Luckily, work was pretty lax about being on time even though he was early most days. Chock it up to oversleeping, alarm troubles, car troubles, he had all the excuses just as long as it didn’t keep happening something Hal was unsure of. He stood at the counter most of the day on autopilot, he was a good worker but he just wasn’t there. The thoughts in his head would not leave “Am I going crazy?” ended up being the most common question. His mother wasn’t there to calm him down anymore. He stood stone like frantic not knowing where to go, letting the panic attack take hold. He walked into the back cooler, the 32 degrees hit him the heat poured off his body, he started lifting heavy boxes to get things off his mind. He seemed to think menial work helped get his mind off things he always knew his mind was the enemy that all the sickness was the evil in his head wreaking havoc on him. He knew it was trouble when he could feel all the air sucking out, he felt like he was drowning he was losing control, but after a minute he’d submit and accept death that would not come or slowly jar himself out of his state and calm himself down. He started to think about all the causes, the Dreams of the Dead, the alchohol, the isolation? He started to think these things were making him insane, but how can the insane know they are not sane. He thought the other possibility was that maybe this was really happening, and somehow that seemed more comforting and terrifying. He cleaned up finished the job and went home. He decided he wasn’t going to drink that night. The bottles called to him, they had captured him he could not say no. He went in the computer room and started to feel bored, he started to realize why he drank in the first place. The booze turned his brain off, it turned off the eternal buzz of silence, turned off the maddening reality of life, the disruption of the complex chemicals in his brain was the only escape, he started to think there was another way a way he told himself never to think about, but now the second option seemed inevitable. He tried to read, he tried to listen to something, he could not do anything accept hear the bottles call to him in his head. He got his rig and set it to Dreams of the Dead. He woke up inside of a car, an old Volvo. He looked over and another lover was driving him, holding his hand. It was a memory. It was June, one of the coldest Junes in recent memory. He could see the rain pounding on the window, they both noted they could see their breath. The pulled up to a Hospital and walked in, she had a grim look on her face she was trying to console him, but he felt an anxious slap happiness, a refusal to accept what was going on. That’s when they went to her, she had tubes and devices all around her like a mechanical octopus had her in a death grip to be devoured. His mother lay there not alive but not dead. She knew they were there, her heart started to race then come back to normal. A kind black nurse sit there eyes affixed to her, holding her hand. We all do this dance of walking from hallway to hallway, drunks with eye cuts ask us for cigarettes, we all know what is going to happen we just don’t know when. They helicopter her to another hospital on the pretense that maybe some Indian doctor trying to make a name for himself in some neurology magazine that he could maybe do something, but we all knew the truth it was just a question of if not when. He remembered the final goodbye, a funeral procession before the funeral. A line of people walking to her coffin of tubes and wires, watching her body pump air in and out. He didn’t remember exactly what he said maybe it was “see you on the other side” or something like that. He remembered the lady that did the organ donation, she was very kind. His father was broken, thinking they were going to donate her body to science of something stupid. Hal realized then and there that his father never had anything interesting to say before and after that day. He remembered her wake, when him and his lover went upstairs to his childhood room flipping through his old year books, an old used condom popped out somehow one of the pages and landed on her arm. He knew then and there that they were forever changed, and not much long after she was gone as well. Hal woke up soon after, in his bed somehow. The cat purring on his side. Luckily he was off so no need to worry about waking up. He tried to think about something to jerk off too, something to get him asleep, and nothing was a better sleep aid than jerking off. He laid there for awhile going at it, but to no avail he rolled over and fell asleep with a slight burning sensation, hopefully he didn’t give himself a blister.