…To waste his whole Creation, or possess
All as our own, and drive as we were driven,
The punie habitants, or if not drive,
Seduce them to our Party,…from Paradise Lost by John Milton
Just outside, a late season cricket clicked in the sea grass, its song even more mournful, as it was the only sound that night. Earlier, there had been a rich silvery light cast by a full moon, but that had since been covered over by a blanket of clouds from the bay.
Now there was silence as well as darkness. Even the solitary cricket had stopped singing- something, more correctly, someone, had silenced him.
A narrow beam of flashlight sliced through the darkness of the living room. It searched for a moment, found, and then studied the sprawled figure of the young woman. Her chest rose and fell with wine-induced sleep. Now, there was another rhythm of breathing- this more pronounced, racing, over the woman’s quiet form.
The heavy steel hammer lifted slowly, then higher, it hung for a long breathless moment. Suddenly, with all of the body’s force centered in the arm, it came crashing down into the forehead of the sleeping woman. To her, strolling the dream fields of Elysium, it must have seemed an explosion – a searing nuclear blast of white excruciating pain- an agony that all of the wine in Napa Valley couldn’t have dulled…
“ Nother one?”
“Huh…hmm…?” It was a moment before Uriah realized he had nodded out at the bar, the ten still between the fingers of his outstretched hand. “Yeah… sure. You know what. On second thought, forget the beer, make it an Irish whiskey. Straight up.”
The thin, heavily tattooed barmaid’s look of annoyance was more than slightly over the top for the whole five seconds it took her to return the beer to the cooler.
Uriah was both way too high and too deep in thought to care. Those thoughts drifted, out past the boardwalk to the Atlantic beyond. The sea and sky were filled with the subdued light of late October. Even without the empty boardwalk, Uriah would have known the season just by those colors. Born and raised at the beach at the Jersey shore, he knew the color pallets like he knew his soul. “Yeah, right… he laughed …” as if I know that at all.”
The laugh brought another look of derision from the barmaid. “Friggin drunk…” She said just loud enough for Uriah to hear.
Uriah looked down at the smashed scotch glass that apparently had just slipped through his fingers.
“I gotta clean that up…you know what asshole…you’re flagged…”
Uriah woke to an unease that had been suddenly replaced with an unbearable loneliness. How much longer could he go on like this? The drunkenness, followed by the terrible
guilt. What had he done? Nothing concrete he could put his finger on. Just images and disjointed flashes.
He forced his legs as if they were somehow separated from himself, to rise, to turn, and to drop over the side. When he looked at the floor, what would he see … bloodied shoes … a bloodied hammer?
But then, later. Could it really have been later that very same day…
An afternoon sun splintered the room, as Uriah awakened. Awakened? Was that the word… Had he been asleep. A long pause made Uriah acutely aware of the ticking clock on the desk. “Yes. He was in his doctor’s office.”
“Well.Do you know where you are now?” The doctor asked.
Uriah responded with a sudden assurance. “Yes.”
“And why you are here?”
“Yes.” More defiantly.
“Good. Very good. Let’s get back to this dream. But then…” the doctor leaned back in his chair, carelessly tossing his notebook onto the desk. His face which had always to Uriah held a sphinxlike unreadability, was now decipherable. “… I’m sure, as you have now realized, was never a dream at all. “
Uriah finding he could move, got to his feet. He rose from the couch and stood tall and erect, with the new found sense of awareness. “You did it. Finally. You brought me… you brought me… where?”
“Well, Heaven…” The doctor stretched his arms out with palms up, triumphantly, as if indicating something vast, something interminable. “… Hell. It’s all the same. Isn’t it?”
Uriah beamed . His grin grew into a maniacal laughter, as his face glowed in an iridescent aura. The floor shook. The walls of the office shimmered, then slowly melted away. Above, the ceiling collapsed in on itself, leaving an ever-widening gulf, and beyond, a measureless sky.
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