Clyde Berman lifted up the right sleeve of his black coat and checked his watch. The cold October wind greeted his paper-colored skin with ferocity. Clyde let out a series of shivers as he noted the time before pulling his sleeve back down- 5:42 PM.
“Good, it should be ready,” Clyde muttered to himself.
The wind continued to rush against Clyde as he made his way toward the destination that he intended upon being life-changing for him. He crossed his arms in response as he walked forward with the hope that he wouldn't become a human popsicle. His hopes were seemingly answered as he arrived at his target, pushed the door open, and stepped inside. Various glass display cases greeted him, as did a wide variety of pendants, bracelets, rings and earrings. The display cases were spread out in no discernible order, at least to Clyde, and a counter with 'The Ring in the Rough's' owner parked behind it was located at the far end of the store, which caused Clyde to question the wisdom of the store's layout even more.
“Look who showed up just before closing time. I told you that the ring would be ready at 5:30, Mr. Berman,” spoke the chubby, suited man behind the counter in a clearly false English accent.
“Not all of us can afford a car, Jeffrey. Although, I have an idea on how I might be able to pay for one,” Berman replied in a sarcastic tone while delivering a glare before shifting his gaze at the various displays as if to imply that he might rob the jewelry store.
Jeffrey Dirsk let out a nervous laugh as Clyde approached, while he retrieved a small jewelry box from behind the counter. Clyde gently picked the box from Jeffrey's hand and opened it; he was greeted by a 10K White Gold Diamond Ring. Clyde gave Jeffrey a thumbs up as he placed the box on the counter and fished out a little over two-thousand dollars in cash.
“Have a nice day, I know I will,” Jeffrey responded after counting the wad of cash.
Clyde rolled his eyes, put the box with the ring inside of it into his pocket, and strolled out the door.
“Might as well go buy a pack of blues, already spent everything else,” he stated to himself as the wind ran through his brown hair in way of greeting.
Although not a long walk to the Quick Trip, Clyde still dreaded it. The town was usually bustling with cars and pedestrians at this hour, but today he was practically the only soul out on the streets; damnable wind.
This is entirely optional, y'know. Don't be a wuss about something that's your own fault, he chided himself within his thoughts.
Five minutes of walking later and the glass door to the red-colored Quick Trip building was in front of him. Clyde's brown hair and winter coat trailed in the wind as the Quick Trip door struggled valiantly against his mighty grip. The wind and door combined were no match for Berman's strength as he heaved the door open and set off the buzzer as he entered the shop.
Both the long haired, glasses wearing clerk and the bald, blue-eyed customer stared at him silently as he approached the counter. Crap, do I still have some marinara sauce on my face? Hopefully I just interrupted a conversation and it isn't anything embarrassing. I'll try to get out of here quickly, he thought as he met their gazes and continued his approach.
“Yo! I'd like a pack of blues if you aren't waiting on him.”
“He is,” spoke the customer in an uneven voice.
The “customer” turned his body to face Clyde and for the first time Clyde noticed that the man was twitching. He also noticed the small handgun that had been tucked underneath the man's coat. Clyde looked the gunman dead in the eye.
“Give me your wallet,” he stated matter of factly.
“My day just took a trip to shitsville,” Clyde muttered.
A loud bang materialized and a bullet embedded itself in the wall behind Clyde. The tweaker meant business.
“Okay, okay! I'm getting it!” he responded in a startled tone as he stuffed his hand in his right pocket and carefully tried to fish out his wallet without bringing up the boxed engagement ring.
Not satisfied, the mugger fired a second round.
“Not enough time...” Clyde managed to respond as he hit the floor face first with a thud. A small bit of blood leaked out and around his head as he faded out of consciousness. His failing vision picked up the shooter running out the door and then...
A beautiful young woman with long red hair who was arguably the shyest person in all of Lainard, Virginia sat outside of the operating room with her hands delicately clasped in her lap as she stared down at the hospital's white-tiled floor. Eventually, people stopped rushing in and out of the E.R. and an elderly female nurse who was wrapped in green approached the young woman.
