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Perspective 2 - Delirium

Updated: Apr 14

The night was brisk and the sun fell early. The yellow taxi dodged the evening traffic as it made its way to a rickety high-rise his scruffy passenger, Nathan, called home. He saw the way the driver continually glanced in his rearview mirror at him.

“Bit early for night, eh?” the taxi said, peering into the mirror again. Why does he keep looking at me? Was it his unkempt hair, the glassy eyes? The last remnants of the sun flashed gold through the windows and Nathan’s thoughts circled like a drain back to Amber as they had been for a week. He ran his hands through his slick brown mop and down his face, his nails grazing the five o clock shadow. Amber was dead now, killed, her tiny skeleton never found, save for the fabric of her little dress along with a splash of her blood, and a single strand of penny copper-red hair.

“My kids love the fall, but I tell ya, they won’t when they learn to drive!” the driver laughed. Nathan’s eyes flashed as they narrowed at his driver, who looked bewildered at the hostility and quickly averted his gaze. Nathan scratched his sallow skin through stubble and thought, So he wants to talk kids, huh? Think I’d slip up and spill about that repulsive creature Margaret called a child? He recalled her on the news, begging, pleading for Amber’s safe return, how the anchors teared up while announcing the search had been called off and the child presumed dead. The driver’s eyes were focused on the road but Nathan felt them anyway, as he had the whole drive. He looked through the mirror and behind the back windshield. What did he know? Could the taxi have tipped someone off? Was he being followed? He shook his head. No. All day he had felt eyes on him, but tried to shake it off. The car stopped.

“This you?” the driver asked gruffly, eying him shiftily through the mirror, his warm conversationalist demeanor gone.

“Mm,” Nathan muttered.

“That’s $13.54, buck,” the driver demanded, holding out his hand. Nathan glared at him and reached into his wallet, shoving a crumpled twenty into the dirty hands of his chauffeur. He smiled sarcastically, tipped his head, and slid out of the car. He grinned to himself as he walked jovially up to the building door, ignoring the watery-eyed gazes from behind windows, and the abrupt whipping of their curtains.

Her red curls. Her little dress. Amber Rose, an innocent! The thought alone was humorous. He knew Amber’s mother Margaret since the day she moved into his apartment building six years ago. He reminisced of how she came into the building one unseasonably cold day, wearing clothes clearly not designed for warmth, flirting with the building manager to get a deal on rent as he unlocked the building door and stepped into the musty elevator. She was a charlatan and a fraud, and it seemed Nathan alone knew it. So he attended the silly block parties and hosted her and other neighbors, in an attempt to discredit her whenever he could. Then she fell pregnant by God knows who and he saw everyone feign their excitement, pretending to go along with their joy to see who would be safe to discuss the truth with, never deeming anyone worthy. When Margaret birthed Amber,, every time he laid eyes on the infant, he saw a red gleam in her eyes. He saw how she would deviously smile behind those shrieks, after causing as much pain to his head as possible with those should-be impossible decibels. Eventually, he disclosed this to his friends from 13C, Dominic and his wife Maureen after a microwaved dinner and a few drinks at his apartment. He recalled that night as he traipsed to floor eighteen.

“I’m telling you, Dom, it’s a bright red,” Nathan had implored, swirling his neat whiskey. Dominic, a short, robust man who looked a bit like a walrus coughed and pounded his barrel chest with a meaty fist.

“It’s just her hair reflecting, those are such beautiful hazel eyes. She’s a baby, Nathan, the only true innocents in the world!” Dominic spat, acting horrified as his bony wife clasped the string of fake pearls around her veiny neck. The couple drank their whiskeys also, silently now, stealing glances at one another for a few minutes. But Nathan knew better. Just as he saw the red gleam in the infant’s eyes, he saw the agreement in theirs, like a gentle nod of encouragement, begging him to save them. I do see it! their eyes pleaded. They had to feign shock, he understood, and he’d admit their acting was good; but it was not good enough to fool him. He would do what they were too afraid to. He had always been strong, fearless, willing to sacrifice himself to help others. His own mother divulged when he was a child that she’d named him Nathan because it meant “Gift from God”; she knew what a great man he would be since she felt him kick.

