Authors: Andersen Prunty
Published by Grindhouse Press
Dayton, OH 45429
The Sorrow King
Grindhouse Press #005
Paperback ISBN-13: 978-0-9826281-6-4
Paperback ISBN-10: 0982628161
Copyright © 2011 by Andersen Prunty. All rights reserved.
Originally published in limited/lettered hardcover by Cargo Cult Press in 2010.
This book is a work of fiction.
Cover design copyright © 2011 by Brandon Duncan
Cover photograph copyright © 2011 by Michel Omar Berrospé
No part of this book may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted by any means without the written permission of the author or publisher.
Also by Andersen Prunty
My Fake War
Morning Is Dead
Jack and Mr. Grin
The Overwhelming Urge
There is but one truly serious philosophical problem, and that is suicide.”
Jeremy Liven walked down the sidewalk in the unseasonably warm March air. It was not quite a mile from the middle school to his house but, to a thirteen-year-old boy who wasn’t very athletic, it seemed much farther. His mom usually picked him up but she couldn’t this afternoon because his little sister had a doctor’s appointment. He hoped they wouldn’t be there when he finally got home. He liked having the house all to himself—unless it was dark outside. That gave him the creeps. But without his mom and his little sister there he could do whatever he wanted for a few minutes. He could drink all the soda he wanted and eat junk food in the living room with his feet on the coffee table while he watched a dirty movie from his parents’ collection. Of course, he couldn’t get too out of hand. He had to be able to undo everything in the time it took his mom to get from the car to the house. His dad would still be at work for another two hours, at least.
He turned onto the walk leading to his front door, unfastened the latch of the black wrought-iron gate encircling the yard, and approached the house. When he saw that his mom’s Volvo wagon wasn’t parked in the driveway his expectations rose. Maybe he
have the house all to himself for a little while.
Walking inside, a strange feeling washed over him. He no longer felt like doing all the things he had originally intended to do. Something like depression crept into his body, weighing him down. Never having really been depressed, he didn’t know what to call this feeling. It was a mood. That was what his mother would have called it. “Jeremy’s in one of his moods,” his mother had often said to his sister whenever he was unnecessarily mean to her.
All desire left him. He didn’t want to gorge himself on junk food. He didn’t want to beat off in front of the TV. He didn’t want to do his homework. He didn’t want to do anything at all. Maybe, he thought, the only thing he really wanted to do was go up to his room and lie down.
Maybe he was just getting sick.
Tossing his book bag at the foot of the coat rack to the right of the door, he trudged through the foyer, the living room, and then up the stairs to his room. He felt more than just tired. He felt more than an impending sickness. He felt . . .
. Like he couldn’t stand up to do anything if he wanted to. Suddenly, he saw his whole life spin out before him in black waves. In this brief vision, nothing went the way he had wanted it to and, sitting on the edge of his bed, he wondered if what he had just seen was the truth. Had he just had some kind of premonition? And if this was some kind of future reality then what was the point of doing anything? What was the point of trying in school or in sports or with friends or preparing to go to college? If the world, if
world, was going to turn out that bleak and miserable then he wasn’t sure if he really wanted any part of it.
He stood up from the bed and went to his window on the eastern side of the house. The one that faced the neighbors and didn’t look out over the street. Standing there at the window, his fingertips pressed slightly against the cool glass, he realized he never really looked out this window. It came as no great shock. It was, by far, the least interesting of the two windows. The neighbors were an older couple, all their kids long since out of the house, and Jeremy didn’t think there would ever really be anything too entertaining to see.
A rush of heat swarmed his body.
He unlocked the lock midway up the window and, grabbing the plastic lip at the bottom, slid it up, letting in the cooler air.
Jesus, he wished he didn’t feel so awful. Maybe he should take some medicine. Maybe Tylenol or something would help.