“E-Eh? Y-Yes?” the red head asked in a gentle voice as she brought her fingers to her blue eyes in an effort to wipe away the tears.
“Mr. Berman is going to be alright. Would you like to see him now?”
The woman clumsily stood up, nearly falling as she did so, and nodded in reply. The emergency room was a pristine white- walls, floor, ceiling. The machines beeping and humming were the only sounds that dared occupy the room. Clyde Berman lay on a bed hooked to machines and doodads of all shapes, sizes and sorts that were dedicated to keeping his condition stable. The two women approached the blanket-covered man whose head was covered in medical wrap and an oxygen mask. Clyde's brown eyes effortlessly scrolled over to Annie Prasc and the nurse.
Annie Prasc fought back a gasp. She was resolved to do her best not to hurt Clyde in any way.
“It's not as bad as it might look. I've heard the doctors say that he fought that bullet really well,” the nurse said in as reassuring a tone as she could manage.
Before Annie could speak to Clyde, one of the doctors, a young male, barged into the room. The weight behind the doctor's steps indicated that he was most displeased, a fact which was backed by his voice.
“What is she doing in here? No one is allowed in the E.R. You should know this, Marge,” came the doctor's gravely and somewhat shaky voice.
“I'm sorry, Doctor Onik. She's been waiting outside the entire duration of the surgery. She sat there like a statue. I figured she deserved to know now.”
“Have you told her?”
The doctor let out a sigh as he rubbed in between his eyebrows with his right thumb and index finger. After completing the somewhat insensitive motion, he turned to face Annie Prasc and cleared his throat.
“Well, Miss. As you probably know, a bullet traveled through Mister Berman's head which in turn means his brain. On the positive side, there shouldn't be any memory loss, decrease in intelligence or motor functions based upon the bullet's trajectory. However, the bullet traveled through the brain in such a chance based way that it took out the most emotional centers of the brain before lodging itself in the hypothalamus where it still resides due to the risk that removal posed. In short, Clyde may have trouble feeling and expressing emotion.”
Annie stood limply as she listened to Doctor Onik's explanation. Tears did not well up in her eyes as would have been normal procedure for her upon receiving bad news. Instead, in this instance, she just stood there in shock with both her hands opening and closing as if to grasp for hope, if only such a thing had a physical form.
“See her out, Marge. It's nearly time to move Mr. Berman to ICU. Oh, and send these home with her,” continued Onik in a cold tone as he handed the nurse a plastic sack that contained the clothes and effects that were on Clyde Berman when he had been shot.
Ever so delicately, Marge put a hand on Annie's left shoulder and helped guide her out of the room.
“Why don't you go home and get some rest, dearie. You must be tired and feeling awful isn't going to do him any good. Would you like me to call a transit bus?” Marge asked as she patiently held out the bag full of Berman's effects.
Tears hit the floor as Annie nodded and grasped the bag. The rest happened in a blur and before Annie knew it she was back home, although it didn't feel as such with the absence of her beloved. Ms. Pasc opened the sack and took out the clothes with trembling hands. She absentmindedly sniffed the bloodied shirt and took in the coppery smell, hesitating before tossing it and the ruined coat in the kitchen trashcan. Although a horrible reminder of what had occurred, she found the smell of her boyfriend's blood to be somewhat soothing much to her surprise and dismay.
It must be because that's all of him that I currently have, she justified to herself.
The blue jeans appeared to be unspoiled which caused her to bring them over to the laundry basket. She checked the pockets as was customary and retrieved Clyde's keys from the left pocket; the contents of the right pocket caught her off-guard. As expected she found his wallet; unexpectedly she pulled out a jewelry box. Annie fumbled and dropped the box with her shaky hands; it hit with a thud and the top opened. A very beautiful engagement ring revealed itself before Annie's eyes and a realization hit her: he was going to propose. A wave of worry about the future hit her as another geyser of tears burst forth and trailed down her face as she stood shaking like a bag caught in a tornado.
The sounds of air compressing and decompressing and machines that beeped and booped greeted Clyde as he awakened from a restless slumber in his hospital bed. He brought both his arms up to his head and felt around. His face was unwrapped until he reached the top of his head.
