I've been sitting on a blog about Robin Williams for three days now. I wanted to connect his death to thoughts about whether or not the supposed connection between creative genius and madness was legitimate. I had anecdotes from my past. I had statistics from scientific and sociological studies. I had at least three different drafts. But then I read an article about irresponsible writing when it came to things like depression and suicide and I realized that's what I'd be doing, writing irresponsibly about things I really knew nothing about. So, for this next blog, I want to post something I do know something about: stories. Here's a flash fiction to read about a topic that might be timely:
For Thomas there is nowhere else but his room. The bedsprings that stick through the top. The window that doesn’t open. The motionless ceiling fan. For life, the flicker of the TV. The click of thumbs to controllers. The splats of boots to the enemy’s face and the gunshots through the enemy’s belly and the screams of the enemy run over by tanks.
Thomas often forgets about The Sergeant downstairs. The Sergeant sits on the edge of the couch as though waiting for something. But he is only watching the news. With a cup of cold coffee an inch away from spilling on the rug. For a week The Sergeant has not called out Thomas’ name. He does not see Thomas, except at noon and midnight, when Thomas tiptoes down the stairs and crawls across the living room to avoid the windows and opens the refrigerator to make a sandwich. At midnight, The Sergeant slides behind the pillows and watches Thomas from the edge of the couch. He is proud of Thomas. He is proud of Thomas for walking down the stairs without making a sound.
Sometimes The Sergeant will read the front page. He checks all the windows before snatching the paper from the front door. Then he sits on the the couch and unrolls the newsprint across the coffee table. He reads about Afghanistan. He mutters to himself and shakes his head and looks through the windows again. Then he closes the curtains and tosses the papers into a box and watches the news.
Sometimes Thomas looks outside his window. He ducks under the windowsill and peeks out to make sure the outsiders don’t see him. He surveys the park across the street. He finds all the good hiding places, like up in the big tree in the middle or behind the dumpster. Sometimes a girl sits on a picnic bench near the batting cage and draws. Other times, she talks on the phone and cries. He stares at her with one eye closed and wonders if he has good aim.
One early morning, The Sergeant gets off the couch and tries to ascend the stairs without noise. But when he reaches Thomas’ door, Thomas is already staring at him from the edge of the bed. The Sergeant points outside, down to the group of Thomas' schoolmates getting on the bus. He asks Thomas a question. Thomas stares at the kids then turns back to the TV. Thomas presses a button and picks up a rifle and slides a bullet through the enemy’s head.
The Sergeant stands in the threshold and smiles.