Stung

He never knew tweezers could break. Alright, sure, if you wedged them into a door jamb and applied force to them, it wasn’t so uncalled for maybe. He just hadn’t expected it. Fine, they didn’t work as a screw driver like he had hoped—he had really thought he’d figured it out with that one—but to just snap right in half with the pointy end between the door and the wall? Maybe it wasn’t outrageous but it surely wasn’t fair.

He sat back down on the toilet again. Tossing the tweezers into the trashcan, he leaned forward so that his forearms rested on his black slacks and his hands were clasped together. He twisted his wrists to look at his watch before remembering, of course, that his watch was on the bedside table on the other side of the bathroom door. It hardly mattered; at this point he must surely be late. He exhaled out of pursed lips and steepled his pointer fingers over his nose. What next? he thought as she stared at the fronds of the bathmat. What now?

It just wasn’t fair; it made no sense. Doors didn’t just get stuck. They didn’t simply not open all of the sudden on a whim. The purpose of a lock was clear: it was twisted one way to secure the privacy of the person who turned it, and it was twisted the other way when that privacy was no longer needed. And a bathroom door especially served the clear purpose of letting the person on the inside come and go as they pleased, while keeping everyone on the outside out. 

Well then, he asked himself, not for the first time, Why even bother to lock the bathroom door in his own apartment, while not so many yards away the front door was secured by three other locks? Merely habit, he replied to himself. A habit to turn the lock when he went in and turn it again when he wanted to leave, and this morning he had followed that routine without issue except for the tiny metallic snap somewhere inside the door he had heard when he unlocked it. If he got out of the habit in his own home he might forget to lock the door in restaurant bathrooms, or grocery stores, and then where would he be? And besides, it was a precaution. A man like him must always be cautious. 

But he had to figure out how to get out of here! He got to his feet and rattled the door knob again, as if this time the knob would wipe the tears of laughter from its eyes and say Alright, alright, go on, then. He turned and paced the two-and-a-half steps to the window, which was frosted, and peered down at the beetle-like movements of cars that smudged across the glass. Outside his bathroom window was a road, five stories down, and past that was the city, and beyond that the world, and he wasn’t in it, and he needed to be out in it, goddamnit, he had things to do! Sullivan had said to meet Bannon at 7:45 in the morning. He was good at his job—he was reliable, he had work ethic. What would Sullivan think now? For the sixth time that morning he felt his pocket for his phone, but of course it was next to his wrist watch. He couldn’t call Sullivan, or a locksmith, or a demolition team, or anyone. He had considered screaming, but he couldn’t sacrifice that much pride. And besides, he didn’t want the police in his apartment. In fact, he couldn’t risk it. Even if they didn’t find anything, Sullivan would have to take precautions with him just out of protocol. 

He tried to judge what time it was from the light poking through the window onto the beige paint, from the quality of the noise on the road. He wasn’t sure, but he knew he was late. Probably 7:45 had come and gone already, and Bannon had walked down the back street and gotten on her train out of town. Bannon wouldn’t have missed him, of course, but Sullivan would be expecting a call. 

He had two options. Yes, he had thought of this from every possible perspective and there were two things he could do: he could break the window and wave to oncoming traffic, or he could run into the door and try to knock it down. But to a car five stories down and two traffic lanes away, what was a man waving from a bathroom window besides crazy? 

He stood in front of the white porcelain sink and straightened the collar of his black button-down. Then he took the three steps back to the window, turned around, and appraised the door. It was a white wood door, not hollow on the inside like some cheaper apartments. On the other side of it was the bedroom, the bedside table with his wrist watch sitting between his phone, fully charged, and his pistol, already loaded. 

There were four total steps from the window to the door and he took them with all the force and speed and courage he had accumulated over a long and trying career, tearing towards it as though attacking it, as though it were a man with his back turned to him and he was tackling him to the floor. 

What struck him first was how solid the door was, how rigid and impassive a substance wood was. Next was how strong the hinges were, the sheer integrity of his apartment. What came to him after was the splintery feeling in his shoulder, and that his body was on the floor. His ear was against the door, as though the ringing sound were coming from the other side of it instead of in his head and he were listening to it. The position and quality of his body were the only things about the situation that had changed: he was still a man stuck in his own bathroom for no good reason at all. 

Very slowly, he turned so that his back was to the door, his hands clasped over his knees. It was done, then. It was decided. He would sit and contemplate the injustice of his circumstances because that was his only option. And perhaps a locked door wasn’t so bad. After all, it would be the only thing between him and Sullivan, when Sullivan inevitably came calling later and found the pistol already loaded on the bedside table. 

2 comments on “Stung

  1. I love the mystery of this so much! It leaves the reader with so many questions! It’s so well written! Amazing!

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