I guess I could wear a hat if the wound is gnarly.
Thinking to himself was all Clyde did for hours. It was all he could do to keep himself entertained and perhaps even sane. Eventually, Annie showed up. Clyde's mind told him that he should be grateful, but he felt nothing; emotionless. At least she could help him kill time. Each day the two chatted back and forth about how much time had passed, when Clyde might be discharged, how the hospital food tasted and other matters similar to those. However, one thing did not get brought up and that was the engagement ring. Annie always found herself saddened by the lack of emotion that her boyfriend exhibited, but she always kept a smile on and would urge the conversations onward with her quiet voice.
After a few days, the wrap was removed from Clyde's head and he found that it had left a nice scar. However, it didn't look so bad, at least to him. Around a week into his hospital stay he learned to walk again, while Annie quietly laughed and referred to him as looking like a newborn fawn. On day thirteen, Clyde was discharged. As the couple walked out the door holding hands and onto the hospital grounds, a young surgeon who had operated on Clyde and was heading to work took notice and called to them as he walked.
“Glad to see that you beat the machine! We were worried for a short while that you might be a vegetable! Take care!”
Clyde turned his head and looked as the young surgeon walked through the sliding doors and back into the Dowager Memorial Hospital.
“I beat the machine...” he muttered to himself contemplatively. He sure didn't feel like it, although he guessed that being alive was worth something even if he had a difficult time feeling any emotions.
“What was that?” Annie inquired, obviously not hearing.
“It was nothing,” he replied as they continued to and stepped aboard the transit bus.
Another two weeks passed by and Thanksgiving was rapidly approaching when Clyde finally went back to work as a Telemarketer. It wasn't his dream job, but his options were limited by his lack of high school diploma. Clyde had walked into the small office building which was lined up with cubicles and sat down at his desk without so much as a greeting upon his return. No sense of camaraderie existed between any of the workers and if it did, Clyde certainly didn't know about it. Clyde was a Grade A bullshitter. He excelled at convincing people to buy based upon on how he used his voice to project emotion; thus Clyde was arguably destined to fail upon his return to work. Call after call hung up on him and it wasn't long before Clyde's boss, Ralph McMahn, took notice.
The thud of footsteps caused Clyde to look at the entrance of his cubicle and there he saw his short and overweight boss with a bald and potato-shaped head. After striking out during another phone call, Ralph put his grubby hand on Clyde's left shoulder.
“Come with me, Clyde,” he ordered in a commanding, but quiet enough tone so as to not interrupt any potential phone calls that were being made in the other cubicles.
Clyde stood up without so much as a sound and followed his short-fused boss back to his office.
“Shut the door behind you,” he said.
Clyde complied and stood silently as he watched his boss walk around the oak desk and seat himself.
“What the hell was that?!”
“The hell was what?” he repeated to his boss in a monotone voice that offered up zero emotion.
“Are you getting smart with me, you little runt?!”
Ralph McMahn opened his desk and pulled out a cigar case. He picked out a cigar, plopped it into his mouth, followed up by snapping the case shut, and stuffed it back into his desk drawer. The scene immediately caused Clyde's brain to compare his boss to a mobster.
“Clyde Berman, I've seen listened to you perform some amazing sales on difficult people over the years. So, you must imagine my confusion when I witnessed your piss poor results today,” he responded with his thick Irish accent leaking out his mouth and around the unlit cigar.
Clyde knew he should have felt anger and perhaps even a degree of fear, but instead he felt nothing. He just calmly accepted everything as it was presented to him.
“I was in the hospital, you know. The doctors told me that I might be stuck with an emotional disability for the rest of my life.”
“Heh, well your tone most certainly sounds empty. I guess I'm going to have to let you go then, Clyde. This may be an era in which political correctness reigns supreme, but I couldn't give a shit less about that. You see, while society might label one such as me a bad guy for getting rid of someone who can't perform their duty due to an injury, the bottom line is that I'm running a business here. While it is true that I could afford to keep you on at no cost to me and that you might even improve or regain your ability to sell, why should I? You're nothing to me, Clyde, nuthin but dead weight. Get out, you're fired,” he spat out as he lit his cigar.
