Nonchalant

by Tom MacIntyre

Nonchalant

The local police station had an aura of justice to it; you felt safe in its presence, although the majority of the common rabble that shuffled by cautiously tried to look innocent of a crime they hadn't committed, or that anyone else had for that matter. Maybe it was human nature to feel guilty of something, maybe it was instinct or an ancient mechanism to keep us in focus, from a time when lack of attention meant death.

Many are held in this tomb of government infrastructure. Not all leave, though that depends on the vileness of your crime. One who enters notices the pristine condition that the station is almost eternally in. The receptionist smiles as if totally ignorant to the filth of society dragged through this place of temporary confinement.

Passing the clichd water cooler, officers and beat cops speak of busting punks the air rife with camaraderie. Doors marked with brass plaques, medals to show envied positions. Further down the hall the room reserved for interrogations; the door into that space was a metal portal into a world of concealed information, forced truths and the age old game of good cop/bad cop.

Harry Flowers nervously swayed from side to side in the frustratingly uncomfortable steel square chair. He pondered the origins of this piece of bland metal furniture, his mind spontaneously jumped to Russia or the USSR as it was formerly known, thinking that to be the most applicable answer to his ponderings. Believing he had enough time until he was accompanied by this detective he had been told of, the one he enjoyed imagining his likeness to be lent from an old 40s B-movie star. He began inquiring into why he almost instantly associated the chair he was attempting to sit on with the land expanse of Russia.

Probably because of the forty years of mutual hate between the east and the west had burnt a hatred of communism into his father's mind which in turn had rubbed off onto his subconscious. Leading him to make the connection between Russia and low standards, poverty etc. To such a degree that he was uneasy in the presence of the Ukrainian convenience store owner Mr.Kurkenkov, throwing him a faint smile when he was greeted by the hardy European upon entering his proudly owned family run establishment titled Little Odessa Convenience and Liquor Store that was situated on the corner of River Drive and Pinewatch Crescent in the middle of a blissfully decrepit neighbourhood where all of Eastern Europe seemed to intermingle and congregate. Although Kurkenkov had fled Ukraine from soviet tyranny to as he termed it The Land Of Opportunity' he always talked nostalgically of past times in his home country.

The Land Of Opportunity, opportunity to what! Live in the most gun infested nation on earth, or to be flooded in bureaucracy while being denied medical treatment. Harry had always wondered why thousands of immigrants slunk across the border into these united states almost daily, why anyone would want to live in this patriotic shithole as he termed it was far beyond him. Harry's train of thought came to a crashing halt as he heard the echoing tap of polished dress shoes on waxed linoleum, and the shuffling of a casual Fridays tie. The suspense all culminating within a few seconds as the brass sphere upon the door rotated involuntarily to open the metal passageway. Artificial light burst into the dimly lit room, Harry squinted as it entered his field if vision but didn't shield his eyes with his forearm not wanting to appear weak in front of the shadowy figure.

He entered, making his way to the other side of the steel table, a process that seemed to take a lifetime in Harry's opinion. The figure dropped a pile of documents squarely and forcefully on the table. Thwack! Harry's body jumped a fraction his body clinched itself in fear. The figure sat down calmly in no rush to begin proceedings, he collected a silver lighter from his right trouser pocket. Harry noticed an insignia that took up a large proportion of the front side of the weathered yet polished lighter, he concentrated intently on the insignia searching images throughout his mind to discover if he had seen it before.

The figure pinched a cigarette from his shirt pocket, with his two fingers he lifted it and placed the smoke precariously between his jaws, in a instant flicked his forearm upward and in a flash the lighter burst in to life. Harry watched the flame sway in the slight draft seeping in from beneath the door, it mystified him he had set fire to plenty of things with the others but at that moment he felt as if his entire life depended on the strength of that single flame. The tip of the cigarette burnt and began its slow descent towards the other end of itself. In the brief moment in which the insignia was bathed in a faint light from the flame Harry caught a glimpse of the entirety of the image, a blue number two shadowed by red and the word marines highlighted in the same fashion. "Two Marines, clearly it's a military insignia." He thought to himself." Two, wait second! Second Marines, of course!" He said silently to himself, mimicking what he just thought by moving his lips. Realising the interrogation should have begun by now Harry lifted his head upward and leaned back in the steel chair which proved difficult and unintentionally awkward.

