FINALLY, HERE WE are, Al. Go on, get out of the car; not thinking of backing out on me, are you? We’ve come this far together and you cannot afford to screw things up now. You with me, Al?
Alan Prince played deaf, ignored the voice speaking inside his head for the time being. It was a familiar voice; stern, powerful, and very persuasive.
Oh boy! What a roller coaster it had been for the last two years or so since the Voice waltzed its way into his head that fateful night. Even though Alan had at first mistaken it to be his grandfather speaking to him from the other side of the sweet by and by, he soon realized that it wasn’t him.
Sir Bobby, his grandfather, had been a polite gentleman and an ardent Catholic; he wasn’t a vulgar or condescending person whilst he was alive and Alan saw no reason he would be so in death. Dead Catholics were supposed to be saintly, weren’t they?
But not this voice speaking to him; it was poisonous and vile, full of dark and sinister inclinations. Of course, there were times when he shunned the Voice altogether, refused to rise to its urging. But the repercussion of that was often distasteful; the Voice relapsed into cold silence, withdrew for days, and that made Alan very sick. He was hooked on it like a junkie to narcotics. The Voice had become an important part of him. They were one, like having your bestie with you everywhere you went.
And today was the grand finale, the climax of the show; the perfect act to crown it all.
That was why he was here, sitting in his car in the middle of the 3rd Mainland Bridge. But first, Alan took a moment to wonder; to contemplate how far he had come on his bizarre, more-than-life adventure. It was all so incredibly surreal and adrenalin-pumping; his very own movie in which he was both scriptwriter and director.
Or was he going insane?
Many in his school really thought he was a weirdo. He’d been treated for depression a couple of times since he was fifteen, and he was even currently on antidepressant meds.
No, Alan, you’re not going mental.
Alan brought out and lit a cigarette, closed his eyes momentarily as he puffed the nicotine-laden smoke into the air, even though the windows of the car were wound up. It was suffocating. But what did it matter? He simply put his head back, reclined on the seat and enjoyed his moment of eerie tranquility in silence.
In a short while it would all be over, and everything would be fine.
Sure it will, Al. Everything is going to be OK, you’ll see.
ALAN’S NERVES SOON relaxed under the hypnotic spell of heavy cigarette smoke as it quickly filled the inside of the car like an ominous mist blowing over a gentle, placid river. His head felt light, everything seemed good.
He was in a peaceful place, subsumed in a cloud of ecstasy, floating through space and time towards a beckoning, gaping black hole. A small, subconscious smile lit Alan’s dreary face as he put the end of the cigarette to his lips again.
There were voices; distinctly familiar voices calling his name from right inside the grinning blackness. But Alan wasn’t afraid. If anything, he felt conciliated like an athlete after a hard won home run. Yes, that was the sound he was hearing in his head; victory chants. The voices were of spectators singing his praise, nudging him on.
He was a hero.
Alan smiled furtively as he drifted and floated on in limbo; soaring through space, swimming through time...
It was the powerful vibration of his phone on the gear landing beside his seat that cut short his mental crescendo and brought him crashing back to earth with a jolt that nearly knocked him senseless. A small frown creased Alan’s face like the snarl of a wild animal as he cast a spiteful glance at the annoying piece of electronic gadget.
For the moment, he took his attention away and turned to consider some other less nagging objects at the side of the road with his eyes shifting back and forth like an ensnared tiger. He was pretty good at ignoring annoying people and things nowadays; his parents, his neighbors, his teachers, the police on the street and fellow commuters.
Then he caught his own reflection in the head mirror of the car; his hard face and dark, sunken eyes staring back at him. Alan stopped and gaped at himself surreptitiously. Nothing in his calm yet sinister looking countenance suggested how young he was. Even though he just turned seventeen, it would appear that the gory experiences he’d had and the vicious life he’d led in so short a time had served to age him severely.
The phone kept vibrating; the damned caller was his mother.
Well, blast her, thought Alan angrily. And blast everyone who’d ever tried to meddle in his business over the years. He didn’t need any of them; he didn’t need anyone!
When Alan Prince got out of bed that morning, he did so with a rock-hard erection that seemed to amuse him.
He got in front of the full length mirror in his room with only his boxers on, ran his fingers gently across the litany of tattoos scattered across his chest and arms, turned his head sideways to consider the scar on the left side of his face, a relic from the fatal accident he had with his family.
Finally he stretched, flexing the muscles of his finely-toned body.
This is your big day, the Voice had whispered in his ears. The culmination of our journey so far.
Alan smiled. Then he quickly washed up and got dressed, put a call through to his father just to check up on him. The conversation was brief because the noise coming from the other end was a bit too high-pitched; whirring and clanking sounds from running machineries at the factory.
Downstairs, Mom was waiting at the dining table with a warm smile on her face. Alan mumbled an almost inaudible ’’Morning, Mom,’ as he sat down to eat. Mom had a gift for him, and she held it up just before he began applying jam on the slice of bread. It was an intricate piece of silver-encrusted crucifix.
“Thanks,” he said, taking the ornament from her. He’d seemed really pleased with it.
As they ate, they chatted idly about a number of issues – work, society, life and school.
“You do need to go to college, you know?” She broached the subject carefully, just in case he might get ticked off. “You need to get your life together and move on.”
“I’ve moved on,” he told her quietly.
Mom paused, considered him for a moment before deciding to change the topic. “Are you going out today?”
“Yeah,” he nodded. “I might hang out with a couple of friends later on.”
She stared at him. “You be good, okay?” she said uncertainly. She seemed somewhat nervous. “You’re a man now, Alan, so no more wild pranks.”
“Okay, Mom,” said Alan.
She got up to leave for work, grabbed her handbag and car key, and planted a kiss on his forehead. “I love you, Son.”
“Take care, Mom.”
She hurried out the door, leaving him to finish his food.
You heard that, Alan? ‘You’re a man now’.
Alan Prince smiled slyly. “Of course, I’m a man.”
Today is your big day.
“Yes; my big day.”
And later that afternoon, only a few hours after eating breakfast with his mother and stopping by at the club where he downed several shots of whiskey, Alan got into his car and drove directly to the middle of the 3rd Mainland.
After spending about 30-minutes smoking and replaying the various unsavory events that had gone on in his life in the last couple of years, Alan clenched his lips and blew out his cheeks like an athlete bracing himself in anticipation for the whistle to blow.
Then he got out of the car with the engine still running, left the door open and climbed over the metal protective rail of the bridge onto the other side.
He paused for a moment, stared down at the shimmering, daunting body of water beneath. It was a 150-foot drop, and the impact on hitting the water at almost 60 miles an hour would most certainly knockout a man.
Go on; do it!
Behind him, a number of pedestrians had quickly noticed and had begun to draw closer curiously, staring at the boy in alarm. Cars were pulling over, some screeching to a halt, and there were desperate voices calling out to him to get away from the edge. A few of the onlookers were frantically calling 911.
Like they care, the Voice snarled evilly. They don’t even know you, Alan.
Alan closed his eyes and fell forward to the utter consternation of everyone on the bridge. Screams of horror went up from the people, cries of ‘Oh, no!’, ‘Holy shit!’ and ‘Arghhhh!’ echoed from every corner.
It was a long way down and, until the very moment when his body broke through the surface of the river, Alan Prince actually thought that he was a sparrow gliding through a clear, peaceful sky…
Yes, Al, soar away.