An Unholy Trinity

 

“Not getting any sleep? Is the thought of Death keeping you up at night? Are you waking up in cold sweats? Is anxiety getting the best of you? Does it feel like your heart is about to burst through your chest? Are you afraid of leaving everything behind, too worried about what will happen to all of your loose ends when you pass on?

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Ezra Bosch turned off the television, got up and walked to his sitting room. He flicked on the light at his desk and sat in his old rocking chair, then lit a cigarette.

Leave everything behind . . . He thought. What have I got to leave behind?

He looked at all the books quietly sitting on the bookshelves around him. He looked at all the crumpled pages scattered like dead doves on his desk and on the floor among empty bottles of beer and wine. 

“Paper,” he said to himself. “I’m leaving nothing but paper.”

What happened to those words he swore he would write? Where was that next classic novel?

“There are no more books to be written,” he had once read, but refused to believe it.

His eyes surveyed the bodies on the desk, from one to the next.

“How many are there?”

He began counting and gave up after three. He realized that it is pointless to count something empty, something that lacks soul . . . His eyes moved to his typewriter.

“Damn thing does more harm than good,” he thought while looking at it as if it were a gun in the hands of a mad man, “Someone should take it away.” But no one would. It would always be there, warm and loaded, ready to fire at any moment. Ezra smiled. There was a certain pleasure he got from seeing the pages laying withered, as if each one brought him closer to his goal.

At the age of seventy Ezra Bosch no longer had color in his hair, only shades of grey. His moss colored eyes sat tucked in the middle of his face and the wrinkles across his forehead rolled in long waves that rounded down towards his cheeks, one layered on top of the next like tree-rings. If a passing stranger were to glance at him, they would be reminded of an old tree, bare, save for a few frost covered leaves and two branches for arms that sagged towards his weathered hands. For Ezra, Fall was always on its way out, and winter just around the corner.

Ezra took a long drag of his cigarette, blew a large grey plume and watched as it moved to the far end of the room, passing through the soft yellow light on his desk, twisting and contorting like an illuminated ghost.

He sat a while longer admiring the phantom shapes drift about the room, and in the next moment crushed the cigarette against the ashtray, killing it for good, got up and walked to his desk, picked up one of the dead doves and unraveled it as if he were pulling apart its shriveled wings. He read one of the lines:

Maybe the pearly gates have closed on us. Maybe we didn’t make the cut. Maybe this is that other place . . . Maybe . . . Maybe this is it. Maybe this is all we’ve got . . . But then again, maybe it’s not.

“Maybe you’re right where you need to be.”

Ezra placed the page on his desk and started flattening it out with his fist. He started from the center, working outward toward the edges. It is a hard thing to do, to revive something after it has already been left for dead. But he did his best to bring the page back to life. He lifted it and held the page out with both hands one last time like he were spreading the white bird’s wings and admired the words, his words, before laying it gracefully on top of the typewriter. A deep joyful sadness began to well up inside him just then. He felt like crying. He couldn’t remember the last time he cried. And it wasn’t the words that did it. They had only stirred up what was already there. No, it was something beyond the words, beyond the page. It was something deeper in the gut of all men, a need to defy the great burden of suffering that bellows out into the frail air. That dark bull that snarls in search of trembling bones. It was what made him write those words . . . A single pearling tear rolled down his cheek.

Ezra’s body became tense. His hands began to tremble. His mind whirling.

“Oh no!” He gasped. “Not again!”

Ezra tried to stand up straight and take a deep breath, but the dizziness spun him down into a deeper darkness and all the pressure was too great upon his chest. He grabbed as if at an invisible knife. Sweat formed on his brow. His knees became weak. He lost his footing, shifting his weight. He kicked a bottle on the floor. It fell against the others and a few went down easy like bowling pins. One still had some wine left. He watched the red liquid flow out onto the carpet as he held himself up against his desk.

That might be just what I need, he thought.

While holding the edge of the desk, Ezra worked his way down, his whole body trembling. He picked up the bottle of wine. Held it by the neck, swirled it, put it to his lips and took a long pull. What didn’t make it into his mouth ran down the sides of his chin and stained the collar of his shirt.

He sighed.

“I’ve drinken up the last of your soul! What good are you to me now that you are empty like the rest?”

Ezra kicked the other bottles with a sweep of his foot. The bottles chimed to a dim song and in a swift torrent of unrestrained emotion he became wrathful, and in his sudden burst of anger he looked about the room wanting to make some real noise, wanting to smash something. He thought about throwing the bottle through the window. But it was the ticking of the clock on the wall adjacent to him that made him stop. He turned and stared at the thing, the sound clamoring in his ears. TICK. TICK. TICK. He watched the three hands moving one after the other, in perfect succession. His other hand still on his chest.

It’s too predictable, he thought.

He watched the seconds chase the minutes, and the minutes dragging along the hours, and all three of them working together for some forgotten purpose. He had used them once, long ago. Now they meant nothing to him. He questioned why it was still on the wall at all. TICK. TICK. TICK. Went the tormenting tantrum of the temperamental timepiece. TICK. TICK. TICK. Went the pendulum of predictability.

“I don’t have to play by your rules.”

Ezra held his arm way back, his elbow fully extended.

“I tell you when it’s time!”

Ezra let the bottle fly.

A great explosion of glass shattered against the wall, shimmered in the air and scattered into a thousand little shards. All three hands of the clock lay bent, broken and motionless upon the floor. The old mad man laughed. A red stain on the wall laughed with him.

“There,” the grey man said with finality, looking upon his masterpiece on the floor.

Ezra turned and shuffled back to his chair, one hand held to his chest. He used the other to ease himself down into it. A thin stream of light peered in through the blinds. The sun was working its way into the day.

“Loose ends my ass . . . “