The man took the cigarette from between his jaws and blew a billowing cloud of noxious smoke towards Harry who casually craned his head to the left avoiding direct contact with the cloud of gaseous nicotine particles. However a curious contingent of smoke carried by a weak draft found its way towards Harry and struck his face, causing Harry's eyes to burn and writhe in pain making tears gather in his sockets. The man watched Harry intently and expressionless, Harry coughed lightly then bated the smoke away from himself however he did not rub his eyes to alleviate the stinging sensation from his suffering pupils. He stared back at the man giving nothing away, he hoped.

The man turned his gaze to a small notebook that looked similar to a passport resting in his palm; a pencil emerged from the inner breast pocket of his suit jacket and he began writing in an accurate scribe like fashion. Harry watched the man who would periodically lift his head from the notebook to get a glimpse of Harry and then descend back into writing; as he followed the tense yet smooth hands of the man he realised what he thought to be just detailed scribbling of notes was actually a somewhat professional caricature that bared an unnerving resemblance to himself. The man snapped his head upward to get yet another view of Harry who fell back into his uncomfortable position on the bland flat backed chair and returned to his previous set of facial expressions ranging from casual disinterest and egotistic smirks to simple yet evident rolling of the eyes followed by slightly disgruntled sighing.

"Harry Flowers is it, humph nice name kid. Your fathers the architect right, the one who designs world class buildings that are considered marvels of modern engineering. Yet he gives his son the simple title of Harry?" Harry cringed upon hearing the man say his name: perhaps it was the tone he spoke it in or his callous eastern U.S accent that gave Harry a chilling and unnerving feeling, this unidentified figure hadn't even spoken forty words to him and Harry already doubted his mental fortitude. All he knew was this man had the power to break Harry leaving him a shattered unstable mess. This was something that Harry was determined not to let happen.

The man grasped the notebook in his hand and stared towards Harry, was this it was the questioning about to begin. "Why did you do it Harry?" The man said unshakably sure of himself. Harry paused for no more than four seconds allowing himself to absorb the what he had just heard, however those four second insignificant to the rest of the world seemed to last a gruelling eternity to him." Do what" He retorted, regretting not giving the man a more sophisticated response. "A comedian ah because we don't get enough of those round here." The man smirked and shook his head in disapprovement. "I'll tell you right now everyone who comes through here thinks their some sort of funny. Now I ask you; do you wanna continue with this routine?" "Why not." Harry retorted snobbishly. The man sighed, something it appeared he did often especially in the company of Harry's demographic. "Kid acting all cool like want get you anywhere with me, or with any of the other officers." The man spoke with an air of superiority about him. Harry was becoming increasingly unsure of himself whilst in his current situation; and began deviating from the man's questions and inquires to accelerate the interrogatory process and in turn his release from this increasingly bleak place of confinement. The man asked his final question "Who?" The man said sharply whilst focusing his gaze upon Harry. This cut into Harry he felt the full force of that single word slice through his mind and conscience. He sat bewildered attempting to sum up the strength to respond to the man's inquest, managing barley to pull himself back from the chasm of a total and alienating nervous breakdown. "Who, What?" Harry said clearing his throat causing his voice to crack slightly. The man smirked once again and let out a light chuckle. "I believe were done here Har-oh sorry Mr Flowers".

Harry felt as if an eternal weight had been lifted from his shoulders upon leaving the station; he felt hot, sweaty and mentally drained as if the control centre of his brain was experiencing technical difficulties. This thought caused his mind to jump to the glorious refuge of television; however his thoughts on it were far from positive. He had always loathed television; telling his friends and acquaintances how he loved to hate it, how the actors were all overpaid and unappealing phonies. "Phonies?" He said under his breathe. Where had he heard that before; was it said by one of his friends or more outspoken teachers. Or possibly a novel he had read inactively in English class; he was not sure, but he knew he would recall it later, he always didalways.

