An internal argument waged in Freak’s mind. He decided his suicide note acted as a justification for one’s life, and that saying good-bye to anyone was a validation of the person’s desire for life; therefore, a contradiction. Killing yourself, even in thought, was messy. Really messy. The note moved forward, at any rate, though it did not have the focus and wherewithal that Freak wanted, because who really cared why you died after you died? A funeral? Whoop-dee-doo!

There’s a period of time in which life might be remembered, citing all of one’s great achievements. Being the first one from his family to graduate from college, or being married three times (as if that’s a good thing), and the likelihood of all spouses, former and present, being there to pay homage while parading his dead body before those who wished to honor him, all his friends and family packed into his tiny house for a wake. As an apologist, he would have been mortified. When you put it that way, Freak thought he didn’t want his life to be upstaged by his death, as in you’re a much more interesting person after you’ve been gone, and even the 15 minutes of fame doesn’t apply here, because the deceased has no chance to absorb the waves he’s made, whether in the kiddie pool or the deep blue ocean.

Mr. Thomas Coznet, Freak that is (because you should know his real name. We’ll get to the Freak part in a little bit), paused several times over the course of a year, wasting yellow tablet after yellow tablet of letters he started, then crumpled and threw away. Shame that some of those notes got tossed into the fireplace of his tiny house outside Waco, which was really a glorified double-wide trailer if you asked him. Some of those notes waxed poetic, albeit they were really too personal to understand.

At the Walgreen pharmacy in town that day, he walked up and down the aisle, pondering the effects and/or merits of overdosing on Extra-Strength Tylenol. A young woman passed by with her cart, and gave him a look which might have indicated he looked familiar. It was one of those situations where you’re not sure if you want to ask, but then by staring too long, you do, even if you don’t open your mouth. After browsing in a few more aisles, picking up a package of combs, moisturizing eye drops and powdered toothpaste, Freak saw the same woman out of the corner of his eye heading up to the checkout. What the H-E-double thigh bones did she want?

Upon reaching the checkout line, he groaned at the spaces caused by social distancing, and the number of intermittent mask wearers. He didn’t bring his red bank robber kerchief, and remained unsure if he’d be allowed to buy the trivial almost useless items in his cart. He looked toward the front of the line and saw a man at the counter. Items were being scanned. He saw evidence in the convex mirror built to prevent thievery. Yes, the man’s mustached face remained liberated. Freak breathed a sigh of relief. His sphincter loosened.

With time to kill now, he could sense the woman’s eyes upon him once again. A heavy feeling built up in the store. He could feel the strands of the matrix grow thicker, like prey caught in a netting. He couldn’t shake it, even with trying to change the subject in his head. He’d forgotten his cell phone in the car and therefore couldn’t pretend to be buried in it. This left him vulnerable, he’d say, more vulnerable than any illness. He looked around the store muttering what else he might get. If he got out of line, the last hour would have been a bust, but who was he kidding?

Ironic situation. He titled his predicament. Mr. Coznet had to deal with not only being depressed, deeply depressed, and then facing anxiety at every turn, the two at odds, an infernal tug-of-war. So, think about it. So sad he wanted to die, but then was too sensitive as to how, and what people might think about him after he decided to check out of his physical body. And not to mention the many questions about the morality of it. Really, he was distraught by the roles he played so far, hence future offerings, dealings, and interactions were dubious at best. In other words, who the hell would miss him? One, maybe two, but was that enough? He pictured Lot and his wife furiously running, looking to escape the demise of Sodom and Gomorrah.

He was told by his beloved friend Mitch the whole picture show was a picture show, an illusion, yet the thought of running a sharp knife across his neck still made him shudder. Freak supposed it might expedite matters, sting of the blade, but damn, that’s some way to go—gory stuff, blood gushing everywhere, on the shag carpet floor of his tight quarters. Yuck! He felt sorry for the maid who got hired to clean up that crap.

This time, she caught his gaze. The moment made him feel like all distance between them had suddenly closed. She was two customers away. It would have been OK if she hadn’t been the cool kid, somewhere around college age, page-boy brown hair, makeup out of Vogue. He caught himself staring. Odd that she persisted. Here he was a 30-something feeling like a dirty old man. She had this worried look on her face. Finally, he reached the checkout. Then, poof he was gone, like the invisible geek he’d always been.

