It must have been a lightning strike or maybe some psychic child- it’s usually something stupid like that. One minute I’m dead forever, the next, I begin to shake and squirm, suddenly I’m back alive.
I open my eyes under the dark water and try to swim up to the surface, but wouldn’t you know it, surprise surprise, the kids have chained me to a big hunk of stone. I vaguely recall how that went down, but the details are fuzzy. They always are.
So for a second, I flail around like a bozo at the bottom of the lake and then I come to my senses and snap the thick chains.
There. How you like that?
Free. I break the surface. Doggy paddle my way to the shore- I never learned how to swim properly. Also, you try to swim in heavy boots, tell me how you make out.
The moon is full and blood red. This fills me with glee! As you know, there is no better time to seek revenge on camp counselors than under a blood red full moon!
Great. Step one, find something to jam into their eyes, hearts, lungs…some kind of weapon, even an oar from one of the boats. I scan the ground for a machete, a chainsaw…even just a Phillips head screw driver. Nada. I settle on a big stick.
A big stick.
Its not even sharp. Alright, I’ve worked with less before. I’ve beat people to death against oak trees while they were snoozing inside sleeping bags. When The sleeping bag got opened, the people leaked out like goo. I’ve crushed skulls in with stale loaves of bread. I’ve chopped heads off with hedge clippers. Not to toot my own horn, but occasionally, I’ve pulled a head right off the base of the neck… POP! As easy pulling up some carrots out of the garden.
I was determined. You can say that about me. Driven. A very motivated individual.
At the edge of the lake, I’m surprised to not see any boats on the shore. I’m surprised to see that the docks are all gone. Heh? The landscape sure had changed. How long was I dead this time? It varies.
The constant is the cold darkness of the lake. I always wind up down there. Not quite dreaming, more- trapped in my own nightmare spiraling out of control.
Flashes of what has happened to come back. I get an ax to the head. I get set on fire. My own pitchfork used against me, stabbed right through my belly.
Oh, it gets worse every time. I come back for vengeance, I butcher a bunch of them, but ultimately I end up right where I started. Back in the lake. Like that movie Groundhog’s Day with Bill Murray. There I am, no matte what I do, still cursed. It’s not healthy how angry I am about all of this, but my anger is not something I could even begin to control.
You would do the same thing if you were me. I promise you.
I stomp into the dark woods in my heavy boots, breaking through the brush. Crushing plants. Scaring some squirrels.
I’m certain every few feet that I’m gonna stumble upon some teenagers smoking weed in the moonlight. That always happens when I rise out of the dark water. A stray stoner in the moonlight, sitting on a log. Easy kill. Its good, it gets me back in the swing of things. Hopefully it’ll be a few stoners. That would be nice.
I’m hoping I’ll be able to kill them with something a little better than the stick. Maybe they’ll have a bong. Sometimes they have a bong. I hope so. I’d love to kill them with their own bong. The farther I walk into the woods, the more I’m in disbelief. Nobody to kill. Not a single person.
Then I notice strange lights ahead. What, did they put in a baseball field at the camp? Is there a night game? I get a little chill thinking about it. Yeah, they’ll all be out there on the field, all those scumbag camp counselors and I’ll be able to get my hands on some baseball bats and smash their skulls in one by one. I’ll hide under the bleachers and rip some of them underneath, ha! Maybe I’ll be sneaky and scare the shit out of somebody… they’ll be looking for some schlep. They always go looking for some schlep- gets me every time.
“Bernie…Bernie, where are you?” They’ll say.
The chick will come walking around the backstop and be calling his name…but, give up after a few minutes and go to get a drink of Gatorade. The cooler will be clogged. Open it up and check inside. Not Gatorade in there, bitch. It’s Bernie’s head.
I’ll be cracking up in the woods. Pissing my dead pants watching the reaction. “Eeeeekk!!
I’ll grab the girl and dismember her before she spreads the word…eh, will I leave her guts in somebodies batting helmet? Oh the possibilities.
Whoa. This is gonna be great.
I’ve never gotten to do something like that before. I don’t get to participate in very many games, being 6 foot 8, undead, in coveralls and a hockey mask. Guy like me doesn’t get picked for many teams.
Excited, I walk quick, and come out of the line trees into the light.
What I find troubled me very much. It’s not a baseball field.
The lights are from a parking lot. It’s a Home Depot.
I cross onto the lot and stare in disbelief at the lit up sign, “Your Home Improvement Super Headquarters”
Where is the camp?
Where are the kids?
Like usual, I become a voyeur at the edge of the woods, stalking my prey. There’s a fat man watching a young kid load lumber into his pickup truck for him. Other people, loud talking women pushing shopping carts loaded with flowers and bags of mulch. Children running, screaming, picking up river stones from the center island of the parking lot. A young girl dragging her feet as she comes into view under the bright lights. I wonder if she’s going to college and working, must be. This might be her second job. God…the economy.
