See Jack Die

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Chapter 39

Jack’s apartment.

6:21 pm . . .

After taking a long, hot shower, I found myself standing in front of the mirror, again. The same mirror where this mysterious girl—Kristen—first touched me. Where she spoke to me through my aromatherapy soap. I can still see faint smudges from where I did a poor job of cleaning off the markings.

There is a warm fog all around me, hazing up the edges of the mirror, from the shower. I feel like I’m in a cloud. After using a painful dried-up vegetable—what Ricky calls a loofah—most of the voodoo ink is gone from my body.

What is not gone, however, are all of the burn marks that the stuff left. All over my arms and chest and back are the faint images of the markings which were used to protect me. Every now and then I find myself shivering, partly from being cold, and partly from thinking about my little sunset voyage to the movie theater.

And partly, thinking about her. Kristen. I haven’t seen her in a while, and I find myself worried she might not be there tonight. I’m afraid that I might get stood up by some dead chick that I barely know. Odd thing is . . . I’m starting to miss her. I have a crush on a zombie. That might get me kicked off of e-harmony.com.

Now I’m washing my hands with the vanilla bean soap bar—the one Kristen chose. And smelling it, it’s like the closest thing I can get to smelling her. To touching her.

I wonder, as I lather up my hands, if she sees all of these impossible things in me. Does she see a saint?

A savior?

The man who will free them all?

I don’t know. I’m worried that maybe she sees what I see. An accidental savior. A reluctant saint. An unlikely prophet of neurotic behavior and non-sequitur thoughts.

Let’s face it, I am the guy voted least likely to save the Netherworld. I don’t even watch monster movies. I haven’t celebrated one single Halloween—that I can remember. And until last week, the mere mention of ghosts and phantoms was enough to get me rolling my eyes. Ghosts, space aliens, and male multiple-orgasms—impossibilities.

I would be a good scientist because I am a natural born skeptic. Maybe that’s a lack of imagination on my part? I don’t know. But this, and me, they don’t seem to go together. Maybe I’m the wrong guy. Sure, I managed to crossover to the Deadside. But all of that could have been a dream. A vivid, intense dream—just the way my caseworker explained, just before the badness happened.

I still could be that guy with a developing tumor.

The patient with a degenerative brain disease.

The nut-bag with advanced schizophrenia.

Those things could all, any one of them, be blossoming in the windmill that is my brain. I might be locked-up, this very second, being pumped full of Thorazine while doctors figure out what went wrong.

Maybe, in my head, there is too much devastation—like in Burma where those kids were covered in mud, their lives crushed, staring blankly.

Or, maybe my injury, it was so bad that I lost all of my humanity. I can’t relate. I don’t have the capacity to empathize.

Because, I don’t have divinity in me. And no matter what anyone says, I don’t feel like any prophet, or saint, or savior. Those things, they aren’t me. I don’t know what I am, but I know what I’m not. And I don’t think it is fair to lay that load on somebody.

As we speak, I might have my hands strapped behind my back, waiting for another round of electro-shock therapy. I might be—

“Hurry up,” Ricky yelled, interrupting my pity party. “I need to back one out before we go!”

“What?” I say, as I rinse my hands off.

I can hear him sigh, “I’ve got one honking for right-of-way!”

Gross.

“I’m prairie-dogging, here,” he further explains.

“Yeah,” I beg him, “please . . . no more metaphors. I get it.”

When I opened the door, he is holding his stomach. He pushes by me grumbling something about how long I’ve had that pizza in the refrigerator.

The green parts, I say as the bathroom door slams in my face, those weren’t peppers. But he doesn’t reply. He’s doubled over in pain, most likely. And I realize that keeping pizza in the refrigerator for more than a week is not a healthy idea.

It’s time to get dressed. I have a date with death.


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