I had a dream that I used an assault rifle to destroy the CCTV cameras installed on the side of a courthouse. I crouched on a nearby rooftop and loaded the rifle one bullet at a time, pulling the charging handle back as I slid each round into the chamber by hand. I aimed, fired, and popped the cameras like balloons full of sparks. I laughed as I heard the sirens grow louder and louder in my own mind. It didn’t take long for the police to close in on my location, so I loaded another round, put the rifle under my chin, and pulled the trigger.
Then, I got out of bed and got dressed. Joseph slept next to the sweat stain I left on the sheets, the shape of my body left behind me—a chalk outline waiting for a group of reporters to swarm around it clamoring for a lead, a tip about my motivations. I left him and the body behind in the dark. I washed my face, I drank my coffee, I remembered the office but not how I got there.
Mr. Jabez waited for me near the copier, wearing a scowl. He reeked of yesterday’s cigarillos, and his love handles jutted out past his waistband. He said something that sounded like: “The reason for your existence is to consume.”
So I popped my ears, and he repeated himself, I think. “I said the reason you’re late is important, I presume?”
I blinked to clear my eyes.
“I was sick last night. I’m better this morning. I woke up late. It won’t happen again.”
“It better not.” He sauntered away into his coffee cup of an office. I turned towards the light of the window, dulled by a haze of gray. He didn’t understand that the reason I was late is the same as the reason for being anywhere at all, but I think I snapped out of it and just dug in at my desk and worked.
I didn’t remember getting home, either, but Joseph and I were on the couch, and we were watching what I think was a soap opera. He held me in his bony arms—he felt close and far away. We watched two men dance with each other like we used to dance, and the show made me feel good, but Joseph wouldn’t stop looking at me, piercing me with his blue eyes, and then we were in bed, and I was looking up at the ceiling fan rotating around us. I saw the rifle again in my sleep. I cherished the liberty of the smell of the gunpowder, and then I was in the office again.
Home again, no dancing, this time I wasn’t in bed, but it was dark, and I stood in the middle of the living room with the lights off, crying. Joseph knew what I was doing, but he needed to get up early so he left me alone, and because I knew who he was with some days and I didn’t want to have that conversation, so we didn’t. It’s why I was crying, I think, but I just can’t remember the rest, and then I was back in the office, and this time it was a party, there are lights and streamers, and the music is too loud, and I was confused but everyone smiled and waited for me to speak. The words welled up in my throat, so I had to load them in one by one. This time it hurt, making so much effort to make it look effortless, and I wanted to cry, so I tried to sing along with Mr. Jabez and the others as they linked hands and promised each other to never let go.
Then I’m back at the copy machine watching the colors blur together as they passed through, a blank canvas on one side and a belt of bullets on the other, and then I can’t do it anymore.
I’m back home again, before Joseph gets back, my nerves smoldering and my hands wet. I pour drink after drink and watch the afternoon swirl downward. I wait for Joseph to come back and anger himself at the thought of my insurrection, but all I can think of is the night, the dreams, the cold steel of the rifle, and the cameras popping like balloons.