Chapter One

From the Outside In

Chapter One

The taste of whiskey still burned on my lips as I stumbled out of bed, clumsily trying to gather up clothes that had been carelessly tossed aside. I glance over as she dreams, her copper hair draped over her face, laying silent, save for the slight whisper of her breath. The morning sun glistens off her porcelain skin, I knew she would be upset, I couldn’t be bothered with that right now. Should I lay back down and pander her fantasies of a future, while my head was clearly absent? I had to go.

I knew I would be met with some semblance of anger. This wasn’t the first time we found ourselves in this precarious predicament. But, like the others, I’ll be a ghost before the sun rises. I could feel in her embrace that she had begun to feel something. Each of our little endeavors have been increasingly passionate, progressively intimate. I pulled my pants on, grabbed my shoes, and tiptoed for the door.

Why hadn’t I felt anything? And why does this all feel so empty and meaningless? She was hardworking and driven, beautiful and spontaneous, all the qualities that I wanted in a woman, and still, I felt nothing. It seemed criminal to me; indifference was the weapon, and sex was the crime. I wanted to care, I just didn’t.

As I walk down fifth avenue, I can see all the busy little workers in their shops getting ready to open for the day. I could smell coffee in the air as I heard the rustling pile of yesterday’s newspaper. At the end of the block was a large black coffee truck—I ordered a large. While I waited, I watched. A couple walking together to work, pausing to kiss before going their separate ways. I saw a man walking his dog, smoking a cigarette, and mumbling to himself. It was like time had stopped. Suddenly, I could see a million different people on a million different paths. Each with their own specific struggles and triumphs. I felt my own mortal insignificance. As though my entire world had been reduced to the miniscule atoms that represent it. There was a vibration in my pocket that snapped me back to reality. It was her, asking where I had gone. I replied that I had a meeting, but we both knew I was lying.

Back at my apartment I throw my keys on the table beside the door, and pause to look around for a minute. Everything seems to be exactly as I left it; half full glass of whiskey next to the empty bottle on the coffee table. My old electric typer sitting on the desk with a half piece of paper rolled into it; full of useless drivel I’m sure. That fucking machine haunts me from its little corner of the room. The answering machine has three unheard messages, why do I even still have that?

Grabbing a half joint out of the ashtray, I light it and take a couple of long pulls to let the smoke fester in my lungs. Snubbing it back out, I grab last night's whiskey from the table, and head into the shower.

After getting dressed, I walk over to the dresser to check my phone. One message, just telling me to have a good day. I reply for her to do the same, and to get ahold of me later, but it feels so insincere. It makes me wonder if she can perceive my aloofness, or if it's all in my head. Lately, i've felt so disconnected and dissatisfied, apathetic and absent. It’s been said that anguish and sorrow are perfect elements to write, I suppose on some level it must be true. My misery has always been my best company.

Sipping my coffee, I take a seat at my desk, roll a fresh piece of paper into that archaic typewriter, and start plucking away.

Chapter One…

Fade in…

The sun sets slowly over the horizon as I wrap my arms around her stomach, and rest my head on her shoulder. The reflection in the waves has an alluring combination of red, blue, and orange, as they dance across the surface, slowly enticing us closer to the waves. I can feel the coolness penetrating my shoes as the water fills my sock. My sock? Really? What’s next? The hole in my shoe is where my soul leaked out?

I ripped the piece of paper out of the machine, crumpled it up, and shot for the trash like a free throw. Of course, I missed, and it just lands scattered about all my literary abortions. Standing up, I head into the kitchen, and grab a glass out of the sink. Just as i'm finished drying it, I notice the empty bottle on the coffee table… "God Damnit.”

Out on the road, the power of that robust V-Twin engine lifts me off the ground. Two wheels has always been the best way to clear my mind. Somewhere around 82 mph, the world dissolves. Between the sound, the vibration, and the wind, it’s like I am being elevated outside of my physical body. While still totally conscious and aware, it can only be described as a semi-hypnotic state. Dancing in limbo between this physical reality, and higher planes of existence. It is here that I find myself the most inspired, here that I feel most connected. At eighty miles an hour I feel an overwhelming association with the world as a whole. I sense the minute synchronicities that allow for the cycles of nature, the interconnectedness of the entire world. I believe there is a consciousness in everything, in these heightened states of awareness we can glean insight and inspiration from something much larger than ourselves.

Downshifting to roll through a sharp curve, I can see my familiar hangout quickly approaching. When i'm struggling, or I need to work through my bullshit, this is my mecca. I can sit at the edge of this mountain for days, in quiet contemplation. I pull the bike off into the grass and park. I could never understand why there was even a road out here. This road runs from town and circles the mountain until it reaches the summit where it stops. Of course, they have “road closed Local Traffic Only,” and “Unfinished road ahead” signs every few feet, but still, why even make the effort to bring asphalt this far up? Irrelevant, their stupidity is my happy place. I walk over to the ledge, and take a seat on my favorite rock, overlooking the city.

As I peer down from above, I see all the little people rushing around, in and out of stores, carrying out all their errands, and to do’s. Each of them consciously knows exactly what they’re doing and where they’re going. But, to sit and watch from above, it’s like a massive ant colony. Each tiny worker fulfilling individual tasks to benefit the masses. I began to think about people, and how we're incredibly similar, save for one small detail. Where the ants work to benefit the majority, humans work to benefit the individual. At first, I thought of this selfishness and felt disgust. But what if our selfishness is our ultimate virtue? It would appear to me that being selfish first is the only way to offer anything of value to mankind. If we aren’t fulfilled on our own, what can we possibly give one another? It’s like money in a sense. If we have money in abundance then we don’t mind loaning or donating it. But, when we don’t have enough to take care of ourselves, we don’t have anything to spare. Anything given then, creates an unnecessary void in our own lives. Essentially, if we’re not full and whole all by ourselves, we really don’t have anything to offer anyone else. Could that be it? Am I unable to get close, or allow bonds and attachments to form, because i’m still learning how to fulfill myself? I wonder if this might be a subconscious understanding that’s preventing it, to keep the focus on myself? I won’t allow myself to be seen or vulnerable, because I have unconscious knowledge that I have nothing to offer; that would make the most sense. What if fulfillment comes from inside out, instead of from the outside in?

Michael C. Lafferty-Shockency
Michael C. Lafferty-Shockency
Read next: 'Chocolate Kisses'
Michael C. Lafferty-Shockency

Born in San Jose California, and raised in upstate New York, I write about the struggles I am facing at any given time. Im just a guy tryin to work through his shit using the written word to help heal and guide.

See all posts by Michael C. Lafferty-Shockency