FADE TO BLACK

FADE TO BLACK

By Eric J. Juneau

It's a cloudy night, no stars to see, no bright yellow moon I can look up to. Just kind of a bluish-gray shroud hangs over my head, like a giant cotton sheet covering the sleeping inner city. From this old apartment building's roof I can see the silhouettes of the city towers with little specks of yellow and white dotted on them, for the late-night workers. The ones who had nice wives and beautiful children to support, the ones who had a pension plan, a mortgage, in-laws. The ones who could play piano, swim in the ocean, go to church, and be in the arms of someone who loved them.

I am crouched on the ledge of the roof, watching the world. Watching everything. Thinking about what I've done, what I've done to deserve this. My jacket does little to protect me against the icy wind chill, but it doesn't matter. I can't even feel it now. I rest my elbow on my knee and the dagger I hold is presented in front of my face. It's a double-edged blade with an easy-grip handle, perfect for stabbing. The reddened blade is still dripping thick crimson ooze. It falls on the brick ledge, making little puddles.

I could see all the people I had hurt in that drop of blood. I could see their faces, mouths gaping wide, screaming with pain. Their mouths were open so wide it looked like their jaws had detached. All throughout my life all I've ever done was hurt people. Some deserved it, some didn't, some were just there and I didn't mean to hurt them, but it just ended up that way. That's what happens in life, it hurts you. Sometimes it's for a purpose, sometimes it isn't. But it hurts. I had to make that hurting stop.

"Sir, would you please come down from there?"

Great, company. Not what I need.

"Come on, whatever it is, it's not worth this."

"Go away," I whispered, never even turning my head.

"What's your name?"

I left him answerless. No one ever gave me an answer, why should I give him one.

"Well, look, I just want you to do me a favor and get off the ledge."

I needed to be alone right now. I didn't need this random idiot from the street up here with me. Just go away, it's too late. There is nothing more for me to do. I couldn't hear him anymore, all I could pick out was snippets of dialogue that permeated the shell I was in.

I know right now he's looking at my back turned to him. He sees me looking down at the street, holding onto something. He's probably telling me everything will be all right if I get down from here.

It won't.

I can hear him approach me and put his hand on my shoulder. I quickly shrug it off like it was something disgusting. As he steps back he sees the dripping dagger in my hand, but he doesn't know how it got that way. He holds his hands up like he doesn't want any trouble.

"Hey, man, I don't know what you did, but it doesn't need to end like this."

The clouds continue to roll on, starting to clear away, revealing a starry sky. This is the end of my world, and this guy doesn't seem to want to accept that. He doesn't realize what I've done. He doesn't understand I'm capable of such things. He's about to find out how wrong he is.

Because now the police are here.

They pull up in their shining white and blue police cars, the red and blue lights scream out the wail of justice coming to the rescue, to save the people from the horrid evil that lurks in dark alleys, crack houses, and apartment building roofs.

"Hey, man, just put down the knife and get down. It doesn't have to be this way."

Of course it has to be this way. If I had a choice about it, you think I would be up here? Destiny exists. There's no two ways about it. Maybe some have the ability to control it, take hold of it, shape it to what they want, some don't. I don't. Mine is like a car spiraling out of control. A long, downward spiral.

There's a line in a some song that I always liked - "This thorn in my side is from the tree I planted." I don't know why I thought of that just now. It seemed appropriate.

And now the police have made it up to the roof. They are yelling at me, coaxing me down from here. But I'm not listening anymore. The pain has dulled my senses too much at this point that they have just closed down. They're acting like this is the end of the world. It's not. Just mine.

And now I can see the gaping maw of pit-fire hell open up, pieces and shards of the concrete street far below collapse and fall into the chasm. Police vehicles sitting under the hollow inferno drop down into the nothingness like little die-cast cars off into a recessing sewage drainpipe. I knew I would see this just before. It was just an illusion and I had full awareness of that, but I was still seeing it.

"Please, man, just put down the knife and get down off there? Please? This ain't the way to go."

"Son, please, listen to him."

"Please, just get off the ledge. You don't want to do this."

"Come down off the ledge."

I put down my bleeding dagger, and turn my body to see my 'saviors'. They gasp at me when they see the tear in my shirt in the middle of my chest, gushing blood through the rip in my flesh I had made with the knife, a wound that, by now, should have killed me from loss of blood, lung damage, heart failure, and internal bleeding. The good samaritan looks at me, and I give him a quick smile, a reassuring smirk, letting him know there was nothing he could have done. Then I turn back to the cold crevice below me, void as a dead man's gaze. I silently step off the edge of the roof.

The police lunge at me. Only the bystander stays still, attention still glued to me in disbelief. He'll probably blame himself for not trying to catch me. I can't think about that.

And I see the faces of those I hurt again, and those who hurt me. Those who drove me to this. The darkening void rushes up to greet me, embrace me, consume me.

Then I feel nothing. Everything goes fuzzy, then swirls around and fades to black.

###