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So Loud it Hurt

by

Tom Waltz

Copyright © 2001
All Rights Reserved





At 8:43 p.m., on December 31st, 1999, Candice "Candy" Martin started drinking. She uncorked one of the two bottles of her favorite White Zinfandel--which she'd lined up on the kitchen table--and topped off the first McDonald's Super Size plastic cup she could get her hands on; not very fancy, sure, but she was alone, so screw formality. She cocked her head back and filled her mouth with the pinkish liquid, savoring its warm descent through her throat, into her chest and stomach. She knew it was a bad idea, drinking; she wasn't a big drinker and was never very good at it when she did. But it had been a long night already, with a bad ending still waiting on the other side, so why not enjoy herself for the moment? Especially after what she'd just done.

Funny thing was, what she'd just done seemed to be fading out of memory. 'Course, it was always that way with her: things coming in and out of focus, slipping away and then screaming back into view, usually when she least expected or wanted it. Right now, though, it seemed a good thing, the haziness, though she couldn't imagine why. Or, more like it, she couldn't remember why. What she did know was that the world was coming to an end tonight--that the animals with their slippery, lying tongues and dirty, groping fingers would be loosed on the world (on her) once again--and she was damned if she was going to be sober when it happened. All her life she'd been conscious during the pain, the abuse... the violation. Not tonight. No, tonight she would numb herself first.

She smiled smugly, silently toasting her determined resolution with another long drink of the wine. She quietly belched into the back of her hand and thought of her nine-year-old daughter, whom she'd put to bed earlier, and smiled even more, satisfied that little Stephanie would be fine through the hell to come. Safe and sound.

Though she couldn't really say why.



At 9:37 p.m., and two cups of wine later, Candy was beginning to feel drunk. She was sitting on the dark blue futon that served both as the couch and her bed in the living room of her small one-bedroom apartment. She leaned her head back, eyes closed, third cup of wine resting on her lap, and listened to the sounds of the Bee Gees pleading from the stereo speakers.

"Life goin' nowhere, somebody help me...Somebody help me, yeah!"

She didn't worry about disturbing Stephanie in the other room with the noise because that little girl always slept the sleep of the dead. She just wanted to soak in the music while she had the chance; all the electrical stuff in the house wouldn't be working anymore in a few hours, after all. She took another gulp of the wine and her thoughts rolled to the phone call from her sister Tina earlier in the day.

"I don't know why you are being so damn paranoid, Candy," her sister had said. "All this talk about riots and banks failing and stuff, it's just scare talk. The news guy said most things would be fine." She paused for effect, a little dramatic habit of hers that Candy hated. "I really wish you wouldn't buy into all this Y2K doomsday crap, you know," Tina finally continued. "We've already missed spending Christmas with you guys. Now New Years, too?"

Candy was quiet, trying to control her irritation while contemplating what her sister had said. Maybe Tina was right, she wanted to admit. Maybe all the end of the world talk was a bunch of hot air and she was just being silly.

Maybe.

But Tina was always the lucky one, always had it easy--sunshine up her ass and protected from the day she was born and all, so how could she be worried about troubles yet to come? She'd never really had any of her own before.

Candy, on the other hand--now that was a different story. Troubles were her forte'. Not only had she come to expect them, she felt she could almost sense them, too. Yeah, maybe this Y2K thing was a bunch of baloney, but something inside wasn't letting her believe that. Instead, she felt certain it was going to be bad--worse, even, then so many were predicting. She'd read about it, studied it, seemed to feel it all, deep down, this terrible end, building throughout her lifetime. Computers would fail, machines would break, society would crumble, and then they would come for her, the wild savage men off the streets--for her and Stephanie. Well, they could take her if they wanted, take her and do to her those things they always did. But they were not going to get Stephanie. No way.

She didn't say this to her sister, though.

"I know, Tina," she spoke into the phone. "It sucks not being around you guys during the holidays. It's just... well, I've got a bad feeling about things, you know? Probably just being stupid, but I'd feel safer staying here and keeping Steph inside and away from things until it all passes over. I hope it's all nothing, but just in case..."

"C'mon, Candy!" her sister huffed, cutting her off. "You know damn well that you would be just as safe here as there. We're not planning on going out or anything. Just staying in and watching the ball drop on TV. Same thing you'll probably be doing." Her voice turned whiny. "Why don't you guys just come over, okay? Mom and Dad'll be here, and it's not good for Steph to be away from her grandparents during this time."


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