Sunday, April 4, 2010

The Apple (whole)

"This is the best apple I've ever had". He plunged his incisors into a thin red waxy skin, piercing it with a crisp popping sound and letting a stream of sweet juice run down his chin and drip onto his shirt. She looked up and smiled, revealing a perfect row of even ivory teeth. This sent shivers down his spine, and he felt hairs stand on the back of his neck. There was something about that smile that made him uneasy. With semi squinting icy gray eyes unchanged by the smile and transfixed on him in a way a predator might eye its prey, it was primal and cold, almost animalistic.

All of a sudden, there was nothing. With a vertigo-like sensation of a failing vestibular system, a blanket of darkness fell over his eyes, immersing him into a complete and perfect nothingness, his brain buzzing with electrical connections going haywire. Unable to be supported by weakened joints, his limp body slowly folded onto the ground.


When John woke up, he was laying in his bed on top of the covers, with his pants and shirt still on. Wow, what a strange dream this was- so realistic and bizarre. Stretching achingly, he ran his tongue along his dry lips and noticed something strange: his lips were sticky and sweet. Tracing the trail of stickiness with his tongue, John felt a trickle of dried substance running down from his mouth all the way to the chin. Apple juice! He realized in complete bewilderment. Trying to collect his thoughts, he could not figure out whether or not that event has actually happened, or if he was plunged into some alternate ethereal world in which the fantasy and reality has blended into one, creating immense confusion in his brain.


He tried to replay in his mind the meeting with this strange woman, to pull up from his memory bank the way she looked at him when he took a bite of that apple: her animalistic cold eyes and a wicked carnivorous smile that lifted the corners of her mouth in such a mysterious yet conspiratory way. He clearly remembered every second of that occurrence, her every gesture and sound, but any memory previous to that moment was completely erased from his brain, and no matter how hard he tried, he just could not recall where and under which circumstances he could have met her. John could not tell whether this was a dream or reality, and having only the mild physical evidence of this event taking place to confirm the latter, this amnesia was not surprising whatsoever. Whether or not it happened, he knew he wanted to see her again, to smell that exotic aroma of sandalwood and vanilla mixed in with some unknown to him spices, to have those wild eyes glare at him again, revealing the fire glowing deep inside. The thoughts of ways of putting that fire out made him even more anxious, and he realized that he had a raging morning wood. As he started taking care of this problem, he envisioned all the things he would do to her, what her skin might feel like under his fingers and lips, and what her voice would sound like as their bodies would blend together. Closing his eyes, he filled in all the missing parts of the meeting.

In a shower, J realized how much his mind was preoccupied with this nocturnal event after forgetting to wash shampoo out of his hair and letting water pound on his skin while standing immersed in a hypnotizing daze. When he came to senses, he quickly got out and started wiping his body with a towel, trying to clear his mind of these obsessive, nagging thoughts. Being on and off in this feeling of slow motion, he got to work late, just as he was afraid. Trying to pass the inquisitive looks of co-workers and feeling the mental burn of this walk of shame down the row of cubicles, he rushed to his desk, shuffling papers and frantically coughing to create some sort of a busy atmosphere to distract the vultures. Surely this will give them some food for thought during the lunch break; maybe some behind the curtains talk about his supposed ongoing drinking, drug, or gambling problem, or perhaps problems with a female of any sort. Getting frustrated at a mere thought of someone laundering his life like a bad mid-day TV soap and getting their jollies on at his expense, he proceeded to his daily routine.

All of a sudden, with a corner of his eye, he caught a figure standing in the entrance of the cubicle. Turning his head, he dreadfully recognized Laura, a major office gossiper that sensed people's troublesome minds and demons like a shark senses a drop of blood in the middle of an ocean, feeding off the feedback she could get from others from exposing these demons. Seeing her stand there with her arms folded on her chest and her legs crossed while leaning sideways on a wall was a clear indicator that something set off her radar. John despised this woman with all his heart, and today for some reason he felt the rage coming up like warm bile up his throat, clouding his mind and making his eyes narrow in a defensive mode. "Yes?", he asked in an irritated tone. "You know, J, this is the third time you are late, is everything OK? I don't mean to sound intrusive, but if you want to share...". Yeah, right. He would be more willing to dive into a pool filled with hungry piranhas than giving her a chance to bloviate over even minute issues he might have had, especially his night time rendezvous. "No, I'm fine", he said, cutting her off and momentarily enjoying a look of sudden disappointment on her face. Touche, he thought.