He turned his right hand into a loose fist and gently stroked his knuckles up and down the screen, feeling its sandpapery abrasiveness rub against his skin. If he looked to his left, to the front of the neighbors’ house, he could see the whole tree-lined street. If he thought he could, he would stay here forever, but he knew he couldn’t. The day would come when he would have to leave the house and go out and build his own life. That idea terrified him, especially if it contained the swollen black images his mind had presented only moments earlier.
Maybe he wasn’t all that serious when he thought about killing himself but he didn’t really know. Just the fact of that thought entering his mind made him feel even sicker. He had never thought about it before. The thought itself contained something forbidden like the first time he had
thought about sex . . . like putting his penis in that spot he knew all girls had. That was his mind going someplace it had never gone before and he would be lying if he said he had thought about much of anything since then.
And now this.
Come on, that was ridiculous. Nevertheless, he wondered if the idea would always be there, lingering like some dark demon in the cellar of his mind.
He pressed against the screen knowing that, with just a little more force, he could pop it out. If he was going to kill himself, he didn’t think he would do it by hurling himself through a window. That left too great a chance he would survive only to be the laughingstock or pity of the town and probably disfigured or something on top of that.
Jeremy!” It was his mom, calling up the stairs.
I could jump
I really could just go flying, setting myself free from whatever potential nightmare world awaits me.
Jeremy! I brought pizza!”
He really wasn’t that hungry but decided he also didn’t want to be alone. Right now, he thought he might be just a little bit afraid of himself. Turning away from the window he crossed his room to his locked door. He grinned slightly to himself, thinking he was losing his mind because he didn’t remember doing that. Didn’t remember doing that at all. He usually shut his door but he almost never locked it. A brief, unnecessary bolt of panic ruffled through his skin as he fumbled with the lock and he breathed a quiet sigh of relief when it came undone and he twisted the handle and opened the door into the brightly lighted hallway.
The evening crept by in a dreamy wash, Jeremy acutely aware something was going to change. And this change, it contained no bright hope. No magical sense of revelation. Only blackness. Depression. A crushing weight. He didn’t even feel like he took part in his family’s evening. He felt only like he fulfilled a role. He was the son in a family of four in a well-to-do neighborhood in the small town of Gethsemane, Ohio. These things he did—dinner, a game of Scrabble, watching an hour of sitcoms, reading in his room—these were things a son in a family of four was supposed to do. Nothing more.
Jeremy went to bed early, around nine, not wanting to think anymore. Normally, he turned his bedside radio on—the noise comforted him—but tonight he didn’t bother. All he had to do to sleep was close his eyes to bring on the darkness. He felt like he had been asleep his whole short life.
When he woke up two hours later, it was to confusion and fright.
Sam Fitzer was in the room with him.
The room was dim but not dark. The powerful glow from the streetlights prevented his room from ever becoming truly dark. Even though he couldn’t see very well, he knew it was Sam Fitzer standing there by the door.
Fitzer was the closest thing the middle school had to a bully. He was large and athletic and had equal doses of immaturity and attention deficit disorder, rendering him the prime candidate. Jeremy didn’t know why Fitzer was in his room. He didn’t know what he had done to piss the prick off enough for him to break in and rouse him from his sleep but Jeremy found himself suddenly frightened.
What are you doing here?” he asked, trying not to sound like he was threatening Fitzer.
I’m here to kill you,” Fitzer said, moving closer to the bed.
What did I do? Whatever I did, I’m sorry.”
S’what I said.”
Jeremy whipped the covers off, thankful he had worn his pajamas to bed instead of just his underwear. He was shaking, his teeth rattling around in his head.
How much harm can he do? This is
house after all. My parents are right down the hall.
Rolling out of bed, Jeremy squared himself away against Fitzer and said, “I think you’d better go.”
Not gonna do that,” Fitzer said, his words flat and hard.
I’ll give you five seconds to leave before I yell for my dad . . . He’s a big guy.” This last thing was kind of a lie but he didn’t see any harm in it if it got the behemoth out of the room.