Going through old files and different manuscripts, I found these few paragraphs that were edited out of ‘A Simple Act of Violence’. Kind of dark, but kind of interesting…
What do I mean?
I’ll tell you what I mean.
A man works in an office. There is a girl he sees. She works on a different floor. Perhaps he talked to her one time. Perhaps she smiled at him. He starts to think about her. Not in a sexual way. It wasn’t lust that prompted his consideration of her. It was the fact that she smiled at him. Nothing more nor less than that. His wife used to smile at him like that. When they first met she was always smiling. Now she doesn’t smile. She says things which hurt, and he doesn’t even know that she’s aware of the effect that these things create in him, but he is lonely. That’s it. That’s really all there is to it. After however many years of marriage he has come to the realization that he’s lonely. And the girl in the office. Well, she smiled at him, and in smiling at him she said ‘Hi. I see you’re there. I see you just as clear as daylight’, and this sparks his imagination.
The man starts to think of the girl more frequently. He wonders about her name. Something like Julia. Perhaps Karen, Amber, Helen. Perhaps something exotic and unusual like Christiana or Charlotte or Cassandra. And she would have a nickname, a pet name, a name used by her friends. Chrissie, Charlie, Cassie. Something such as this. And she would laugh as readily and as naturally as she smiled. She would know some jokes, and she would tell them, and while she was telling them she would start laughing, and when she laughed she would hold her hand in front of her mouth, and tears would well up in her eyes, and he would look at her and wonder how one person could possess so much life.
He would think these things, and he would make comparisons to his wife. He would go home and he would watch her as she complained about the cost of groceries, the time she spent on the metro, the fact that there seemed to be a never-ending quantity of laundry…
And he would wish she was not his wife.
And he would wish that the other girl was.
And he would think things. Dark things. He would think about how it would feel to lie beside the girl and then reach out his hand, and how she would turn towards him and fold herself up against him, and how she would be warm and human and real, and how she would make him feel that whatever troubles he might be carrying were really nothing at all…
Thinking things like this, and feeling some small shadow of guilt and shame growing inside him.
Because he’d made a promise. He’d vowed to love and cherish his wife, to honor her and forsake all others…
And here he was, lying in bed beside her, and all he could think about was how it would feel to lie beside someone whose name he didn’t even know…
Guilty about everything he thought, everything he felt, and willing himself to be honest, to look at himself, to take stock of the situation he was in. Wishing his life was different. Something other than what it was. Feeling desperate.
And something happens. In and of itself nothing much of anything at all. An opportunity. A change is heralded. He’s asked if he will change departments, take another job, replace someone who’s leaving. He’s interested. It means a different section of the building altogether. Perhaps if he goes he won’t see the girl any more. Perhaps if he starts a new job it will direct his attention towards something constructive. There’s more money involved. Not a lot, but enough for him and his wife to take a vacation this year. Things are good. Things are looking up. After all, he only thought some things. He didn’t do anything. He didn’t actually do anything. He knows everything is going to be fine. It was just a foolish thing. He was acting like a teenager. That’s how people act when they don’t have enough problems, when there’s not enough going on in their own lives.
He say yes, he’ll take the job. Damn it, he’s even going to get a new assistant.
First day of the job he meets her.
It’s the girl.
Her name is Kirstyn, but everyone calls her Kizzy. She knows it’s a kid’s name, but what the hell eh? It’s kinda fun. She starts how she intends to continue. She’s funny. She tells him a great joke about a guy washed up on a desert island. Stranded there for days. Desperately lonely. Wakes up one morning and looks out to sea. Beautiful girl is walking through the water towards him. She approaches him. She’s just amazing. Blond hair, beautiful figure. Asks him how long since he had a drink. He says he can’t remember. Unzips a pocket on her wetsuit and takes out a fifth of rye. Asks him how long since he smoked a cigarette. Weeks, he says. Opens another pocket, out comes a pack of cigarettes and a lighter. She brushes her hair from her forehead. She looks at him seductively. She purrs at him…asks him how long since he had some real fun. The guy looks at her in amazement. Eyes bugged out. You can’t be serious, he says. You just cannot be serious…there is no way in the world you’ve got a set of golf clubs in there as well!
Outside – on his face – he is laughing with Kizzy. Kizzy holds her hand in front of her mouth and tears well in her eyes.
And inside the man there is a shadow. He knows he can’t make it. She’s better than he imagined. She’s prettier and funnier and warmer and more human, and there really isn’t a great deal of difference in their ages, and he knows in his heart of hearts that he cannot survive a day, let alone a week, let alone a month or two or five or ten working next to this girl eight hours a day…and not fall in love with her.
He knows it. Knows it completely.
He turns in his pass card. He leaves the building. He goes to a bar and drinks too much. He crosses the road at a stop sign and a car comes out of nowhere and drives right through him.
It’s his wife taking the drycleaning to the laundry.
Resigning meant he lost his health plan.
Legs are smashed, pelvis broken, dislocated shoulder, in a coma for four days and comes out of it with a seventy five thousand dollar hospital bill. They have to sell the house to pay it off. They move in with her mother until he can start working again. He gets pains in his legs. He takes pills, he drinks a little. His wife smells the liquor and bawls him out. He wants to leave but he can’t. Her mother is like his wife but worse. There is no love in this house. There is no love in his life.
Puts some money on a game and loses.
Decides it isn’t worth it. Goes home, locks himself in the bathroom, takes a whole bottle of painkillers and cuts his wrists.
From the first guilty thought to the end of his life was no more than six months. He didn’t do anything. He thought something. Wasn’t even a big deal.
Sometimes a thought is enough…