Desperate Times, Desperate Measures

A man wants what he cannot have, and will do anything to get it, even if it means committing suicide to do it.

As the mayor of a small town, I had everything I could ever want. They literally gave me a book full of blank checks and the power to sign them. As long as I took care of the town, they allowed me to use the monetary resources as I wished. However, as all men know, money can’t buy everything.

It happened as I was watching a late-night marathon of MacGyver in the living room of my discreet four-story mansion. I didn’t much care for commercials, so I surveyed the dark room. During the day or in full light, the decor appeared regal, stately. In the TV’s soft gloomy glow, however, the ornately knobby furniture felt more like grinning beasts.

I returned my attention to the tube just as some maniac with a super-absorbent towel finished screaming at the camera. The screen faded to black, and when the picture returned, it was of a man sitting in a reclining chair. The room looked a lot like mine, and though I knew it certainly wasn’t, it earned my interest.

In the commercial, the man walked to his freezer, opened it, and realized he had nothing in there but an empty ice-cream box. He dramatized this by shaking it upside-down, and of course, nothing fell out. He looked sad for a moment, until he saw a child outside his window with two ice-cream bars. After 20 seconds of crazy antics, he finally stole one, bit into that delicious candy bar, and I suddenly wanted one, too. No, I needed one.

I looked at the clock, and it was too late. All the stores had closed hours ago. Living in a small town had some perks, but all-night convenience wasn’t one of them. Therefore, I had to use my powers of political persuasion to get one.

After picking up the phone and dialing my assistant’s number, I waited.

Kurt answered with a yawn, “Hello?”

“Do you have Alex’s number?”

“Who?”

“Alex. The guy that owns Quickie Market.”

“You mean James, and yes, I do.”

“Okay, can you call his phone and have her meet me at the store?”

“Him.”

“What?”

“Him. Remember. He’s post-op. You’re mayor. You have to remember how to say things right.”

“Okay, can you just have him meet me at his store?”

“What for?”

“I need something.”

He yawned again. “Well, you’re just gonna have to wait until Saturday.”

“Excuse me?”

He suddenly realized how insubordinate his comment sounded and replied, “No, I just mean that he’s at a funeral in Larimore. Won’t be back until Saturday.”

“Jesus. This won’t do,” I said, and then I stood. I paced back and forth, thinking of some way I could get in there, and then I thought of Adrianna. “What about that young blonde that works there on the weekends? Adrianna surely has a key.”

“Lindsay, sir,” He said, and I could hear coffee brewing in the background. “She got married a month ago, moved to Texarkana. You remember? You even officiated their marriage.”

“Oh, that’s right. She married, uh,” I said snapping, “what’s-his-face. The, uh, the kid that brushes the horses.”

“Sir, Jimmy is the one with the horses. She married Victor, the lawyer from Chattanooga.”

“Oh, right. That guy.”

“Anyway, the only way that place is opening up is if Jenkins need in there.”

“Jenkins… yes…” I still had no idea who he was talking about.

“Sheriff Jenkins has a key in case they need to store someone for the morgue.”

“Oh, God,” I said, realizing I bought all my food there. “Why the hell would they do that?”

“Sir, the morgue is under construction. You knew about this.”

“I did?”

“Yes. The ‘renovations’ are there to make room for the gym.”

“Well, shit.”

“Yes, sir.”

As he slurped his coffee, I sighed. Defeat never suited me, but naturally, I accepted when it got the best of me. “Okay. Get some rest, then. I’ll probably be in late tomorrow.”

“Okay, sir.”

I hung up the phone, and sighed again. I had always had this insatiable drive when it came to getting what I wanted. It was how I became the mayor of that small town after all. I hated not being able to get what I wanted.

I plopped down on the couch and watched ten minute of MacGyver. Despite my disappointment, I still found pleasure in how he could get out of just about any situation by being clever. I didn’t know anyone who could take an impossible situation, and MacGyver the shit out of it. I knew I couldn’t… or…

That was when it hit me. I could be that man. Hell, I was already used to getting everything I wanted, why stop now? All I had to do was think of some way to get into the building, and then I’d have my good eats.

I thought about breaking the window, but then realized immediately how bad of an idea that was and how unlike MacGyver that would be. After that, I considered ways to get the keys from Jenkins, but he wouldn’t just give them to me. He was a man who stuck to the book, and I liked him that way because honestly, it kept me straight. However, he was the only way I was going to get into that store. That remained true, anyway, until I realized I didn’t have to get in there directly through him or by making him break his oath to uphold the law.

I smiled, unable to believe that I’d come up with such a perfectly devious plan.

I stood and walked across the room to an old oak credenza once owned by Malcom something-or-other. I don’t really recall his name, obviously, but I do remember the story behind it.

