MURDER IN THE 180TH DEGREE
I’ve just stepped into the front door. I’m dizzy and want to collapse onto the hardwood floor.
There are days, no – there are moments, when my emotional temperature shoots off the
thermometer or the scale is about to topple with one more added weight. I’m exhausted from
exhaustion. I walk to my kitchen to pour myself some juice and the glass slips from my hands
towards the floor. Shards of glass fly into a dozen pieces. An added weight has knocked the
scale off balance.
Like Sisyphus, there were brief moments of possible glory as I would near the top of the hill.
Then, in anticipation and eventual disappointment, the stone would roll back down and my
efforts would be to waste. Songs are born during these dark times. I have made a decision
that would affect all future events in one passing moment. Like all impulsive decisions, the
reasoning behind my action consisted of a network of life experiences, mental breakdowns,
fatigue and heartbreak. I had always made it a point to search high and low for God. I had to
know, what was my life for? It is often said, a genetic predisposition and unfortunate life
experiences make an equation for melancholic tendencies throughout life. The uncontrollable
desire to commit murder was a shadow that exposed itself in various interludes of night and
day, light and darkness. I had heard it ad nauseum: the whys, whats, dos and don’ts. What
will be the weapon of choice?
Swallow. Gulp. Swallow. Gulp. The mathematical equation would soon equal sixty. I closed
my eyes, and whispered, “Being and not being. Let me erase these evil thoughts from my
head and sleep perchance to dream.” There was a name I had for that imaginary place as a
child. It certainly wasn’t a utopia. Would it be possible to relinquish myself from the
contract I once signed in utero? I’m not much a fan of existential dilemmas. My ears are
humming a gentle A flat minor. I crawl to the bathroom on all fours and sit myself on the
toilet in deep regret. I’d feel better if I could excrete all pain, poison and flush.
I sit and wait another ten seconds. Eventually, I make my way from the bathroom to
the room where my mother lay down her head to sleep. I sit on the carpeted floor beside her
bed and begin to weep. She hears nothing in her peaceful slumber. I want to run and bury my
face into her, but I don’t. I want to ask her if she will take me back to the sky where I was
born and let me start again. But this time around, allow me to choose a different head. I
imagine myself in front of a jury, admitting to my crime. “Are you guilty or not guilty?” I
reply, “I am guilty of murder in the 180th degree.” My mother rises to excuse us from the
courtroom. “Your honor,” she says, “can I have a brief moment with my daughter?” I stand
to meet her and she takes me down to her wine-colored car. I sit myself next to her in fetal
position and pull my seat back. As she drives, I peer out of the window and suddenly long to
be outside. The palms move in slow motion, the morning sun beats against my right cheek.
“Why did you do this? I didn’t raise a criminal.” she says. “Well, I’d like to ask myself the
Fast forward: mid experiment. Blood drawn from veins and arteries; plastic tubes down my
throat to coat my stomach with charcoal. “It’s too late to pump,” I hear the nurse saying as
she inserts another prickly monster into my wrist. “Will you just stop that damn humming in
A flat minor?” I yell back. Madre mia, I can barely hear myself through that constant
droning. The Doctor walks in, and says, “The verdict is in. You’ve been convicted of the
Crime. You need to follow us.” Nurses begin their inflow into the room, they’re ready to
restrain and whisk me away.
Damn, it’s 4am. I must have fallen asleep. I’d like to close my eyes and rethink this
existential blunder. I’m a lot safer right here in my bed. In three hours I’ll be waking up and
jumping in the shower. Another push and shove through the rush hour train below the streets
of Manhattan. I’ll have to clench my teeth to hold myself back from joining the ranks of the
rats scurrying their way through the metal. Something of a vacation from this festering
quagmire. Self-annihilation is a lonely mission. It won’t be long until I’m negotiating my
own destruction. Time is money, I’ll have to go to work and wait for night to fall. Again. As I
stand on the subway platform and take my emotional temperature I get a mild 99.1
Fahrenheit. It will be a better day. Besides, putting an end to the fevers that reflect conflict
and difficulties – could it be giving up what is good in being human?
Currently resides in Manhattan after numerous moves from Hawaii, Switzerland,
Paris, Tokyo, Washington DC, and Chicago (resulting in a highly schizoid form
of identity). Professional life has been just as neurotic; from political
writing in DC to HIV/AIDS research in Kenya to teaching third grade in a failing
New York City public school. Am presently jumping around between temp
assignments and trying not to become a slave to corporate Pax Americana, writing a
newsletter for children (The Daily Jingle) and working on a book. Recently
discovered that writing helps my sanity.
© 2004 Underground Voices