Harry made his way home heading north through town towards the suburb in which his home was situated. He had travelled this path for years learning the route gradually over time on his morning journeys to school; but today at that moment the journey' home did not seem so easy or as fast paced. Usually Harry would walk at a practiced and precise pace walking quickly enough to get home at an acceptable time; but walking slow enough to enjoy the suburban adventure. Today the walk home marked Harry's slow descent into semi-controlled madness; everything seemed increasingly morbid. He could not enjoy the sights associated with his walk home such, as the flowers in the park or the ignorant bliss of the homeless drunks under park benches and in refrigerator boxes.

The drunks would gently harass him for change; reaching out with their dirt covered human paws sheltered from the cold by their stereotypical fingerless gloves. He would usually toss them some currency due to some unrealised and unconfronted moral obligation. Today however the homeless who up until that point relied on Harry to fuel their assorted and harmful habits; waved their open palms in desperation, but to no avail. Harry simply strolled past the group of undesirables with his hands in the pockets of his recently acquired jacket; ignoring their pleas for economical sustenance. He didn't look back; only continued to walk his way through the moderate expanse of land in front of him. He stopped; having spotted some young daffodils only recently in bloom, staring boldly and aggressively at these flowers he fell to the ground on his knees and began to smell the yellow pedalled plant. He inhaled with his nostrils to smell the aroma produced by the flower waiting for the sensation to occur within his nosehe felt nothing. Harry stayed as he was for the good part of twenty minutes; wallowing in his own self-loathing, tears gathering in his eyes. He mustered the strength to stand to his feet; not bothering to wipe tears from his eyes, these tears were different from those that accumulated in his eyes earlier due to the smoke from the detective's cigarette. No these were real; caused by his raw untapped emotion.

Harry took out a packet of cigarettes that was nestled in his jacket pocket; he hadn't had a smoke for at least a solid week. He flicked his wrist forcing a smoke through the square opening on the left side of the top of the packet; grapping the smoke with his lips he pulled a lighter from his jean pocket and proceeded to light the cigarette. The lighter was a gift from his grandfather; of which his mother disapproved of, it had his initials H.F engraved into the side. He took a puff of the smoke; it seemed slightly foreign to him at first, due to the length of time since his last cigarette. He exhaled a gaseous cloud of nicotine particles; relatively similar to the one exhaled by the callous detective earlier. However the inhalation of fresh air afterward burnt his throat; a feeling relative to the one mentioned by his slightly hostile acquaintance Buddy Walker, when drinking gin. However unlike Buddy; Harry did not enjoy that specific sensation.

He gained no satisfaction from smoking; unlike the flowers he did feel something, however this was not an enjoyable feeling, but an unpleasant one. Whilst smoking he wandered passed a small lake; ducks and other aquatic birds were gathering there. A somewhat stereotypical family were all seated around a wooden picnic table; tossing scraps of food such as pieces of bread to the creatures. Harry noticed the increasing number of birds gathering in the body of water; many flew in from elsewhere to join the feast, the birds reminded him a lot of society; in his mind.

His passing experience with the imperfectly perfect family and the aquatic birds; caused him to fall deeper into a depressive state, approaching the far north side of the he noticed Buddy Walker and his new girl Jane Jerome. He leaned against the side of a public bathroom; his back to the wall he slowly tilted his head around the corner to get a clear view of them. Buddy looked towards the park; Harry ducked his head back out of sight to avoid a potentially awkward and aggressive conversation with the two, especially Jane. They keep walking; and Harry exhaled a sigh of relief.

Harry reached his street Solitude Crescent; an upper class neighbourhood with an excess of lawyers and wealthy business owners. "But no shortage of assholes." Harry thought to himself. Approaching his home; Harry opened his mailbox hoping to find something addressed to him, however only bills inhabited the steel tomb of assorted letters and infrequently delivered packages.

