Manifesto   by Randall Ward

Gabe\'s fingers pounded furiously down upon the keyboard in front of him. Words: sentences: paragraphs: chapters. Emotion raged from the depths of his soul though he was not entirely privy to the contents. The all too familiar flavor of acetone leaking down his throat from his sinuses had awakened a burst of energy from which he derived his sense of creativity. Moments such as these were in fact the only times in which he felt confident in his writing prowess.

He heard a loud thump from across the hall. \"Damn it!\" He knew it was more than likely his nerves playing tricks on him; in moments like these it always was. However, he also knew that if he didn\'t look, this may be the one time he regretted not checking up on it.

As he arose from his computer desk, he began muttering to himself from behind his firmly clenched teeth. The utterances came seemingly randomized, similar to a schizophrenic\'s word salad. The worst part was that he noticed this, and what\'s more, was still able to think clearly. Still he proceeded in speaking as it indeed felt soothing and, in a funny way, had an apparently positive effect on his ever-raising heart rate.

Just as assumed, the noise turned out to be nothing. His venturing into the living room, gun-in-hand, had been for not. This would no doubt happen several more times on any other such evening. This evening, on the other hand, was to be like no other.

With a gesture of bravado for an audience of one, he picked up the glass of Scotch from the table, turned it skyward, and consumed the contents of the four ounce snifter in one great gulp. This was followed by a heavy exhalation. He threw his head back and laughed aloud.

As he wiped the whiskey from his chin hairs he glanced at Caroline. On any other night she would be irate; scolding him for his foolishness and screaming an octave above her usual speaking voice. On this particular evening however, she just stared through him in the coldest manner. He glared back at her and mumbled under his breath upon exiting the room, \"cunt.\"

Gabe stumbled through the hall, passing many pictures along the way: Caroline at age 13, wearing a plaid skirt and white uniform dress shirt, with a green tie and blond pigtails; he and Caroline at the altar, gazing lovingly into each other\'s eyes; their son Cory in the car they bought him just before he went off to college. Many pictures lined the walls, some oddly placed as they covered the unintended holes.

The study door stood cracked a bit open with smoke pouring out through the crevice, blue in hue and bathed in artificial light. He entered the room and began searching for his cigarettes. The pack lay open on the floor beside the desk. \"Musta\' knocked it off when I got up.\"

The Marlboro red burned hot with an exceptionally long ember growing nearly as long as the ash left in its wake clinging unflicked to the end of the smoke, though tilting to the south, prepared to break away and become just another grey stain in the once white carpet.

Gabe pulled a dollar bill from his shirt pocket and began coiling it into a tight little straw. He made his way to the window and stared off into the dark field beyond the reach of the floodlights. This was not from paranoia though, for the liquor had taken the edge off quite nicely just moments before.

He sat back down in his rolling chair, leaned forward and snorted vigorously. He licked his finger which proceeded to retrieve any residue left behind; this was rubbed all around his gums and then he was instantly returned to his anxious state.

As he typed the final chapter to what would no doubt have given him the celebrity status he had otherwise always dreamed of, he thought of today\'s fight: the long winded diatribes about housework and laziness, grown from a mere mention of his work schedule; the contemptuous sizing up of his lack of means to allow her to quit her job and still continue paying for Cory\'s education; the violent episode that lead him to his decision to carry out this final act of desperation he was preparing for.

The pages flowed unceasing from his fingertips. They were about pain and stress; hate and retaliation; fear and pity; the most evil compilation of thoughts perhaps ever joined together forming a manifesto from a perverse and sick mind.

Upon completion, he began printing out the 68 page monologue and preparing the envelopes pre-addressed to all of the publishers he could locate. His plan was conceived just hours before, immediately following the incident, yet he saw himself moving through the motions effortlessly and felt very brilliant indeed.

As he lighted another cigarette, the last one he ever intended to smoke, a menacing smile came over his face and a sense of satisfaction and complete confidence encompassed his mind. Tiny circles of smoke made their way upward to be destroyed by the ceiling fan.

It was August 14th, and this Texas summer had been exceptionally hot. He made his way back into the living room, having accomplished what needed to be done, and prepared for his grand exit. The thermostat on the wall was set on automatic to 68 degrees. He turned the knob to 80 and adjusted the dial from automatic to heat.

As he ground his cigarette into the floor beneath his best shiny black dress shoes, he began to smell the exhaust from the heater circulating throughout the house. He felt alive in such a way as he hadn\'t felt since childhood.

Gabe walked to Caroline, seated on the couch, and looked her over. She held the same cold gaze toward the hall as before. It was the same gaze she had after the final sigh of breath escaped her bloody lips just hours before. The wounds all over her body did nothing to distract the deepest indifference he had at this moment regarding her. He was numb. Mentally and physically numb.

Cory was to come home from school for summer vacation in a week. He never called. He hated his father and his father loathed everyone. He would find his mother stabbed 76 times on the sofa, propped up naked with a bottle of vodka beside her. He would find his father, with her blood on his lips, clutching his knife, with a gash in his jugular vein. They would both be decomposing and rotten as he walked through the door to greet his mother and snub his dad. This is what brought a smile to Gabe\'s face in his final moments of life; the same smile Cory would see as he walked through the door.