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Existential Terror and Breakfast: 48

Epiphanies taste better with toast.

Anguish, impending doom, also: ketchup.

You know… the usual.

Malcolm Steadman had got himself a nice hot plate of Eggs Benedict to-go from a nearby diner, and because he is an absolute monster he had added ketchup to the perfectly good Hollandaise sauce. Schadenfreude is just better when you think they deserve it…

…Because well, again: Anguish and impending doom.

Malcolm Steadman will buy a gun in 7 days.

He was up earlier that day than usual, having decided to get this particular treat for himself the night before, and thus he needed the extra time in his routine to fetch it. Malcolm was trying to do things differently, though with little effort. This breakfast was that token effort. He ate it slowly, still arrested from drowsiness, and ate it as pleasantly as his groggy mind allowed. Eggs Benedict was actually a dish that he had never tried, and added the ketchup because it was something he was used to adding to his eggs by habit. It tasted fine to him in his total ignorance.

The day’s light danced with a smattering of dust motes in the air as he ate. The morning was quiet, nearly serene. Only travelers who had stayed the night were active this early, otherwise, the motel was as still as the dead. The silence was as sonorous as it was empty. This was the perfect recipe for a panic attack.

He could feel it coming on to him. He knew that soon his existential dread would snowball into terror and that he would be spent. He knew that his never-ending commentary track that spun like a dervish in his mind would drown out whatever pleasure he found in his breakfast. He knew that he did not have a choice. He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. He wished that his head could be as silent as the morning.

Here it was. Pushing itself forward with breakneck pressure and manic intensity. The epiphany was crouched down, still in its momentum just before the pounce. His eyes bulged and—

The thunder of a motorcycle’s engine shattered the morning’s silence. The air reverberated with the powerful bass of the beast, and all serenity was lost in its pistons. His neighbor’s boyfriend was home. He was never here this early.

Malcolm exhaled, only then aware that he had been holding his breath. Whatever truth was on the tip of his mind had been lost to anomia and distraction. He was almost grateful. The motorcycle’s roar had injected new energy into him, and his groggy mind cleared. For the briefest of moments, his breakfast was delightful.

Then his neighbor’s boyfriend found Garry.

Chaos and drama were a constant beat to the drumming of motel life. Meth heads yelling, the tears of slighted lovers, and the blue and red flashes of police cars were all just the difference between a Monday and a Sunday. Though Malcolm kept an uninterested eye on his neighbor’s door, it was not until the drama had found its stage outside that Malcolm paid attention. It was not until Garry yelled back that Malcolm dropped his breakfast.

His neighbor’s door slammed open, and the wide muscular frame of his neighbor’s boyfriend shoved the thin and tall body of Garry out.

“I FUCKIN’ KNEW THAT YOU BEEN SLEEPIN’ AROUND!!the man yelled as Garry’s body hit the pavement.

Malcolm was at his window.

Garry was up and on his feet in an instant, coiled to jump his opponent. Heavy hands hit skull and Garry was on the ground again. Blood trickled from under his brow, underlining the tatted word fuck with crimson. “We were just doping man!” Garry shouted back, “We weren’t doin’ nothin’!”

Once more, Malcolm had forgotten to breathe. His hands pressed against his window. When Garry turned his head to the side, and straight at him, Malcolm ducked. He heard the slap of skin as Garry bellowed a battle cry. Malcolm froze in fear.

“Stop it!” His neighbor yelled as tears streamed down her cheeks, “You’re gonna get the cops called!” She was right.

His “ticket out”, the crux of his plan: in mortal danger. Malcolm crawled to his bed stand and called the cops.

Malcolm peeked just above the window sill, ketchup and Hollandaise sauce soaking into his pant leg. The receiver of his phone was pressed against his ear.

The boyfriend’s shoulders were squared, his big meaty arm raised and pointed at Garry. “I see you here again junkie,” he said, “and I’ll rip your skinny goddamn arms off!”

With all of his eloquence, Garry stuttered “Eat a dick!” and stumbled backward as he kept his eyes on the big man.

The phone clicked. “Nine-one-one what’s the address of the emergency?”

The boyfriend mounted his motorcycle as Malcolm’s neighbor yelled incoherently, still in her underwear. The roar of his engine conquered the air and he left the way he came. The fight was over. Malcolm hung up the phone.

Stillness had filled the vacuum once more as all things settled. The cold wetness of breakfast sauces chilled Malcolm’s leg. His heart was racing, his knuckles white from tension. He got his terror for the morning after all. He watched as Garry stormed off.

The decision to follow him was compulsory. That day, Malcolm Steadman did not finish his breakfast. He did not go to work, nor did he care about the repercussions of doing so. Malcolm jammed his feet into his shoes and stayed as inconspicuous as he could as he followed Garry to a destination unknown.

The cops arrived to the motel an hour after the call.





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