Part 1

By @Rehl

Chapter 1

   My hands smelled like fried pickles the night I decided to kill myself. They smelt of burnt flour and olive oil, and salt. They smelled of pickles that sat out for two days before anyone decided that they wanted to fry them. Oil that had sat in an already dirty cast iron pan for too long, while someone wondered whether they would like to go through the trouble of cleaning it at all before using it to cook again. My fingers smelled like smoke, like a house burning down because somebody forgot to turn the stove off while they were in the other room making love to themselves and the cat’s tail got too close to the flame while sneaking a taste of the butter left out for the ants to ignore as they raced over the counter tops, devouring every other crumb that had been dropped.

   My skin reeked of grease, and was slick with slime, but not to anyone’s naked eye. I could feel it, the grease, as I rubbed my fingertips together at a stoplight. I could smell it – the grease, the smoke, the pickles, the disorders -when I lifted my fingers to my nose. I could feel it on my lips when I slid my fingers across the pink, dry skin of them, using the stinky, greasy residue as a sort of chapped stick to my chapped lips. I could taste them, the fried, burnt, greasy, salty, stale pickles, when I bit the tip of my thumb. I could taste it even as I bit down harder, severing feeling in the extremity as the light turned from red to green and I sped off down the road.

   I was driving away from a dark intersection where two separate 7-11’s sat across the street from one another, both of them in a capitalist battle, both of them vengeful, both of them playing for the same team and never realizing it. The one to my right was selling regular gas for $1.85 a gallon and the numbers were displayed on old fashioned red and white cards with one number on each. The gas station across the street was selling gas for $1.83 per gallon and it’s prices were displayed digitally. Both stores were competing for the same customers that will be going to the same one for the next ten years.

   The dollar store I had just left was in the midst of its closing activities when I walked in to buy them out of there sour gummy worms; however, at first glance, the only product available were giant gummy bears which I was not in the mood for.

   Quickly, my hands began to pull the bags of bears from the hanging rack, trying to hold some of them in my busy hands, trying to place others on various shelves all around me, attempting, weakly and yet also valiantly, to hold the falling bags between my knee caps and the shelf that stood in front of it, but my attempts were in vein, because the bags hit the floor and scattered. The search continued, I went about plowing through the various candies until I found them: two bags were all I had to show for it – two ******* bags of sour crawlers for all of my hard work.

   I wanted more. I wanted six bags. I wanted ten.

   I took my prize from the rack and placed the rest of the fallen armies of candy back into their rightful place so that somebody else could mangle them in a desperate search for the last two ******* bags of sour creepy crawler candy left in the entire store. I spared two bags of the gummy bears though, as a pension for my troubles.

   The cashier was in the middle of vacuuming the front of the store when I interrupted her. While I waited for her to notice me standing at the counter I picked up two of the candy bars they keep at eye level just above the conveyor belt and slapped them down next to the bags of gummy snacks. **** you, capitalist America, and **** your food system too, I thought to myself as the woman finally made her way behind the register. I apologized for the interruption as she scanned my items and placed them in a bag. She said that I was no trouble at all and then handed me my receipt after I had swiped my debit card. She smiled at me, I half smiled back and walked out with my bag.

   I crawled into my car and wanted to die, my hands couldn’t – would not – open the bag fast enough, and when they finally did a handful of worms flew out and into my lap. Sugar dusted everything – the steering wheel, the floor, my jeans, my shirt, my PRNDL, and even grazed my passenger seat. I couldn’t think about all of that though, I had to collect my casualties, the worms that had fallen all over me, and stuff them, as savagely as I seemingly could, into my mouth, which at this point seemed more like a void, a black hole in my face that had no qualms over swallowing anything that got near it. I stuffed three more worms into my face hole and turned the keys in my ignition.

   As I backed out of the parking spot I probably shoved at least four more worms down my throat. I couldn’t stop myself now. One hand spun the steering wheel 360 degrees as I tried to veer out onto the deserted road while the other hand could not stop ripping the crawlers from their happy home in the bag and throwing them into my unforgiving jaws, only to be half chewed, half enjoyed, before they were swallowed and I moved on to the next.

   I drove into the night, I took one right turn and then a left, through a couple of green lights until I hit the red at the double-trouble 7-11’s. I sat at the intersection and pondered my life. I had decided to kill myself a hundred times before. Four hundred. A million. I probably was not going to do it, because I was too afraid of what comes next, because I was too worried about not knowing who would actually make it to my funeral, even though I could never know the answer to that.

   I decided that I would do it tonight, though. I would drive and drive, until I was just at the death of my gas tank. I would drive until the gas light flickered on and I flipped my car off of the road. I would drive and drive into the night, until I saw stars, and then I would just let it happen. I would let go of the wheel, let go of control, just let it go and let it happen.

   Jesus, take the ******* wheel.

   The gummy worms would worm their way back up my throat and I would die like that, asphyxiation, choked by gummy worms: betrayed by them. I would eat them, all of them, all four bags of them, and then I would stop by another gas station when I was finished and I would buy eleven more bags of them. I would buy seven multiplied by eleven bags of gummy worms, and I would buy energy drinks, the whole lot of them, I would buy the store out of their supply.

   I might buy a coffee, two, one black, and one just filled with sugar, almost to the top, so much sugar that you might as well not even call the drink coffee any more. I would buy all of this, and probably more, a pack of smokes and a black and mild for the road, and I would get back into my car and drive into the ******* night. Drive until my supply of sugar and caffeine had run out, and then just die, just ******* die right there in my car, as the caffeine stopped my heart and the sugar put me into a coma, and the gummy worms crawled out of my throat, my eyes, my ears, my ass. I would just die, the smell of fried pickles fading, covered up by the smell of something else, the smell of death and ash and smoke, sprinkled with sugar. The smell of my own depression, manifested…

   I would probably just drive into the night, drive until I saw daylight.

   And then I would turn around, and head the **** back home.

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