The pictures on the wall seemed so far away, almost like I were looking at them through a telescope and they were constellations light years away from me. Not many of them were framed, most were just stuck up there with dollar store cellophane tape. Most were polaroid photographs, some were printed out from film, a couple were cut out from newspapers, one of which was old and yellow, and one, the largest on the wall, was an oil painting on canvas.
I put my cigarette out on my wrist and hissed at the pain. My wife wouldn’t want me doing that, but she’s past caring for me. The first picture, the furthest to the left hanging just below the ceiling, it had been a real bitch to get up there, was a framed one, a black and white baby picture of my wife. Who even wants a black and white baby picture of themselves hanging on the wall in a place where it was a bitch to put up? She was a plump, bald kiddo dressed in a flowery dress perched uncomfortably on a miniature chair. It must’ve taken hours to get her just right.
I coughed hoarsely and hocked a glob of bloody phlegm onto the linoleum floor. It landed with a wet splat like a falling red egg yolk. The next three pictures were unframed polaroids, all askew and off kilter like a toddler had put them up there. But, who was I kidding? There wasn’t a toddler here anymore. The polaroids were of a sunny day at the beach, in one, a toddler and her mother are wading into the ocean, in another, a toddler is up on her father’s shoulders dribbling ice cream onto his stupidly grinning face, in the last one, a toddler is fast asleep curled up on a sandy towel, her hair wet and her mouth slightly open.
I reached down to the coffee table and knocked the beer cans and cigarette butts off the three documents that were my midnight reading now. One was a death certificate for a toddler, the others were divorce papers and a letter from the quack saying the chemo wasn’t working. The next picture was a poorly framed polaroid of my wife washing my truck in men’s swimming trunks and a tank top. Even after pregnancy she still had a helluva figure.
I picked up the midnight reading and burned each in turn with my zippo lighter and pitched the smoldering papers on the floor. I get another cig and hope my tumors get to be the size of elephant balls. The next picture is an unframed photograph of my father and mother smiling in front of the Statue of Liberty. I had always meant to frame that one, it was a nice photo once, but now the corners were worn and a coffee ring had deformed my mother’s face so she looked like a grinning leper.
The next one was one of the newspaper cut outs. This one was blurry to me for some reason so I stood and staggered over to the wall. Along the way I stepped on a half burned porno magazine and a dozen expired grocery store coupons. I leaned against the wall and looked closely at the newspaper clipping. It wasn’t actually a picture, it was a part of a part of a news story with several sentences highlighted in orange. Local Girl Overcomes Tragedy to Become a Star! was the stupid fucking headline. I hoped she was happy dancing in the Golden Coast, because God knew I was happy dancing with defective cells and bad memories.
I slid down to my knees and coughed again. This time I spat the blood on the wall and grinned at my work. Given time, I think I could be the next Jackson Pollack. The next picture was yet another polaroid. This one was dark and out of focus. It was actually a piss poor photo, you could barely tell what was going on. A pair of guys were smoking in a dark room, one was laughing, his mouth wide open, the other was just slightly smirking. I always had had a good smirk.
The next one was the other newspaper cut out. It was of a little league baseball team all posed in front of a pizza joint. The little turf headed runt scowling at the front was me. I always hated baseball, but for some reason, I always liked that picture. I used to keep it folded up in my wallet but since I didn’t go out anymore I just decided to hang it up. I laid down backwards, the porno mag crinkling beneath my shoulders. I could feel a cockroach squirming underneath my cue ball head, trying his best to escape his crushing predicament, like everybody else on the planet.
I fumble for the pistol in my waist band and put it under my chin and cock the hammer. I look up at the final picture, the oil painting. It was an amazing piece. The colors blended so well, the shapes had conformity, it was balanced and great to look upon. Who would it go to after? Some unappreciative dick, no doubt. Who had even painted it? Some vain ass hole probably. Why was I looking at it? Because it meant nothing to me.