Almost a year went by before Hayden felt that kind of devastation again. It was earlier today. The events began to snap into place like puzzle pieces.
He could hear the music from the butcher shop down below. Stevie Nicks voice delicately rose through the floorboards to sing the song “Landslide”.
Hayden crouched on the dirty carpet. It wasn’t a blinding, clean white, but a yellowing shag with brown sticky stains in various spots. He was holding a copy of “Go Ask Alice” tight against his chest. It had to be returned to the library today, and he hadn’t read it. Like so many other things in his life, he never got around to it. There was an emptiness in his chest that could not be filled no matter how tight he pressed it.
Hayden had never gone back to the studio to try to fix the life he walked away from. Bethany no longer lived there; she lived somewhere else with someone else. It was empty too.
On his way out of the building to return the book, Hayden slipped one of the butcher’s knives out from under the counter. Sliding it effortlessly into the back of his pants, its hilt resting above his belt, he moved out of the shop unnoticed by anyone. The cold metal raised goose bumps along his skin as he zigzagged through the streets. He could go back to the lonely studio where so much happiness had been destroyed by his own hands, and end his pain. But first things first.
Fear and sorrow seemed to weight him down as he walked up to the counter of the library to hand over the book. Almost zombielike, he gave it to the librarian. She said nothing while scanning it. The scanner beeped, her eyes squinted at the screen.
“This book is late,” she peered at him over the rim of her glasses, “It’s going to be a dollar-fifty late fee.”
There it was. That was it. The reason why he was lying in a pool of his own blood, descending into darkness.
The emptiness filled with a fiery blaze of anger that rose deep from his core, shooting out through his legs and arms. Without another thought, Hayden remembered whipping out the knife and stabbing the librarian in the throat. Her blood squirted out like a broken sprinkler as he pulled it out, leaving a gaping hole behind. She wasn’t the only one.
He remembered grabbing two more people as screams filled the building. One was a middle aged man who peed himself as the knife went into his stomach. The other was a young woman, maybe in her thirties, who he held onto until the cops arrived, shouting orders at him. Running the knife along her throat, Hayden felt the blood drip from the wound onto his sleeve, then he let her fall to the ground.
And that’s when it ended.
The cops fired their guns, hitting Hayden in the chest twice.
There must have been commotion going on, but he couldn’t hear it. He lay there blind to the world, knowing why he was bleeding. He was going to die that day, one way or another, why not go out with a bang?