Harry traversed the small flight of stairs in front of the street entrance to his house; putting his hand on the doorknob he swivelled his hand to open the door, the same way he had done hundreds if not thousands of times before. It wouldn't budge." Locked?" He said under his breath. Rifling through his pockets he was lucky enough to find his house key; and the key to the Jerome home. He had forgotten all about it; the memory of it lost to the inner core of his mind. Remembering back to that night; Harry pondered if the other members of his little gang' were having any regrets or second thoughts concerning the incident. He knew Buddy was; he could just tell, whether it was the way he spoke to Harry on the phone, or the way he acted at school when with Jane. From what Harry had observed Buddy was the weakest link; if he hadn't had confessed they all would've taken the fall. He had a gut feeling that the other two members of the gang Marty and Randy; didn't have any reservations for what they had done that night, especially concerning the incident with Jane's younger sister Karen. Those two were about as morally corrupt as the U.S senate, and equally unintelligent.

Harry entered the house and made a beeline for the fridge; his encounter with the detective had left his stomach aching for sustenance. He opened the fridge door; hearing the seal squeal and loosen and feeling the artificially chilled air burst past his face, at least he felt something. Scanning the contents of the fridge: he deemed nothing inside was delectable, and therefore nothing was edible. He closed the fridge door and made his way to the sink on the other end of the counter; grabbing a class from a overhead cupboard he began filling it with water. He took a drink. "Warm." He said. He proceeded to gather some ice cubes from the freezer compartment of the fridge; which he then frantically placed in his glass. He began to drink; the water cool and refreshing, he felt this to be the highlight of his day. However while drinking he mistakenly attempted to swallow an ice cube; it became lodged in his throat, cutting its sides. He was choking; gasping for air he clutched at his neck and began coughing widely in an attempt to dislodge the rogue chunk of frozen water. He coughed and hacked for what seemed like an eternity; he started to feel faint, his vision became increasingly blurry. Finally the ice cube was ejected from his throat; it landed on the kitchen floor and briefly slid across the room. Harry stood in the kitchen wheezing; his breathing severely laboured. He began to compose himself; realising he could've meet his end. He felt rage building inside him; it culminated as he threw his glass down upon the reflective linoleum floor, causing it to shatter in to a thousand finite pieces, a deadly crystal rain.

He stood motionless; not realising his left arm had been covered in small distressed lacerations due to airborne glass, some pieces although small, protruding from his bare skin. A thin yet steady stream of blood trickled down his foreman; it may have been useful for shielding his eyes from light, but proved defenceless against unorthodox shrapnel. Out of the corner of his vision he spotted their cat; Patches, an ironic name at the time, as Harry was in need of a good patching up, however this was only to become evident to him shortly. The cat scanned the floor; watching the shards of class as they shimmered in the mid-day sun. He had ran toward the kitchen upon hearing a strange new sound. He then turned his focus to Harry; he followed drops of blood as they made their way down Harry's elbow and came crashing to the floor. He stared at Harry's eyes and their gazes met; Harry felt as if the small domestic creature could see into his very soul, he saw his own eyes reflected in its. The cat stared; penetrating Harry's conscience, he attempted to look away but was unable to escape its memorizing gaze. Just as he was approaching the mental point of no return; Patches craned his head, breaking the bond between them, and slowly walked away from the now uninteresting situation.

Harry crashed into self-control; feeling dizzy and his vision once again becoming blurry. He broke down; feverishly trying to cry, an attempt to relieve his recently discovered emotions. He could not; his tears ducts were dry and barren, refusing to secrete liquid sorrow. He laughed uncontrollably; a sort of manic, panicky laughter. He became woozy; as if stung by a venomous insect, his head spinning his view became skewed. He uttered a single, slightly indistinguishable word."F**k." He said remorsefully, fully realising the seriousness of his situation having only noticed the current of blood flowing from his forearm. He fell; his head making contact with the kitchen counter that which was decorated so flawlessly with a series of intricate patterns and colours, was now showered in a thin crimson haze of blood.

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