Saturday, March 19, 2011

Cameron's Bead of Sweat

Sun rays peer through the window blinds and disclose dust particles swirling about like lost souls drifting in a meaningless universe. A card table, stacked with papers that flap and flutter from a slight breeze, stands next to the window. The breeze only momentarily alleviates the sweltering heat in the room and wafts in the acrid smell of exhaust and diesel. Sounds of urban life pipe in from the street below. The television is on low. A local news program competes with the din just outside this small third-story apartment.

Across from the window is an oakwood bookshelf, neatly organized, except for a highball glass and a half-empty, uncapped bottle of rakı, a Turkish liqueur, which is perched on the third shelf. Only two books are missing, and they lie pell-mell on the floor, their pages a few feet away, torn out and crumpled up near the wastebasket, not having reached their ostensibly intended destination.

A man crouches between a divan and the coffee table. He is holding a .45 semi-automatic pistol and has no expression on his face, neither vexation nor calm. His name is Cameron, but that doesn’t matter. The other hand lies on the floor. His thoughts at this moment, muddled and dark, contrast with the banality of the room.

Behold a man on the precipice of life and death. Regret and loss seep in like bane.  (Momentarily, the sound of a siren passing by takes him from his eleventh-hour reverie.) The vague incoherent thoughts that are pouring out of his soul cannot transport him anywhere but to the ceiling, no higher. He slowly pushes the barrel of the gun into his mouth. Ghosts and goblins in his mind flicker into sharper focus. He thinks about his life, his family, the life he has known, and now his departure from it. When you no longer have meaning for your life, he asks himself, what else do you have? Nothing. Nothing but the dwindling minutes that only postpone Cameron's imminent physical extinction.  So he's merely expediting the process.

He notices a single bead of sweat sliding slowly down the barrel of the pistol. He observes it closely. How can he not? He’s transfixed by it, as it moves at glacial speed along the top of the barrel. He’s aware that the bead dripped from his nose. Once it reaches the ejection port, it slides off and dissipates. A crucial moment has come....and gone.  Cameron puts away the firearm and decides to carry on with life.