…that pass through your mind slightly faster than the bullet that leaves the muzzle pressed against the roof of your mouth and now crawls inch by inch through the temporal lobe to nestle in between the occipital and parietal lobes of your brain
by Thomas Dedola
1. A sound far too loud to actually be audible. More like an empty echo, like submerging your head into the pool a dull whoosh at your cousin Rebecca’s birthday party in ’98. You’d jumped in to escape an irate parent – your mother? Probably your mother – after blowing out the candles first. You’d blown out the candles first because Davide said you were too young to hang out with him and his friends who were secretly smoking blue Winston’s near the shed and no, he didn’t want to play with your Hot Wheels. You’d blown out the candles first because you knew each birthday cake was a passing year and you hoped to skip your next one by celebrating two birthdays at the same time so you could be a lot older and maybe Davide would let you smoke or at least compliment you on the shiny new Ferrari toy car that was the crowning piece of your Hot Wheels set. You’d blown out the candles first because seven is a fucking horrible age to be.
The water feels safe, a blue blanket a chlorine cover where no one can reach you. You are securely enveloped and at an age where you don’t see the irony of how wanting to grow up too quickly has led you into a suburban watery womb filled with worrying amounts of child urine and several discarded band-aids. Sounds are muffled as you sink to the bottom of the pool, bury yourself as snugly as the 9mm bullet cutting through the meat and cartilage of your face.
A sunburnt arm tears violently through the dark-blue uterus and grabs your leg. You yell in surprise and swallow wet chemicals filtered from heaven knows what source. You turn around and try to kick away but the arm holds on tightly. You can tell the arm belongs to Mr. Silvestre by the Panerai 5218-201 watch wrapped around his wrist. The watch, that cost him four months’ salary was first issued in 1996 and nowadays retails at over €21,000. Mr. Silvestre hasn’t realised he’s used his right arm and has now ruined his very expensive watch. He pulls you out of the pool and flings you onto the grass and your parents tell you off in front of a bemused crowd. You’ll spend the rest of the party banished in a corner, while a gaggle of mothers nearby dish out beautiful smiles and beady eyes to the rest of the guests.
2. You never got to take a drive out in the countryside. I mean, you could’ve if you wanted to but it never felt right. You were supposed to take a girlfriend weren’t you? Go out for a drive on a Saturday, suggest the countryside, have an impromptu picnic. That was the plan: the plan you’d made up in your head countless times and never acted on. Maybe it was the fact you couldn’t picture the incessant little itty-bitty details. You just couldn’t picture yourself driving your Fiat Cinquecento down a country road – a Volkswagen Beetle maybe, the old ‘Maggiolino’ would’ve been better – but then you also didn’t know what music would be playing. You wanted something, something…apt. There was no better word for it. Each time you envisioned it, the tune changed. Sometimes it was Kings of Convenience. Sometimes it was Bossa Nova. And let’s not even talk about imagining the landscape! The best images your brain conjures you probably stole from a film or read in a book. No road is that sheltered; no path can be filled with so many dashing autumn colours. But still you dreamt on, your left hand lazily steering, your right arm tenderly placed on…whose thigh? Bianca’s? Jessica’s? Not Camilla – definitely not her.
No, She doesn’t have a face yet: She will – but not yet. You can focus on your hand though, your scrawny hand, each digit run ragged by the hours spent typing in the office clocking overtime and missing holidays but in that moment, not at a computer but tracing a figure of eight on Her thigh. She wears a sundress (of course she does) and She smiles at you because She doesn’t mind the cliché, she’s a sucker for the obvious, for the uninspiring; for you.
Not that you didn’t have any moments with the others. There was the Carnival with Bianca; getting lost in Bologna with Jessica; and Camilla. There was always Camilla. You had moments with them, but were they ever as meaningful as the idea of you sharing a drive in the countryside? You never drove out for a picnic and yet the smile tugs at the corners of your lips and your cheeks crinkle at the hypothetical memory of it. And it pains you – can you still feel the pain? – to admit that all the time spent with them pales and looks ugly and insignificant compared to your dream.
But there was THAT
THAT time with Camilla. On the beach. It started to hail and the sea was far too rough for anything. The sand was flecked with darkness which the sky vomited in a continuous stream at your feet. You both found cover and laughed because neither of you had ever been on the beach in bad weather and Camilla had giggled at the flimsy swimming shorts you’d worn on the off-chance that you’d both go for a dip and you’d playfully threatened to carry her off into the waves and maybe
moment was special.
