The Chatter

Five Shot Friday

A tiny and raw piece of Stone 3: The Demon of Delancey Street.

The bourbon burns his throat. It’s supposed to be smooth, but that’s a lie. The room is dark, not a single light on. Darkness makes Mason comfortable. From his apartment window he can see the world outside but they cannot see him. Mason thrives in the shadows, as he always has, even in broad daylight when the darkness is only in his mind.

Outside the open window the sounds of the city rage on, the endless tug of war for the souls of a flawed society, good and evil waging war with human pawns. Tonight they will have to go on without him, because its game time.

He’s played this game all week, this Russian Roulette. He wonders as he sips a bit more bourbon, did the Russians really invent it? It doesn’t matter, he thinks, it’s a fairly universal game. Each night this week he’s pulled the trigger, each consecutive night adding one more pull. Monday he pulled it once, Tuesday twice, by Thursday he was up to four.

Tonight is Friday. Five pulls. He checks the revolver. Six chambers, five empty, one bullet. Hollow point. Might as well do it right.

There’s much to think about when you stare down a dark cold barrel. Like ghosts of sorrows past, memories from his entire life drift up from the dark steel portal. They seep into his mind, taunting him as his demons mock him. “Just get on with it” they yell from behind their wall. They peer through the cracks and over the top, “Tonight’s the night” they laugh, “Five Shot Friday!”

The trigger squeezes easily, smoothly, with no resistance. Well oiled, well cared for, Mason cleaned his weapons religiously. The hammer cocks, the hammer drops, and naught but a click click sound echoes through the apartment.

That’s one.

Bourbon burns his throat again, ice cubes jingling in the glass. In his head he hears the demons, laughing, placing bets. “Dead in three.”

“No, four. It’ll be four.”

The dark barrel, ever staring him down, sends him more memories. A finger tightens, the trigger moves, the barrel rolls and the hammer falls.

Click click, and nothing more. Two down.

A police car drives by the window, momentarily painting the room with the red and blue lights of futility. Another front line warrior, off to fight a battle that will never be won. Valhalla is full of them.

The third pull comes quickly. The cylinder spins to a new position as the demons hold their breath. Click click and nothing more except the slight sound of ice cubes settling into the bourbon as they slowly melt, the same way Mason’s light has slowly melted away over the years.

“I told you four! I told you.”

Ice cubes jingle. There’s a short pause as Mason swallows and stares down the barrel. The dark shaft is like a movie projector, playing memories upon the walls of his mind.

When the hammer drops for the fourth time, there is a moment of confusion as Mason hears a gunshot but cannot tell the difference between the sounds coming through the apartment window and those in his mind. “Maybe I’m already dead,” he thinks, “and I just don’t know it.”

The fifth pull awaits. Mason empties the glass of its lie. He spends a minute pondering the ghosts that live in the darkness of the barrel. Sue is down there somewhere in the void of blackness, whispering to him, “Do what you must.” The sound of her voice, the presence of her spirit, causes his eyes to tear up as only she could do. His vision blurs, his blood pressure rises, his heartbeat thrums in his ears. The sounds in his head mix with those echoing through the apartment around him, the chorus of chaos taunting him from outside his mental wall. The demons brace themselves, certain this is the moment.

As the tears blind him and Sue’s voice fills his ears, the line blurs between reality and imagination. It becomes hard to tell as the hammer falls, was it in his mind or in the room, the horrible sound of click click boom.