Harris pressed softly against the half opened door.
“Mitchell,” he called softly into the dark. Harris had streaked across the lawn of his friend and struggled to calm his breath. He received fourteen voicemails from Mitchell that night. He stopped listening after the third one.
“Mitchell,” he called out again. “It’s me. You okay in there?”
Harris ducked when he heard a loud metallic bang fall to the floor. He crept to the back room, unsure if there was a home invader in Mitchell’s house. Between the crack of the door, he saw Mitchell. But he was bumping into the shelves and furniture in the room. He appeared distant.
Harris pushed the door open and called out his name. “Mitchell.”
Mitchell froze in his tracks and spun slowly to face Harris. Mitchell’s eyes had appeared glassy as if they had been filled with tears for days.
“Mitchell, what happened here,” Harris asked, with his palm presenting the room.
The room had been destroyed. If anyone had known Mitchell for more than a second, they would’ve known him to be obsessive in his cleanliness. Sometimes to the point of obnoxiousness.
“I uh…” Mitchell took a half breath and sniffed, rubbing his nose on his sleeve. “Decided to do some therapeutic artwork.”
“In your office,” Harris asked as he observed the destruction within the four walls.
Mitchell shrugged weakly. “Yeah. Why not? This is a physical representation of what’s inside my mind.” He observed the damage and nodded. “Yep. It’s accurate.”
“Why don’t you take a seat and talk to me,” Harris said, reassuringly.
Harris pulled up a bent foldable chair that nearly buckled under his weight. Mitchell collapsed to the floor and lay on his back.
“That feels good,” Mitchell said with a sigh of relief.
“Good,” Harris replied. “Why don’t we start from the beginning…”
“You don’t have time for that,” Mitchell shot back quickly. Harris waited patiently as anyone would with a cat that just hissed. Mitchell’s knee soon rocked back and forth in the air.
“I don’t understand what’s going on with you Mitchell. You’ve gone weird ever since the high school reunion. What is this? An early mid life crisis?”
“Sure. It’s an early mid life crisis,” Mitchell said, stifling a smirk.
Harris rolled his eyes. “Is your collection still intact?”
Mitchell stopped rocking his knee and propped himself up on his elbows to see Harris completely. “Now, why did you ask me that?”
“Your collection? It’s your pride and joy,” Harris reasoned.
“It was my pride. Don’t know if it ever bought me joy.”
Harris frowned at the awful thought and rose to his feet. Mitchell tilted his head as his brain turned. Harris couldn’t believe his ears. Harris pointed and wagged his finger in the air ready to say something, but couldn’t. He marched out of the office and down to the back room. He swung door open expecting nothing but his memory of Mitchell’s extensive collection in a neat organized setup, but the room was hollow.
Mitchell strolled in and rested against the door frame as he nibbled on some almonds. “You seem bothered by all this?”
“Your collection. Where’s the rest of it?” Harris’ eyes were glued to the empty space that once held valuable items.
“I gave it away,” Mitchell said between chewing.
“I’m not sure,” Mitchell said, shrugging again. “Someone took just one from me and I went into a frenzy.”
Harris became more focused on what was there in the room than what was missing. “Is that a gun?”
“Yeah it’s been a rough couple of weeks,” he said grabbing a vodka bottle a taking a swig.
“What kind of trouble are you in,” Harris asked.
“The irreversible kind.”
“Mitchell, this is your life,” Harris began.
“No,” Mitchell interrupted. “This was my life. I collected things. Now, it can be someone else’s.” Mitchell went into the side closet of the room where some boxes lay in order. He emerged with a sealed, plastic package. “I know you wanted this. Take it. It’s yours.”
Harris felt the surface and was instantly transported back to when he was ten years old. Mitchell was there with him. He had same face, just smaller. In a room, much like the one he was just in. He could hear young Mitchell’s voice as he said no to Harris’ pleading for the plastic package. He very much desired the rare contents. But Mitchell stood by with a firm no.
Now Harris stood. The package was his. He didn’t have to fight or beg like he had used to and for a moment, he caught Mitchell smiling.
Mitchell left and ducked around the corner. “Hey, wait a minute. Come back,” Harris yelled.
“Pickup,” a strange voice called out.
“Right on time,” Mitchell said, rubbing his hands together as he approached the front door and opened it. He opened it and saw a man standing in front of him with green short sleeves and shorts. “Thank you for being prompt,” Mitchell started. “The boxes are right here. The instructions are in this envelope. And here’s a little extra for your troubles.” Mitchell produced a small, but fat white envelope in addition to the manilla envelope.
“Thank you, sir,” the delivery man said with a bow and a handshake.
“Mitchell, think about this. You’re going to get yourself killed,” Harris said, after the delivery men entered.
“Maybe that’s the point,” Mitchell said, squinting hard at the thought. Harris leaned over and could see a man, outside, leaning on his car across the street.
“You know, I’ve been thinking about this for a while,” Mitchell said, oblivious to his surroundings. “For the last decade. My life. How I treated others. Really poor of me.”
“There’s forgiveness Mitchell. There’s redemption. That’s how these things work.”
“Do you know the limited edition that was on sale at that old store,” Mitchell asked.
“Yeah. You were first on line.”
“I lied,” Mitchell spat. “I was last on line and I pushed and shoved my way to the front. Pushed over an old lady. It’s been resting on my conscious for over twenty years.”
“You can ask for forgiveness…”
“She died, Harris. That time has passed. This collection I’ve built… it was a mask for something horrible inside me. It was never reconciled. Not until now.”
The man was now standing in the middle of the street. Harris panicked.
“I think it’s time you go,” Mitchell said, picking up his gun and vodka.
“Come on, man,” Harris pled. “We can go together.”
The vodka bottle slipped out of Mitchell’s hand and shattered on the cold floor. “I think I’ll stay.”
Harris stood frozen in his shoes in silence, before he reached out with his arms to embrace his friend. Mitchell hugged him weakly.
“Go on,” Mitchell said quietly.
Harris peeled out of his planted feet and left in tears, past the stranger who was now standing on the lawn. The stranger didn’t make any utterances or eye contact. Harris knew that would be the last time he would see his friend before he died.