The last bite of his food often disgusted him. This habit was similar to another trait seemingly born of the same psychological setback. He would often read a novel until the ending neared. This behavior that had manifested in many things unfinished had happened often enough, and persisted an adequate amount of time that it forced him to ponder the reason behind it. He had wondered for years if this terrible habit meant that he was subconsciously afraid of dying, but had ultimately concluded that he felt more apt to die than to live.
As a boy in his later teens, his scattered thoughts coalesced into a philosophical conclusion that it was possible he was merely thinking of heaven through a desire so soiled and tattered it was hard to understand it's identity or purpose. What he wanted out of life he was always unsure of. All he ever knew of his desire was that it would take him back to boyhood, a time before the spider and the web, to his fascination with the slow little caterpillar, and to the dreams in the quiet eyes of his angel down the street. A malicious god, he had deemed this longing, to offer him only corpses.
As he grew older, these ruminations had him considering the idea that if he died he would be born again without the heavy hand of gravity pulling him toward the world with all of its idle things. But the possibility of being born again into a corporeal reality was one he could not bear. The years had fossilized into memories, and this gnawing feeling of destiny had only seemed to increase its appetite as it devoured Time. It was a feeling that insisted he was traveling somewhere, and often close to arrival. It seemed to him that day after day, his intuition was a trustworthy leader that abandoned him in the last moment, like an athlete, a singer, who was able to sustain confidence just short of the last play, the last note sung. It was the cause of his worthlessness, his acceptance of failure. He was terrified of his own potential, and committed suicide long ago in the way of human desire. Upon his recognition of wanting the things he could not have, he had ceased to want anything at all. Instead of awakening and attempting to believe that there was an exit to the dark cave he had found himself lost in, he had chosen to go deeper into the caverns, toward the cries of a monster that had fascinated him, leaving him fearless of death. Driven only by his curiosity to gain one glimpse of the beast that unleashes such unearthly cries, he began to drink heavily, and left the occurrences of his life to be guided by circumstance.
"What can I get fer ya Adam boy?"
"Double whiskey, neat. Please, Jim."
"Rough day eh?"
Before Adam could answer the bartender had somehow knocked over a bottle of gin, in attempting to fulfill the request of his customer. Adam had not even noticed any warning movement from the bottle before he had watched Jim's hand assume the proper position for receiving the falling object.
"'Ow about that eh?"
Adam’s reflection in the mirror had seemed to him a transparent one, and he had felt like a zombie suicide, staring through a hole in his chest, where he had replaced his beating heart with a cold metal bullet. His eyes had wandered past the outline of his being. Standing against the back bar rail was a girl; her hair so fair that underneath the overhead light he could not tell if it was white or golden. Her dress was a deep royal blue. In the shadows of barflies walking past, it looked undeniably black. From each ear dangled a single diamond that was not nearly as beautiful as the glint of her teeth against smiling mauve lips. "You know what Jimmy, give me a gin and tonic instead. Work wasn't that bad today after all."
You look like the light of a full moon against a black country sky; My midnight Mary! "Hello," Looking down he stuttered, "I'm sorry it's just that, you look so much like… like… " The girl placed her finger on his lips. Her touch was that of a single snowflake resting cleanly on warm skin. The chill of winter seemed to pass through the imaginary cavity in his chest, and he felt certain he was in the company of a ghost.
"Today as I was walking to the beach, I saw a dead rabbit on the side of the road. It looked alive, as if it was... leaping. It was the strangest thing! And how beautiful it was! More beautiful than a sunset." An exhilarating smile was born from her lips as they hissed these mysterious words, "It's something I will never forget."
The girl lit a cigarette and walked up to the bar. She ordered a glass of red wine. Next to her was a dark-haired woman wearing a brown fur jacket over her shoulders. Underneath was a white lace dress, reminiscent of a reproduction vintage wedding gown, only shorter. Mary had darted a warning glance at Adam before whispering something into the woman's ear. The woman began to cry. As his Midnight Mary reassumed her position from leaning, Adam witnessed her hand brushing the glass and consequently spilling its contents, ruining the brunette's impeccable look. The woman's reaction to the unfortunate occurrence was drastic, and most likely a subconscious after thought of the secret that was given to her. Mary turned her head from the bartender to hide an escaping laugh. She picked up the larger shards of glass on the floor, placed them on the bar and in a voice of false distress said, "Oh I'm so sorry. You understand it was an accident?" Leaving money for her drink as well as that of the fainted woman's, she walked confidently out of the bar, as if nothing had happened.
