Enzo Stephens: Eye Drive

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Eye Drive

By Enzo Stephens 

“Wilhelm—”

“I still love you, Carla.”

“Damnit!”

Silence. One could construe it as being uncomfortable, but so long as the Love of Wilhelm’s Life hovered on the other end of the call, Wilhelm was just peachy-keen fine with it. Then,

“Love was never the problem, and you know it.”

She wasn’t going to change her position here, Wilhelm realized, and that realization came crashing down on him with knee-crippling finality. He struggled to keep the tears out of his voice; to keep the whine and the tremor at bay, at least until he got off the phone with… her. “Carla, no—”

“I can’t do this anymore Wilhelm—”

“Carla, please.”

“SHUT THE FUCK UP SHUT THE FUCK UP SHUT THE FUCK UP shut the fuck up shut the fu…” She trailed off into sobs and Wilhelm’s heart just about burst out of his chest at her anguish.

“Carla—”

“You’re fucked up Wil; there’s something wrong with you—with your brain.” Wil felt a sharp stab of his own anguish at her words as she stopped her tirade with a long, deep breath.

“It. Ends. NOW. I’ll have your stuff sent to you. I don’t ever want to see you again, and you should be glad that I’m not calling the cops!” The click of the call disconnecting sounded like a shotgun blast. Wilhelm dropped the cell phone—it clunked on the floor, sustaining damage; he, in turn, dropped heavily onto a rickety aluminum chair he’d picked up from a second-hand shop. 

He stared at the charred and chipped Formica surface of a small round kitchen table that kind-of matched the el-cheapo chair and thought of… loss. Emptiness. Life without Carla.

Which was an oxymoron. Life without Carla was NOT life. It was a void. 

If only.

If only he’d been able to control…

Don’t think about it!

oOo

There was therapy. Endless sessions exploring his past, relationships with his parents, digging, digging; the questions nonstop and never-ending, they drove him to rage. Blind, unthinking, irrationally violent and inexplicable rage that had no focus and was always utterly useless.

There was no clinical reason for Wilhelm’s… predilections. 

Some believed that he was lacking in the proper formation of synaptic pathways in and throughout his brain. Others postulated early over-stimulation of specific pleasure centers that gave birth to desires that grew more outrageous; hungrier as the years wound by. Whatever. Fukwits all!

Then along came Carla. Sweet, delicious Carla. Beautiful as the dawning sun on a cloud-speckled sky and as tempestuous as a summer thunderstorm. The girl rocked Wilhelm’s world with her tough-as-nails attitude wrapped in a sweet warmth that drew him into her and held him there, completely enthralled.

Wilhelm’s lusts were pushed aside… for a while. But eventually, as they always do, they won out and he spent more and more of his time indulging them and not Carla until she grew weary of his bullshit excuses and impatient with his feigned weariness. Then she discovered the tip of his iceberg.

oOo

Shadows walked across the scabbed and yellowed Formica surface of the table as Wilhelm sat there, his mind blank and empty and just a little bit terrified at the prospect of facing the yawning gulf of loneliness that stretched out before him. He’d faced this before; it wasn’t fun then and it would be no picnic, no walk in the park now.

On the table—right in the exact center of it, stood a tall, narrow crystal vase in which a single withered and drooping red rose bulb clung to its stalk. A collection of crumpled petals lay scattered at the base of the vase. He gave that to her… and she immediately demanded it adorn this poor excuse of a table. That’s how she rocked.

Beside it lay a small plaque, its satiny varnished finish glistening in the creeping afternoon sunlight. Immediately before the wooden plaque rested a small brass rectangle, upon which was etched ‘Carla Escobar, EVP, Purchasing’. It was a prestigious position the woman earned through huge amounts of hard work and a little bit of luck. Wilhelm promised to mount the nameplate to the wooden plaque for her, but here it lay, forgotten in the mists of a demolished relationship.

‘It’s not what you know, but who you know,’ popped into Wilhelm’s head as he contemplated these items lounging idly on his kitchen table. 

“FUCK!” His massive fist crashed down on the table and everything jittered and danced while the vase tottered and wobbled, finally toppling over, which was rather anticlimactic since Wilhelm’s thunderous blow also ended the life of one of the table’s three legs. It crumpled like a paper straw in a tidal wave.

Everything crashed to the floor; Wilhelm jumped from his chair sending it skittering across the floor to hammer into pencil-thin drywall behind him. He stood and surveyed the mess, rage causing his hands to clench and unclench spasmodically at his sides.

Something rolled its way out of the mess and finally came to a halt just before his feet. He stared at it, then sunk down into a cross-legged seat, the object of his sudden interest now resting before him on its side.

It was a screwdriver. Stubby (just like him), a thick, worn hard-plastic handle that once had bright red paint all over it (so it would be easy to locate in a cluttered toolbox) dwarfed a four-inch rod that poked out of the bottom of it. At the end of that rod was a Phillips-head. Also known as a cross-hair.

From the bowels of Wilhelm’s mind spewed the following factoids: originally invented by a John P. Thompson out of Portland Oregon, who applied for a patent for both the screw and the screwdriver in 1932. They went together, you see?

