The Darkness in the Mirror

by Jared Barzee

The Darkness In The Mirror

By Jared Barzee

Chapter I

The fire was comforting. As Adam Shartain stared into the blazing embers in the grand fiery canvas composed of orange and red, he was in a complete and utter daze. To him, there was something simply magnificent about watching the flames. It was almost as if you are sucked into the blaze, and your very pupils had transcended into the elaborate fire storm raging on and on in your very own living room. And for a brief moment in time, you could almost forget about life and the problematic. Almost that is.

Adam abruptly snapped out of the entrancing and almost hypnotic flames and picked up the Jack Daniels bottle sitting on the coffee table. Then, without hesitation or regard to the bitter taste to come, downed the rest of the icy bottle. Adam had been working on his fifth of Jack for a mere thirty nine minutes and was definitely ready for more. Indeed, Jack Daniels was his drink of choice, at least for tonight. He could sure as hell feel the alcohol seeping through his blood right now, and had a tough time getting up from his comfortable red leather couch. As he stood, he admitted to himself, "I'm still a little thirsty huh?" Adam's thirst was far from being quenched. All he had been doing for well over a week now was drown himself in a chaotic ocean of poison and despair. But why? Did it even matter anymore? Adam thought briefly about it, and decided it was better to just grab another drink. Or two.

As Adam entered the kitchen, he began to really feel the alcohol hit him hard. He was dizzy, tired, and yet still genuinely excited for the next glass of emptiness. He reached toward the top cabinet in his kitchen and grabbed a glass. Then, opened the freezer and grabbed a few pieces of ice and dropped them in his glass. Next, he ascended to the high cabinet above his fridge and after a brief search found another bottle of Jack. And finally, Adam opened the bottle and poured a fair amount into his tall glass of ice. "The funny thing is I never even liked drinking until a month ago," Adam mumbled to himself with a brief chuckle. When he finished, he took the bottle of Jack Daniels whiskey and his recently filled glass and made the long, draining walk back to the living room. His destination was his island. His old yet beautiful, bright red but faded leather couch. As he sat down and relished in the comforts of the soft leather he knew he had made it. He was truly home.

Adam Shartain was beyond drunk. He was completely gone. It was nothing new for him, yet today was different. Today the pain wasn't going away at all. If anything, he had only enhanced his mind with his drinking today, not numbed it. He still had a little energy. So he decided to venture forth to the front window and observe his boring Boston suburban surroundings. As he peeked outside briefly, he noticed Fred Jackson mowing his lawn forcefully and vocally from across the street. Fred was an interesting fellow who Adam had talked to on a few occasions. Then, Adam glanced a little further down the street and saw a young boy playing basketball wearing a Celtics jersey. Suddenly and unexpectedly, Adam observed a seemingly brand new white sedan, with tinted windows drive down the street, alarmingly slow, even for a neighborhood. Adam snapped his head back forcefully, and closed the blinds without hesitation. He was suddenly paranoid. He couldn't explain it, but he just had the strangest intuition. He dead bolted the front door, pulled down the curtain over the window, and allowed the darkness to seep in.

The letter had been written for a full three days now. Adam had taken his time to write it, being as it was the last letter he would ever write. His affairs had somewhat been set in order, what few assets he had would be left to his daughter. He now literally only had three things left to decide. First, how he was going to do it, secondly, when he was going to do it, and most importantly, when he was going to go to the liquor store to get more alcohol so that he may enjoy a few more drinks in this sad little world. Adam wanted to decide how he was going to do it. It was a depressing decision that the vast majority of people never have to make during their short existence.

