The dead ain't got nowhere to go (Easter Short)
The dead man opened his eyes to gales of laughter. It was Easter morning and his lips were cracked. His skin chaffed from the handcuffs he’d worn all night and all morning. It was late, but the dead man didn’t mind. The dead ain’t got nowhere to go. He tore at the bindings and freed his shaking hands. Rubbed at his eyes and found God in the perfect darkness, then parted his eyelids and lost Him again. Oh well, it was nice while it lasted. What are we going to do together? Everything, the girl had said, but now the girl was gone. Scrammed with his money and all of his hopes. His stereo, too, and that was the real kicker because, without the deafening quiet of the music, the voices in his mind would begin to rattle. He knew he only had a little while to get himself to safety and evade the voices, so the dead man did what he was best at. He reached over on his belly and retched. Watched the thin thread of spittle trickle out of his mouth and wiped. Reached for the empty bottle of wine and took another swig. Out of the pit of his longing, the cruel jester that was his failure of a life. No liquor and no sound. Easter would be a bad day.
With difficulty, he managed to push himself off the bed, smacking his dry lips to get out the sour taste of last night’s wine. The dead man was thirsty, from a long night of excesses. Now deserted by his followers, his fellow revelers gone with the morning breeze, the dead man finally had time to think. But then he heard that laughter again and left thinking aside, for those more inclined to do it.
On shaky legs, he made his way to the too-bright window, the biting April light filtering in through the broken shutters. The man peered out at the world outside and saw her. Yet another her to occupy his mind for a month or just a second. Heavy breasts pushed against the fabric of her blouse. Her festive, Easter blouse. Her Sunday best, though it was not the clothes the dead man cared for. He pressed one hand to the glass, cool against the warmth of this spring sun. And he listened, in hope the girl outside his window might laugh again, but she did not. She’d stopped suddenly and looked up to the window, as if aware of his presence, and for one flattering moment, the dead man tricked himself into thinking she was. But then, the girl shifted her eye, as if she’d seen nothing of great interest, so the dead man was forced to conclude she had not seen him. The girl reminded him of someone, with her obscenely large lips and her loud laughter, though of whom, the dead man no longer cared to remember. He would have liked to have one great love in his life, one woman to have seen him through the bitter end. A lady neatly dressed in black to mourn at his funeral. A stirringly beautiful woman who would then vanish into the ether as if she’d never been, but would never dare forget him. He would have liked to touch someone’s life, and perhaps he could have touched this girl’s. Except he was dead now, and life has no patience for men such as him.
With a heavy jolt to the side of his stomach, he spun on his heels and fell to his knees. Right by the window, for the whole world to see. That is if the world had taken the slightest interest in him. As it had not, he was left retching once more. Pathetic and alone. The reminisces of last night’s wine warm against his knuckles. He was a wreck, but even wrecks need to pick themselves up off the floor at some point and pull themselves together. If only to go to the nearest liquor store.
The dead man often got the impression he’d outstayed his welcome. Had the feeling this world should have chewed him up and spit him out a long time ago. And for a while, he’d waited just for that, watched the world go by him silently, like a funeral procession. Waved hello to his casket and watched the empty wooden box wave back. You should have been down here, Jack, the earth called up to him. Puah. Already, they’d come nagging. He hadn’t been awake five minutes and here they were, the voices clawing at what remained of his sanity. Telling him about his tomb and the cold, dead earth. Like he hadn’t heard it all a million times before.
‘Fuck off,’ the dead man growled and bit down hard into the fleshy inside of his left cheek. And his mind screamed, but his focus was solely on the devastating, tearing pain and the salty, hot taste slithering down his tongue and into his throat. He wouldn’t wound himself mortally. He never did, for he was not capable of true death. If he’d known it’d be so hard to die again, he would’ve stayed put that first time. But he’d been a young man then, thought he’d die a million times more. Tricked himself into believing there was a good reason to get out of his grave in the first place. He hadn’t anticipated what might happen, hadn’t thought his moves through, which was so unlike him. The old him, the man he’d been up to a certain point.
But in the silence of the grave, he’d suddenly transformed into a giant. Grown tall, so much so that he was forced to wonder how the tiny tomb still accommodated him. Let himself believe he was down for the fight, but he wasn’t.
‘I said go…the fuck…away,’ the dead man screamed, grabbing blindly at the bottles strewn about his bed, throwing them forward and watching them clash against the whitewashed wall and explode. A thousand shards of glass littering his floor, and him walking barefoot across them. A thin trail of blood behind him, tracing his footsteps through the rented apartment. He’d lived here some two years now, and despite everything the voices told him, he hoped not to die here.
The dead man pushed his head under the ice-cold tap and gurgled. Lapping at the water like a greedy pig in his trough. Reveling in the metallic taste. Feeling it dribble down his cheek and into the pit of his left ear. Washing the taste of last night’s wine from his lips. Washing out the taste of blood. His cheek smarting at the cool water, but better. His wound would heal, just like all his wounds healed. Not for some otherworldly gift. The dead man hadn’t been blessed, but damned. To a life of cowardice, of never daring to set foot outside his cemented constraints. Willfully entombing himself in this prison he called a home. Going outside just for long enough to numb the thoughts in his head and pick up another lost woman to pass the night with. For the fucking, yes, but never to assuage the loneliness. The dead man had given up on that endeavor a long time ago and he dared not dream of it again. Not after that first time.
By the time the dead man returned to the window, the woman with the laughter had gone and the streets had grown cold and depressing again. Time for another bloody Easter.