February 9, 2019 2:13 pm EST
It was a typewritten page. At first I had assumed it had been a laser printout, from a computer, or, these days, from a tablet, or even a phone. But no, it was an actual typewritten page. There were no clearly discernible errors but there was an apparent, though subtle, difference in *intensity* of some of the letters. I’d never really thought about it but laser printers produce a high level of consistency that typewriters, ubiquitous in decades past, rare today, didn’t.
There was no date.
There was no indication of authorship.
There was no title.
It was part of a larger work, as the start was not indented as subsequent paragraphs were, nor was it capitalized. The page was full, a page from an unknown manuscript, with no page number, nothing unique. It was not on good paper, just the typical white copy paper sold at Staples or Walmart with five hundred sheets per ream for a few dollars.
I inspected it more closely, standing from my desk chair, walking to the dual sliding glass doors leading to the terrace of my oceanfront unit on the fourth floor overlooking the ocean. The sun was still visible a little after eleven, a bright yellow ball of fire warming the chilled March beach below. No white out, no corrections, no strikethroughs. The page was typed by someone far more skilled at touch-typing than I am. Backspace is my most used key, sometimes as I choose to change words as I change direction in the narrative in my head before it transcribes itself from mental images to keystrokes on my MacBook to electronic impulses to digital representations in the computer’s memory, and later, to longer term storage, and later still, seconds or minutes, to the mysterious “cloud,” stored forever, accessible from my various devices, MacBooks, iPad, iPhone, but more often due to fingers untrained to be obedient to the instructions from my head. I’ve had lots of practice, both from writing and from computer programming, my day job till three years ago, when my bestseller allowed my early retirement, as well as the beachfront condo and a BMW.
machination of manipulation had worn thin. My interest had waned hours ago. All that remained was the dull writhing, evaporating as the wet sheen on midday asphalt in south Florida in August after a short afternoon storm.
"The thrill is gone," I heard in the hollows of my throbbing head in the voice of B.B. King. The thrill had certainly departed, and all that remained was the throbbing the dull ache the crazed indifference and my bold resilience, refusing to let him win, refusing to allow a single tear, refusing to scream, to give him the satisfaction of besting me. The incessant drip of the faucet in the steel sink threatened to steal my serenity, my very sanity, but then a thought occurred to me that I could use the rhythm, feel it, the pulse, the drip, drip, drip, pulse, pulse, pulse, regulating my heart rate, regulating my mood, regulating my perception of pain, of the lack of pain, of the sheer unnecessaryness of it all. Jan, my yoga teacher, would be proud, I thought wryly.
He's been gone for 742 drips, 742 heartbeats, 742 moments of stunned relief. The throbbing in my head is in someone else’s head; the ache from the handcuffs are someone else’s wrists; the eerie misplaced wanting of his return is some evil doppelgänger’s wanting, surely not mine. 743, 744, 745. Sweet, blessed moments of reprieve. Drip, drip, drip.
I didn’t want to read any more. I didn’t know that I could stop. I liked horror and blood and gore as much as the next guy, in movies, in novels, but this seemed too real, too personal, too… I didn’t know just how to finish the thought.
But, I told myself, either this page was pure fiction, and therefore nothing to be feared, or if it was based on truth, it was in the first person, so that person, that first person who had typed the page I held, survived. I chastised myself then, realizing my thinking allowed for torture, for terror, for abuse, so long as the victim survived? I shuddered, walked back to my desk, placed the thin sheet in my inbox, headed to the bathroom to shower. I’d decide later whether to finish reading the page, and what I might do with and about it. Later. It would keep.