She gave him one more condescending look, which he accepted with great pleasure and even a hint of a smile, since it meant that her feeding pattern was disrupted by his refusal to cave in and give her material to gloat about for the rest of the day. After a brief moment of shock and disappointment, she straightened out and walked out of his cubicle, finally giving him personal space to go back to his daily routine and occupy his mind with yet another thought of what happened that night. He started guessing who the strange woman was again, jumping from one idea to another: a ghost perhaps? Or maybe he was drugged and somehow she took advantage of him by altering his mind and making him see all those things? That did not make any sense since he knew that he did not go anywhere , and clearly remembered going to bed for good. He rubbed his face with palms of his hands in an attempt to clear his mind and body of unwanted thoughts and skin cells, and decided to wait and see how things would play out the oncoming night. This decision did not go as planned, and even after taking a refreshing walk in a corporate park around the lake during the lunch hour and several trips to the bathroom to douse his face with cold water to take things off his mind, he found himself moping around restlessly, waiting for the day to come to an end so he could go home. He knew exactly what he would be waiting for with anticipation. He really wanted this woman to appear again, but this time he was to be fully prepared for the encounter. So many questions were to be asked, and he was already planning them out in his mind.

Who was she? How did she get there? He wanted to see her again, and the intense aroma that lingered after she left still haunted his mind. Being completely unproductive, he sat in a stupor for about twenty minutes in front of a monitor, until finally snapping out of it as if someone switched his mind back on.

Finally, as the clock got close close to 5 pm, he became even more restless and antsy, putting away unfinished paperwork and twisting in his swivel chair. He heard the movement and shuffling outside of his cubicle, and interpreted it as a sign that he can finally get out of there as fast as possible. Picking up his belongings, he swiftly got up and darted out, trying to beat the oncoming traffic of equally restless coworkers escaping their beehive cells. On a way out, he passed The Bitch. She was standing by her cubicle and chatting with another office harpy, most likely about the rudeness he unleashed upon her and possible causes of said mental state he was in.

As he walked by, they both gave him a glare, and he knew that indeed he was probably the topic of their heated discussion. But right now, he didn't care. Getting into his car, he remembered again the reason for his rushing, but realized that most likely the woman wouldn't visit him until night time, if she ever would. In order to make time go by a little faster, he decided to occupy himself until that moment came and stopped at a grocery store to get some snacks to accompany the movie he was going to watch. Moving from one isle to another and staring at colorful labels and images, he felt his stomach grumble as a reminder that he needed something to fill it up with besides a stale honey bun from a vending machine he has eaten for lunch at work. He was not an impulsive shopper, and always knew exactly what he was going to get- partially in order to avoid extra time spent among rushing housewives on cell phones and noisy kids throwing tantrums, and partially because he was not a big eater in general. But today he felt somehow different, and he could not resist grabbing everything that his heart called for at the moment. Regretting not taking a shopping cart at the entrance, he loaded his hands with several bags of potato chips, a frozen pepperoni pizza, a jar of peanut butter and jelly, and a box of glazed doughnuts. Almost dropping some items, he dragged himself to the checkout and unloaded them onto a moving conveyor belt. Leaving the store, he felt a relief and anticipation of the feast he was going to have, almost taking his mind off the original thought that was preoccupying his mind.


