Cornerstone – A Noir Short

“… I started to die 36 hours before I was born, so dying was a way of life for me.” -Hubert Selby, Jr.

The high was starting to hit Seth more than ever. His arm had been in pain for about half an hour now but it didn’t seem to matter so much anymore. He had gotten used to it. The rush, the fuzziness, the swirls that were starting to develop in front of his eyes, those were the only things his mind was focused on at the time being, not the sting from the needle or the infection that probably had developed where that red mark beneath his elbow was. Pain was secondary now. It was always secondary.

The high was really all that mattered.

And the high was just how he liked it. It was exactly what he imagined when he initially cleaned off that needle with the handkerchief he had back in his apartment. One shot right in the vein underneath his elbow, and instant happiness, instant pleasure, instant forgiveness came in one fell swoop. Now, thirty minutes in, the thoughts of what brought him to where he was now all came together as he stared at his half-empty cup of coffee.

The four words that he had been waiting months to say. The four words that could change any man’s life forever.

Sara. I love you.

Of course, to say such words was so much easier said in the mind than done in action. As he mulled over in that brain of his whether or not he still had the courage to do such a bold maneuver, he took another drag of his cigarette and sip of his coffee while his stomach began to intertwine a little more by the second. His mind was in a different state right now, a zone one would say perhaps. He could hear the ticking of the clock that hung up on the wall above the waitress, who was sitting right behind the counter, reading a senseless paperback that was the typical drivel read by middle-aged women. The sound annoyed him. Tick…tick…tick…tock. Tick…tick…tick…tock. Three annoying ticks, not two not one. Why did it have to be three? Every clock had two ticks than a tock. Even more clocks had a simple tick tock combo. This one seemed to be the exception. Three lousy ticks, and than a lousy tock. It drove him mad. The three ticks, the lousy coffee, the third Pall Mall he was on. All this caused by the anxiousness of saying four words.

She needed to come quick. He was starting to go insane. The high from shooting up, the anxiousness, being all alone in that coffee shop. All of that now was slowly starting to get him. Seth needed her more than ever.

He took another sip of his coffee and another drag of his cigarette, and then he heard the door behind him open and a gust of cold wind hit his back.

Seth didn’t turn around to look who it was; he heard the footsteps walk towards him and a hand touch his back. He expected an aura to surround him. He could picture the feeling of warmth engulfing his body when that gentle hand would caress his back. It was supposed to be like the movies. He turns around to see her inviting face and then end all that anxiety he had felt earlier with one final act, an act that neither him nor her could explain. How he wanted that. It was the sole thing that had consumed him solely these past eight months. He wanted to end that waiting tonight here in this coffee shop called “Cornerstone”.

“Seth I’m sorry.”

The hand was not gentle, and the voice was not of hers. He recognized the man’s voice even though he didn’t want to say his name. It would only bring further pain to his gut.


Now he felt lost. The feeling of hope, anxiousness and desire had now sunk, and he suddenly felt as if he were falling off a building. He could feel the rush, the chaotic swirl of emotions that pulsed throughout all his nerves. Maybe it was the high. Heroin could do that to a guy sometimes. But maybe it was the feeling of utter hopelessness too. He couldn’t quite say for sure.

“What did she say?”

“Seth, she says, she’s sorry.”

Sorry. All she could say was she was sorry. He didn’t quite expect that. He expected something else. Maybe something dramatic such as “I’ll never love a goddamn heroin junkie!” or “I hope you live a miserable life!” But “sorry?” He sort of wished it were one of the other two, something emotional, or something more concrete so he knew how she really felt about him. Now, he was only more confused, and instead of having the opportunity to ask her what she meant, to maybe truly understand from her lips what she truly felt, he had to deal with this sap. A big dumb oaf who could only relay four damn words: She says she’s sorry.

“Tell her thanks.”

“She couldn’t be here. It would’ve been too hard on her. You know how she feels about you and your…you know…addiction.”

“I’m sure.”

She never understood what it meant to him, how important his addiction was to his life, his existence. She was too caught up in all the Christian bullshit to really understand how it could change and shape one’s life. To Seth, it was the only thing that kept him going. That and her of course. If it wasn’t for those two things, he was just a normal guy, an everyday salesman who punched in his card everyday from 9 to 5. Some people, Seth especially, couldn’t live on that. People like him needed an extra drive to keep on living.

However, now one of those drives was taken from him.

“I’m sorry to break it like this. I wish it were different. You have anything else you want me to say to her?”

Seth shook his head as the guy took his hand off of Seth’s back. He put out his cigarette on the counter, and after flicking it to the ground underneath his seat; he reached into his coat pocket. The handle of his 9 mm felt warm, but it felt like it had been ages since he last touched it. As a matter of fact, he couldn’t remember the last time since he fired the thing. He didn’t like carrying his gun around too much, but he did anyways tonight. After he shot up back at his apartment, he had a funny feeling that it would come in handy for tonight.

Sara. I love you.

To some people, one woman was all you need in your life. Furthermore, to some people, one bullet was all you needed to find yourself from that feeling of being lost.

All he needed was one bullet right in the forehead, and when he would pull the trigger, it would feel just like shooting one up in the arm. It comes quick and then all of a sudden….