Even now you can hear the rain drum a dull tattoo against the shelter and taste the warm sea salt, as warm as the blood that is slowly draining from the gaping hole in your head. But your eyes don’t follow. Your eyes are stuck on a path that leads down a small country road where the two of you drive past colours far too bright to understand but you love the fact that everything is just so apt.
3. Your final thought takes you back to yesterday. The day you set all this in motion. The day you finished working late again and snuck into Enrico’s office and took the loaded Glock from his bottom draw. Remind yourself that this is something you’ve had planned for quite some time. Remind yourself that you are anything but spontaneous. Can you do that? Because the notion now gets…hazy.
You doubt you even have the faculties anymore to explain why. How can you justify killing yourself today? Your mouth forms words that no longer exist in this universe. You croak sadly, your vocal cords slackening as you realise that all these functions were once controlled by your temporal lobe which is now being disintegrated and splattered on the wall behind you by a 9mm bullet.
Still you wrack your brain – what’s left of it anyway – and try and think of a reason. You think you’ve figured out the source of your misery: it was a sameness, an indistinguishable quality to everyday life that ruined everything. You worked ceaselessly, trudged on auto-pilot for…
You’re aware that time is a human construct we let dictate our lives, but it seems you alone created it to punish you every waking moment. Please, with the last neurone synapses still connected in your head, remind yourself that stealing Enrico’s gun was probably the first time you did something that didn’t involve being glued to your computer and running numbers through a system. And if you feel that death is the only certainty in life then you but at least be the one to bring about a change of sorts.
There we go: loss of memory and coherent thought. The bullet must almost be through what little remains of your temporal lobe. Once you lose spatial awareness and vision you’ll know – if you can still know anything – that it’ll have reached the occipital and parietal lobes.
You’ve chosen a very ugly place to die and an even uglier spectacle to look at while you take your last breath. Living in your minuscule flat on the eighth floor of a high-rise in Milan’s Gambara district is bad enough, but you chose to sit at the dining table in the kitchen, slowly bleeding out with your glassy stare permanently fixed on the yellowed fridge. Focus hard enough and you can see through the metal surface to what’s inside: row upon row of Tupperware containers handily labelled with every meal of the week. The mere recollection makes you wish you actually had the mental and motor capacity left to plant another bullet in your skull. Yet you’re sure you can still fluently list each meal, your whole week’s planned dining experience rolling off the tongue like a long-forgotten nursery rhyme. A small part of you feels bad that the food will eventually go off: cooked penne all’arrabbiata slowly curdling in their bloodied sauce, as a greying slab of beef Stroganoff sweats bacteria and festers in a clear plastic 900ml box. You grimace, revolted at the idea of accidentally eating expired meat, of getting food poisoning again. And a wheezing scratch bellows through the ruins of your mind and it’s laughing, constant laughing, who is laughing why laughing and it’s you, you’re laughing because you’ve just realised that you’ll never have to eat any of that and it hurts to worry anymore. But it’s gone now, the worry has gone as you don’t need to worry anymore, not about the food or work or family or the pool party in ’98 or the missed country drives with Her in a sundress no
worry, no worry, not for Bianca and her blue eyes or Jessica or Jessica with the long raven hair or Ca
Camilla and the beach and the storm. It’s just a whirlwind of images, a spasm of sights of Camilla and the beach and the storm of the storm of the beach with Camilla and her smile my God what a
beautiful smile! A memory that flashes by like slides in a PowerPoint presentation given on the first Friday of every month at work, and now your pictures are broken and fumbled as you rifle through the dark recesses of your brain and snap back to focus with each shape as we see the beach before SNAP! it’s replaced with the storm and SNAP! now Camilla running with you, hand in hand to
SNAP! shelter, shelter and she is laughing mischievously at your swimming trunks but you don’t care because SNAP! you only see her smile not her eyes her eyes are creased with laughter but her smile a crescent of blinding bright light, a smile overshadowing everything else a frayed moment, Camilla and the beach and the storm and the beach and the storm
and the smile
and the smile
and the smile
Thomas Dedola is an Italian MA graduate based in Cambridge. He is also an occasional playwright whose work has been showcased at the Trinity Corpus Playroom and the ADC Theatre. He has recently co-produced a poetry anthology titled Haiku to F**k to which will be out in February 2017.