The following is an excerpt of:
The Boy Who Dreamed and the Big Bad Wolf Which He Became
By Tex Batmart
If you haven’t been with us from the start, check out Chapter One here
Interlude: The Great Purge of 2000
The year 2000 was not an especially great year in the life of Mr. Batmart. Despite all of the dire warnings regarding the Apocalypse (which would be brought about by the ubiquity of poorly-coded software which would be unable to understand that December 31st, 1999 was not immediately followed by January 1st, 1900), the new year came as easily as all which had come before, and rather than a sense of wonder at a brave new world, Tex was left with the sinking suspicion that things would be a repetition of everything that had come before. He was especially disappointed when the power remained on at the stroke of midnight, having harbored a secret hope that someone working at the power plant might have had a sense of humor. Instead, he was left to mingle with drug addicts and wonder if there was any way that his year could get any worse.
Apparently, he had not learned that lesson from his two decades of life, and in the wishing, most likely sealed his fate for what was to come. That year would see his relationship split violently apart at the fraying seams which had held it together in something resembling that which might have otherwise one day worked. It would also bear witness to his first (and second) bouts of homelessness. He met someone that year who had been in love with him, someone who he allowed to be his girlfriend because he was simply too numb to care. That year also brought about a criminal record, and his first experience (as an adult) of working for the man. But it wasn’t until the very end of it, in the first half of December, when his life began to fully fall apart.
His ex-girlfriend was driving him out to the County Seat so that he could visit Her in jail. Of the lot of them that had been arrested, only She had managed to stay locked up. He knew it was her charming personality and respect for authority which had done her in, but went to see her anyway. He didn’t know that She hadn’t put him on her list of visitors, nor that he wouldn’t have been able to see her that day even if She had. The plan was to take his three crates of writing, two-thirds of his life’s work, somewhere for safe keeping after going to visit Her in jail.
These were the days before smart phones and GPS, when the internet still took effort, and was often more trouble than it was worth, and before long, he and Amy had gotten completely lost on the winding back roads of Port Orchard, Washington. It had begun to rain, but neither of them really noticed, as rain in December was nothing knew, and they were otherwise preoccupied and lost within their own thoughts. He thought of how nice it would be to see his love again, and she thought that she wasn’t sure if she could stand to be around him. She didn’t know why she still loved him, when he had never looked at her that way, despite the fact that they had dated all that summer, when She was off trying to figure things out.
As they began down a hill, Amy tapped lightly on the brakes, having noticed a pickup truck at the bottom of the hill, waiting (for literally no one) to turn left. It took Tex just a moment longer than it took Amy to realize that the car wasn’t going to stop. As they continued down the hill, gaining momentum as the tires refused to grip the pavement, and hurtled forward and down along the tug of gravity, they both knew how it would end. Amy tried honking her horn, but the driver of the pickup truck gave no indication that he heard it. Seconds later, Amy’s car came to an abrupt halt as it collided with the pickup truck at thirty-five miles per hour. Neither Amy nor Mr. Batmart were injured in the crash, nor was the driver of the pickup truck.
The two occupants of the now-totaled car stood on the shoulder in the pouring rain and waited for the tow truck to arrive. Tex had grabbed what he could carry, and Amy told him that they would go back the next week to recover all of the rest. Their friend, a fellow dealer in the circle in which they had been running, arrived just before the tow truck was to depart. Batmart gave a glance at the trunk of his ex-girlfriend’s car, and shook away a growing feeling of loss.
The following March, when Tex had finally saved up enough money to pay off the debt his ex-girlfriend owed the wrecking yard (and managed to get Amy to give him the ticket for her car so he could present it to them), he and his girlfriend drove back out to the County Seat to rescue his life’s work. They arrived about two o’clock in the afternoon, and Tex walked up to the man who looked like he must be in charge and asked to have his stuff back.
“Yeah,” said the man with a tone of indifference, “We don’t have that car anymore.”
“What do you mean?” Tex asked nervously, his grasp on reality beginning to waver.
“Yeah, we only wait a couple of weeks, and then we junk it.”
“Okay, but there was stuff in the trunk. My stuff. I’ve been trying to get out here this whole time but the car’s owner couldn’t find this!” Tex began to waive the ticket in the air between them.
“I get that,” the man in overalls said, this time a little more gently, “but if it was in the car, then it’s been gone for months.” He must have seen something break within Mr. Batmart at that moment, for Tex could feel himself shattering into countless pieces. “Sorry, kid.”
Tex walked back to Her car, and slowly, numbly, got inside. She knew what had happened by just one glance at his face. They drove back home in silence, stopping only to spend the money which had been set aside for salvage on a quantity of drugs which Tex neither needed nor desired, yet consumed anyway, hoping that maybe if he did enough, it might slow the rending, searing pain within his breast. Three days later, after being roused by Her from his hibernation, he finally let go of all the pain, all of the overwhelming melancholy which had defined him, and felt the final strands of sanity slip through his rope-burned fingers.
That day, months prior, he had lost, save for a handful of poems and short stories, two-thirds of his entire life. Boxes of poetry, of stories in various stages of completion, all of his Black and White negatives. On March 21st, at 11:23 a.m., the weight of loss and failure nearly crushing him, Tex Batmart took the only option left to him, and went truly and properly insane.