Contributor: Ryan Stevens

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Loud, crass punk rock music rudely awoke Bill Poore on Monday morning. His anarchist neighbors in the next apartment, a bunch of cokehead 20-somethings trying to make it big as a punk-rock stars, were starting practice earlier and earlier it seemed. Bill hated them. He didn’t know any of their names, but he knew their faces, pale and tattooed and pierced with hair colors alternating neon greens and dismal blacks. As much as he hated their music, he hoped they stuck to it. He hoped they stuck to it, went nowhere with it, and all died from heroin overdoses.

These thoughts floated in Bill’s head as he made breakfast in his robe and slippers. He worked nights as a security guard at the local Wal-Mart, and his open eyes were a deep rouge from sleep deprivation, but once awoken he had been unable to ignore the clanging symbols and belching bass and had given up to sleeping.

He took his pot of coffee and began to pour into his I Hate Mondays mug, but drowsiness caused him to misjudge the distance and scald his hand. His mug fell as his hand recoiled, shattering on the ground. He stared at the debris in numb disbelief. He wasn’t yet fully awake, and refused to accept his luck. His posture slumped and the arm holding the coffeepot dipped, spilling brown magma on the linoleum. Hissing droplets splashed up and nipped Bill’s ankles while the creeping, steaming puddle threatened to eat through his slippers. He decided he didn’t particularly want any caffeine.

Bill sighed mournfully and prepared some toast and jam in silence as the Satanist Minstrel Militia next door strummed, slammed, and screamed out a spot-on impersonation of a garbage disposal.

Eight months, he’d been subject to the malcontents’ ever-shifting practice schedule, though he would swear mental scars of this magnitude could only come from years of trauma. He couldn’t remember his last good night’s sleep. He never had anywhere to escape to except for work, meaning his life was either painted-on pleasantries with moronic sheeple or wave after wave of discordant auditory rape.

His templed throbbed in rhythm with the grunting sludge in the air. He found that he had chewed his mouthful of toast and jam into a paste, but was unable to swallow, unable to relax any part of his body.

Like a dim bulb in a cellar, the memory of an old Louisville Slugger bat stuffed in his closet flickered into Bill’s mind. At the same time a voice in his head scolded him for the notion. Yes the punks were annoying, but murder was unconscionable. He’d lose his job, his apartment...

Bill decided he would go over next door with the bat, just to ruffle the youngsters and quiet them up, nothing serious. At least, that’s what he told himself his plan was. Whatever happened in the heat of the moment, he couldn’t predict. He rose to his feet, feeling the dampness in his slippers, and prepared to fish out the old baseball bat.

Suddenly the world went sideways as the floor under Bill’s feet, slick with lukewarm coffee, gave way and he slipped, falling rapidly backwards. Before he knew it he was lying splayed on his back in a puddle of coffee, a few shards of shattered coffee-mug porcelain embedded in the back of his head and neck.

Bill stared at his dull gray ceiling, vaguely aware of some sort of music coming from somewhere far away.

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Ryan Stevens was born and raised on a farm in South Carolina. He found this boring, so now he writes.
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