Episode 4: Christopher
He rounded the corner while checking his watch, then feeling the pulse with two fingers pressed to his neck. One block from the house, straight shot and on the way to the best time of the week. He picked up speed to a full sprint. The brisk morning air gnawed at the exposed skin and it felt fantastic. Christopher’s smile beamed. Breathing was slow and steady, so was the heart rate, and barely breaking a sweat.
“This is my vessel,” saying under his breath over and over, pushing harder, running faster as the sidewalk inclined. When it leveled off, the house was another twenty yards.
His hands chopped at the air like some automated factory machine tripled in speed to maximize production to catch up on the day’s orders. Chopping in rhythm with his feet that slapped against the damp concrete. He didn’t feel graceful, he felt strong. He felt like he could crack the sidewalk with the intensity of the steps, propelling forward off of the toes every time his foot came crashing down on the surface, then using that energy to launch to the next sidewalk square. Ferocious movements like a lion in full stride on the way to the kill.
When he was two houses away, Christopher let out a primal growl and gave everything left until he hit the front lawn, and reached down to grab the newspaper.
“You never miss a day, do you?” An old woman shouted from across the street, on the front lawn to gather her newspaper as well.
“Best way to start the morning, Mrs. Dilinski,” Christopher replied with a smile, hand with the rolled up and bagged newspaper held out in the old woman’s direction, as if to offer a toast.
Inside the house, he kicked off his running shoes and skipped to the kitchen humming a happy song. Dropped a pod in the coffeemaker and hit the brew button. Grabbed a glass from the cabinet and filled it in the sink. Raised the glass and gulped down the cool water. The humming paused for hydration; the happy song continued in his head. Took a carving knife from the block on the counter and strolled over to the door that led to a utility closet.
Inside was a man in a suit, on the floor, bloodstained face, bruised, hands tied behind him, mouth duct taped. Christopher smiled and hummed the happy song. The humming was louder than the whimper of the man shoved in the corner of the closet next to the mop and broom.
He looked through the man, as if he wasn’t there, or the wall the man leaned against. Christopher was looking well beyond it all, into the deep recesses of his memory, to a single point in time that he thought about often. A cherished memory, probably the single most important memory of his life, stored safely, there to access whenever he needed. Perfectly preserved as the day it was born.
Christopher could see himself as a small boy, before he had so much strength. He was standing in a backyard on a beautiful summer day. The breeze carried the smell of freshly cut grass, then wiped out by the smell of smoke. At his feet, a fumbling turtle attempting to navigate the terrain, the pet Christopher was told he could not keep after finding it that morning at a nearby pond. In his hand, a box of matches. In front of the stone-faced boy, a house engulfed in flames.