It was 3 am and this was the second time her bladder had awoken her that night. She lay there for a moment contemplating whether she should get up and go or just try to fall back to sleep. A pounding at her door made the decision for her. She got up and made her way to the door. Without asking who it was she unlocked and opened the kitchen door. She already knew who it would be.
He was a mess. His hair looked as though it hadn’t been combed in several days. Dark thick stubble covered his face. His eyes were sunken, bloodshot and the left one kept twitching. His boots and pant legs were coated in mud.
She was afraid of him tonight. He pushed past her and sat down at the kitchen table and began to speak.
“I’ve started having this dream again. I haven’t had it since before I was married.”
“I’m driving a car on this dark road. I’m speeding, without headlights. Before I know it, I’m coming up on a brick wall. And I don’t slow down. I crash into it. I want to crash into it. And once I hit, I don’t stop crashing. It’s like the force of my will, my anger is making the car just keep crashing. It’s not like any real crash would be. It keeps going until the whole car crushes. Until there is nothing. Until I don’t even exist anymore.”
“But then I am there again, and I’m outside. It’s still night. Through the smoke I can see a wreckage in the road that looks more like a huge crushed soda can than a car. A rescue crew arrives and begins tearing at the wreck with huge metal claws and powerful scissors. They make an opening at the top and begin peeling metal back like you would the foil from a baked potato.”
“And instead of finding my mutilated body inside, they uncover a gorilla head, the size of a man. Open gashes cross it’s grey face. Flakes of crust surround it’s huge flaring nostrils. Strings of mucous web it’s half-open mouth. Horrified the crew tears the head out of the mass, leaving bits of flesh behind. As soon as it’s free, they drop it to the ground. The head makes a sick hollow thud. Several workers wipe their hands on their pants as they stand there confused.”
She sat in silence. Listening. There was nothing she could say, and he wasn’t stopping to let her talk.
“That face, that goddamn face. It’s everywhere I look. If I try to shave, I see it all grey and dead with lather on it. If I brush my teeth all I see are it’s rubbery black tongue and lips. It’s in the windows, the doors. I see it reflecting back at me in your goddamn eyes!.”
He began looking at her. Expecting her to say something. She had never seen him like this before.
All she could say was, “I think you need help.”
He exploded, “Help. Is that what I need? Like when you helped me away from my wife. When you helped me to lose my house. Then how you helped me try to accept how you were a whore and a drug addict. I need something better than help.”
He regretted snapping.
“I’m sorry I don’t even know why I came here. I’ve just got to pull myself together. I was walking past, wandering, and I wanted to tell somebody. I should go.”
She said, “Yeah you should probably try to get some rest. You look terrible. Maybe tomorrow you’ll feel better. Figure some things out. You can sleep on the couch if you want.”
“Nah, I think I’ll just go home.”
They said their goodbyes and he left. As he walked home, he thought about things. How much he had lost. What she had cost him. He became angry. With her. With himself for falling for someone like her. Angry at life and how bad he was at it. He though about strangling her. Strangling his wife. There had to be a way to ease the pain.
The streets were lined with parked cars. The streetlights provided enough light that he could see his reflection out of the corner of his eye in the window of each car he passed. He knew better than to look. He knew he wouldn’t like what he saw, but some part of him wanted to look. That part eventually took over. He stopped and turned. A hazy image was reflected back at him in a dust covered driver’s side window. He leaned in. He was relieved to see his own image, but that feeling didn’t last. Before his eyes his head transformed into the ape head. Still grey, but different than before. The eyes had now sunken deep into the huge sockets and tiny flies flew in and out of the skull. The lips and dried up and pulled back forming a sinister grin. He lifted his hands and touched his face. The skin felt cold and dead. He watched in the window as he rubbed his fingers against the thick grey bristles of hair on the ape chin. He could feel himself slipping. He let it happen. He wanted it to happen.
The burden of sanity and pain was too much for him anymore. He turned away and began running wildly into the streets. He ran back towards the house he had come from. As he moved, he was roaring wildly. He saw a car coming towards him. The lights blinding him, he ran straight at it. The car swerved around him. He continued running directly at traffic. Car after car swerved around him until finally one driver delivered the deadly hit. As the car smashed into him, crushing his body, the last thing he saw was his own image reflected at him in the windshield.
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