My whole life had been a gamble, so why not take the ultimate risk?
I sat on the cement floor of the dimly lit basement, breathing in the smell of mold and sweat. I was surrounded by people who got their thrills from cockfights and watching hobos beat the shit out of each other over a goddamned sandwich. This was different than that, though. The stakes were higher. They had paid for a better show.
My enemy was the man sitting across from me, and my friend was the gun sitting on the ground between us. The coin toss decided I would be the first to pull the trigger; I just hadn’t made my move yet. Instead I stared at the poor man across from me.
His eyes were blue, his hair blonde and greasy, his fingers dirty, and his clothes were torn. He was doing this for the money; I was doing this for the chance to die. We both just wanted a way out of our current situation. He was risking his life for the means to keep living it. I was risking his life for the sake of my… whatever it was. My existential crisis. My own cowardice.
What would John have thought if he could see me? What about Clarence, or Derek, or Tionna? They would realize what a weak, miserable, selfish human being I was.
I dragged my thoughts back to the present. The humid air was pregnant with the anticipation of death. What was it about watching the light of life leaving someone’s eyes, watching their soul—if we have those—being ripped from the body it called home, that was so damned fascinating? The inevitability adds to the intrigue, I suppose. We all have to face it someday. Maybe they thought they’d be ready for their own if they watched mine first.
I picked up the gun, and my mind raced back to where this all started. Like I was seeing it flash before my eyes or something. That couldn’t be a good sign. I kind of wondered how I got there, how fucked up I had to be to sit there holding a gun to my own head, not sure whether or not I wished there was a bullet in the chamber.
I’m not sure if I ever believed in That One Moment When Everything Goes Wrong, or if I was just a fuck-up who would have managed to ruin any chances given to me. But I suppose, in a lot of people’s eyes, my life started to fall apart when I was thirteen. When I met the most influential man in my life. He was the safety raft I clung to that took me right into the eye of a hurricane. He was my archangel, my savior, my guardian, and the worst thing that ever happened to me.