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My Favorite Color Is Red

by Jose Soto 2 months ago in Horror
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A fictional murder story derived not from anger, vindication or rage, but love.

My favorite color is red.

Red like the lips of a carnivorous predator after successfully catching its prey. Red like the strawberries my mother had placed on a pearly white porcelain plate on top of the breakfast table earlier that morning, creating an impeccable contrast underneath the first morning sunshine rays. Red like the shade the white of my eyes had converted to after coming into the realization of what I had done.

Red like the last four inches of the knife I tightly clench in my right hand as the soaked floor beneath the soles of my shoes grows redder by the second.

Constant red and evanescent red. A minute, red. A minute later, even more so.

The sirens headed toward the house are red as my eyes fixate on the last four inches of the knife.

Nostalgically red.

I had been observing him as I sat at the breakfast table, slouching in his old, withered armchair. Both seemed lethargic, repressed from anything spirited and sprightly. Both had surrendered to the overwhelming and ponderous nature of illness and dotage. If it wasn’t for his almost inaudible, timid breathing and the random jerk of his hand, I would have falsely claimed him deceased. Dead.

How far away from death was he anyway?

In a way, I suppose, he was already dead. His thoughts, his intellect, his drive and, overall, his soul. He hardly ever spoke and when he did, it wasn't regarding jubilant memories like most old men do; about how they spent their youth chasing after the neighborhood girls and drinking beer taken from their father’s garage fridge, even though I knew he had that kind of past. He never mention his favorite songs, of melodies that omitted his concerns or the harsh reality of growing-up poor in Mexico, of struggling to pay the electricity bill or buying for my a copious amount of colored pencils, though he encouraged me to draw as often as I could. He didn’t speak of happier days or of life's brief yet cherished moments of ecstasy, of joyous moments. In actuality, he didn’t speak much of anything these days. Not one sentence that would have allowed me to think that his life was worth saving, worthy of motiving him to fight for it.

He had, at one point, cruised the streets of the town in his most valued possession, his vintage 1968 Chevrolet Camaro, proudly accelerating once the light turned green. Sporting a bushy mustache and a hefty beer belly, he’d pop in classic rock tapes and drive through nearby neighborhoods, blasting the soundtrack of his generation while sipping Coors tallboys, stopping to feast on street tacos once he got hungry. He’d come home to play his acoustic guitar for my siblings and I. Not much of a vocalist, we’d chuckle at his attempted singing but were entranced by his fingers strumming and gliding on the frets and strings. A man of few words, he’d smile at us and kissed us goodnight before going to bed. In the morning, he’d wake up bloated and tired but ready to drive us to school in his beloved car, accompanied by Santana tunes or Pink Floyd, Fleetwood Mac or The Rolling Stones. He’d always wait for us to turn around before entering, waving and blowing kisses before going to work as a dishwasher at a nearby hotel.

This was before the car was sold to accommodate for his lose of employment, before his health began to deteriorate, before his weak hands couldn’t rub grease off from hotel dinner plates with bubbling suds, before his guitar began to accumulate dust while sitting in the closet, before he became nearly immobile and extremely fatigued.

Death was already reaching out for him. It was extending its mythical arms towards him. It hovered over the TV set placed a few feet away from the armchair, always playing the same Mexican early-morning game shows. He wasn’t looking at the host celebrating the contestant's winning of a million pesos; the equivalent of roughly $50,000 American dollars, about the amount the insurance company had already spent to extend his lifespan at this juncture. No, he wasn’t looking at the events unfolding on TV, the screen displaying the complete opposite of his reality.

The boisterous mood that was permeating in the studio as the cameras rolled in Mexico wasn’t the same as the decaying essence of both the living room and his partially-opened, brown eyes.

Instead of the television, he was looking Death straight in the eye. If he had enough strength left in him, he would have reached out to Death itself and fallen right into its arms like lovers who have spent weeks in each other’s absence. They would lock in a meaningful embrace, their eyes pleasantly shutting as if to show gratitude and relief. Instead, he sat idle in his armchair, miserable. His destiny augmenting like a cloud, ready to rain on his parade.

He sat idle in his armchair, miserable.

I sat up from the table and placed the dirty dishes in the sink, just like my mother had taught me well to do every time I finished a meal. The knife had been washed the previous night after my mother had immaculately sliced the onions, carrots, tomatoes and chicken and to make his soup. Anything more solid wouldn’t make it passed his false teeth and scratchy throat lined with thick, bloody phlegm.

The knife shimmered like a gladiator’s sword, the sun sitting impeccably on the tip.

He sat in his armchair, miserable.

The woman on TV hugged her husband with pride and joy, their children moved to tears. I imagined their perfect life after winning so much money, full of opulence. They would fly home and buy a newer, prettier home. The décor would be modern and posh. The wife would wear brand-name dresses and never have to cook again. Their chef would do that and because the chef would use only the finest ingredients and source it all locally from an organic food, the family would not only be blessed with an abundance of wealth, but health too.

He hadn’t even looked up at me, probably hadn’t noticed that I had been having breakfast alone all this time. His apathy toward life was so potent that he had no desire to move his pupils and acknowledge me standing over the armchair.

Standing over the armchair with the knife. He sat in his armchair, not miserable.

My favorite color is red. Red like the color of his throat. Red like the color of his shirt and his jerking hand and his only pair of jeans. The color of his armchair, the color of his worn-out orthopedic shoes.

Red like the bellows coming from my mother's opened mouth as she leans against the wall. Red like the nail polish on her fingers situated on top of the receiver. Red like the days ahead filled with questioning and judgement and blank stares and stale coffee that I drink while watching dates movies on television sets mounted on the upper right corner of hallow rooms.

My favorite color is red.


About the author

Jose Soto

I am a writer and journalist born and raised in the El Paso, Texas and the Ciudad Juárez, Chihuahua, México, region. I write stories, blogs, essays, and prose that help myself and readers discover what it means to be human.

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