Tom stared blankly into the mildewed ceiling of his decrepit apartment. He watched silently, intently as the rusty ceiling fan blades cut perpetually the ceiling lamp’s light. But he was not contemplating on the color of the ceiling, nor on the energy emanated by the man-made-electric-sun attached to it. He was in another realm, a dark isolated place where agony, wrath and malevolence were as real as the pitch black darkness that enveloped it.
He loved his wife and kid. They meant everything to him. They were all he really had, and all he ever wanted. His wife, Teresa, was the most wonderful creature of God. His love for her was unfathomable. And hers for him was just the same. When the recession boomed, he had no savings. He lost his job, and almost lost his bearing. But his wife’s steady and loving hands held him together. During those long months of unemployment, he almost lost his sanity to whatever lurked behind the darkest recesses of the psyche.
In those days, he waddled in the pool of self-pity and depression. Teresa though, tried to tide things over by selling home made cookies at a nearby school. She too, started doing errands for their neighbor Mrs. Wilson, for a measly two bucks an hour. And when she went home, tired as she had been, she never said a word out of spite. Nor did she nag him on the loss of job, nor on what seemed to be a temporary dementia on his part. She just went on her way, ironing the clothes, cleaning and preparing whatever-something-there was for dinner.
His son, Kevin, God bless his soul, was nothing but God sent. He had the eyes of his mother. Young as he was, he understood well the concept of “not-having” and of virtuous patience . On Sundays, Teresa and Kevin, would take him out for a walk, and drop by the supermarket for groceries. Kevin would run to his mom asking if they can buy the Spider man figure which cost roughly a dollar. But Teresa, having only a few dollars, would gently, lovingly tell Kevin, “We dont have money, Kevin. Someday, I will buy you one. “ And Kevin would just beam his no-front-teeth smile, and shout “Someday!”. A picture of innocence and of saintly naivety.
And though he was in depression, he could clearly remember all these memories. It is funny that the mind has a way of preserving precious mental images even if the soul is lost in wandering. Probably because these are images that can permeate through the soul, through whatever hellish pain or indifference there is in this God-forsaken world.
Kevin and Teresa are now gone. They died because of misdiagnosis. Dr. Roberts, the doctor in charge failed to look beyond what seemed to be a complicated form of the flu. And since the Mastersons could not afford the services of a specialist, there was no other way but to proceed treatment with the public hospital’s Dr. Roberts.
For almost a week, Dr. Roberts diagnosed it as the winter flu. But the situation worsened. Son and mother both started experiencing thunderclap headaches and fevers that went on and off, just like typhoid. Dr. Roberts took another look at them and diagnosed them for meningitis, but the disease was far too elusive for the good doctor. He too had other problems. His hands were full of patients, and the Mastersons were not the only people he had to look out for. As the situation lingered, Tom could only watch his son and wife, slowly, painfully succumb to the cursed fate which all of us share. The inevitable fate of death.
Kevin and Teresa’s funeral was the most painful experience he had to endure. An image so painstaking that it drove him into the very depths of oblivion. He cried in pain, not knowing where the endless tears and the eternal pain came from. The pain was neither poignant, nor stingy. It was a scalding pain. It was as if his heart was tormented by an enormous blue flame but was never reduced to cinder. It was forever bleeding, and scalded by the very blood that gushed out of it. It was a pain no sane man can ever endure. It was unbearable…. It was unthinkable ….
Now he finds himself in this cheap apartment, living like a rat, with a gun in tow. A rusty old piece that can get the job done for what the angels of retribution have prescribed for him. Dr. Roberts has to pay for his mistake.
For the past week, he had been trailing him. He knows where the hack-doctor lived. “Apartment 4, 7th Street, Orange County.”, he breathed out with the full resolve to kill. He stood up from his bed, and carefully loaded a full magazine into his cheap .45 caliber. He stared at himself in the mirror. He made sure that he looked splendid with his white long sleeves shirt, black slacks, coat and tie. He walked out his door and into the cover of darkness offered by the twilight that heralded the night….
….. to be continued ….