A LIVING NIGHTMARE

Covered by what felt like a plastic tarp, Stanley Collins tried desperately to figure out where he was and what had happened. All he knew at this moment in time was that he felt colder than ever before. It was claustrophobic and there was something dangling from his toe. But, perhaps the most terrifying realization of all was the fact that he was completely paralyzed. Even his eyes and mouth refused to open but his mind raced on.

Gotta think, gotta think! Why am I here and how did I get here?” 

Suddenly he heard a voice. Was it real or in his head? Stanley’s brain strained to hear – “Ok, let’s see who we have here. A John Doe and Stanley Collins, both for tonight. Damn! Two autopsies. Looks like I’ll be getting home late again. Let’s start with our John Doe.”  

Stanley’s brain screamed frantically “Autopsy?? Wait, I’m alive, I’m alive!!” 

“Think, you fucking jerk!” Stanley’s brain admonished him. “Just calm down, count to ten and think.” Some thoughts starting wriggling around his brain. He remembered working for a used car dealership. What a laugh that was! The entire time he worked there, he never sold a single car and jokingly called himself “the non-commissioned salesman”. Of course, he was fired. 

After that he applied for a job at a casino. He had no experience so the only job he could get was sitting in a back room sorting poker chips by denomination. That turned into a fiasco, too, when he was caught pocketing a couple of $100 chips. “You asshole!” his brained screamed. Fired again AND he had to return the chips! 

Two jobs down the toilet. His wife Betty called him a loser and she was right. 

“But what happened  after that? How did I end up in a refrigerated morgue drawer awaiting an autopsy … and I’m not even dead?! Think, Stanley, think! “  Stanley’s brain raced inside his unmoving, unfeeling head. 

“Wait a second. I remember! Betty kicked me out. I couldn’t get a job. I had no money. I had nothing … nothing but my house key. So while Betty was out I went to the house. All the furniture gone, my clothes weren’t there and all Betty’s things were boxed up. There wasn’t even anything I could pawn! I walked into the kitchen, turned on the gas stove and knelt down, resting my head in the oven. And that’s how Betty found me … dead from gas inhalation. Only I wasn’t dead! The mother of all fuck ups, I couldn’t even do a good job killing myself!”  

Just then Stanley’s drawer was pulled open. He was wheeled to an ice cold metal table, all the while his brain screaming “Wait! Stop! I’m not dead! Can’t you hear me?? “ 

Suddenly the screeching sound of an electric saw jolted Stanley’s brain. He screamed in agony as the saw tore through his chest. Was it his brain screaming? Was he screaming? Could anyone hear him? 

The only sound was the piercing squeal of the saw.  

NAR © 2022

*Originally published in 2018