“We should probably head to the theater, dear,” Maureen announced, flipping her bottle blonde hair over her faux fur coat. Nathan never understood why they tried to appear rich when their true status was right in their zip code.

“One more, for the road?” Nathan offered, already grabbing their glasses and making for the cabinet. This time he gave them the laced bottle he kept in case he ever decided to off himself; the eighteen-year-old whiskey masked the poison well, but the coroners didn’t bother with an autopsy after they had driven off the bridge. He’d told the police he didn’t know Dom was stealing sips of his liquor when his back was turned and was as shocked as anyone, and they’d let it go. His easy escape gave him more confidence in his ability to save the world from that demonic child. Margaret and Amber had been at the couple’s funeral. Neither shed a tear.

In the remainder of Amber’s first year, Nathan continued to hold those neighborly dinner parties whenever he knew Margaret could attend, always lighting a remembrance candle for 13C. It only took two gatherings before Margaret quit coming. Once, as he cooed over Amber, holding her delicately, he somehow lost his balance and the two of them collapsed; another time he tripped over her bassinet, sending it clattering face-down to the cold linoleum floor. Both times Amber barely even cried, but Margaret declined the following dinner parties and eventually the other neighbors followed suit. Still, he attempted to host them few and far between at the most inopportune times to keep up appearances, as it was detrimental to maintain that Amber was not his sole focus. But didn’t anyone else see she was the devil incarnate? How could they not? Nathan had still made other attempts to host them and offered to babysit, but Margaret declined. They had barely interacted except for neighborly hellos. He lied in wait, calculating how he could rid the world of that decrepit hell spawn. It took three more years.

Nathan entered his apartment, shut his door and walked over to his vintage phonograph to play his favorite, Frank Sinatra. I did it! he danced, grabbing the coat rack and dipping it like a dance partner. Glory be to me, I have saved humanity from that wicked child! Margaret should be thanking me on bended knee, the whole damn world should! he thought to himself, walking to the bathroom and admiring himself in the small mirror. Instead, she moved back in with her mother, refusing all visitors, condolences, grievances or gifts. Nobody suspected him at all, since it had been years that he had been in Margaret or Amber’s company alone, and he had told nobody how or why he killed the child. Dominic and Maureen were long gone to put suspicion on him. Superior to all, Nathan had faked grief far better than those who faked their desire for Amber to live. He smiled to himself as he reached into the drawer to grab his straight razor out of its wooden case. A small orange bottle, seal unbroken, stared at him screaming SEROQUEL. He smirked at it, picked it up and tossed it like a baseball, catching it swiftly before pelting it into the trash can where more than thirty others of the same bottles were towering. He was not ill! He was enlightened! He picked up a small lock of copper hair tied in a small pink rubber band that lay beneath the bottle; Amber’s. He smelled it excitedly as he spun in a gleeful circle; victory was the only drug he needed. His trophy of success. He set it down gracefully beside the faucet. He did not see the white figure outside his apartment, hiding in the oak’s thick branches outside of the bedroom window across the hallway.

The warm water turned on with a squeak as he turned the knob. Humming, he began to shave that stubble from his fairly weak jawline, shifting his weight from foot to foot as he sang lines off-key with Sinatra. He was oblivious to the click of his front door opening or the soft footsteps that gently approached him, his attention only on his own reflection.

Then, blood was pouring. His throat was open, and he collapsed as he tried to grip it closed. A figure was standing over him wordlessly, a white leather suit and reflective helmet obscuring his body, face and head. It’s God, Nathan rejoiced. He is rewarding me! I am going to Heaven! The white figure dropped the razor in the sink and picked up the lock of hair and tossed it onto Nathan’s chest, then walked out as silently as he arrived. Nathan smiled. The window open and shut.

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