Sometime last year I started seeing a movie in my head. The movie was really more of an alternate reality. Somehow I was seeing “Todd in an alternate universe”…as a movie. I knew I had to write it.
Now, to be fair, that’s pretty much how all of my written pieces (other than the poems and blog posts) start out–as movies. When I see enough of the movie playing in my head, I have to sit down and start writing it out. The excerpt below is from a work in progress. It has a working title, but I’m not going to tell you what that is. Hence the ‘in progress’ part of the work in progress moniker.
So, here’s an excerpt. This is a couple steps above free-writing, so don’t get too attached. But please…enjoy. And see if you can spot the catharsis 😉
The bustle of an active police station that had only barely registered when I was brought in hushed to nearly library levels as the detective led me back through the maze of desks toward the elevator. It seemed as though I had a cloud following me that silenced anyone I passed. By the time we got to the elevators there was an eerie silence.
Webber motioned me on first. I turned as she was getting on. Pretty blue eyes with a heaviness that I couldn’t place. She quickly averted her gaze. I looked over her shoulder and saw a chilling sight–every single face in that squad room was focused squarely on the elevator.
It was my turn to avert my gaze as the elevator doors closed.
“What the fuck is going on?” I thought to myself immediately after wondering if I had taken my meds for the day–there was a good chance I was going to be here a while.
She pressed the lowermost button in the columns of floor buttons. The Elevator shuddered as though protesting the fact that it was taking a trip down to a floor labeled ‘MG.’
“It’s probably used to one of the bodies on the ride down being dead.” Too late I realized that particular thought had vocalized and was not just in my head.
I saw Detective Webber tense up and instinctively put her hand on the butt of her holstered weapon.
“Excuse me, Mr. Andrews? What was that about a dead body?” She looked at me quizzically.
“I..uh. Nothing Detective. I saw the letters “MG” and assumed we were going to the morgue. I figured that the elevators didn’t normally take only livi– you know what? I’m just a little nervous. This is all kind of new to me. I haven’t been out here in a long time.”
“Out here? The city?” She asked, relaxing somewhat.
“No.The world. As in outside of my apartment. I haven’t left in nearly twenty-eight months. I figured your officers had good reason to break that streak, though.”
“Shit.” It was Webber’s turn to mutter something that she clearly meant to be under her breath. “Twenty-eight months? She asked again as though the number came as a shock.
“Twenty-seven months and 3 weeks. The divorce kind of fucked with my head. There’s no real–”
The ding of the bell and the fact that the elevator took a sudden lurch interrupted whatever thought I was trying to convey.
“We’re here,” she said dryly.
I didn’t know where ‘here’ was, but the ache in the pit of the stomach wasn’t going away. Apparently it was along for the ride too.
I followed Webber through a pair of ER-style doors that led into a cold examination room.
“You were correct, Mr. Andrews. This is the morgue.” She walked over to a vestibule and tapped on the glass. A freakishly tall man came out from behind the partition and walked to the wall of doors that I assumed housed all of the bodies. He opened the door labeled ‘37’ and pulled out a metal stretcher.
As he lifted the sheet, Detective Webber asked, “Mr. Andrews, do you recognize this woman?”
I wanted to turn away. I tried to turn away. My feet had grown concrete ballasts. My eyes had completely lost the ability to close. I stared transfixed at the body on the slab.
Three thoughts played ping pong as I stood frozen. The first was the fact that dead bodies on TV have a purplish hue to them. Still looking as though they were able to be reanimated. The body before me looked dead. Gruesomely and horrifically dead.
The second thought bordered on gratitude. I was thankful that I had not eaten lunch yet today. If I had, these dry heaves building in my stomach would have been so much worse.
The third and final thought…
“That….that’s my ex-wife,” I said to the Detective in almost a whisper.
…I’m so fucked.
She ushered me back towards the elevator.
“Hold on a second Mr. Andrews.” I barely registered what was happening after the point that the sheet was pulled back. The tall guy. I assume he was the Medical Examiner or morgue lackey of some sort pulled the sheet back up over Lorna’s head. I hadn’t thought of her in quite a while. At least that was what I kept telling the therapist.Truth is, I wasn’t sure, even now, that I was fully over her. Memories flooded my mind. Emotions long since pushed down to the pit of my stomach came rushing to the surface on a mission. I looked around frantically for a bucket.
Luckily there was a metal wastebasket next to the elevator. Breakfast came back to the surface in a vengeance. I leaned against the wall to steady myself until I was sure the nausea had passed.
Detective Webber placed her hand on my shoulder. “I’m sorry,” she said to me just before the hauntingly cheery ding announced the elevator. “Let’s get you back upstairs.”
I was in no condition to argue at this point.
I turned to her in the elevator, my voice barely a whisper. “You thought I was a suspect, didn’t you? Your plan was to read me, try to trip me up when you showed me her body.”
“Yes.” Her voice was barely louder than mine at this point. She stared up as the light behind the floor numbers moved from left to right.
“Fuck you.” I felt weak in the knees again. As the small world of the elevator expanded to a big, black nothingness, I heard the Detective whisper, “I’m sorry. I had no idea.”
I don’t know how much time passed between passing out in the elevator and waking up in the office. I don’t know whose office it was or even if it was an office. All I know is that I was lying on a couch. More 70’s thrift store reject and less high class leather cop show couch, I tried to sit up.
Detective Webber was sitting in a chair near the couch, shoulders slouched in defeat. Someone I hadn’t been introduced to sat behind a wooden desk with metal accents that also looked as though it would feel more at home in the corner of the set of Barney Miller. Both looked up as I stirred.
“Mr. Andrews, I’m Lead Detective Merchant. We’re very sorry for your loss.” He reached out a hand. I shook it. Still dazed. I didn’t want to make eye contact with Webber. She was just doing her job. Likely on the recommendation of this douche-nozzle. Who was also doing his job. I suppose I would have liked to know that they had done their homework. At the moment I wasn’t convinced.
“So…I’m not an idiot detectives. The spouse, ex or not, is usually the first suspect. At least that’s the way they play it on TV. But, fuck. Clearly someone missed something.”
I wanted to make sure I had their attention.
“I didn’t handle the divorce well. After everything ended, the outside world seemed a little too big. Your little subterfuge today was the first time I have left my apartment in nearly three years. And if it’s all the same to you, I’d like to go back now.”
An empathetic tone I wasn’t expecting came from the chair next to me. “I’ll drive you Mr. Andrews.”
I stood to follow Detective Webber when Merchant spoke.
“One more thing Mr. Andrews–”
“I’m not leaving the city. I’m agoraphobic you prick. I’ve been diagnosed and under professional care for it for over two years now. Check with my shrink. If you’ve got my ISP records or bank records, you already know how to reach her.” I refused to look at him as I left. I couldn’t be sure, but I thought Webber’s postured lifted slightly at my comment.