The numbness felt throughout himself was a sharp contrast to the crumbling felt within. Sitting in a sparsely furnished room, liquor bottle loosely gripped over the bare living room table. The man stared forward into space, unshaven and shaggy, barely wearing anything more than his torn undershirt and shorts, stained and smelling of alcohol. The room itself, while empty, still had a few empty bottles thrown about all over the ground, some of them broken. The man knew the booze was the only thing keeping him from completely losing it, proven by the scattered debris of a device he made on the living room table in front of him.
His empty stare only saw a scene that replayed itself many times. The scene resulted in the scene of a clean-cut, bloodied man, sprawled out in the middle of the street motionless. He didn't even need to look down to figure out there was blood on him as well, that man's blood. There was no reason to doubt what he had done, but why was he here in this mess rather than locked up in the twentieth level of Hell like everyone wanted.
The man shook his head and the scene replayed again. There had to be something different that could've been done. Things could have ended differently. He could've survived without killing the man, couldn't he? "Who are you fooling?" the dead man spoke up. "You couldn't even defend yourself from a child. You killed me in cold blood and you know it."
He never responded, the scene finishing with his body the one ending in the bloody mess. Any attempt to keep the dead man alive while defending himself ended badly for him. "Such a scene would be for the best. At least, I'd be doing society a favor in getting rid of scum like you," the dead man spoke into his head. "They'd give me a hero's reception for that."
Self-defense. At least that was how the jury ruled it. The dead man had attacked him; he fought back and ended up ending his life. The reaction of everyone after the trial, even his closest friends and families, say otherwise. The jury's verdict didn't matter to anyone. That man was dead, he wasn't, and that’s all that mattered.
Of course, it helps when the dead man was some hotshot, some rich guy that did so much for the community. Because of that, the company he owned tanked and closed down, the new ownership being absolutely clueless. Thousands out of work and families ruined all because some no-good slob that didn't belong in today's world.
In the middle of the coffee table were shattered pieces of what caused the struggle in the first place. Previously, it was something of this man's own creation, but he smashed it to dust out of anger. It was partly why he started going on the drink; keep himself from being too much. The dead man, he hadn't been much for doing his own work. So it was no surprise when he showed up after finding out about his completed project. He wanted it for himself, but scorned the man that made it, not willing to give him a penny for it. It started to ring in reminders from years ago, from when the two knew each other.
He refused to give it to the rich man. For that, he told him if he gave it to him, he'll be allowed to actually live. He followed through on his threat and within moments, the rich man was dead. Within that moment, this man's work was nothing but the trash that he was. It was only fitting that its demise with the businessman's.
He got up at that moment, slowly shuffling to the restroom needing the relief. He dreaded each and every moment he went in there. As he turned on the light, he caught a full view of the mess he was. If he died this moment, no one would miss him, right? He wouldn't look out of place in a homeless shelter.
As he continued his business, he continued to put the pieces together. This had to be his fault, all him and no one else's. Death was too good for him, that's why the jury spared him the death sentence. This was the true punishment for his crime. This was how he had to live, in despair and regret.
"No," he said aloud to no one in particular. That was his work; no one had any right to it but himself. His life was on the line. It didn't matter who was trying to kill him, he had every right to his own life. This is not how he had or wanted to live. When he stood up again, he took another look in the mirror.
He couldn't recognize what he was underneath the beard, but at least it was short enough he could still use a razor to shave it off. He opened the door and found the dull razor and a can of shaving cream and lathered it on. When he finished, he found several cuts on his face from the razor, but he looked better, like he shaved about five or ten years off of his age. He continued to clean himself more, taking the long overdue shower, discarding the stained and torn clothing for cleaner ones and even tidying his hair. Just these acts seemed to give him some sense of accomplishment. He couldn't change what happened, but he could change what was happening.
After cleaning the room of the emptied bottles, he looked at the scattered mess of his previous invention. It was beyond repair, something he could see even in his blurred vision, but it wasn't something he couldn't rebuild. He would have to sleep on it, but he needed to do something first, something that would get him going, so he didn't relapse into his depression tomorrow.
He picked up the phone and dialed a quick number. He believed it to be a miracle that the phone hadn't been cut off. "You have some nerve calling me after what you did! I lost a decent job because of you!" the man on the other line started his rant, calling him out for everything that had happened. It was well-deserved but misplaced, but ranting to a dead guy did no one good. "Why the Hell did you call me anyway?!" he finally asked.
"Because you're the only one I could trust to get me back on my feet," the man replied. "I regret what happened, but I'm not gonna apologize for it. I did what I had to at that moment. So can you get off your high horse and help?"
There was a long silence before the person on the other line said "We'll see." There was a click signaling the line was disconnected. He put the handset down as well and lied back down on the couch, falling into a partly alcohol-induced slumber. Once again, he would be tormented, but this time, he brought his own backbone.
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A piece I wrote a few years back and forgot about. At the time, I was listening to "Breaking Inside" by Shinedown (the version with Lizzy Hale of Halestorm) on loop.