The first idea that came to Adam's disillusioned mind was the infamous bridge exit out of this world. It would be a fantastic finish to an otherwise sub par life. "No I can't do that, I can think of something much better," Adam stated to absolutely no one but himself. He needed another fresh idea for this grand plan of his. He could conform to the norm and use a gun. Yet, he had no desire to touch a gun ever again. Not the cold grip of a gun. He was done with guns for the rest of his godforsaken existence. But wait. Suddenly and vividly, Adam received a sweet revelation. "My car!" Adam exclaimed. Adam's prize possession in this world was his chrome black, mint condition, 1971 Chevrolet Cheville. It was his baby. He had taken superb care of that car from the day his father gave it to him. He was beyond proud of what he and his stylish car had been through together and would love for it to accompany him on his departure from life. He and his beautiful wife had been on countless joy rides when they were married, heading south along the coast, soaking in the sun and the fresh air. His daughter had eventually joined the pair when she came into the picture, and it became almost a weekend ritual to take a few supplies and some food, and journey down for a few hours. He'll never forget the way his wife looked on those beautiful sunny days, driving down to Virginia, with her gorgeous strands of chestnut hair waving with the wind. She would wear her tight pairs of jeans and a simple white tank top, and give Adam the more pleasant smile he had ever seen. "But that was another lifetime ago," Adam whispered to himself as the trip down memory lane finally escaped his thoughts. He had gone down that path for the final time, all the good was for naught. An irrelevant illusion. He was almost alone now. No wife. No daughter. No friends. Just him, his fire, and his bottle of Jack Daniels.

He had been drinking at a seemingly nonstop rate for days now. He needed a break. And just as he was about to finish the bottle and stop for the night, a violent and wonderful thunderstorm started to amass. He was thrilled. "This is going to make my night Adam," he stated with a big smile on his face. Adam loved the storms. Almost as much as he loved fire. It was a little ironic that he loved fire so much considering he was approaching the fiery confines of hell, in his eyes anyway. Adam allowed himself a chuckle as he thought about the scenario. He would continue to drink, continue to fall deeper and deeper down the spiral and decay his life was in right now. All the while a raging and wild storm was making it's decent upon Adam's little house in Boston. Adam was on the brink of madness, the edge of despair, with a perfect northeastern thunderstorm over his oblivious and drunken self. Adam relished in the thought. He was content.

Adam awoke to an uncomfortable cold sweat. The storm had passed him by, but there was still a slow and relaxing rain coming down from the desolate gray sky above. He sat up from the couch, and tried not to relive his nightmare from the previous night's sleep. As he started to get up from the couch, he stretched his arms briefly before popping his ailing neck. Adam stood up on his feet and took a small step but the floor was soaking wet. "What the?" "Why is the floor wet?," Adam thought. Ah. Therein lies the answer. Somehow, he had spilled his Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey bottle, and tragically enough, that was his last one. "Well that's a crying shame," Adam stated with a genuine tone of remorse in his voice. The spilled bottle changed everything. "I'm definitely not done drinking," Adam boldly stated with a grin on his face.

Chapter II

Adam had his mind made up about this little plan of his. He would go grab some more liquor, and spice it up a bit and get something other than his beloved Jack Daniels. He wasn't extremely confident in this idea however, because there was just something about that powerful whiskey taste that he had loved for years. Or had he only loved it for a few weeks now? He didn't know. His mind was a bit too hazy to recall at the moment. Although he had to admit, he was partial to drinks like Crown Royal and even some rum such as Captain Morgan. Hell, maybe he would get all three. What was the worst thing that could happen? He dies from alcohol poisoning? At that sickening but nonetheless humorous thought, Adam gave in and started to laugh to himself a little. He missed the simple laughter. Especially HER simple laughter. Hearing her laugh always put the biggest smile on his face, and made him feel like the luckiest man on the face of the earth. Yet, It was laughter he would never hear again. And although he wasn't yet dead, he already missed the simple pleasures he had enjoyed in his very short time on this earth, such as his was about to be. Adam made his way down the hall and opened the door to his barren master bedroom painted with a milky white coat on the walls. He nonchalantly put on some faded and worn out gray sweat pants, a red hooded sweatshirt that said "Red Sox," and some fresh socks from out of the drawer. It was his last pair of clean socks. (Adam loved the feeling of putting on fresh socks.) As Adam finished dressing, he stumbled upon a crumpled up fifty dollar bill which was laying by his unplugged and out of commission alarm clock. Adam almost had everything. But wait. He needed his wallet. He grabbed his wallet sitting on his chest of drawers and began to exit the desolate and untidy bedroom of his. But not before stopping dead in his tracks before the mirror. He hated looking in that mirror. It was like an intimidating watchdog that couldn't speak. He couldn't even sleep in his bed anymore. (Mostly cause he was too drunk to get off the couch.)

