A man walks into a small closet. At 5’10, he stands with an impressive physique. His broad shoulders, rough skin and toned muscles give him an imposing look. The scar reaching from the top of his left brow down over his eye lids and stopping at his cheek added up with his appearance portrayed a man with a violent past. He was lucky to still have the eye. His scars however reached much deeper into him. Deep into the recesses of his being. Deep into a part of him he had long buried.
He stretches a hand into the darkness and pulls on a string that sparks light to a solitary bulb dangling from the ceiling. The bulb provides a dull glow as it flickers on and off. The man reaches up on the shelve at the back of the closet moving shoe boxes aside until his hands settle on a red one at the very back. He grabs it with both hands and delicately pulls the shoe box from its dusty spot. The man’s hands tremble slightly. The result of an unfortunate malady. It was a painful reminder of how long he had lived. The box isn’t heavy but he moves it with care as though to preseve precious crystals inside. He brings it down and places it gently on the wooden floor. Covered in years of dust, the box looks worn with the corners and edges frayed. The man takes his time in opening the box blowing the top of the box and in the process spraying the years of layered dust into the air. The light in the closet intermittently catches the dust in its weightless dance. Placing his right hand on it, the man rubs on the box gently. Clearly the box and it’s contents have sentimental value and even now invoke deep emotions in him.
After a few seconds of staring down at the box, he finally lifts the lid and inside are photographs. He pauses and his eyes fill up with tears that he fights desperately to hold back. This is a man that has gone through life overcoming the things that would overwhelm most men. Maybe it was the fact that he hadn’t looked at these pictures in years. Maybe it was the pain of knowing he was alone in his final moments. Perhaps it was a combination of both, but in that moment, he felt like he would break. He felt a kind of pain that threatened to leave him shattered on the floor like dropped china.
He reaches into the box and brings out the pictures. He goes through them one by one and he feels his hands tremble slightly as he does. One by one he flips through the photographs, taking his time to spot every detail of the faces in them. Each photograph takes him back across the land scape of his memory. Every expression, every pose and every background calls to his mind events and emotions felt in those moments the pictures were taken. As the memories of joyful times flowed back to him, the happiness of those moments flee and are quickly replaced with sorrow.
He comes to the last photograph and he just stares at it. He stares as though he hoped if he did so long enough the woman and child in the photograph might move. No such luck. Instead, as is the nature of people in pictures, the woman and child simply smile at him frozen and preserved from the coninuous steady march of time. They would never get older. Only the memories of them might fade. They are beyond death. Only the polaroids may wither.
He puts the pictures down, content that he got the chance to see his wife and daughter one more time. The world has gone to hell but at least he got to see them before he left. He never believed in a heaven but hoped for the sake of his wife and daughter that they were there. If there is a heaven, it wasn’t likely he would get in. They will be coming soon. So it was good he got to see his family one last time.
He takes a deep breath and grabs from the bottom of the box what he came for. A 45 caliber hand gun. He starts to load the bullets wondering why he would need more than one. The lights go off in the room. This makes him pause. The bedroom door opens without a sound. At that moment the bulb in the closet starts flickering on and off again. A creek on the floor boards behind him takes him by surprise. He didn’t hear it come in. He cocks the gun and puts it in his mouth but is grabbed before he can pull the trigger. The room fills with screams and sounds of bones breaking and blood splashing on the floor. The only mercy Charlie recieves in his final seconds is not having to see what killed him. Then there is silence. The light in the closet flicks on and off for a few more seconds and then goes permanently off. And so darkness falls.