Wednesday, September 1, 2010

“Breakdown” by David Fox

Ahead lay miles and miles of uncertainty. Behind him, a world that slept in pink bedrooms. Internal combustion a distant memory, he sat wondering how long the warmth inside the car would last before succumbing to the cold night silently pressing against the windows. No ignition, no battery and a cell phone left in another jacket.

He stepped out into the void. His head facing the stars, he let out a hideous scream, like a hyena. An imaginary audience applauded wildly, a standing ovation. He had rehearsed this role most of his life, played to the gallery; a seasoned actor starring in the role of Self Pity. The applause subsided leaving him empty and gutted. A smirk smeared his face. Self-mockery, a futile ploy, had become his sidekick.

His escape had stopped dead in its tracks. Stranded on a dark road at night, he tried to summon the wherewithal to address the situation but arrived at the conclusion that he was a luckless victim of Fate. Now he was broken down in the middle of nowhere, the middle of life, the middle of the road with no compass to guide him, no light to lead the way.

He opened the trunk to find his toolbox. But what good would that serve, he knew nothing about cars. And what could he possibly see in the dark? Furious, he looked at the piece of junk and kicked the tire, again and again. Worked up, in a rage, cursing, he let himself go, giving vent to all his frustration. Taking the tire iron he whacked the hood so hard it left a great dent. Down came the tire iron again demolishing the windscreen. He went out of control smashing the headlights, windows, and doors, anything he could destroy. The more he smashed the better he felt. Years of self-loathing and disgust rushed to the surface. Each stroke exorcised the demons within. Finally he collapsed, exhausted.

Standing, panting on a verge of grass, he let the tire iron slip to the ground and watched the warm vapor of his breath disappear in the midnight air. He felt pathetic but strangely powerful, as if he were part of a primitive tribe performing a ritual in a dark forest at night. He knew it hadn’t changed anything. Now he had to explain this act of vandalism to his wife; it was her car. And then the police would be involved.

The cold air began to penetrate his body. Dressed only in a cotton shirt and blowing into his hands to keep warm, a wave of sour elation came over him. A weak moon barely illuminated the destroyed remains of the vehicle. Thinking of pink bedrooms and surveying the damage, he began to laugh hysterically. A laugh that confirmed what he'd long suspected, he was after all, in the middle of a breakdown.

1 comment:

  1. I've felt this frustration before (though not to the point of psychosis). I inserted it into a screenplay--e man trying to fix a tire even. Something about that act is just so infuriating!