CHAPTER 1 The Devil Inside

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copyright 2017 Chris Smith. All rights reserved.

Two pieces of mostly uneaten toast were left abandoned on the plate. I kept looking at the clock. I'd take a small bite of toast and put it back on the plate. Then a staring content ensued while my stomach did flip flops to keep the rhythm. I should have been a gymnast.

I was trying to make time go by faster. the trying to eat but not eating had used up maybe an hour. Hindsight was 20/20. I realized the eating thing had been a bad idea from the start. I'd only managed a few bites and that wasn't saying much. All I wanted to do now was to throw them up.

I thought about everything Dad had said this morning. It scared me. Life seemed to be moving against me, including time. It was not my friend. Though not many things were my friend these days. I tried to keep myself busy doing something that would distract me from the ever present clock. Tick-tock. Chores seemed like a good idea. I could get some exercise and move the body. It was a feeble attempt to distract me with manual labor.

There was a ticking in the air that wouldn't leave me alone. Though it didn't compare to the never-ending tape of black noise running in the back of my mind. The one on repeat that wouldn't cease. I hated it. I felt like I was in an endless free-fall. I wanted off the fucking ride. But the ride wouldn't stop for me. I was a "nobody" on a one way ticket to Hell. Only I didn't know it yet. Not really.

I should be looking for my guts. That would use up tons of time. The way I felt it must mean they were clearly not in my body. I'd need those guts for the basics, like living for instance. Somehow I must have been preoccupied when they were pulled out. Damn those guts! What I needed to do was to find them and try and shove that bloody mess back inside me. Somehow. But of course I'd fail, as I always did with everything that seemed to be my life now.

I needed a way to release all the tension I felt. If I was a cutter, now would be the perfect time to cut myself. Or if I drank, I could throw back some drinks and get myself through. I wasn't either. I chose the tried and true fallback, to eat myself up from the inside out.

The house was quiet but everything felt wrong. I was in some sort of solitary nightmare. I'd have to check my laundry soon and put it into the dryer. Checking the laundry would for sure use up some time, at least as a temporary fix. And boy oh boy, did I need me some fixes today!

I looked outside the window at the gorgeous view. Spoiled I was. The mountains sprawled out and then dropped off into the ocean in the distance. It was a sunny day on the Farm with no clouds in sight. The wind brushed through the tall grasses, as birds had conversations in the nearby oak trees. Everything seemed normal. But for all the peace of nature around me it did nothing for my mood. My eyes shifted to the clock again.

What time was it?

12:30 p.m.

I paced around the five hundred square foot one bedroom, one bathroom shanty shack cabin that was my home. The place was currently being eaten alive by termites. I'd read once that rock music made them eat faster. Not sure if that was true but I was surprised every morning when I woke up that the place was still upright. I kept waiting for the morning I'd wake up with piles of walls and a roof neatly laid around my bed.

It was a scene that would be repeated with all four houses on the Farm. They were all old and built out of wood, which helped the termites, but not much else. Two of the homes were the "Buy the Kit and Slap the House Together" type. None of the houses had insulation worth a damn, nor were any of them constructed so as to keep the vermin out. Basically, they were all falling apart and being eaten alive, in one way or another.

I wiped off the kitchen counters. To be honest, it was hard to relax while small Tasmanian devils did their savage dance rehearsals on the stage of my stomach. I should have been a gymnast. If I had been one I could have done something more productive with the Devil running loose inside me.

I was barely holding onto my sanity. I had placed the Mack Truck on my shoulders both by circumstance and choice. I was brilliant like that. Lucky me, I felt responsible for everything that was happening to us. Responsibility me.

How could I not?

I had all this experience and intelligence but nothing to show for my life if I used society's fucking yardstick. By their rules, if you had any worth, you got a good steady job, a house, a partner, and settled down with 2.5 kids, a dog, paid your taxes, and did your duty as a citizen of your country.

Hell, my dog had died a few years back and I couldn't bring myself to get another one. I didn't have the heart.

If I was so smart and great, how come my life was turning to more shit?

How is it possible that shit can turn worse?

It didn't matter all the years I'd spent giving up my life for work. It didn't matter all the things I'd done, all the ways I'd broken myself for our businesses, for our family. I had nothing to show for it, not tangible anyway. All I had was my experience. But you can't eat experience. Experience counted only if you could assign a value to it, a way it could make real money.

Here I was, standing in my shanty shack, trying not to vomit. I was a real prize, a catch, the total package. I couldn't think of a damn thing I could do in the next hour that would change the future. It was coming for us, the inevitable, with the hounds of Hell biting at our heels.

I didn't even have one U.S. dollar to my name. I could sell all my Grandmother's jewelry at the local pawn shop but that wouldn't bring me much money. Maybe a few hundred U.S. dollars if I was lucky. Exciting. Whoo hoo.

All I could do was pace, worry A LOT, and do laundry. Fuck. I couldn't even eat. The huge pit of blackness grew in the distance. The stress was mounting. I was worthless. I wanted to wiggle my nose and change everything. I wanted to transport myself into another world with unicorns, rainbows, and happy endings. I wanted to be anywhere but here with the overwhelm. But I was no magician. And it sucked to be me.

It was the unknown that was the killer. My mind was having a field day with the limitless and tragic unknowns. I had so many questions that had no answers. They were leaking out of my pores in hopeless.

What was going to happen?

What were we going to do?

Yeah, so my whole world as I'd known it was currently in a sort of demolition process. Good times.

"[U.S.] Congress passes and President Bush signs into law the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act of 2008 (Public Law 110-343), which establishes the $700 billion Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP)."

October 2008

"The need to help families keep their homes and to stabilize communities;"

Bill H.R. 1424 Public Section 103 (3)

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