But the patent was awarded to a Henry F. Phillips in 1933 “By Direct and Mesne Assignments,” which was odd. Phillips worked as a manager of the Oregon Copper Company; Thomas as an auto mechanic—not exactly a marriage made in manufacturing heaven, but still conceivable. 

The patent was awarded directly to Phillips, though no info was on file as to why Thomas transferred the rights to Phillips. Had that not happened, it could be called the Thomas-head.

It was a mystery, but it wasn’t enough to quell the lifeless chasm that lay before Wilhelm at the loss of Carla. But still…

He studied the Phillips screwdriver distantly, his mind focusing intently on the minute nicks and knocks in the stem. He noted the worn edges of the cross-hairs and wondered how many screw-heads had been stripped over the lifetime of use this simple tool had seen.

How much profanity had this thing heard in its existence?

“Do you know?”

Maybe.

“Maybe what?”

Maybe I know what happened to Thomas and Phillips. Maybe I know the answer to your pain. Maybe I can tell you about all the colorful profanity I’ve heard.

“You’re talking to me?”

You’re talking to me.

“A fucking talking screwdriver with snark.”

And yet, you still have more questions than answers.

“Piss up a rope.”

Ha! That’d be a neat trick, don’t you think?

“Unbelievable. I’m so screwed I’m having a dialogue with a screwdriver. Pun completely intended.” He laid a hand on his forehead, leaned back to rest his back against the upturned chair; legs poking uncomfortably into his shoulders. He didn’t have the energy to adjust the chair against his shoulders. Besides, a little pain never hurt anyone; maybe it would help divert his runaway-train thoughts from Carla—

Not likely, wimp.

“Leave. Me. Alone!”

Spineless. Ball-less. You’re a useless sack of shit.

Wilhelm stared at the little screwdriver, his eyes as wide as he could ever recall (as if that’s something worth recalling). What the hell? WHAT THE HELL?

Was it his mind screwing with him? Was that weird little voice actually his inner self bitching at him, telling him stark truths?

Or was the screwdriver actually talking to him?

No.

The former was far easier to deal with than the latter. And yet—

And yet, skidmark, you’re never really gonna know, now are ya?

“Skidmark?”

Oh yeah, skidmark. You’re a sicko all right; one of the worst I’ve ever seen, and believe me, I’ve seen more than my share. 

“Stop.”

Stop? Did that little boy beg you to stop too?

“Fuck YOU!”

You’d probably get off on that too, skidmark.

Wilhelm raised his knees before him and leaned his forearms on them, providing a place to lay his beleaguered head. “I can’t deal with this…”

There’s only one way to get me to stop, skidmark.

Visions of a laughing Carla fluttered in Wilhelm’s mind. “How? Who do I gotta kill?”

Nothing.

He lowered his knees to sit cross-legged again and reached out to take the screwdriver in his powerful fist. He stared at it intently, willing it to speak, to open up and spill its secrets. “HOW?” he shouted.

We gotta get good and close, skidmark. Closer than kissing cousins.

“What the hell are you talking about?”

Look at my point.

Wilhelm turned the screwdriver so that the point faced him directly. He studied the point, noted the worn crosshairs again as well as the blunted tip. “Is this close enough?”

Nope. Not close enough. You’re wasting time, and I have so much to share with you.

Wilhelm inched the thing closer to his face, and now the imperfections caused by generations of use began to reveal themselves to him. Discolorations in the metal of the stem; uneven wear of the crosshairs; a blotch of a remnant of a stain…

Yeah, I’ve wrecked many a screw, and sometimes it’s been not a big thing, but sometimes it’s been a mother. But you know…

The pause seemed indefinite; time seemed to be whizzing by this very tableau in this very time and space at dizzying speed, yet it was motionless. Wilhelm was unable to tell the difference; his eyes were glued on the tip of that screwdriver. “What?” he whispered.

Closer.

Wilhelm moved it closer and closer until the head filled his vision, and closer still until the vision blurred into two iterations that blinked back and forth between merging into a singular head and back to two.

Suddenly Wilhelm wanted answers to questions that plagued him throughout his screwed up life. Why was he so dominated by his filthy lusts? Why was he a wimp? Why could he not sustain a relationship? Any relationship! Kicking around with fucked up jobs; just a loser. Why? WHY? “WHY?” A surge of rage caused his fist to shake.

Closer. Closer than kissing cousins.

And closer Wilhelm moved it so that the tip was practically touching his eyeball. His lashes fluttered against its hard steel every time he blinked and it was pretty unpleasant, so he vowed not to blink.

Still no answers. Still the universe remained dark to Wilhelm.

As you seek, so shall I find for you. 

Wilhelm screamed his rage.

Closer, skidmark.

“Stop calling me skid—” Wilhelm moved the screwdriver closer with enraged force; pain erupted and exploded in his skull; blinding, searing, stomach-heaving pain, followed quickly by a spreading numbness.

As the darkness welled up and over him, the answers he sought were revealed.

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