“You’re such a classic, you know that?” I felt the warm tinge of saliva behind my ears. Jack’s. Slow, steady breaths, stroking uncomfortably at my skin.
Inhaling. Exhaling. In a one-way conversation, it’s times like this when silence makes sense. Is this regret?
“One fucking classic.” He continued to say, laughing. It was mechanical, the way a person would when he had a sort of nervous, insecure desperation about something he was about to do.
I tried to say something, but heard only a muffled voice. Only after awhile did I become aware that I was gagged. With something between your teeth, you can’t really say anything, not even mutter basic linguistic sounds. All that comes out is faint, senseless attempts at speech. For a moment, I thought about people who were born with the inability to speak. I was never good at paying attention.
The bitter taste of the cloth around my lips brought me back to my senses again. An uneven, fluffy texture – dirt. I breathed in dust and coughed, only to feel the heat circulate in my mouth.
Jack was not always like this. No, never. Words were never his way of communicating. Countable syllables were considered a verbal success for him. Most of the time, his lips just wore a quiet smile. Empty, weak, and unfeeling. He thought of me as his best friend. I did the same. Not because he was easy to trust, but because he trusted me so easily. Friendships were what I called the rock-strewn roads of disasters. With Jack, getting away was a free ticket, effortless. Sorry Jack. Sorry Jack. Sorry Jack. All I needed to say. What an addiction. Sometimes, I liked to joke that if that synthetic smile of his were worn any longer, it might just get worn out. Well, maybe it did. At some point, I probably did wear that smile out. I’m not sure. I was never good at paying attention. Is this regret?
“I’ve sewn your lips shut, Mike. Now, embrace the silence.” This was Jack, now. Jack – let down, revengeful, insane, and whispering disturbingly into my ears. And then, there it was – a feeling of cold steel, creeping up my neck, brushing my hair away and pushing against my scalp. It seemed as if my heart stopped for a split second. My blood froze, and the only heat I felt was Jack’s breath against my ears, and the icy metal end of Jack’s gun. The only assurance I had was that the only pain I might feel would last for a shadowy second. I screamed and pleaded inside my head.
The recollection in the past tense is now over. This is how my life is going to end. Gagged and breathing dust, with no last words and a face which will be replaced by blood and brains. Is this regret?
But no. “I can’t do this.” Jack begins to cry. “I wish I had what you had, Mike, when you did this to my parents, but I can’t do this.” Tears. It was an accident, an accident. I’m sorry, Jack. Dust and senseless speech again. I feel the cold sensation lifted off my head. Thank you, Jack. I breathe a sigh of relief through the cloth. I’m sorry, Jack.
And then, I catch the familiar sound of the trigger being pulled. Click. No, Jack. I was never good at paying attention. In the fraction of a second, I hear the combustion of gunpowder. Jack! The splatter of flesh, bone, and blood against the wall. The gun is fired.
After that, I hear nothing. Jack? Not Jack’s steady breaths. Jack? Not his mechanical laugh.
In a one-way conversation, it’s times like this when silence makes sense. Because silence becomes the only sound you hear, consuming any grasp of the world you have left. Any life. Or any point of it.
Inhaling. Exhaling. The silence continues to scream. This is Jack’s gift to me. This is how my life is going to continue.