When he finally got home, J threw off his shoes and plopped on a worn out leather couch in front of a huge TV. It was his trusty companion on any given day, but tonight he was hoping to have someone who is more than just a flat image on the screen. He put the pizza in the oven, opened a bag of potato chips, and put in a movie that he rented a night before. He was not a food connoisseur, and potato chips were one of his weaknesses, but right now they tasted exceptionally wonderful. Like a hungry lion in a savanna after catching a prey, he was stuffing one chip after another in his mouth, barely chewing them all up, and almost choking on smaller pieces. He was amazed at the extreme sense of satisfaction he was getting from these salty crunchy discs, and after wiping greasy hands on his work shirt, he continued to shove them into his mouth until there was almost nothing left. After shaking out the crumbs from the bag into his mouth, he crumpled it up and threw it in the trash. Finally, the timer on the oven set off, indicating that the second part of his feast was about to begin. Smelling the pizza, he got a sense of confusion-his stomach felt quite full from a jumbo bag of potato chips, yet his mind still craved more and more food to be consumed. Taking the oven mitt off the hook, he slowly opened the oven door, carefully removed the pizza, and set in on a table top. Impatiently, he cut it into slices and took the biggest one, as if anyone would possibly compete with him for this privilege later on. Not even waiting for it to cool, he took a large bite of pizza, burning his palate in process.


He swore and spit the pizza out in the trash. Learning from a previous mistake, he now placed it to cool off on a plate, and started chugging from a 2 Liter bottle of Pepsi. Finally, making sure he gave it enough time, he picked up the pizza and took another bite. And another, and another. Sloppily chewing greasy melted cheese and letting the oil run down his chin, he looked at the box. There were 5 more slices left, and although he genuinely enjoyed it at the moment, there was no way that he could have finished all this food. After inhaling the slice, he reached for another one. This time he did not feel extreme anticipation before eating; on a contrary, he was quite full and could barely take another bite. Glancing at an almost full pizza box, John let out a sigh, still holding a limp slice of pizza dripping oil onto the floor and, finally making a decision, flung the leftover slice into the garbage. After cleaning himself off, John finally got back to the movie that was aimlessly running in the background this whole time. The dinner plunged John into a food coma, and before he knew it, he was slumped over on a couch, with a movie still playing.


The morning sunlight broke into the room and cast its yellow beams across the walls. In process, it slid across John's face, waking him up in a state of disarray and slight bewilderment. It took him several moments to open his eyes completely and realize that he was spread out on a couch in his grease stained work clothes, with an empty bag of potato chips next to him, and with a disgusting stale taste in his mouth. He rubbed his eyes vigorously, and slowly got up. Stretching, he made his way to the bathroom and looked in the mirror. Looking back at him, he saw a disaster of a man-dirty roughed up hair, stained shirt, 10 o'clock shadow on his face, and oil covered mouth and chin. "Wow, I really look like shit", he thought with disgust. Moment later, he remembered that he was expecting someone to visit him, and that he clearly could recall that the visit never happened. For a second he was relieved, since he would've hated for her to find him in this sad, disgusting state. But that didn't last long, and he felt apathy and depression setting in. Looking at the clock, John saw that he was already terribly late for work, and realized that first of all, it would take him forever to bring himself back to a human guise decent enough not to scare the any people around him, and second, that frankly he didn't give a damn about going in to work today in general. "Not like they are gonna miss me much there, or even notice the absence"- a thought crossed his mind. He rinsed his face with warm water, changed into sweatpants and a tshirt, and plopped back on the couch. He was restless, yet didn't really know why.

"What a waste", he thought. He could've been outside walking in the park and enjoying the beautiful weather, or perhaps fishing for bass at a local pond, which was one of his favorite pastimes. Or maybe even visiting some new interesting place he has never been to. Instead, he was wasting his unintentionally unoccupied day on sitting aimlessly on a couch and staring at the blank wall. Being pretty active on a regular basis, he wondered why this was happening to him. There was not a drop of motivation, nor energy, nor any other productive positive trait left in his body, and he wondered if this was somehow related to meeting that woman. All those unanswered questions plagued his mind like a disease that he couldn't get rid of. He knew one thing for sure- she somehow got a control of his mind, and somehow was most likely aware of this manipulation. At any rate, the day was completely wasted.