I’ve never seen such people, look how carelessly they walk across the asphalt. Have they no idea that a supernatural killer lurks just out of view breathing loud as hell and contemplating murdering them with a stick?
Oh, how pathetic. I threw it into the woods. I walk around the back of the home depot, as slowly and as ominously as I possibly can- but no one sees. Back there by the loading dock, there were a few punk teenagers smoking cigarettes and talking smack as they break down cardboard boxes.
“Oh, finally.” I say.
I’m pleased. Some teenagers to slaughter.
Who knows they might even be former camp counselors. Could they be? I studied them for awhile. I tried to look for some distinguishing characteristics that would define them as the camp counselors that I so badly sought blood revenge against. Hmmmm, some goatees. One was taller and had a diamond earring. The other kept saying, “Seriously.”
“Seriously, dude, I totally would have- blah blah blah.”
and, “Seriously, yeah, I know all about blah blah blah.”
The other kid just kept smoking. Ok, diamond earring, saying seriously a lot and smoking what I believed to be menthol cigarettes. Shit, I couldn’t figure out if any of these things were things that the camp counselors used to do. They were too young anyway, Ah ha, it hit me, I’m so stupid sometimes, these were the children of the camp counselors.
I’d have to kill them for the sins of their moms and pops.
Yet, I’m reluctant. I just can’t seem to place it. The feeling. Usually I would have immediately come at them. First kill after a long nap…yet, I just can’t bring myself. I hesitate. I think about it. Then I think about how I can’t believe that I’m even thinking about it. Am I past my prime?
Just then the tallest one started heaving the cardboard boxes into the compactor and it hit me, a revelation. Holy smokes! I could toss these idiots right into the compactor. What a fantastic idea!
“Seriously, bro! Look at that thing crush stuff.”
“I know, bad ass isn’t it?”
“Seriously, I bet we could crush Dave’s dirtbike in there.”
I was plotting about how I was gonna do this. I’m slow as Hell and most of my killing involved me sneakin the heck up on kids like this, but it might be too far.
Then, the door on the loading dock opens up, there’s a large figure.
“You two birds…what are you doing out here?”
“I see that. You’re supposed to be stocking the birdseed aisle.”
Then all three of them go back into the door. I wait a little while, hoping for somebody else to come so I can crush them in the machine but eventually I get so bored that I give up. Which is saying a lot, usually I can hang out in the shadows all night if I think it involves getting to do something as fun as crushing someone in a compactor.
To tell you the truth, I was antsy and I was beginning to feel like my life had no real purpose. I was starting to feel like the reason I wasn’t happy was because I was letting other people determine my happiness for me and that perhaps I had to find my own inner sunbeam.
I went up onto the loading dock, into the Home Depot.
The store was quiet. It was late. I do what I do best. I go stalking around. I see a woman looking at toilets on one aisle. I consider stuffing her into the toilet tank. Nahhh. Then I find a father and son looking at hardware. Nuts and bolts. The father is teaching the son all about nuts and bolts. Showing him all kinds of things. “This is a washer…this is a bolt thread, there’s fine thread or there’s course thread.” “wow!” “Sometimes if you’re lucky you even get to use metric. That’s a whole nother can of worms.” “Metric, tell me more, daddy!”
I creep up right behind them and think about making them both eat all the hardware. All of it. What a way to kill somebody.
But, I don’t. Part of it is that I’m charmed by the father and son element. The other part of it is that I have to use the bathroom. I stomp off.
In the bathroom, I’m in a stall, doing my business when the door opens. I hear two people. A guys and a girl. They have no idea that I’m in there because I like to go to the bathroom with the light off. So they flick the light on and start to get all hot and heavy on the tile floor. It’s disgusting, really. I peek out from my stall amazed at how filthy these two people are. The guy’s on top of the girl and then they roll and he’s on top of her.
I open my stall and sneak past them, head back Into the store. I need a chainsaw. That’s exactly what I need. A chainsaw. I’m gonna hack these people right apart. Teen Sex in the Home Depot bathroom? Maybe a sledgehammer too. I’ll start them off with the sledge hammer.
I go out to the home and garden section because that’s where the chainsaws are. The closer I get the more lousy I feel about things.
I mean, really when is this all gonna end? Is it always gonna be like this?
By the time I’m at the wall of chainsaws I can’t believe it. I’m weeping.
Me. Weeping? I don’t weep. I’ve never weeped. Yet, here I am…
Suddenly, it’s like I’m not even in control of my own body. I just see everything moving. It’s like I’m watching a home video. A person walking with a camcorder, recording every step. Then, I’m down the aisle. I’m out of the store, walking through the parking lot, crying so loudly.
I go back into the trees and storm through the darkness.
