Time slows when the ability to quantify it is no longer available. Each moment of my life moves reluctantly through each phase, the short tick from the hand moving around a clock. I find myself on this street corner preparing for the juncture that comes next. I reach into my pocket, but I don’t have my phone. I was sure I grabbed it from the counter in the kitchen, but I was in a hurry, it must still be there. Murphy’s law hangs over my head, a gray cloud ready to burst. I look around, the familiarity of the street escapes me. The anticipation builds in my gut and disperses throughout my body.
The street is filled with people walking, ants droning along their path. I stay standing on the side of the road across from the small dive bar, Shooter Joe’s. I try to distract myself by taking the sights and sounds of this district. I haven’t been to this part of the town in about twenty years.
I despise the feeling of waiting. Impatient, my mother would howl. Patience wasn’t the issue, it was the uncertainty; the unknown variables on the precipice of collision.
I remember a time when I was about six, my mother took me to the doctor, a routine check-up is what she said. When we got there, different thoughts flooded my mind. I wasn’t sick, so why was I coming to the doctor? Why did he have to see me? I felt perfectly healthy, as healthy a kid would feel anyway. I recall pacing back and forth in the waiting room, apprehensive thoughts forced me to move.
“Sit down, Danny. Don’t act like an animal,” My mother said, scoffing. “Act normal.” She had this way of making me feel worse in moments of distress. I was anxious, and I wasn’t sick, so how could she have expected me to act normal.
My head starts to pulse, sharp pains in my temples disrupt my thinking. I shake my head to focus, to rid myself of the adverse contemplation beginning to appear in my mind.
I stare across the street. Damn, what time is it?
My eyes dart away from each person passing by. The thought of people staring at me is starting to overwhelm me. Maybe, I’m drawing too much attention to myself. I am sure I look like some creep just standing about, but this is where I am supposed to be.
A rushing sound glides by me, and a gust of air brushes my face, my body jolts. I turn my head to face the direction of the moving force. A skateboarder, demanding the sidewalk as he zips around the people walking. There’s a flow to the way he rides as if he was the current amongst the waves.
I can see them now, the waves, thrashing against the jetty. The memory of my father surges my mind. One day during the summer break of my seventh-grade year, my father promised me he was going to take me fishing when he got home. I rarely spent time with my father, so I relished the moments I got to spend with him. He was a man of few words, but he had the knowledge of an encyclopedia. I stayed waiting on the front porch all day. He didn’t make it home until about midnight. For my whole youth, I spent waiting for an alcoholic to give more of a damn about his own son than some unsavory drink.
I bring my focus back to the building across the street. I am no longer facing the front of it, the current took me. I walk back to my post and check to see what cars were in the parking lot. A blue Passat, a red Audi, and a gray suburban are the only ones. Was it a blue Passat I’m supposed to be looking for? No, it’s a blue Chevy Malibu.
Why am I getting things confused?
My palms are starting to get sweaty, and I rub them against my jeans. I could just ask someone for the time, or I could go into the shop next to me, but those thoughts make the situation more nerve-racking. My stomach is starting to roll, and I try to swallow my fear, but my feet don’t move. I decide to stay put. Besides, I can’t take the chance of missing my opportunity. My eyes stare at the entrance of the dark brown building, reticence is lost within its walls. At night, the luminous letters cast a yellow hue throughout the street, the fluorescence beckoning. The sound of music serenades those who enter, inebriation soothing the soul; however, at this moment, the building is far from appealing. The fading paint is noticeable; tiles from the roof are missing; teal doors are surrounded by two unkempt windows, all reflections of the patrons who exit the place at ungodly hours.
My intense stare catches a glance from a little girl holding her mother’s hand as they walk by the building. She lets out a smile and waves. My mouth instinctively forms a smile. I raise my hand halfway and awkwardly wave back.
The little girl reminds me of Evelyn, endearing and considerate. I remember holding her hand while we would go to the park that was two blocks away from our house. When we would get there, the first thing she would do is go towards the slides. She loved to walk up the slide and then turn herself around and glide down full speed. Pure, unequivocal happiness radiated from her in those moments, anyone near could feel the ambiance in the air change.
Her smile. Those dimples. The way she used to say, Daddy, which came out as Diddy. Her forced laughter at the dumb dad jokes I would make. Those days seem so long ago, though. My little girl just isn’t little anymore.
The sound of a horn and a single beep brings me back from nostalgia. I look back at the building, a blue Malibu parked in the front. I’m supposed to wait for him to get out, but the fluttering in my stomach is telling me to just get it over with. I just want to head over there (maybe, I should), but it will throw off the plan.
People pass me, unbothered by a man on the verge of vagrancy. I didn’t shave this morning. I wanted to look professional when the time came, but my alarm didn’t go off, I set it wrong. Of course, I would make a mistake like that, especially on this day.