Now feeling a little guilty, John wondered if they even noticed his absence at work. Ofcourse they did, and most likely it was heavily discussed in the lunch room or next to the water cooler by Laura and her cronies. He felt anxious that he couldn't chime in and disprove any of her ideas, being stuck at home. Also, he knew that it was the time of the year when they usually gave raises to certain people in the department, and this missing day could easily taint his impeccable attendance record and brilliant work ethic. John felt that he could definitely use that raise. He had a nice apartment, in a good neighborhood, with all the amenities required for a comfortable and stress free living. Yet somehow he felt constricted within its walls, and was thinking of moving on to bigger and better pastures. Recently he watched a TV show about consumerism and its dangers, which featured obese business entrepreneurs and their botoxed, siliconed trophy wives, who wound up millions of dollars in debt because of excessive spending, and had to chuckle at the idiots that thought that up. "If I wanted to live in a cave, I would", he said to a friend that he watched it with. "Thats what credit cards are for, if you know how to use them properly and don't just buy into their tricks". In reality, John's credit record was far from perfect, especially for a single man that lived in an apartment,and he could've definitely used an advice that was offered on the show. But, alas, common sense wasn't on a list of his most utilized attributes.
He thought of a last year's Christmas party at one of his coworker's. "For crying out loud, the guy had his own tennis court", John whined semi audibly to himself. He also noted a huge TV the size of a small country in a man's living room, and a two car garage occupied by a brand new BMW and a 4 wheeler. This was a personal insult, since according to him, the guy was a "tool", and "had no life, so what use does he have for a 4 wheeler anyways?" John hated parties, but the man sent an invite with a promise of free booze and a buffet dining, and who could possibly say no to that? Plus, he was sure at least one of his higher ups would be there, and he could definitely use some elbow rubbing with those people, maybe using sweet talk to get their liquored up minds to seal the deal on his raise. Thinking of all the things he will be able to afford after he will get his coveted pay increase, John smiled and closed his eyes, with feet propped up on the cluttered table. He woke up a couple of hours later and realized that he was hungry. After searching for food in the fridge and the cupboard, to his dismay the only thing he could find was some stale cereal. Getting irritated, John put on his boots and a coat, and went to the closest grocery store to get some food. However, when he got close to his car, he saw that two of his tires were deliberately slashed. "Motherfuckers!", he shouted out loud. Looking at the deflated tires, he kicked the car with his foot, and slapped the windshield. Who the hell would do such thing? It was a closed garage, so it had to have been someone from the inside the building. Well, good luck finding out then. His brilliant disposition and manners have left him with a number of enemies, from people whose animals he has kicked in the park, to a lady whom he yelled at for parking too close to his car, to teenagers that played their music way too loud. There were too many potential perpetrators and the security cameras conveniently were nowhere to be found, so it was a lost cause. In a much more sour mood than he previously was, John decided to deal with this issue over a weekend that was coming up, and went back to the apartment. Fortunately, the train station was than a mile away, so he could make it to work fairly hassle free. With those thoughts, he went back inside and had stale cereal with milk for dinner. He woke up early in the morning, took a shower, and walked to the train station. He hasn't been on a train in a very long time, and it made him very anxious to see that many people around him, since he wasn't accustomed to seeing more people than the amount that worked with him. There were people everywhere, hurrying towards him, pushing, shouting. John felt claustrophobic and uneasy, and finally when the train came, he shoved through the crowd and plopped into a vacant seat.


He caught himself staring with curiosity at round almond shaped eyes, wide bridgeless nose, and a perpetually grinning mouth of a teenager with down syndrome sitting across from him. Captured in a moment of terminal complacency, his face bore an expression of childlike naivete and virginal purity. How lucky one must be to live in a state of eternal bliss, unaware of any external factors that bring about stress and dissatisfaction, and oblivious to any woes and calamities that life dishes out on a daily basis. He also thought of what it would be like to have an existence filled with expectations based solely on mental capability, or incapability in this case; to have every step validated by a second party that is in charge of your well being. Mixed feelings overwhelmed him; should it be pity or envy? Envy of not feeling your sick soul mope around inside a fragile bony shell, awaiting for demons to be released; of not getting tortured by moral implications of any ill fated actions; not having to make decisions based on already corrupted and weak moral judgment.

