in this tiny, depressing, fuckin’ apartment for her to come around. She did this. This is her doing, not mine. She can’t blame me, not this time, not anymore.

 

He reached up and, cuffing his chin in one hand and the back of his head in the other, cracked his neck. “I can’t do this no more,” he mimicked her saying, eight years to the day after their wedding. Two weeks ago. “Our entire time together has gotten us nothing. Absolutely nothing.”

 

He remembered that while she screamed this at him, Ray-Ray waited out in the driveway, the engine of his Ford truck rumbling the walls.

 

“Face it,” he continued to mimic, the girlishness of his voice growing more pronounced and exaggerated, “your dreams will never come true and you’re dragging me down with you. Look at yourself, just look.”

 

He had indeed looked at himself. And since, his ripped, faded denim jeans had been replaced. The browning, white T-shirt with sweat stains had been replaced. Even the Reebok shoes, one year older than their entire marriage and literally unraveling around his feet, had been replaced.

 

Wait until she sees me now, he thought, scrutinizing the pre-owned—but new to him—watch on his wrist with a newfound pride. The battery was dead and the time was wrong but with its short hand stopped on nine, and its long on eleven, he felt compelled by its meaningful inaccuracy and so left it as it was. Besides, he knew it was slightly past noon and right about time for the curtain call.

 

He casually climbed on top of the television stand and, unconcerned with the oddness of it all, stood waiting for another five or so minutes until the sound of Ray-Ray’s truck rumbled into the driveway.

 

He waited a little longer till it roared away, the moment after his wife’s passenger door slammed shut. He waited a bit longer till her angry shouts towards it died down and turned more into complaints about having to come home.

 

He reached above his head and felt around in the attic door. He took hold of the noose he’d placed there a couple hours ago and pulled it down and fitted it around his head, right beneath his chin so that it tugged above his jugular. He patted his suit’s wrinkles as he listened to the ever-annoying clacking of her heels stomping towards him.

 

Then, and with much satisfaction, his waiting ended.

 

He took one last look at the sun streaming in through the window, at the dust watching him now from within the sun’s rays. Then he turned his attention down toward the carpet, still rotting at his feet, at his new polished black dress shoes worn as a final farewell to his soon-to-be widow, worn as a final Fuck you, look at the new me, what you lost, what you’ll regret throwing away. Look at me, now you just look!

 

And she would.

 

She opened the front door to their home and saw him standing there atop the television stand, a closed smile on his face.

 

Her eyes widened and her mouth dropped into a massive gape that her hands flung to cover as he kicked his note her way and stepped off.      

 

 

 

A. R. Curry is a wide-ranged freelance writer, avid reader and father of two. A graduate of Lake Michigan College, he now attends the University of Missouri where he is involved with multiple writing and critique groups.

In Association with Fossil Publications