To him, the reflection brought pain and yet a harsh reality to his life. And he could barely distinguish himself from a complete stranger passing by on the street. Who was he exactly? Who or what had he become recently? As he stood partially slouched over in the mirror Adam stared into his darkest fears and couldn't even blink at his saddening reflection. His worn out and scruffy black hair was a complete mess. It was much too long, and had needed a cut for several weeks now. He hadn't shaved his face since before the incident with Jason, Adam's former best friend and even best man at his wedding. He looked like a bum. A handsome one maybe, but a bum nonetheless. One you might randomly see on the streets downtown, someone who might look good in a fine suit, and a properly groomed face. His face was good looking yet faded and worn. He looked extremely pale, even for an alcoholic of his level. His scar from the near fatal car accident back in '87 was still clearly noticeable nowadays, yet had faded significantly. He tried to smile or even allow himself a brief grin but he literally couldn't manage one. Not even for a moment. As Adam sank into this horrifying but completely realistic image of himself he unwillingly broke his earlier promise and pictured his beautiful wife in the back corner reflection of the old cracked mirror. The room suddenly appeared to sink into darkness, and his wife became the one and only source of light. She appeared almost out of thin air, and he could only see her through his hallucinating mind as he stood staring at the old relic.

Stuck in the trance of the mirror, Adam saw himself many years ago, getting ready for Sunday church with his wife. He stood in utter shock looking at a past reflection of himself, in his white shirt and black slacks. On those days, he would be getting ready and as he began to put on his tie, his gorgeous wife would come up behind him wearing her silky white dress, armed with her irresistible smile while she gracefully put her slender, sun tanned arms around his neck. She would then proceed to kiss him on his cheek before laying a passionate one on his welcoming mouth. They were truly mad crazy in love. Adam usually didn't like dressing up for church, so she would be more than obliged to help him with his tie, if only to motivate his resolve. (She loved it when they dressed up for Sunday church.) He could see this image as if It had happened yesterday. It was seared in his memory for ever, no matter how hard he desperately tried to fight the recollection.

As the memory slowly faded, his beautiful wife began to walk out the door, she was leaving him in what appeared to be a gray cloud in his mind. As she made her exit out of the room, and out of his mind, Adam could see her long strands of mesmerizing chestnut hair before she turned and said softly, "I Love you Adam." The mysterious mirror had allowed him a moment with his deceased wife, and after seeing her like that, he felt as though he could die at any second. And that didn't bother him in the least.

Chapter III

He was still frozen to the entrancing power of the mirror for that moment in time, and as he desperately tried to recover from the emotional flashback he had received, his hands began to shake beyond control. He had tried to keep his emotions in check, but this was just too much. He had fallen over the edge of sanity. He gazed at his exhausted face in the cracked mirror, as a tear began to stream down his face. He wanted to wipe it off instantly, but instead just stood there, staring. Adam looked into the mirror one final time before losing all self restraint and thrusting his fist violently into the dirty glass. The mirror shattered in one swift moment. The mirror was completely destroyed past the point of repair, but to Adam's disregard. "Ahhh fuck!" Adam yelled out in pain as the large glass shards splintered all over the room, and a smaller piece became entrenched deep within his knuckle. His knuckle felt like it had caught fire. The pain was excruciating. And after his difficult memory, both mentally and physically, she had finally walked out of the mysterious reflection of the mirror and the mind tricks it had been playing on him. He collected his thoughts as best he could, but a clear picture of her was still etched in the back of his mind.

