Staring Down a Block Hole

Rick Novarrus had a very bad day. The morning seemed to stretch on forever with one problem after another. As if it were not enough the stress he was under from work, he also had to listen to his wife gripe all morning and fight his son just to get out of bed. At work, one emergency after another piled on until he was so behind that he could not even see straight. He skipped lunch to try and get back on top which only added to the edgy feeling he had had all day. Near the end of the day he was called in to the boss's office to call into question his performance during the past week.

Defeated and demoralized, Rick made his way into the bathroom. He splashed cool water on his face and studied his reflection in the mirror. He noticed the worry lines which were creasing his brow. He analyzed how his dark brown hair was now more salt than pepper. His once tanned skin was gaunt from all the hours spent behind the desk. He felt as if he needed a vacation, but what he really wanted was to escape from it all. Even the weekends in Vegas with "the boys" didn't seem to cut it anymore. He longed for his bachelor days when he did not have kids and a mortgage to worry about. With college looming ever closer, there was no room left for mistakes and less room for fun.

Returning to his desk, Rick was able to make his way through a commendable amount of work before deciding to call it a day. While he needed to work more than two hours after quitting time, he knew that there was no way he could have a decent night at home if he came home too late. He resolved to pick up a bottle of Wild Turkey on the way home to ease his nerves once he got home.

He walked in the door to the usual scene. His daughter was splayed out on the couch. She was talking on the phone, looking at a magazine and worrying over her nails at the same time; ever the multi-tasker. His son was playing rock-rap music way too loud in his room and the smell of something burning wafted from the kitchen. "Welcome Home!", he muttered to himself as he made his way through the motions of saying hello to everyone. Much to the way things had become he got no response from anyone more than a head nod when he greeted each member of his family and asked them how their day was.

Rick added the Wild Turkey to the liquor stash after pouring a large glass for himself over ice. He did not even want a mixer. He wanted to feel the burn of the bourbon to remind himself that he was still alive. He welcomed the numbing embrace that followed each sip. Slowly he was able to let go of the stress and the feeling that his life was worse than in a rut. Before long, he was on his third glass and actually starting to feel pretty good.

Dinner was predictable and boring. There was overcooked chicken, overcooked vegetables (canned), and something that was intended on being baked potatoes, but was now more of a hard casing with a nugget of edible potato somewhere in the center. He poured another glass of Wild Turkey and trudged on. He even tried to make conversation with the family. They all had their own lives. His daughter could hardly be torn away from texting long enough to take a bite of food. His son more frowned at the food than ate it. His wife just seemed to stare at him like he was the biggest disappointment she had ever encountered in her whole life. Typical weeknight dinner.

At the end of the dinner after Rick has done the dishes and put away the leftovers, he found himself completely alone in the kitchen. He felt as if he could have just gone completely mad right then and no one in the home could have taken a break from their own lives to care. Rick slipped away to the shed he had built for himself in the backyard and stepped inside. He peered through the dark curtains to the house and when he saw no one was paying attention to him, he clicked on the light. He dug behind a couple of dead plants in planters and removed a section of wall. He reached inside and pulled out his well-cared for pistol. He sat there for what seemed like hours staring at it and drinking.

Rick woke from what seemed like a black hole to find the pistol in his mouth and his thumb cradling the trigger. Shaking, he threw the gun to the floor. He was never sure why he bought that gun, but he was sure that this was not it. Thinking back, he never thought of himself as the kind of person that would even attempt this. He buried his face in his hands and wept. When his eyes were dry and there was nothing else to rummage through his mind about, he straightened his clothes, picked up the gun, replaced it in its hiding spot, replaced the wall and the plants. When he emerged from the shed, it was like nothing had ever happened. The crickets still chirped and the house still burned lights. The world was oblivious to how close he had just come to killing himself and he aimed to keep it that way.

Rick stepped inside and with a smile gathered everyone in the house and told them to go to the family room. He did not tell them why. He did not even allow them to argue with him. He simply told them to go to the family room and to wait for him. He then went out to the shed. When he returned to the room, everyone stared at him with confusion. That was when he pulled his arms out from behind his back. They are laughed at the site of the Monopoly game. He set it down on the table and told everyone, "It is time we start acting more like a family. I love you all and I do not want for anything to happen to us."

That night they played Monopoly and felt better together. Rick was able to return to work the next day and complete his work without the feeling that his life was a disappointment. The next day, he sold the gun back to the store he bought it from and never ventured down the black hole again.