Bailey Williams

The author pauses, considers cracking his knuckles. Decides against it. Too cliche.

The character is Bailey Williams, a middle-aged man of average height and girth, who sits in a 6×6 cubicle and dreams of running a marathon. He is of German descent, black hair and pale skin, brown eyes and a large hands. The hands of his forefathers smelled of earth and manure and labor. His smell of paper and ink and sloth. His eyes are set at a permanent squint, the result of years of staring at a computer screen with nothing better to do. His black hair is receding, his belly has begun to distend unto nearby space, pushing back against the invisible with its growing mass.

The gleam of steel on the barrel of a gun.

The audience’s neurons spark, their interest garnered.

Take off Bailey Williams’ clothes and see the imperfect form of modern man, bulges of fat that resemble tumors hanging off the framework of his body. See the indolence of our time; you can reach out and grasp a fistful if you care. Now peel back his skin and observe the flow of his blood, the contraction of his muscles. See the sluggish movement, the layers of tawny fat clinging on as barnacles to the prow of a ship. Watch the heart listlessly beat, the numerous early stages of coagulation catching your eye.

Now peel back the muscle and blood and let yourself witness his nervous system, his skeleton, how they intertwine with one another. Does not the nervous system remind you of old Christmas tree lights, flickering and weakly glowing? Doesn’t the skeleton seem frail or dented, as though it has begun to succumb to the gravity of his ineptiude.

The gun glows dully. The audience, confused.

Take away his skeleton and his nerves and his blood and his organs, his brain and his fat and all his body. Observe the soul, a translucent membrane, and notice what’s squirming underneath. Wonder what it is, this black insect. You can hear it scuttling under the thin skin of his spirit, an insipid evil that gnaws at his core.

The gun grows cold. Fades. It rusts. There is no spark of gunpowder or loud explosion. Just a scrap of metal fading in the collective conscience.

There is no climax. Bailey Williams lives his life. He works in the cubicle, is promoted to a small office, retires, fishes, dies. And does nothing.

And the black thing gnaws inside us all. No climax. Just the eternal rotting inside the core.

Bailey Williams

William H

Joined December 2007

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