I’m clawing at myself and punching myself in the shoulder. This isn’t who I want to be. This isn’t who I wanted to be when I was a kid. What happened to my life? Where did it derail? Is it possible to fix things? No. It’s not. I wail even louder and I can’t even believe it. The sound of my own crying. It rises up higher and higher and probably rubs against the blood red moon, washing it just a little.
My mask is filling up with tears. I rip it off, cast it into the lake, making it skip like a stone.
Then, I throw myself into the lake. It’s the only way. It has to be like this. I am gonna drown myself. Yeah. I’m gonna just end it all.
I doggy paddle out to the center and I bob up and down for a minute. Then I just close my eyes and let myself sink.
Then I sink.
Then I sink some more.
Before I know it, I’m standing on the bottom of the lake. Yeah. Like I was scuba diving. I concentrate really hard on drowning myself. I squeeze my eyes shut. I try my best to die. I really don’t want to have anything to do with this earth anymore. End my curse. Send me somewhere dark, this time forever.
After awhile, my sobs stop.
Ever have ten minutes of underwater sobs?
Try it sometime.
You will reach a level of clarity that is unseen in your life. You will see all of your mistakes as if each mistake was back lit against a wall of brightest white. A calm will set over you. It doesn’t have a name. Nothing has a name at that point. It’s an utter calm, a pure brilliance- there isn’t a thing that can disturb it. You’re whole life is no longer a fire that burns in a wavering turmoil of pain- rather there is a lull, a lull you never knew existed. A quiet that seems so odd and comforting. Comfort? You never even knew what that was, now, look at it. Look at it so deep, you never want to look away. Suddenly, you are aware of an endless list of choices. Options. Down there, you wait and wait, understanding that you won’t die, you aren’t waiting for that, you’re waiting for the fire to come back up- it’s always been there and you’re waiting for it to flare back up, but it doesn’t. Now you are even more afraid. Down there, looking at all of your mistakes backlit in white brilliance. You see exactly who you are now and you realize that you are not completely to blame for it, but you are certainly to blame if you accept it. There are choices. Yes. There are choices for everybody.
So I slowly make my way back to the surface and then I doggy paddle to the edge of the lake. When I get to the Home Depot parking lot, I don’t even look in it’s direction. Instead, I walk out to the road and I slowly and easily make my way down the shoulder of the two lane highway and I don’t look back.
I get myself a room in the Crystal Motel. The neon sign draws me in, like an insect. The first day I stay to myself in my room and I think about things. Over and over. I think about things. I really beat myself up about it. The second day, I order a pizza and don’t butcher the pizza delivery boy when he shows up.
Then, I think about things some more.
I clean myself up. I do my best to look presentable with what I have to offer the world.
The third night, I somehow make my way across the highway to a little bar over there. I sit alone and I drink a beer. I order a mushroom cheeseburger burger. People give me strange looks, I imagine it’s my face. I imagine it’s my torn coveralls. So long being underwater. The stink. I don’t blame them for the looks. But they don’t run. They don’t attack me with bar stools or try to push me out of a barn window onto sharp spikes or anything. Mostly they just play darts and yell like crazy every time somebody scores a touchdown.
It goes like that for awhile. Sure, I still think about how angry I am at the camp counselors and how I should be finding them wherever they are and getting my revenge, but little by little, I forget about them, what they’ve done. Revenge is hard. You forget what even started any of it after awhile. Who is wrong. Who is right. What anyone deserves.
I run out of money, but that’s not why I went back to the Home Depot.
I wanted to prove to myself that I could do something positive. I filled out an application and couldn’t believe it when I got hired.
Then there I was the next day, I’m back there behind the loading dock, breaking up cardboard boxes with one of those kids. The tall one with the diamond earring.
He says, “Seriously, you’re big. You’re wide. You used to play football?”
“You should have, dude. Missed your calling. Seriously.”
This makes me smile. First smile ever. You remember yours? I’m glad that you had yours early enough to not remember it. This was mine and it was an experience beyond strange.
I did good there.
I didn’t crush the kid in the machine. I did real good. I focused on my work. I applied myself. I got accustomed.
The manager seemed very impressed with my knowledge of the garden center. Tools, how comfortable I was with them. The hedge clippers. The axes. The pickaxes. The pitchforks. The chainsaws. Let us not forget the chainsaws.
Within two months, I was assistant manager of the entire department. Me! Home and Garden Assistant Manager!
I was so proud of myself. I sat on the edge of my bed at the motel staring at my work ID, specifically, at- Assistant Manger written beneath my name.
Things got even better when my benefits kicked in.
I’m not embarrassed to talk to you about it. Everyone can benefit from admitting their faults. You learn that way.
I found myself a therapist in the yellow pages.
She is very kind and we talk very deeply about my problems, my issues, my trouble. Twice a week. Mondays and Thursdays. 7pm.
I look forward to it, it keeps me going.
It fills my heart with a light you could not hope to understand, though I want so desperately to show you. If you give me just a little more time.