Adam went to the kitchen to tend to his wound from the glass. He was bleeding extremely bad. He grabbed the first aid kit from the lower cabinet near the wine rack and begin to cleanse his wound with some proper supplies. Once he got the bleeding to stop, he finished by carefully wrapping his battered hand in a heavy layer of gaze. Adam was finally ready to leave. He left the dwindling embers of the fire burning. No lights in the house were on, and as he walked out the front door he didn't he even bother to lock it.

Adam had barely taken one step out of his front door when he abruptly felt something hit his foot as he walked. Just from the blockage it had caused in his path, it was seemingly large and heavy even. Adam glanced down and doing so said, "Who could of...?" What Adam saw on his front porch that day completely astonished him. It was an extremely large, apparently perfect condition, black box clearly entitled to a one "Adam Shartain at 2111 NE Martin Street." It looked in pristine condition. There was no return address anywhere to be found. It had stickers in bold print saying, "Fragile, handle with care." "Must be Italian," Adam said with an innocent laugh to himself. "Hmm," Adam mumbled to himself. Who the hell would send a package to HIM, of all people. He had done a relatively decent job in of breaking away from almost all of his friends and what little family he had left in the past several weeks. The sad truth of it was Adam Shartain hadn't a single source of human contact in the past few weeks save for the store clerks during his few trips to the liquor and porn stores. Mostly liquor stores though, porn was never really his fascination or interest. He did however, have one other person he had been in direct contact with... But Adam was positive the package wasn't from him.

Adam's mind was suddenly in a state of disarray. Who in this godforsaken world could have sent him a package? Never had Adam been this confused about events that have transpired in his life. Was it by mistake? A horrible question considering it was clearly addressed to him. And a better question, what exactly is in it? "Only one way to find out," Adam said bluntly. Now Adam Shartain had a new objective, a new priority. And for once, something that didn't involve alcohol and self loathing. He had a purpose for the first time in a LONG time. He picked up the mysterious black package that was lying on his porch, went back inside and closed the door. Then he locked it. Twice. Just for good measure.

Adam felt like an excited toddler at Christmas time, eagerly awaiting to open the precious treasures he would receive in the waking hours of the day. Yet with all of the unimaginable excitement, came an overwhelming sense of dredge. He didn't like the feeling. Something just wasn't right. But for Adam, there was no turning back. He had already chosen his final destination quite a while ago, and it doesn't involve rays of light beaming on your face with spectacular radiance. No, he gave that up when he pulled the trigger. And It's not like he had any big plans today either, so he might as well just go through with it. The anticipation was killing him.

Chapter IV

It was time, Adam decided. Whatever is in this box, It wouldn't change what he was about to do. His mind was made up regardless. Yet, the little voice in the back of his mind warned him otherwise. Adam forcefully grabbed the black package and set it on his old coffee table in the living room. Then, he went to the kitchen where took a large knife from the silverware drawer, and made his way back into the living room. Then, like a horrific serial killer he stabbed at the box relentlessly. He had cut open the tape, and set the knife down on the coffee table, then Adam proceeded to open up each flap.

Adam reached inside the mysterious black box addressed only to him, and searched around blindly with his right hand before landing on something with a soft and smooth texture. He grabbed it, and what he grabbed was yet another complete surprise to Adam. It was a stack of seemingly brand new, crisp one hundred dollar bills that looked to be an astounding sum of money. "What the hell?" Adam sputtered from his mouth in disbelief. "I don't.... fucking understand." But Adam was far from done from being surprised. For he had a large black box, containing more items for his eyes only. After he counted it, Adam decided it was just over the sum of $100,000 dollars in U.S. currency. "But who would give this to me?" Adam delved again into the box and shuffled around for a moment before pulling out a large brown folder, neatly sealed and had the name of "Adam Shartain" clearly imprinted on the front written in red. This moment somehow felt so surreal to Adam. It was like he was experiencing an alcoholics' version of dj vu. He then continued the tedious process of opening up the contents in the package.