Putting on his Member’s Only jacket outside the entrance, Freak waited there. The young woman bobbed just above the high back of the counter where Mr. Coznet begin to feel his heart beat super-fast. Fight or flight, but this experience was none of that. She had gotten his attention, and decided on a rendezvous by this mere suggestion. She hoped he wouldn’t bail out. The darkness of the parking lot grew. He was glad. He realized the moment he stepped out in the twilight’s last glimmer attention grew as well. Paper white skin, large pop-bottle eye ware, candy-striped warm-up bottoms, and large unlaced white tennis shoes. People stared. They couldn’t help it.

He knew this, which is why he avoided the public whenever possible. Walgreen’s shopping was an exercise in futility. He equated it to consumerism at its hairy asses worst. His anxiety was ramping up, which meant a few strategically placed zits in the coming days. Not even the last bits of prescription Cannabis in his cupboard would help that. Hence the word freak—two simple things, his unique apparel and spastic behavior from as far back as he could remember. That’d be starting with his mean brothers. That’s all it took.

“Have a nice day,” the clerk said, and he had no comeback or trite reply for even the meek sales associate whose crooked smile hidden beneath a flimsy mask was fake anyway. Not a one. Finally, the shadows grew long, and the sun hid behind the trees, the woman who had eyeballed him emerged in front of squeaky sliding doors.

“Hey,” she called out to him, “I saw you in there. I felt really compelled to tell you something, and I should have told you in there. I didn’t mean to scare you.” She waited for Freak to respond, like he’d say hello at the very least, she thought. “Do you believe in God?” she asked. “Doesn’t matter.” She caught herself. Then waited, as if studying him for a moment.

He could feel this tug in his head, like an invisible string was pulling at him, giving him this weird sensation to pay attention. To her. She had something important to say. It was a message from the Cosmos. Words that could change his life forever. REALLY? Nah!

“He wanted me to tell you that He loves you! Always has, and always will… That’s all.”

Thomas ‘Freak’ Coznet who had never had a girl take him serious in all his life felt this rush of heat cross over his body. Looking for love in all the wrong places. How could she care about him? She watched as a certain redness attached to his translucent cheeks.

“Look, I don’t mean to freak you out, but I’m pretty good with people. I don’t always ask for it, but…” The pause was too much for Freak. Tears rolled down his cheeks. Warm tears. Like the ones that overwhelmed him and caught him by surprise at his dad’s funeral.

“I was right, wasn’t I?” She said, her brown eyes apologizing. “You’re thinking about killing yourself. Aren’t you? I might be wrong. But I don’t think I am.” She felt a tug in her heart, seeing how his swollen bloodshot eyes stung him. She wished she could do more. “Just know this. That no matter what, the message still stands. If you’re a believer, then you know. God doesn’t mess around.”

Then she was gone. Freak was alone again. But now he knew deep down that wasn’t true.

Published by: frankmarquezwritings

I'm a writer, and have been for most of my adult life. Without making this sound like a resume, I wrote creatively in college, dabbling in poetry, short stories and play writing. Later, I became a journalist, public affairs specialist, copy editor and eventually a guy who ran his own newspaper. Now, I'm back to letting my imagination run wild in some new creations including a science-fiction novel. Somehow, I also managed to teach English to high school kids, and roam the battlefields of Afghanistan as a field historian. Field historian may be a misnomer considering all I did was write abstracts summarizing military unit profiles and missions that included hundreds of interviews of troops and contractors in combat. I grew up in a small town called Gering, Nebraska, before escaping to Pomona, California, where I spent my last two years of high school, graduating from Ganesha High School in 1983. I have a Bachelors in English from the University of La Verne (1987), and a Masters in Education from UNLV (2007). In between, I worked for government - the Army and TSA. I served tours in Panama, D.C., and Tokyo, all thanks to a teacher who encouraged me to see the world before I settled down. As hobbies, I run, hike and bicycle long distances. I have also been known to surf and ski. I now live in my hometown after moving back in June 2015. I get to see family on a regular basis, breath fresh air, and not have to ride the D.C. metro or get stuck in traffic. In fact, I ride my bicycle whenever I can. I'm happily married to my wife Lisa, and we watch over a pack of fur babies, our dog Charley, and three cats Spike, Bootsy, and Franky (his shelter name). If you should ever visit me in west Nebraska, be prepared to feast your eyes on paradise.

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