Again, Clyde felt nothing as he listened to the hurtful words coming from his prick of a boss's mouth.
“Please, sir. I can't afford to support myself or my girlfriend without this job.”
“It really sounds like you are mocking me with that monotone voice of yours. Get out of my office and let me smoke in peace, dead weight.”
Clyde opened the door to his house and stepped inside; his eyes met Annie's. Annie was seated in the brown living room recliner and had been reading a novel; she stood up to greet her boyfriend.
“You're home early!” She exclaimed happily as she practically bounced up and hugged him.
“Yeah. Say, how was your day at the library?” He deflected in an effort to buy more time so that he could ease her into the bad news.
“Work was great. So...”
He had failed.
“Sit down, please.”
Annie did as she was asked, her eyes widening in concern as she did so. She suspected, Clyde knew. It's not as if she was stupid. Annie was a very intelligent woman and was practically flawless with her only handicap being her shyness.
“I got fired," he continued.
“What? Why? Did you get smart with Ralph again?” She asked with an odd hint of hope in her voice. She was desperate for Clyde to exhibit any emotion. Even an outburst would do.
“No. I can't connect with prospective buyers on an emotional level, so I'm 'dead weight'. It's alright, I have a plan. I'm going to file for disability and if that doesn't work then I'll try for unemployment.”
“You're going straight to giving up,” responded her voice in a rarely heard accusatory tone.
“No. It isn't like I'm qualified for much without a diploma and the things that I am qualified for require interaction with people. People won't know what I've been through and will assume that I am mocking them when they hear my voice. I'm aiming for the only realistic options that I've got Annie, for you,” he pressed his point, while trying to include emotion in his voice, but failing.
Annie bit her lip and nodded before picking her novel back up.
I didn't intend to piss you off, he thought to himself as he headed to the bedroom and crawled into bed.
It was the next day, November 18th, when he awoke and Annie had already left for work. Clyde went about researching the procedure for claiming disability and filed for it once everything had been completed. Shortly after Annie had returned home from work, the phone in the kitchen began to ring.
“Hello,” Clyde replied upon picking it up off the receiver.
“Hi, is this Clyde Berman?” Spoke a perky female voice.
“I'm Sarah and I am with Virginia's Disability Determination Services and I was just calling to inform you that you do not meet the requirements for disability. If you have any questions then please call the administrative office at (804) 662-5927. Thanks, have a nice day!” Replied the woman in her perky voice. She hung up before Clyde had a chance to make a rebuttal.
“Who was that?”
“The DDS. Unemployment it is.”
Clyde immediately hung up the receiver and went about filing for unemployment. On November 20th, he received an all too familiar call which informed him that he wasn't eligible for unemployment due to his boss having cited that the reason Clyde was fired was his inappropriate behavior. Although a lie, Clyde knew of no way to fight it, so he simply hung up the phone and accepted his fate. Acceptance, that was the new mantra of his life after having taken a bullet to the brain.
“Say, Annie...” He said after hanging up the phone.
“What is it?”
“I think we should break up.”
And the entire world felt like it had come to a screeching halt. The comment hadn't been made out of spite or any other emotion; rather it was based entirely off Clyde's logic. Things were normally a lot harder without emotions, but in this case things were easy and the correct decision was clear. Her income alone wouldn't be enough to pay for the house they were renting; therefore he would be homeless. Clyde had nowhere else to go, but Annie could always move back in with her parents. He knew that she would not as long as they were together because he was a sore subject. They detested him for his not having finished high school and thought that their daughter was wasting her life with him. Perhaps they were right; she'd definitely be better off without him.
“Wh-What? W-Why?” Annie managed as she chocked on the words.
“I just don't love you anymore,” he replied while avoiding eye contact.
It was the truth, oddly enough, but not the reason why. If she knew the reason, she would assuredly stay at his side and suffer.