The complexity of his life were about to be revealed in detail as Adam ripped off the seal on the folder, and opened the front flap carefully. Inside was a collection of what appeared to be professional grade photographs. The first one spoke a thousand words to Adam, and in his outer silence his insides were screaming out in agony. The first picture showed Adam around two weeks ago, at the local gun shop. That day, which felt like a nightmare on it's own, was when he had purchased a Walther P99 semi-automatic pistol from the gun shop with the last few bucks from his bank account. He thought he had been discreet, but in reality he had a voyeur with some film and a lens to prove what he had bought, and Adam was none to thrilled by that fact. The next picture was worse than the first. It was a picture of Adam's prized Chevy Cheville sitting in the parking lot of the downtown Boston casino at night, with Adam clearly in the driver's seat, waiting patiently for something. "I don't..." Adam whispered quietly to himself as he tried to contemplate who had the tenacity to do such a thing to him.

Chapter V

Adam already knew the ending to this picture gallery he was engaging in, but had to see the rest either way. And surely, he must find out who was doing this to him and why. As Adam skimmed through the photos to next one, the image was equally as horrifying as the damned one before it. The third picture in the photographer from hell's personal library showed Adam on the right side of the picture outside the casino, still waiting in his car, but on the right side it showed a taller man walking toward the parking lot. Adam knew this man all too well. His name Jason Avander, and he was the best friend Adam had ever had. He was his college roommate for two years, the best man at his wedding, eager and excited friend in the hospital at the time of his only daughter's birth, and even a former business partner. He had known him for the better part of twenty years.

The realization of Adam's sins were finally becoming perfectly clear. The next few photos were shot in rapid sequence, showing Jason walking from the exit door to his car in the parking lot. He was clearly drunk, and was briefly chatting with a cute young blonde on the sidewalk. Also, there was a picture revealing Jason practically falling into his worn out black 1991 Honda CR-X. (He never was into cars the way Adam had always been.) Next, the pictures were showing Jason drive away extremely fast, and then Adam's Cheville began to follow him, keeping a steady but distant pace. As he looked through this unbelievable photo gallery, he wondered who had the time, money, and motive to have him followed like this? He hadn't the faintest idea, but was determined to find out. He was running out of pictures to gaze upon, and Adam was thankful for that. There was only a few left. The next one looked like it was taken from a remarkable distance away, but with the lens used, it still looked pretty close up and relatively clear. "Oh my God," Adam muttered in disbelief. It clearly showed Adam's Cheville parked in Jason's driveway at his house, and walking up to the front door. Jason's CR-X was already in the garage, and he was getting ready to pass out for the night, dreading the hangover to come in the morning. Next picture. It was Adam at front door, with something in his right hand, but if you weren't Adam, you wouldn't know what it was. But Adam knew exactly what it was. "Please...have mercy," Adam quietly said to himself while a tear emerged from his eye and started to stream down his cheek.

The last few pictures were done in a spectacular sequence and taken in outstanding quality. First picture: Adam standing there looking at Jason briefly with the door open. Second: Adam revealing his gun and pointing it to Jason's head at close range. The look on Jason's face was that of a ghost in utter disbelief and horror. Third: Adam pulled the freezing trigger. It only took one shot. It went right through Jason's defenseless forehead and came out of the back of the head. With an exit wound the size of a lemon. Adam had shot and killed his best friend Jason in cold blood, and was clearly premeditated. Whether the photographer knew his motives or not remained to be seen. Adam had his reasons for doing it, but had bitterly regretted it every single day since. The alcohol had only helped drown his guilt briefly, but nothing could undo the tragic end he had given to Jason. "I don't fucking deserve to live," Adam sputtered from his mouth as he gazed at the last picture and was in absolute disarray. "Who could do this to me?"

Adam sat back on his couch and attempted to collect his thoughts. He felt like he had been shot in the knee or the stomach, and he was slowly but surely bleeding to death. He didn't have any enemies in life. The only one he had was a former best friend, and he had already sent him to his grave, with one more hole to breathe out of. No, Adam lived a good life if nothing great. He was an honorable man until he pulled the trigger on Jason. But it was something that had to be done. He had taken everything from him. And more.

