January 26, 1995 Web Exclusive

Paint Thinner

Part 1

by Stork Boy

He awoke in a cold sweat to the sound of thunder in the distance. Four days on this ship with his family was finally starting to get to him. His children crying, his wife's worrying, his own nervousness, and a general negative attitude had taken over. It had taken four days of this to finally get to his brain. He looked once again at his surroundings. The dark, silhouetted images of the ship's cargo. Barrels of crude oil, paint thinner, and the like. Nothing had changed. The smell had definitely gotten to him. It had originally been a strong smell. Cold and painful to the sinuses, but as with everything, he got used to it. He slumped down against a hard, wooden crate, and closed his eyes.

1943. He was eight years old. Walking home from school and wondering if his mother had found out yet. He always had a hard time in school, the homework, reading, etc. A basic lack of attention span is what he suffered from. His mother had pretended it just wasn't there, or it was just a phase. But nevertheless, there was something wrong with him. This particular day, he had been "dismissed" from the boys' school he attended. It was a long-anticipated event, but also one with nobody wanted to deal with. Well, now they had to. So he walked home, slowly, dragging his book bag on the crumbling, weed-covered sidewalk.

An ear-piercing clap of thunder broke the silence, and he looked around to see what, if anything, was happening. Surprise, nothing.

He blinked to find himself in an office. He was lying on a brown leather sofa. He made a mental note of how much he hated leather because it always made his back all sweaty. A large fan was slowly rotating on the ceiling in the center of the room. So slow, in fact, that it defeated the entire purpose of having a ceiling fan. The walls were lined with books of all sorts. He remembered none but a few titles: "The Nature of Multiple Personalities," and "Case Studies of Manic Depressives." They were sitting on the table to his left, next to a steaming cup of tea, obviously being drank by someone else in the room. It was Earl Gray. He made a mental note of how much he hated Earl Gray tea.

He was startled by the sound of a loud cough, and looked to his left to see a man sitting in an old, wooden high-backed chain. The man looked unusually comfortable considering the chair he was sitting in. The man was wearing an ugly brown sweater. He could feel the itch just by looking at it. He made a mental note of how uncomfortable sweaters are. The man was asking him questions about school and his family and his friends, or lack of friends in this case. He asked them in a low, comforting voice that sounded very phony. He distinctly remembered the voice. He disliked it.


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