Adam stared intently at the pretty picture displayed on the bar floor canvas, patterned with muddy footprints from a winter snow which had merged dolefully into the dirt parking lot. She had looked somehow sweet in her expression of discontent, and her legs and arms were positioned elegantly, as if she was dancing on air. The red wine that had seeped into the white on the bosom of her dress was nothing short of exquisite. It was if she was trying to conceal a bleeding heart with a costume of purity; the true nature of life conquering an intellectual façade. He would never forget this image.
"Jim, fetch me a double whisky, neat. Would ya please?"
The old man awoke, faced with large friendly eyes peering at him anxiously through a veil of fur. There was no need for an alarm clock with a friend like The Wolf. If it wasn't for him the old man was certain he would never get out of bed. He sat iconically in his rocking chair on the porch, an intentional cliché. The Wolf had been an obedient friend for years, wandering only within the parameters of his reign. It was the same fading afternoon it had always been in the spring. The air was soft as usual and the nodding sun squeezed it’s rays aggressively through the forest, causing stray scraps of light to fall rebelliously on fresh green grass. There were hundreds of days like this sprinkled though out the old man’s existence, all beautiful in such predictable allure. But The Wolf was acting strangely, as if he was treading upon unfamiliar ground.
Instantly alarmed, the dog began barking violently in an attempt at bravery, then suddenly resorted to a soft, foreboding whimper. His ears perked up as he became submissive to silence, then he darted swiftly into the forest. The old man stood up, running fast as he could after his strangely rebellious friend. After thirty minutes of searching, The Wolf seemed to have disappeared. Now lost himself, the old man could not hear so much a familiar sound as the shuffling of a squirrel, or the snap of a twig caused by the landing of a sparrow upon a weakening branch. He could not even seem to hear or feel the familiar ambiance of a stealthy breeze weaving through the trees. An eerie stillness seemed to have infected Time, and he felt trapped, as if immortalized as an image of a man in a photograph. His thoughts had ceased, and any life he felt inside of his aging body was instantly terminated in the onset of this strange calm. Standing next to a large rock, he could not feel the difference between himself, and the ancient gray object next to him. The only thought he could fathom was the recognition that there was nothing but sight to differentiate one thing from the next. As soon as this thought introduced itself, the man’s vision ceased, and he was left in darkness.
The walk home was a callous one, but Adam’s mild inebriation was enough to turn the air burning against his bare hands and cheeks into a kind of baptism. It was in the bitter pith of winter that he felt the most alive. For him, it was akin to roaming a cemetery, the stillness and death of the season clashed drastically against any awareness of his physical self. In the discomfort of low temperatures was he acutely aware of his warm body.
The picture of the woman was immortalized in his mind. She seemed a worldly and tormented actress, sad and alone in her brief play of death back at the bar. Though a stark opposite to his Midnight Mary in terms of her appeal, she was still a creature of the darkness. He was traveling deeper into his cave, and every moment the cries of the beast became louder, powerful harbingers of the terrible beauty of their master. He felt that the people he was beginning to meet, the things that had been transpiring around him were some kind of initiation into the night. The life in the shadows was no longer recoiling in fear of him, as they were beginning to recognize that the darkness in him was growing.
The days melted quickly into each other, forming a puddle of weeks. He was left to tread water in the center of the vast lakes that were the months, knowing that ultimately he would find himself in an inextricable ocean of time.
Adam would leave the Post Office around five or six o’clock and head straight to the tavern. He was still able to interact with those around him, but the costume he adorned was wearing thin. He made an unconscious effort to recoil slowly from society, unable to maintain an act of friendliness that he once considered reality. He could not determine the cause of this desire for hibernation, but he had felt that something had given him unwanted knowledge. He had felt cast out of reality by the giver of such knowledge, and dead to his previous life. Naked and alone it was only a matter of time before he would drown in this sea of masks that was once the world. Everything that was pure and innocent before this knowledge was given to him, now felt like a prison concealing an angel, whose light he could only see glowing through the crack at the bottom of the door to its cell. The disconnection from this angel pained him greatly, and so he had learned to despise and refuse his desire for the thing he could not have. When the icicles on the trees caught the winter sun to show him a display of glorious light, the rays dancing as fairies skipping from branch to branch or when a squirrel would stop him in his path, look intently into his eyes as if to give him a reminder of camaraderie, he felt only distrust and contempt. For these things were beautiful, but he knew that they paled in comparison to the angel that was being kept from him by some cruel and otherworldly king.