Sixty years ago, Malcom owed a lot of money to some very bad men. Although people considered him stupid for having acquired such dangerous debt, he was also very smart. One day, he decided to escape them by faking his death in the same way that Juliet did. He used his knowledge of chemistry to come up with a household mixture that would put him in a deep sleep. When the mob found out, they’d release the debt and he’d be free. It worked a little too well, because he’d passed out and woke up buried alive.

Fortunately, the credenza came with the recipe when I bought it. Perhaps I wasn’t as smart as Malcom was, but I knew enough to make it work. Well, I hoped, anyway.

I opened the drawer, removed a sealed frame, and looked at the list of ingredients and the recipe contained inside. I had everything in my kitchen.

I quickly gathered the ingredients, and double-checked to make sure everything was right. The last thing I wanted to do was poison myself to death—no pun intended.

After taking a deep breath, I mixed them. I fully expected to die from inhaling the smoke that feathered out of the glass on the table, but the only thing I could complain about was the smell. It was awful.

With cup in hand, I dialed my Assistant, Ralph. He answered just as he did before, with a yawn. “Hello?”

“Help me…” I said with a pathetic whine, and then dropped the phone.

I looked down at the concoction, took another deep breath and I asked myself, “What would you do for a Klondike bar?”

I downed the disgusting mix, holding back the urge to barf it all over the kitchen floor. A moment later, I became drowsy. Another moment passed, and I woke in darkness.

I don’t remember much about my father because he was never around, but I do recall him telling me that drugs were bad and I should always make good choices. I found that funny because he was a drug addict and a shitty father. I suppose, if anything, he did a good job reinforcing his own advice even if it was in an incredible example of irony. This is the information I should have reflected on before drinking that shit.

When I woke, my body felt numb, and I thought I could move but I wasn’t sure. What I was sure about, was that it didn’t stay dark for long. Soon, I was basking in the warmth of the summer sun, smack dab in the middle of a grassy meadow. Butterflies danced languidly from flower to flower as birds twittered from the trees. I took in a deep breath of the sweet vernal grass, and a cool, clean breeze, passed through, chilling those blades, and they shivered, though more with delight than with resentment.

Because of where I lived (in the desert) and because I knew I wasn’t crazy (debatable), it meant I was hallucinating. The stuff I drank, though effective, was apparently also a drug. Well, I mean, yes, it was a drug to begin with, but I had no idea it would cause me to hallucinate.

Anyway, I was back in the darkness eventually. The smell of plastic and polyethylene nauseated me. I tried lifting my arms, expecting them not to move, but they did. I patted the cover that was over me, and I suddenly realized I was inside a body back.

Shit.

Although I still felt a bit numb, I molested the bag until my knuckles scraped along the metallic zipper. Following it was difficult, but eventually my fingers found the internal zipper tag, and then I unzipped the bag.

A sudden rush of cold blasted me as I sat up. I was, as expected, in the freezer of what’s-his-name’s store. The first thing I saw was beer, and damn it looked good. I figured no one would notice if I had just one to warm me up. After all, I was nude and needed something to keep the chill at bay.

I tip-toped across the walk-in freezer, and plucked a bottle of alcoholic Root Beer from one of the crates. Luckily, the cap twisted off, and I started sipping. Then I was chugging.

Looking down and taking in a deep breath to abate the burn of carbonation, I saw a crate of Heineken to my left. The bottlenecks swayed back and forth, and there were tiny human faces on the caps. They sang a song in German. I didn’t even know German, but somewhere deep in my subconscious, my hallucinations found a song from the beer’s homeland and sang it to me.

The beer continued to serenade me as I looked around the freezer for those delicious little Klondike bars. For a while, I saw everything except those things I desired the most. What I needed the most. Then, at last, I spied that silver box of minty chocolate goodness near a stack of vegetarian ice cream.

I waddled over to them, and tore the box open with a kind of carnal voracity only found in hungry animals and those addicted to sex. It was, after all, a small love affair. The Klondike bar needed me, and I so very much needed it.

I detected a hint of peppermint as I sniffed the aluminum exterior. Those perfect square shapes hinted at the pleasures beyond, and I ever so gently pealed at the wrapper. The beer sang me another tune—or maybe it was the same one—as I bit into it. The flavor was so divine that I felt like I might be risking my salvation, my entrance into heaven forfeited because of this one… tasty…

I heard a door slam open. It was Jenkins.

He screamed. I screamed. The Klondike bars screamed. I think Jenkins then shot me in the chest.

I woke up several nights later in a hospital bed. A machine softly beeped, and my chest hurt as if someone had shot me. At that point, I wasn’t sure because I had been hallucinating. It wasn’t until I looked down and saw the bloody gauze on my chest that I was certain it had actually happened.

There was a sour taste in my mouth, but there was no water nearby. There was, however, a remote to the television hanging from the wall. I turned it on, and watched a commercial for Brisk lemon iced tea. In this Claymation rendering, an international spy went through hell to obtain a top-secret bottle of iced tea.

I was thirsty. I needed something to quench it. I knew what I needed to do.

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