If it was even possible. Adam leaned forward and put his hands over his face, as if to shield his weeping eyes from further disgrace. After a few moments Adam decided it was time to continue on his endeavor and reached back in the box of sad truths. "Here we go again," Adam reluctantly stated as he wiped his red eyes with his dirty shirt. He pulled out a standard white envelope. Again addressed to "Adam Shartain." He started to open it carefully and cautiously, as if a bomb might explode in his face the second the seal was broken. "That would probably do me a favor," Adam said, as he pondered the possibly irony.

Chapter VI

He broke the seal. Then, he pulled out the pieces of paper that were included in the envelope. It read as follows: "Dear Mr. Shartain, I hope this letter finds you in good health, but judging from events that have transpired with you lately that might seem like a rather bland thing to say. However, trust me when I say this, but I have only the best of intentions. You see Mr. Shartain, you did me a favor that cold windy night a few weeks ago when you killed your former friend Jason. He was causing me all sorts of problems. Problems which I don't have enough time or paper to explain. But to put it in a nutshell for you, he owed myself, and my business, quite a lot of money. He had a gambling addiction, as you may or may not of known. And while I have no problem with him wasting his own money, he began to waste mine, and had no way of paying me back. You probably don't know who I am, but I have known who you were for quite some time. I am a very influential man, and know many people which Jason associated himself with. And I had my men, and as you can see from the pictures there, my private investigator following you ever since you started sitting in the parking lot outside the casino waiting for Jason. How many times did you follow him back home from the bars and casinos before you actually killed him?

I must say Adam, you really are a conflicted man. And I can tell from you inner dilemma on whether to kill him, you must at least had a pretty strong sense of morals for most of your life. You had every right and reason to kill him. I know what happened to you Adam. I know why you killed him. And for that, you have my deepest sympathies. He was a scum of a man, and a horrible gambler if I may say so myself. I had been planning on having my men take care of Jason quickly and quietly for a long time before you finally did the job for me. And for that Mr. Shartain, you have been compensated with the money included, which is sufficient enough I think. I'm a fair man Adam. And I only saw it fitting that even though you killed Mr. Avander for different purposes than for which I intended, you still did me and my business a tremendous favor.

I took a personal interest into your story Adam. The story of your wife. I know how she died. You were away on business a while back, for a week or so was it not? I knew your wife was alone for quite some time since your daughter had been staying at a friend's house while you were gone. Like I said, I had Mr. Avander followed extensively well before we had you tailed as well. It's possibly you may of seen a white sedan drive by from time to time, although I doubt you have seen them more than once. They pride themselves in their discretion. Anyway, I know that Jason came into your house while you were gone and tried to seduce your wife. We have pictures of that as well, although I had the dignity to dispose of those. He was in your house eating dinner with your wife and he tried to make a move on her while you were gone. Your wife was faithful to you that night Adam. I can honestly say that to you. And because of her loyalty to you, Jason made her pay the price and he committed the worst sin of all. We have pictures of him in your kitchen eating dinner, but then suddenly arguing with her, and then grabbing her violently by the arms, and throwing her into the living room against the wall. I take no pleasure in telling you this Adam, I assure you. And then Mr. Avander, like the coward and piece of trash he was, brutally raped your beloved wife. We have pictures of all of it. And while the detective I hired was told to stay as far away as possible, he almost went into the house to try to stop him. It all happened so quick he said, and there was really nothing they could of done, from as far away as they were.

He raped your wife before shooting her once in the head. At point blank. But somehow, miraculously, she survived for a short time. Your neighbor from across the street was tending his lawn when he called 911 correct? I have read the police report myself a while back. Like I said before, I know people in high places. Your wife went in a coma, and you came into the hospital right as she was beginning to fade away. It was a miracle she even survived I suppose. I'm glad you had a few minutes with her at least before she passed Adam, I really am. You could at least hold her hand and tell her goodbye, however brief of a time that was, it was indeed a blessing. How did you know It was Jason who did it? Was it from the witness's report from across the street? The only car that the witness recalled seeing that night was a black CR-X parked on the street outside your house. He knew that only because of the yard work he was doing in the front, and that's how he must of heard the gun shot as well too.