“You're going to end four years just like this, huh? I-I hate this. You've turned into a machine.”
Tears streamed down the poor woman's face as she headed for the door. Clyde opened the front door and held it for her.
“Thanks for all the good times, Annie. I mean it,” he said in his unnaturally monotone voice as he watched her walk out of his life.
A few hours passed as he replayed everything inside his mind that had occurred since being shot and eventually nightfall came. Not only did the darkness outside arrive, but a darkness of sorts arrived inside his mind as well via an interesting train of thought.
This situation is Ralph's fault. Had he not lied or fired me to begin with, I'd still be with Annie and wouldn't be about to lose my only place to live. What he did was wrong and I should punish him for it; it's deserved. I always wondered what killing was like and it isn't like I ever had a reason to do so, besides my emotions would have prevented it. I should kill him. I don't have anything to lose if I get caught. I'd just end up with free meals and a place to stay if that happened and besides, maybe, just maybe, killing will trigger some emotion in me. There is nothing to lose and everything to be gained.
Clyde went to his closet, grabbed the backpack that he used to carry groceries home in, and then proceeded to stuff an extra set of clothes, trash bags, a pry bar, and a butcher's knife inside before heading out the door. Clyde's watch informed him that it was 2 AM when he arrived at Ralph's house. His eyes darted around absorbing in the features of the house, despite having seen pictures of it before due to Ralph's insistence. The block shaped, two-story house with red trim and white siding stood before him with all its doors and windows locked as if it were some sort of guardian. The biggest thing of note was the fact that the lights were off, which meant that McMahn was probably upstairs asleep. The Pontiac in the driveway helped lend credit to this theory. Clyde opened his backpack, took out the trash bags, put them over his shoe-covered feet and removed the pry bar. He placed the pry bar underneath a window on the right side of the front door and forced it upward. The window screeched, but met his demands and rested open.
The intruder's feet hit the wooden floor with a light thud as he came in through the window. Berman shut the window very carefully before heading deeper into the house, for he didn't want to chance any unnecessary sounds escaping.
Kitchen, bedroom, or bathroom- those are the three places he could be at this hour.
To the right he noticed the kitchen. However, he immediately wrote it off due to no light. In front of him he noticed a stairway that led upstairs and curved hard right, and to his left was what he guessed to be the living room. Acting off his conclusion, he ascended the stairs, doing his best not to make a sound; a couple of the stairs squeaked despite his efforts. He peered his head around the corner and took note of the hallway which had three rooms with open doors, two of which were bedrooms, one a bathroom, and one with a shut door which he guessed to be the bedroom that contained Ralph McMahn.
His gloved right hand reached out and touched the door knob without fear or hesitation; however the door was locked. Without missing a beat, Clyde wedged his pry bar into the wooden door and shouldered it which caused the lock to break and the door to noisily open. Ralph bolted upright in response to the commotion and held his blanket up to his chest in surprise and fear. As Ralph's eyes adjusted to the dark he was able to identify Clyde who was briskly walking toward him. This caused him to loosen the grip on his blanket as he wasn't afraid of Clyde in the slightest.
“You! What the hell do you think you are doing?!”
Clyde paused and thought for a moment before replying, “Getting reparations.”
The heavy man's grubby fingers grabbed a lamp that was resting on the nightstand next to Ralph's bed. Without delay, Ralph threw the lamp and it struck Clyde right in the face. The lamp bounced off his face and hit the floor, shattering upon impact. The force of the lamp caused Clyde to stagger backward and an assortment of bruises to appear on his face. The effect was ever so brief and in an incredibly short amount of time that was comparable to being slightly longer than a blink of an eye, Clyde was upon Ralph and swatting him repeatedly with the pry bar. Ralph tried to shield himself, but it did no good. Cuts and bruises formed on his meaty arms and the beating continued until Clyde heard a crunch which had somehow managed to make itself audible over Ralph's terrified and pained screams. The crunching sound was a bone (or few) in Ralph's left arm.
“I-I underst-st-st-and you're angry, I'm sorry. I'll do whatever you want, please don't kill me,” Ralph sobbed and pleaded during the pause in his beating.
