I look at my reflection, at the man staring back at me. The man I have become.
He is a stranger. No recognition there. I look away, pained. How did it come to this?
An impulse to break the mirror registers. Briefly. The truth, the sad truth is there is no way I am going to make it go away.
My fingers clasp tighter around the cold steel in my hand. I suppress emotion. A tear escapes my eye and slides down my cheek. A lump forms in my throat.
One more look in the mirror, as though it will grant me absolution for what Iâ€™m about to do. What needs to be done. It doesnâ€™t. A part of me realizes that its partly my fault. That I am partly to blame.
If Iâ€™d been more understanding, less demandingâ€¦ If. So many ifâ€™s float back and forth, but this is not the time. The time for that is long gone.
Actions will have to do the talking. I will not be held accountable for my actions.
They will understand. Circumstances forced me, have forced me to become the person I have become. I never asked to be this way. I certainly didnâ€™t invite thisâ€¦ ask for it.
I leave the bathroom, a bundle of nerves and pick up the cylinder with remnants of tape on it. Tape that held in place a sticker that said, â€œKnock Outâ€. Youâ€™d think if they were going to sell you illegal substances theyâ€™d have some subtlety about them.
Iâ€™d wanted to take it up with the gentleman that had sold it to me, but I thought better of it. We were not friends. It was a transaction, not a social interaction. Pleasantries were not something we could share. No names were exchanged, â€œthey just complicate thingsâ€. Heâ€™d said. I could see how.
I drive to a seedy part of town, to the horribly named, â€œCome Nâ€™ Chillâ€ Motel. Those in the know call establishments such as this, â€œlodgesâ€.
Chances are the clientele comprised mostly prostitutes and their customers. Or lovers avoiding prying eyes. Infidelity forces you to lower your standards.
A pain goes through my temple. I try to focus. Its probably tension. Panic, even.
I check in for one. The lady behind the counter eyes me suspiciously.
â€œYouâ€™re alone?â€ she asks, raising an eyebrow.
She has a cake of make up so thick Iâ€™m sure it contributes largely when she steps on a weighing scale.
I reply in the affirmative. For some reason she finds this amusing, She smiles.
â€œIf you want company, you could pay for an arrangement.â€ She says this with a wink.
Is she propositioning me? The wink draws my attention to her eyes. You can mask so much with make up, but the eyes never lie. Hers say a lot.
There is some sadness concealed back there. I almost give in, if for nothing else, empathy.
Besides, what will I need money for after tonight?
And despite the layer of make up, she does hold some appeal.
But I need all the privacy I can get tonight. I donâ€™t need any distractions.
I decline, â€œShe will be joining me later.â€
She smiles a knowing smile and hands me my room key.
â€œToo bad.â€ She calls out to my back as I walk away.
Too bad. Indeed. I will probably regret this. My life, it seems is filled with its fair share of regrets. Tonightâ€™s will be my last.
I set my effects on the bed and wait.
The pounding in my head has gone down somewhat. Itâ€™s a dull throb. I hear a door open and shut. There is a ladyâ€™s voice. Her voice. Shortly afterwards, his follows. The voices rise. They seem to be exchanging words. And it is not friendly fire.
I draw no consolation from this. I guess I ought to, knowing that she is not happy, but somehowâ€¦nothing. I suppose I love her too much to want her to be miserable, and yet, it appears, I donâ€™t love her enough to let go.
The argument is over, the noise gone. I donâ€™t want to think about what is going on behind that door.
I wait for a bit, then slip into the corridor, and place my ear on the door. The sound is muffled. But theyâ€™re speaking.
I hear her asking him whether he is serious about something. I donâ€™t know what, nor do I care.
I wait a little longer and go get the gas cylinder and the Beretta M1951. I hold the gun in my hands for a while. Then I realize I canâ€™t do this.
There will be too much noise. Fortunately I have a knife available.
I pick up the cylinder and the knife and then get to workâ€¦