The sound of Gordon's fist against my door quashed the silence. One, two, three, four—rhythmical and thunderous. My stomach tightened at the sound, my heartbeat quickened, and my already wavering repose was overcome by a swelling unease. Something felt off.
I sat for a moment, unsure how to proceed. Despite this variety of anatomical alarms, I felt an overwhelming sense of obligation—I was a captive to courtesy, shackled by etiquette. Silence had returned, but it now felt heavy and burdensome, unwelcoming and dangerous. And yet, against my better judgment, I rose to my feet and made my way toward the hinged barrier that separated me from my distraught, inebriated neighbor and dearest friend. I knew that I was making a mistake. I was immediately aware that my current occupation was one that I would later regret. Perhaps it was intuition? Doubtful... more likely was the intensifying cramping in my stomach, the continued acceleration of my heart rate — the semi-nausea of anxiety swirling around and transposing my organs. I cracked the door to greet my neighbor.
"Oh, hey, can I just—"
Gordon forced the door open and brushed past me into the kitchen. He braced his large, wobbly frame against the kitchen counter, visibly agitated, troubled, conflicted.
"I need to talk to you, need to ask you somethin' important. Sorry to be bargin' in and all that."
"No problem," I'd said, shaking my head, "what's going on?"
"Well, I was just thinkin', and you know, I just—"
He trailed off, staring down at his twiddling fingers as if they were some strange new phenomenon. He seemed to be avoiding my eyes. He let out a heavy sigh and shrugged.
"I don't really know how to say this, man, so I'm just gonna blurt it right out. I don't want to live anymore, man."
I stared at his hands as well, rolling over one another like kinky lovers, unsure how to respond to such a statement. Surely he wasn't serious, surely the alcohol had assumed control of the mic, surely this was a dramatic, theatrical expression of his grief. Perhaps he simply desired reassurance—confirmation that his wife's departure had not rendered his life superfluous.
"Look, I know how this sounds, man. I don't have nothin' to live for no more, and far's I'm concerned, neither do you, but that's your own business. I don't want to live in this shit-stain world, you know? Shit, do you? The world ain't ours no more, belongs to the dead now... man, there're fuckin' zombies out there, man. It's a matter a'time, and we both know it. We can't live like this forever, shit ain't goin' away. There ain't no light at the end of the tunnel..."
He lifted his shirt and revealed a handgun that he had tucked into his waistband, which he gingerly removed and shoved in my direction.
"I can't do it myself, man. I ain't got it in me. Please, I need you to do this for me. It's a good thing you'd be doin'. I want this."
"You're drunk, and everybody would hear the gun, which wouldn't bode well for me," I'd said, "you need to go home and sleep all of this nonsense off."
His face scrunched up in disgust. He wiped his brow with his unoccupied hand and took a deep breath, gathering himself, before jerking the gun in my direction once more.
"Listen, don't go off on some high'n mighty shit and just do it, alright? You don't get to act like you know what's right for me, man. You're my fuckin' best friend, and I'm askin' you one go'damn favor. I ain't asked you for nothin' before, man. Take the damn gun, Xander."
I refused a second time, this time backing away after noting the glimmer of violence in his eyes.
"Man, FUCK you!"
He slammed the gun on the counter and lunged forward, grabbing me by both shoulders. I struggled to wriggle free from his grip, but being much larger than I, he threw me across the kitchen with ease. My hip smashed into the counter and I crumpled to the ground. I could not stand, the pain in my hip was crippling. I managed to rise to my hands and knees, but my legs were unresponsive. I stared into the carpet, panting, hopeful that Gordon had suddenly snapped out of this madness, horrified by what he had just done; hopeful that somebody had heard the ruckus and was currently rushing over to restrain Gordon. Most prominently, I was hopeful that tonight was not going to be the anticlimactic end to my rather unremarkable life.