“I'm not even mad.”
Blood coated the bedsheets, wall, and floor near the bed. Ralph McMahn's face could best be described as a freshly squeezed orange, for the pulp of his face was everywhere. It would be quite the challenge for one to identify Ralph's corpse based upon looking at his face alone. The beating had been brutal and severe, but had lacked any emotion. It had simply went on for the duration that it did and reached the extent that it had due to Clyde not being sure when to stop.
Well, that didn't work. I still feel nothing. I should feel surprised if anything. I never would have imagined killing someone with a pry bar.
Clyde stepped into the bathroom and changed into his spare set of clothes. He placed the original set into a spare trash bag that he had brought along which he in turn stuffed into his backpack; he did the same with his pry bar. The freshly made killer turned on the oven and shoved his bloody clothes inside before he exited the house the same way in which he had entered and removed the bags from around his shoes when he reached the sidewalk. A quick glance at his watch told him that it was now 2:45 AM. He figured that he had spent twenty to thirty minutes beating a guy to death, an unintentionally drawn out death indeed.
The sound of sirens woke Clyde from his slumber. He rolled over and glanced at his alarm clock which informed him that it was 4:25 PM. He got up and looked out the window while in nothing but a shirt and boxers. His suspicions were not met; firetrucks and police cars flew by his house in a hurry, instead of parking in front of it. After thinking for a moment, he realized that they were probably headed to Ralph McMahn's house. Deciding to see for himself, Clyde threw on some pants.
It wasn't hard to guess where the firetrucks were headed as a plume of smoke was easily discernible. All he had to do was follow the smoke. Clyde cut through alleyways in an effort to reduce the amount of travel time; it worked. However, an immense pressure and grating sound formed inside of Clyde's head which caused him to fall to his knees in pain. Agony visited itself upon Clyde for two minutes before relenting to a level in which he could stand.
Clyde stood there thinking for a minute before continuing toward the smoke. The bullet. The blow I took this morning must have impacted the bullet. If I'm not careful the bullet might get knocked around in my brain and kill me. Still, though, it's not as if I have anything to lose.
As sure as the sun would rise the next day, the fire was indeed at McMahn's house. A large crowd of people stood outside of the perimeter that had been set up by the police and watched as the firefighters battled the flaming building. One particular member of the crowd caught Clyde's eye; a man in a turtleneck sweater with long hair and glasses, the clerk who had been on duty at the Quick Trip the night Clyde was shot.
Where do you live?
The clerk soon had his fill, or perhaps the answers he sought, and left. Clyde followed from a distance while trying to look casual. Clyde expected the man to hop into a car and drive off, which would have ended his tailing, but as luck, or perhaps fate, would have it, the man didn't have a car and only lived a couple of blocks away. He watched ever so silently as the glasses wearer went inside his simplistic dwelling and vowed to return.
At 2 AM, the killing hour, Clyde was ready to act. He grabbed the same “supplies” that he had the night before and tossed them into a backpack which he took with him. Tried and true, the pry opened the window without fail and Clyde materialized inside of the house, as if a phantom. Although dark, the house wasn't difficult to navigate as it was lacking in the furniture department. The emotionless set out to find rooms with closed doors due to his thought process being that a bedroom was likely to have its door closed.
A closed door was soon in sight and snoring could be heard coming from the other side. Clyde put a gloved hand on the knob and quietly pushed the door open, entering as he reached into his backpack to trade his pry bar for a butcher's knife. The bed contained two occupants- the man, who he had decided to be at fault for not telling him the Quick Trip was closed or for distracting the gunman, and a woman with raven colored hair. A realization touched upon Clyde's mind as it went back to thinking about how the man had walked to and from the fire, how there wasn't a single vehicle in the driveway and the lack of furniture in the house; this man was poor and incredibly similar to pre-bullet Clyde. He stared at the bed, briefly deciding with knife in hand. After a moment of thought, he simply turned around and went home. Or at least he planned to, but his backpack bumped into a shelf next to the door and knocked a ceramic jar full of change to the floor with a deafening crash.
