The Listener

The music coming from the radio was soft, it was putting Tony to sleep. He was sitting behind the wheel of his parked car, fighting to stay awake. Reality was mixing with dreams. He was being transported to impossible places. He was experiencing dream logic changing his life, showing him revelations beyond human comprehension.

Tony’s phone buzzed and that woke him up for a second. The text that came in was just a smiley face. The girl sent him that in response to a joke he texted a few hours earlier. She was probably with somebody, probably with her guy.

The music ended and the radio announcer came on, saying what song it was, and then:

“It’s a bad night to be outside here in Jersey. The air is heavy with electricity, a storm is brewing. I just stepped outside for a bit and felt it. I felt the unrest of nature, the passive-aggressive vapor filling everything.”

Tony slapped his own face a few times. “Come on, stay awake.” He kept blinking and grunting angrily. Nevertheless, he felt he was dozing off again, and he found himself going back to the night when he danced with the girl at the club. Drowning in loud music, they found each other for a brief moment. Only their touch lingered a little too long, like they did not want to part. He imagined she felt the same. He imagined she was ready for a kiss. He imagined a scenario where they did kiss, in the tight hallway of the club. They stepped outside together, and they did not give up each other’s warmth for the cool of the night. He remembered the way her body felt, so strange and appealing, like an uncharted land.

Another song came on the radio. This one was more energetic, it reminded him of the dance and he found himself dreaming about her. She was not the love of his life. Could she have been? Or was it just the dance that seduced him.

He forced himself back to waking life, but he was still thinking of her. The song was relentless. It made him angry that he was not in control of his own thoughts. “Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck,” he began chanting quietly.

A guy crossed the parking lot. Red vest, cowboy hat, cowboy boots, a long goatee all the way to his belt. It was him, definitely.

Tony waited for the cowboy to enter the bar and then followed him inside. All sleep had left, his body was preparing for the deed.

The radio at the bar must have been tuned to the same station because the song continued, and with it, the image of the girl in his head. He looked for the red vest. There it was, by the pool table. He walked up to the cowboy and pulled out a roll of coins from his pocket. The cowboy turned, but did not have time to react.

The roll of coins landed on his face, smashing the cheekbone. The music drowned the sickening sound of the human skull being crushed by violence.

The cowboy fell to the floor, covering his head. Tony kicked him a few times. Then he shouted: “Mr. B says hello.”

Tony looked up, people were staring at him, but he knew nobody would dare say anything to the police. As Tony was walking out, the song ended and with it the image of the girl disappeared. He wished he could rewind.

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