Snapping out of it, he realized that he felt no pity nor envy, but rather satisfaction of being an able man without any notable ailments. He'd rather live his life being responsible for his own actions, good or bad. John was almost proud to be normal, he always felt that he had a normal sense of self worth and ego, unlike so many people out there that were hooked on various medications to boost their failing self esteems and cure their mood swings. John often thought of his coworkers as inferiors that weren't working half as hard as he was. At this moment, he thought of the people that worked with him. Stevens-a short guy with a terrible fashion sense and a permanent dried drool in the corners of his mouth-who clearly was there because he had connections with someone, since there was no way he could even finish a high school aptitude test, let alone get a position he had. Then there was Jackson-a tall nerd with no life and yellow teeth-who could barely spell his own name, let alone work for a multimillion dollar company. And, ofcourse, there was Laura the Bitch, who most likely got her position by sleeping with some unfortunate fella with poor taste, and sustained her career by stepping over lower ants and giving blow jobs to higher ones. There were more, but these were the first ones that came to John's mind, and he felt like he was the only one truly worthy of his position and paycheck. He went to a good school, never brown nosed, never used his good looks to get anything. He thought he was definitely the most qualified and it was a matter of time until someone acknowledged his greatness. Those thoughts swayed him to a thought of a raise he was expecting, and now he just needed to come up with some phony excuse to smooth over yesterday's absence. Some unprecedented event that he had no control over, like sudden death in the family, or maybe a short but severe bout of food poisoning.

After getting off the train and walking for about two miles, John finally reached his workplace. As he entered the building and reached his floor, he started thinking of the lines he would feed to his boss in order to get what he wants. "I am golden", he thought, but a subconscious smirk quickly left his face as he saw Laura stepping out of the boss's office with a big smile on her face. She gave him a smug look, not even acknowledging him first, or doing the usual pestering, and in an instant he knew what happened. He knew the bitch got his raise by probably sucking off the boss. She walked to her cubicle, and he heard several of her harpy associates flock around, congratulating her. He thought it was tacky and unprofessional to announce publicly about getting a pay increase, and it was not shocking that she bragged about it to others being a person she was. Suddenly, he heard her talk. "Guess whom I seen today. I guess someone was celebrating this day even before I did, hahaha. Something tells me he'll be drinking again, but for a different reason". This made John's blood boil and he felt rage raise up in his throat like a lead ball. Completely losing control over himself, he quickly rose from his chair and swiftly started walking to her cubicle, fists clenched until the nail dug into his palms, teeth grinding together. He was mad, and there was nothing that could've stopped him. She was sitting right there, and as people stared with their eyes and mouths wide open, his fist met her face at a 100 mph, sending her back in her chair straight into the desk. The blood splattered all over the place, and people started screaming and clearing the place in a herd. Two large security guys flew up to John, and in a second he was restrained and awaiting for cops to get there. He was glaring at the people around him in blind rage, kicking and screaming, while being led away.
A police officer cuffed him and, rudely grabbing his head and bending his neck, shoved John inside a squad car. He saw everyone from the floor pour out from the building, swarming around the parking lot. He saw the sirens of the ambulance rushing to take Laura to the hospital to fix her smashed face.

John looked away, and all of a sudden saw something by his feet. He thought he saw two glowing dots in the darkness under the seat, but couldn't make out what exactly that was. In a second, in a state of a complete shock, he saw a green shiny head appear out of nowhere and crawl across his feet, following a thick scaly body. As a giant snake slithered past John and started wrapping itself around his neck, his piercing screams cut through the air like a knife. He screamed for help, kicking the seat with his feet as his airways were getting constricted tighter and tighter.

"Ok, this is fuckin ridiculous, I'm not gonna listen to this shit the whole way back", the cop behind the wheel said to his partner. He stopped the car, and all of a sudden John got really quiet. As both of them looked back, they saw his limp body lay sprawled out across the back seat. His face was bright red with purple circles around his eyes, and there were dark red hand prints around his neck. The prints were his own.