The man reached for a baseball bat next to the bed, while the woman picked up her phone and began to dial upon seeing Clyde in the door way; the dial tone was menacing. Out of options, Clyde charged the man and stabbed with his knife. The move was foolish and the knife embedded itself into the baseball bat. The homeowner brought his bat in for a head swing, but missed as Clyde ducked and tackled him to the ground. The two men hit the ground with Clyde on top and the clerk on bottom. Clyde's knee was on the man's chest and his right foot was positioned on his crotch. Clyde kicked, causing the man to enter a dazed state and let out a groan. Clyde stood up and dashed for the woman, despite his belief of being too late. However, as he dashed for her, he noticed that she was picking her cell phone off the ground. She had fumbled it while frantically trying to call the police.
Clyde stomped his foot down on the woman's phone and hand. A crunch could be heard causing him to wonder if the source of it was the cell phone or the woman's hand. His hands wrapped around the woman's throat and he squeezed, watching detachedly as the woman gasped and struggled. She tried to claw at his face with her uninjured hand, but failed to make contact due to panicking. He let her hit the floor with a thud after all signs of life faded from her eyes. Upon turning around, Clyde noticed that his whole purpose for stopping by was no longer present in the room.
A thump originated from the living room. The emotionless entered to find his target scrambling to get back to his feet; the man's fear had betrayed him and caused him to stumble. Clyde grabbed the man's legs and pulled him into the dark kitchen, despite the man's attempts to dig into the wooden floor with his fingers. Clyde briefly let go of the man's legs and pulled a wooden chair over on top of the man who was face down on the floor before going over to the counter and retrieving an unwashed knife.
He headed home after all loose ends were tied up; he had retrieved his butcher's knife from the bat, changed clothes, burned the old in the oven, and removed the trash bags from his feet after he had stepped back onto the sidewalk. When Clyde opened his closet door to set his backpack inside, the most peculiar thing happened. A ring box fell from the shelf above, hitting him on the head before settling on the floor. The grating sound returned and caused him to collapse to his knees. “Damn this noise, it's going to be the death of me,” he had replied in response.
After a few minutes passed, the noise and pain subsided which allowed him to focus his attention on the jewelry box. He gently picked the box up and opened it, staring at the ring as if it were some relic of an ancient and long forgotten era and then he thought about how he met Annie.
Four years ago, a thinner, twenty year old Clyde Berman had been convinced to go to a house party that his friend Sam was throwing in celebration of having obtained his Associate's Degree. The party pulled no punches; there was alcohol, loud music, dancing, and a ton of young people- the whole nine yards. However, none of that was really Clyde's sort of thing. He had only stopped by to support his friend. Looking for an excuse to get away from the music and obnoxious crowd, Clyde stepped out onto the front porch to light a cigarette. However, his eyes picked up on something, or rather someone, that interested him far more. A pretty young red head was quietly seated alone on a bench. It was just the two of them.
“Yo,” he responded in a level voice.
“H-Hi,” replied the red head shyly in a faint voice.
An awkward silence filled the air.
“Not enjoying the party?”
She shook her head in response.
“Me either. These types of things aren't for me. I just came because I knew Sam would want me here. Too bad I haven't seen him all night. Some friend, huh?”
“Well, he's probably just distracted,” she managed.
“Heh, if I know Sam, then he's already drunk and off his rocker. How do you know Sam, anyway?”
“He's my cousin.”
“Ah, he's my best friend. Although he irritates the hell out of me at times. As much as I hung out with him before he started college, it's odd that we haven't met before, Miss...”
“Clyde. Say, Annie...”
“This place sucks. Want to go get a burger?”
Annie blushed and nodded in response. She began to open up to Clyde after the two sat at the burger joint and he had a mostly one-sided conversation with her for an hour. It was after that point that the two began to see each other on a regular basis, before moving on to become inseparable. Those were the best moments of Clyde's life, opposite of how things were for him now.
Warmth trickled down Clyde Berman's face as he snapped back from his thoughts; tears, emotion.
Written by Doom Vroom