Lying bare torso on his back he stares at the ceiling. The lights in his motel room are off; all the luminescence pilfering in is through the space in the venetian blinds where a few slats are missing. His hands motionless beside him, all that moves in his body is his chest heaving slowly as he breathes. His left hand moves to reach into his left denim pocket and he brings out a slightly crushed pack of cigarettes. He brings up the packet to his lips and they skillfully pull one out, his right hand instantly rising up with a matchbox; his left hand dropping the pack of cigarettes beside him pulls out a match stick and with one strike the room suddenly has a flickering yellow glow, slowly fading. He brings the lit match to the tip of his 84mm cigarette and brings it to life with the characteristic audible burning of tobacco.
He pulls in the smoke, closing his eyes; moving his cigarette to the right corner of his lips without touching it with his hands, he releases a snake of fiendish white vapor from his mouth. The vapors diffuse into thin air, his left hand comes to his lips to take the cigarette and he rises. In one swift move he is now sitting on the bed, his torso bent, legs down to his feet resting firmly on the cheap rug. With his head held in his palms, fingers running through his hair he looks up straight at the window; the invading light now illuminates his entire face.
His eyes unmoving, he stares at the car parked opposite his window. He turns to look at the rip off calendar on the wall and then at the clock. It has been exactly 4 days and 17 hours since he checked into this motel room, refused room service and even denied several housekeeping requests.
His skilled fingers repeatedly flick the ash off his half burnt cigarette. A shadow, a figure moves past the shafts of light and he instantly turns to look at the car outside the window. Someone has stepped out of the car and is standing on the street, staring straight at the motel, straight at his room; straight into his window. He lets the cigarette drop from his hands with perfected deliberation and reaches for the small radio placed on the bed side table. He turns it on; the voice of Nancy Sinatra fills up the room.
He picks up the pack of cigarettes and lights up one more, his hand slides under the pillow with refined smoothness; brings out a large Ruger Vaquero single-action .357 Magnum revolver – all black, cold steel gleaming in the light. Turning around he watches the shadow on his wall, walking across the street and disappearing beyond the left bar of his window pane.
He smokes calmly, not letting his hands touch the cigarette even once; eyes boring into the ticking clock, unflinching even with the slithering, stinging smoke. He counts the seconds as they go by.
Seasons came and changed the time,
When I grew up, I called him mine,
He would always laugh and say,
“Remember when we used to play?”
He begins to take longer drags; beads of sweat appear on his shoulders and slither down to his bare chest. He pulls back the hammer with his thumb, clutching the weapon his grip.
Music played and people sang,
Just for me, the church bells rang.
Now he’s gone, I don’t know why,
And till this day, sometimes I cry,
He didn’t even say goodbye,
He didn’t take the time, to lie…
He hears the footsteps approaching his door from outside and then a pause; before he hears three successive knocks on the door. He smiles, the cigarette still in his lips, vapors surrounding his head and filling up the space around him.
The door swings open; he tosses a cushion in the air, and rises upright a silhouette against the light coming in through the blinds; with his arm stretched out, the gleaming silver outline of the gun held firmly, pointed at the figure now in the room.
A bellowing shot is heard, the cushion explodes into a million feathers. The figure collapses to the floor like a blind man’s stick folding.
He looks outside the window and raises his hand up against the light. Looking at the figure on the floor as he sits on the bed, his hand pulls the cigarette out of his mouth, the butt of the cigarette lined with blood. He stares at it while letting the smoke pour out of his lips gently; his torso still and unmoving; a small trail of scarlet finds its way out of his mouth.
He turns to look at the figure now standing a few feet away, gun in hand; the barrel smoking.
He lets the burnt out cigarette drop to the floor and lights up the last cigarette from the pack with practiced finesse; a gaping orifice bleeds out profusely on his left side. He takes a few long satisfying drags, staring into blank space; the figure watches in silence… he falls back onto the bed, the cigarette still in his lips; burning.
She pulls back the hood of her cloak, walks over to him; bending down she takes the cigarette out of his lips and throws it by the bed side. With her arms placed on his sides she brings her lips to his and plants a long kiss. She takes the gun out of his hand, realizing something is not right she slumps onto the floor faster than the tears streaming out of her eyes. Holding the gun in her arms, to her chest, she breaks into stifled cries.
Bang bang, he shot me down,
Bang bang, I hit the ground,
Bang bang, that awful sound,
Bang bang, my baby shot me down…
She leaves the room.
All that remains is the cigarette slowly dying on the rug, the sheets turning a deep red, the floor covered with feathers and his gun on the floor, loading chamber unlocked; loaded with blanks…
18th August, 2011
**Credit: Lyrics quoted from the song “Bang bang” by Nancy Sinatra.