Victor squeezes a handful of Barbasol into his open palm, he rubs his thick calloused hands together and runs them over his clean bald head with precision, like icing a beige cake. He looks into the mirror staring past into the dark invading green surrounding his dilated pupils. He gets lost in the circular forest searching for answers as if the next step in his routine task has somehow deceived him. He glances at the taut skin covering his cheeks and nose, admiring how very few blemishes and imperfections he has at nearly 50 years old, and quickly wonders if in another life he could have been a model. Nothing extraordinary really, just magazines or a commercial or two, but could it have happened? Are we as in control of destiny as the self-help books collecting dust by his bedside let on?
Victor turns on the hot water and his gaze fixes as it goes from an erratic drip to a steady stream. Steam permeates from the tiny waterfall as droplets bounce off the silver plug exploding like little crystal meteors landing in a nearly invisible Pollock on the unpolluted porcelain. The drain is a wormhole, an expansive stretch in time he wishes he could jump down. As a child he remembers reading Alice In Wonderland and wishing there was a pill that could shrink him down much like the fictional girl allowing him to dance in and out of peoples lives unnoticed. As a young adult he went in search of such a pill but what he found never shrank his physical being, only his perception. As a man he’s given up hope that such an escape exists, yet whenever the water is on he takes out the drain and stares into the darkness. He still wonders if it holds possibilities. He thinks of his regrets. He wishes he had studied Physics in college, he wishes he had gone to college. He wonders if it’s too late to live a life much like Einstein, is there an age when the creative and mental possibilities cease? If he wrote a letter to Stephen Hawking, would he find a way to respond? Perhaps he’d send a well thought out Podcast through the mail.
He opens up the sterile medicine cabinet leaving an oily thumbprint on the bottom left corner of the mirror. Without looking at its contents his fingers navigate towards a shimmering silver straight razor resting on the bottom shelf. He grabs the razor by its sharpest edge with ease, and closes the cabinet. This is part of the routine. While setting the razor down on the perfect glossed white sink he notices the thumbprint, a dried disease on the pristine glass. The razor pokes his pointer finger as he reaches for a tissue to clean the smudge. He doesn’t wince or let out a noise, you could hear a pin made out of feathers drop on the carpeted floor of every room in his home. Never leave a trail- that rules been ingrained, nothing he needed to institute in his own home but an obsessive intricacy from work he’s somehow taken with him after hours like homework.
Staring at the small red bead rushing to the surface of his finger he watches as the blood spreads, now the size of a ladybug. He wants to tell this little lady to flutter her wings and fly away as fast as she can, if she knew what was good for her she’d leave and take solace underneath a flower petal in the park. He’s afraid she will wait too long and dry up, she’ll be stuck to him, stuck with him; its happened before. After all his hands were guilty of everything, they told the stories of a past he’d like to lose down the drain of possibilities. Their complexity reminded him of his own wrongdoings as well as the wrongdoings of an entire culture. He would often sit for hours staring at them, wondering if he’d miss them if tragedy struck in the form of a rusty machete. He’d seen TLC specials on phantom limbs, would he still try and clench a can of Coke even though his fingers were long severed and forgotten? Victor watches as the blood breaks from it’s perfect circle and follows the detailed patterns and life lines on his pointer; much like veins taking blood away from a failing heart, like ants following trails in a cheap plastic ant farm, like painting with watercolors on a sheet of brail. Victor concentrates on his finger too long. The blood dries up, and he looks uncomfortable like a man at a funeral for someone he’s pretending he didn’t know.
Victor recounts a tiny dark room; it’s long been abandoned. The only light illuminating the sparse dwelling is moonlight tearing through the roofs of two buildings across the way. He thinks it could be a room in a motel down the street from his childhood home, but he knows that isn’t true at all. There is a small twin bed in the far corner and a dusty Admiral turntable sitting on the nightstand separating the bed and the lone window. The record player is on but the needle loops around the outer rim continuously like it’s stuck in an unsolvable labyrinth. Victor wishes Johnny Cash was playing, he can almost hear Willy Nelson crooning something about Laredo but he doesn’t, it’s silent. He looks to the floor and sees his dark leather boots shuffling across the uneven rotting wooden floorboards. He gets down on the ground and sniffs an off-colored board. What is that? Victor recounts his face and sees a much younger man, still handsome, but twenty years more spry. He sniffs the spot again; his nose grazes the discoloration and takes away a sticky souvenir. He touches his nose and rubs the war paint, it’s not an unfamiliar color and texture. He knows this part of the memory; he’s been here before. The sparkle of something metallic catches his eye underneath the lone unkempt bed. Vic crawls closer as the dark red from the floor stains his torn blue jeans. His eyes start to tear up as he crawls closer and closer to a dark mass under the bed. He is on the battlefield of a great world war crawling towards screams and confusion, he’s waking from a dream where he’s fallen from a building and paramedics have scraped his lifeless body from shattered concrete. He remembered reading once if you died in your dream you’d never wake in life, yet he still sees something shimmer in the corner of his conscious eye. Victor starts to bang the floorboards and scream. The sparkling object is a shiny old watch attached to a limp wrist, attached to the body of a man: a dead man. Blood leaks from the back of the man's head like milk from a smashed coconut, it follows the grooves in the wood. Victor looks down at his hands with guilt, he doesn't remember picking up or firing the sticky dark pistol . He pulls the fragile man out from underneath the bed. His white t-shirt is stained with the rich innards of a wasted life. Victor performs CPR, he smacks the lifeless body around, his tears fall into the dead mans open mouth. If this was a fairy tale his salty tears of life would revitalize the body long expired. Victor would wake this Frankenstein and laugh about the inciting incident; but this is no fairy tale. He looks into the mans open mouth, where there was once possibilities there are now none. He wants to crawl into the hole and disappear, how can he make himself that small?
Victor buries this dark memory. He blinks uncontrollably in the mirror observing the speed of his reflexes. His breath is heavy and fast. He focuses on his blinking and his breathing. Blink twice, breathe once, blink twice, breath once; he is prone to these panic attacks and the key is to focus on something that demands your full attention. He counts down slowly from ten and erases the now distant yet detailed memory. He takes his hands off the sink and stands upright. Beads of sweat wander around his now pale skin. It's difficult to stand and his eyes deceive him focusing on blotches of light that don't exist. He begins to run the razor through the mass of shaving cream on his baldpate. The little silver lawn mower cuts through snow covered grass. He continues to focus on his breathing and his expressionless face in the mirror. After all the Barbasol has been cleaned from his dome, he bangs the razor on the sink dirtying the etch-a-sketch. He takes a towel, runs it under hot water and cleans the dried remnants of cream from his scalp. He still continues to focus on his breathing. He takes his now scabbed pointer finger and traces a large tattoo invading the skin over his heart. It is apparent Victor has done this many times before and this nervous tic relaxes him. He continues to trace the shape of the Swastika with his pointer and unplugs the drain with his free hand. He stares into the endless void. He continues to trace the big blue ink. He reaches for the straight razor with his free hand and looks at the haunting rhythmic movement of the other. He breathes. He stares into the dark hole of possibilities. Where have they gone?