Wake Up – Part Two (Final)
It hurts when he sits up. Not on a physical level. Not an emotional one, either. It’s a pain from deep down, on a level that doesn’t really exist. Reach to the very bottom of his (currently hollow) thought process, and keep digging for some reason. Maybe then you’ll find it. Even then… it’s not something you can take out to the back and shoot. You can try, but it’ll come back. Probably like a hydra’s head. Double.
Maybe that’s why it’s so easy to make a sale. He’s come across people crying in the bathroom from a deal that fell through. What emotional stakes does he have? Lose a sale? Shit happens. The universe is a vast and endless stretch of glorified dust that will be here long after we’re gone, and really, nothing means anything. So bouncing back from a lost sale isn’t that hard. The bosses like his attitude. They like how he doesn’t over-congratulate himself. How down-to-earth he is. How pleasant he is. Good job, Herman. We’ve impressed the gods of your office job.
Headshot. Broken glass. Confirmed kill. He lies on his floor perpetually staring at the leg of the table that his mom got him. These are currently shower thoughts, as he stares at the tiles in front of him. What is that, beige? What color is beige, exactly? It’s kind of depressing. We should get better shower tiles. We can do that, after all.
Just remember to exercise today, and you’ll be alright. Endorphins. They’re the opposite of depression. This shower’s soothing, right?
…We shouldn’t go to work today.
We have to. If you don’t go to work, they’re going to think something is wrong. You’re Herman. No one thinks anything is wrong with Herman.
Everything is wrong with me.
Oh, shut up. You don’t think that.
I’m thinking it right now.
There’s something wrong with everyone, alright?! Jesus, I- you’re in a depressed mood. Do what you always do and get over it.
Yeah. What. If you were poor, you’d still feel the same. You’d lie in your trailer home, questioning reasons to get up and go out. But no. Instead, you do what everyone does in a sales firm, and you do it better. So-
He turns up the water temperature, making it so hot that all his inner voice can say is “ouch”. For three beautifully scalding minutes, he is at peace.
When he gets out of the shower, his brain comes back, rambling about the importance of sunlight’s effect on one’s mood. The sludge has become something like heavy syrup; still sticky and cloying, but familiar at this point in his life. More importantly, it’s bearable. Not his favorite, but he can tolerate it.
Getting dressed. Another sniper bullet. This time he’d see the bottom of his doorframe. Always in the head.
It doesn’t bother him anymore. It’s just something he thinks about. Separation is key. The more he wakes up, the more he keeps that in mind.
Herman buys as little clothing as possible. He used to like the idea of buying a three-hundred dollar tie, but over the years, he’s started to… well, there’s that proverb he can’t think of again. Either way. If he’s gonna waste his money, make it on feelings. The stuff he gets from food. Movies. Drugs, maybe. Nothing hard, though. Maybe some pot… ecstasy if he’s really feeling saucy.
(Did you just-)
Yes. I’m still not listening to you.
Eight forty-five AM. Coffee provides stimulation. Eggs provide strength. Bacon provides unhealthy euphoria. The emptiness is there, but it feels like it’s getting filled. In Herman’s mind, feelings and reality are often the same thing.
He goes to the mirror. Practices his smile real quick. It always makes him feel like an asshole, but it’s necessary. You need to look like you enjoy what you do. Today, the strain on his cheekbones is about a seven out of ten. Far worse has happened. He picks up his business cards, puts them in his breast pocket. Takes a few moments to just sit at his table, somewhat overlooking the city.
Headshot. Staring at the floor this time. The bullet would head through his front door.
He knows that leaving will undercut the depression. Being out. Around people. Sometimes it make it worse, though. That’s always what scares him. Makes him hesitant. But some force that isn’t his comes in, and walks his body to the door for him.
When he gets to the door, he stops. presses his head against the wall.
“Just leave the house,” he tells himself. For a good 30 seconds, it’s him and that door. He hasn’t said anything to himself in a while. He waits for his brain to come back in.
Seriously? Don’t sound like that. You were waiting for me.
What is it?
Are you gonna take me seriously?
What. Is. It.
I think you can do this. What? I can not be an asshole sometimes, right?
I’m sorry I told you to get over it. Alright? Really. I don’t wanna be that guy.
…Ok. Cool. You can still do this when you’re down like this.
I know I can. So can you go away while I handle my clients for the day?
Then his head goes quiet. He’s woken up enough to control it. He opens the door. A hallway leads to an elevator. His path to the day ahead. With molasses in his bones and a winning smile, Herman embraces the day.
Wish us godspeed.
Photograph by Timothy Krause