The time must be nearing seven because the sun is starting to fall, rose gold clouds cover the sky. My hands are beginning to shake, a draft swoops in. At least I didn’t forget my jacket. One thing I got right. What comes next matters the most, though. I need to wait about another half hour, and he’ll be out, at least that’s what is supposed to happen. He’ll go in for a couple of drinks (a habit he still hasn’t seemed to kick), pay his tab, leave, and stumble his way to his car. It’s at that moment when I will confront him. I’ve played this out over and over in my head, and aside from these minor hiccups, nothing else can go wrong. I just have to wait, and even though I despise the anxiety of waiting, I will have to repress the feeling.
The breeze moves through my hair, and the people that populate the sidewalks are now dispersing. The time to be home with their families has come. Something I should be doing but can’t. It would be around this time when I would get back from my job teaching middle school students. I would enter the house and hear the running footsteps of Evelyn coming to give me a warm hug. Her whole day went out of her mouth and into my ears before I could make it into the living room. As she got older, the running hugs stopped, but she never left me out of her day. Time flies, and then it doesn’t, a paradoxical nature I still have yet to grasp.
I shake the memory out of my mind, and with my eyes on the teal doors, I see a few people enter but none exiting. I think I’ve been waiting here for a couple of hours, time, again, never on my side. My body is starting to feel weak. A quiver in my gut arises, and I feel the need to pace. I decide to cross the street. I don’t know why, but the impatience is about to wear me thin. I know I should be waiting, but every muscle in my body is alert and restless.
I’m in the parking lot and, though, I would like to hang around his car, I don’t. Instead, I walk through the entrance, into the void. I don’t have it in me to stand by anymore. Every fiber in my body is jolting, the carotid artery beating like a war drum. As I enter, the smell of booze and misery smacks me in my face. No more than twelve desolate lives inhabit the place, each scattered to their preferred corner. I notice him sitting down by himself in a booth, sipping a smooth draft. I try not to stare. I don’t want to be noticeable. He might not recognize me, but I can’t take that chance.
The bartender asks me what I would like to drink. I tell him just water for now. He shakes his head and turns around, gestures that don’t bother me. He turns back around, hands me the glass, and my eyes meet his face for a split second. I could feel the patronizing stare burning through my skull, but I will not allow myself to become unfocused. I sip on the cold water and stare at the tv for a bit. A soccer match is being battled out. I don’t know the teams and don’t really care, but seeing the ball move back and forth has this calming effect on me. My nerves are settling. I finish the water and turn around to the booth. An empty glass and a few bills lay on the table. My heart starts to beat faster. I can feel my eyes constricting and dilating, a twitch that makes me look like a mad man.
I can’t miss this opportunity, so I get off the chair and head towards the door. The bartender’s voice escapes me, it blends in with the music and chatter. I step outside and see the blue Malibu exiting the parking lot. The noise around me fades, and the smell of cigarette smoke makes me dizzy. “Fuck, no. I’m so stupid,” I say out loud, my hands banging against my head. How long did I watch that game? I swear I only looked at it for no more than two minutes.
My plan failed. Here I am in front of a bar with no other options—full of despair, just like the patrons inside. I contemplate going to his house. He doesn’t live far from here, but that wasn’t part of the plan. I was supposed to wait for him to exit. Why didn’t I wait for him to exit? There will be no retribution, not today.
Unless. Yes, unless I do go to his house. Confronting him there would be just as pleasing, but the prospects of getting away will be far less probable. Besides, I can’t do that to his family; it’s not their fault. I don’t want them to be there to watch, it was hard enough to see the body of my daughter on the floor. They shouldn’t have to be around for my act of reprisal.
No, I will have to wait another day, and this time I won’t get distracted. This time I won’t be tempted to get close until I need to. I was able to wait this long; time is not an issue anymore. For too long, I waited for the right time, but just like the abrupt change in my life with Evelyn’s death, my plan will have to change. I grip the steel object of death in my jacket pocket. In due time, it will unleash its symphony of revenge.
I turn around. At first, my mind doesn’t register what my eyes are seeing. The pounding pulse of my carotid artery starts beating again, and the fluttering feeling shoots a twinge throughout my gut. My hand doesn’t hesitate. His car was still parked in the front of the bar, and he is on his phone. A vehicle is approaching. He called an Uber. I was in such a panic that I didn’t even notice he was standing on the side of the bar smoking a cigarette.
I take a sharp stride towards him.
His eyes meet the wild look in mine.
His fingers fumble on his phone, and he drops it.
I raise my hand, the weight of the black death machine feels just right. I don’t wait for him to look up. The sound of thunder encompasses the area. There wasn’t even a flinch from his body. Did he react the same way when he drove into Evelyn? He claims she came out of nowhere as if she was a ghost, which she is now. She was fifteen walking home from her friend’s house when he drove home drunk from this bar, ten years ago. I’ve waited for this moment. I’ve waited for ten years for time to stop.