That must have been enough evidence for you. He was your friend, and knew your wife well. I applaud you for your vengeful act of justice Mr. Shartain. In my humble opinion he deserved everything he got, and then some. I have no intention of turning you into the police for your murder of Jason, as I was going to kill him myself anyway. I probably don't strike you as a type of person that would do this, and granted I have many people do my dirty work for me. But if there's one thing I have learned over the years is that no one is what they appear to be at first glance. It takes the shit hitting the fan to bring out who they really are. In your case Adam, that rings true as well, as much as I hate to say it. But you were put into the toughest position of all, and any other real man would have done the same. I truly hope you may find peace Adam, and one day learn to live your life again. I will leave you with one important document that you deserve to have. It will be painful, but It is a necessary pain I think. Good luck in the rest of your life, and I hope the money will help you out considerably. Goodbye Adam.

Best Regards,

The City's Last Good Samaritan

Chapter VII

Adam dropped the letter on the ground and began to scream. Tears began to pour down his face. "How could I of let this happen!" Adam shrieked. He glanced at the letter on the ground, and stumbled into the kitchen for another drink. "I only did it for her!" Adam yelled to a higher power, as he gripped his hair firmly and began to pull at it. He was almost on his last stand. He thought that only God himself had been witness to his horrific crime that night. When in reality, he had a whole audience of people that knew about it, including a mysterious man he had never even heard of his entire life that was apparently powerful and clearly influential. "He's obviously resourceful," Adam said with his head down and his mind completely perplexed. Everyone had their breaking point. And Adam Shartain was well beyond his. Adam got up from the couch trying to clean up his distorted thoughts. He needed to drink. He grabbed a stack of cash that he had just received, from the stranger in the letter, and darted out of the front door. He didn't bother to close it. He literally didn't give a fuck.

Adam didn't want the damn money. But for what is was worth, it came in handy for the task at hand. After a fifteen minute stumble to the liquor shop, he was still trying to gather himself, and dry his red eyes. His sins had been revealed to him step by step by a fucking no name stranger who somehow knew his recent life story. "Just my luck huh?" Adam mumbled as he exited the liquor store with a brown paper bag full of booze. He decided to get every drink to his heart's content. It was a special day today. Today was a Tuesday. Tuesdays were Adam's favorite day of the week. Adam stopped at the curb and hesitated. "Today should work I suppose," He stated to himself as he crossed the Boston streets back toward his house. "I think today would be perfect." He said with confidence as he continued the lengthy walk back to his forsaken house. "But first, a few more drinks."

Chapter VIII

Adam was finally home. But the word "home" in itself is quite a unique word really. Because living, sleeping, and eating somewhere is one thing. But a "home" is where you are truly happy, truly safe. You can shut out the troubles of the world, lay in your bed and relax, or just lay on the couch and relax and drink until you pass out.

But for Adam, he no longer possessed such a place. His entire mindset and will of peace had been forever tarnished when that package came. He could no longer stay here. It was time to leave. Adam grabbed three large glasses from the top shelf on the kitchen before getting a handful of ice from the freezer. He then revealed his final selection for his drinks of choice this fine Tuesday evening. He pulled out, Jose Tequila, Jim Bean Bourbon whiskey, and last but certainly not least his coveted Jack Daniels Tennessee whiskey. How could he leave out Jack on a special occasion? Adam started to laugh at the thought. Despite being at the very bottom of the ever sinking pit, he always could count on good ol' Jack to be by his side. It was his loyal companion. To the very bitter end. Adam put the ice in the glasses and began his liquid assault. He poured a fair amount in each of the glasses and began his "Three Wise Men" drinking extravaganza. Adam delved right in. First with Jose. It reminded him of college. He wished he had a few limes. After only a few brief moments Adam downed the entire glass filled with Jose Cuervo. Next, he went to the Jim Bean glass. "Ahhh yuck," Adam began to cringe on the first bitter gulp. He wasn't a huge fan on Mr. Bean. It didn't help that this was what him and Jason always used to drink when they went bar hopping in early adulthood back in the day. "God, that feels like a centaury ago." Nonetheless, Adam emptied his Jim Bean glass and began to feel the effects pretty quickly. He was a little dizzy, and felt disoriented. For as much as he drinks, the Jim Bean hit him pretty hard. Last drink. It was time for Jack. His favorite.

