I got up from a blackout on the cemented floor of a rundown grocery deli next to a gun and empty cases of nine mm bullets.
The back of my head had a blotch of an amorphous something and my hair strands were glued together in a thick syrupy red liquid, that could have been my blood or ketchup. My forehead had several linear bruises, like someone took time out of his day to scrape it precisely with a kitchen fork. And when I breathed into my palm, I smelled like I had eaten raw meat not too long ago. My gums, although still loosely holding my teeth together, tasted coopery and when I squished the edges with my tongue, a fountain of bloody juice shot up inside my mouth like the slimy pus when you press hard an acne or a blackhead.
I looked around for someone – for anyone. But amidst the maze of pillars and layers of dust, all I found was my ownself restlessly fidgeting the unintended patterns casted by rusty ventilators and the lamp post light that entered through them. And all I heard was someone gasp in the back of my head, except I realized – much sooner than I thought I would – that my own voice sounded to me like it came from somewhere else.
The cars parked in the parking lot looked like they weren’t meant to be there; haphazard, out of line, with their suicide doors open half-way up in the air, engine perhaps still warm, an expensive jacket thrown on the passenger’s seat.
Who came to this garage like place far away from the city with a car that had suicide doors? A gangster? A rapper? James Bond?
The empty cases of bullets on the floor that rolled in circles and clinked against each other, were far too many in number and still not enough for me to draw conclusions of any sorts. Except for a blood spattered forehead and a round tiny scar right in the centre of it, and a distorted dental anatomy, I thought I was pretty okay.
Then who was shot? Where did these bullets go?
The wall took a few, yes, and few went through the windshield of the parked cars. But the rest of them? The whole deli looked like there was a massacre; blood stained clothes on the floor, bits of flesh on the ceiling or high up on the wall, gloves and other fabrics on the floor, all scattered here and there, calling for mercy or angelic intervention or redemption of some kind. But yet there were no dead bodies.
There were just tapes, orange tapes, fluorescent green tapes, stretched out from one corner of a random pillar to the other and then on to the next one, with no uniformity like that of a maze and I was in the middle of all of it, trying to make my way out.
I noticed the amateur drawings on the floor carved out with blackboard chalks. There was no sense of art in those drawings, the colors did not seem like they were colors I had known existed and the drawings on the floor looked like they were drawn by a kid – the outlines of a man’s body with no clear demarcations between his legs like a mermaids bottom flappers.
The stairway that led to the other floor of the deli was taped too and I made my way through it. Upon entering the other floor of the grocery shop, what I saw, did not just add on to the whole mystery but also left me disappointed. There were still tapes, more stretched out tapes than I had seen in my entire life. Tapes and tapes and more tapes and then some more drawings on the floor, on the four walls, on the cashier’s desk.
Needless to say, the shop was locked from outside, there were no guards, cops or civilians, no sign of life, except maybe a few rats spurting around in the light and munching on the leftover snack packets, Oreos and Pringles.
I wasn’t hungry or thirsty. Perhaps I had eaten right before the blackout or perhaps my appetite was rather secondary to my existence or perhaps I had simply lost the sense of time.
I opened the jars and fed the rats, from two rats to five rats to fifteen to fifty rats. The rats owned the place and hid themselves in the dark, like rats do.
And upon hours and hours of kicking the empty boxes across the room and shouting for help I broke a few racks and wedged them in the shutter, trying to uplift it, but none of that accomplished anything. Except it made me tired and sleepy.
Needless to say, the phone was dead and the TV on the cashier’s desk perhaps last worked when this place did.
So what was I doing here?
Did I end up here accidently after perhaps a drunken night at the nearby bar?
I had no idea and I stood clueless in the middle of this redundant colony of hopelessness.
Much much later or as it may have seemed, my eyes hugged the darkness of the place and I surrendered to what seemed like a new life of nothingness. And from what I can tell you now, I got up from a blackout on the cemented floor of a rundown grocery deli next to a gun and empty cases of nine mm bullets.