He went to his beloved red couch and picked up one of the cushions. It was still there. "We'll I'll be damned," Adam jested with a grin. His only remaining pack of cigarettes. He hadn't smoked one in quite some time. They were Pall Malls. He actually hated them, but there was only one left and he had been itching for one ever since he started drinking. "This is for a special occasion," Adam said. He grabbed it and put the cushion back on his couch. He lit the cigarette and inhaled the dusty old nigatine. He let out a full slew of smoke in his kitchen and realized how much he missed smoking these damned things. Adam eyed the glass filled with Jack Daniels. It would be his last. He decided he wanted to drink it in front of the fire. Adam put out the cigarette and brought his glass of Jack in the darkened and desolate living room. He started another fire. And it was a brilliant one at that. He felt as if he would get sucked in at any moment. He sat on his couch and took a big sip from his glass. It tasted fantastic. He was about halfway through when he noticed a picture sitting on the mantle. One in which, he had often overlooked. Adam started to cry. It was a picture of him and his wife the day their daughter was born, so many years ago. She was so beautiful. Both of them were. His two girls. They were the only thing that mattered in his life. As tears streamed down his reckoned face, Adam took a long hard swig of Jack. The taste that was barely a moment ago so great, was now bitter and repulsing. Adam spit it up violently. His mind filled up with inconceivable rage and he threw the glass of Jack Daniels at the fire. It caused a brief but powerful eruption to swell right out of the fireplace. Adam forced his head back as a brush of warm vapor touched his face briefly. Adam went to his knees and began to sob relentlessly as he gazed up at the picture on the mantle. Never could anything make his so happy but so undeniably sad in one moment. He was filled with regret. He was filled with hate. He was filled with remorse. Vengeance had been bestowed upon his friend Jason, yet Adam was left to heal the wounds. It was his time. He would be with her soon.

After once again having to collect his sad thoughts and regain composure, Adam was once again sitting on his lovely red couch. He glanced over and saw the black box from Satan spread across the floor. The contents were spilled out but the box was still upright. And then it hit him. He hadn't opened up everything in the box. One thing still remained. Adam started towards the box and grabbed it carefully. He then set it on the coffee table. The fire was warm and soothing in front of him. Adam reached his hand inside and felt something surprisingly cold. "It can't be!," Adam screamed. He pulled out a Walther P99 firearm from the cursed black box. It wasn't the one he had used. But It looked exactly the same. He had discarded the actual one used on Jason right after he committed the deed. Yet, this mysterious stranger decided I should revisit my ghosts from the pasts. "That fucking bastard," Adam said as his hands began to tremble bearing the heavy weight of the Walther. Adam looked in the clip. There was only one bullet left. "A mercy bargain," Adam mentioned to himself as he examined the gun more closely. The stranger was giving Adam a easy way out. He was going to let him put himself out of his own horrendous misery.

Adam was finally alone. His daughter was out of his reach. His wife was gone. And his last true friend named Jack, had all but evaporated into the fire. His time had come. Adam laid back on the firm but still somewhat soft red couch and grabbed the gun from the coffee table. "Justice will be of my own hand," Adam said boldly. He put the gun underneath his mouth and felt the cold barrel of the pistol touch his neck. His hand was shaking, and struggling to hold firm. He looked into the fire for one last time. Adam Shartain pulled the trigger. The single bullet went directly up through his mouth, shattering his jaw, and bloodily dispensing the entrails of his head. He had a quick and easy death after enduring what seemed to be a lifetime of pain the last few months. Adam Shartain had finally done it. He wasn't in any pain anymore. And with the last glimpse he had seen in this life was when he stared into the mesmerizing flames.

The fire was comforting.

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