Mickey is a freak – even he knows it. He has red hair – not the sexy strawberry blonde kind – more an Orangutan orange! His sloping shoulders lead to a skinny frame and milky skin. His face is pockmarked from many old pimples that he couldn’t stop picking. His job is a dead-end. He is desperate. He has no girlfriend, an insignificant past and no future. And his lift doesn’t go all the way to the top – if you know what I mean.
Poking around other people’s junk that could become his treasure, he wrinkles his nose at the shitty smell. He finds it sitting in the garbage. It’s on top of a filthy, old quilt and he is drawn to it. Black and silver and sexy, an old-fashioned typewriter, it calls to him as he stares at it. He’s powerless to resist and immediately puts it in his rucksack of junk before one of the other collectors claim it. If he had known what he was getting into, he would have run. Far and fast.
Mickey’s job as a garbage collector allows him access to loads of stuff. From the downright disgusting to the valuable – he sees it all. Not that it actually helps him out financially. It could, but he never sells anything, and his home is like a stinking dump itself which makes him feel right at home.
That night he pulls the filthy paper out of the machine – its says “75”. He wonders what that means. Mickey lovingly cleans it, spitting on a white tissue and wiping the keys, he wipes dust and old grime out of the mechanism. Key by key. After checking the ribbon, he puts a crisp piece of white paper in. With a smile he types “Hello” laughs and slugs his beer wondering what to type next. Maybe his suicide note….
“Hello” clacks onto the paper. He jumps back cursing as his beer spills down his dirty vest.
“What the hell?” he stares at the paper and absently wipes away the beer with his hand and then on his sticky vest. He hurriedly types out “Who is this?”
“I am … Instigation” it replies. He looks confused and stares around his dingy room in case someone is hiding and playing a trick on him. There are many shadows and hiding places and it won’t be the first time he feels he is being watched. It clacks again.
‘Mickey, I have a message for you. You are dying.”
“What the hell? What do you mean?”
“You know that tickle in your chest followed by the sharp pains? You are dying. But that’s not the worst part…” The clacking echoes through his rather empty head.
Mickey runs his hands through his dirty hair. “What is?” he whispers not stopping to think that you cannot talk to a machine. He waits breathing his beer breath on the typewriter.
“No-one is going to find you for 3 months. You are gonna stink out the place and they will never get the smell out. The flies will find you first, followed by huge, grey, diseased rats with yellow teeth.” Mickey feels sick.
“You need to take your own life where someone will find you quickly. TONIGHT. It’s the right thing to do”.
“No” Mickey cries big wet tears trailing the snot along his grubby face.
“YOU HAVE TO!”
“I can’t. I’m afraid.”
“Its better than rotting away with the rats and worms feeding on you for weeks and weeks.” Mickey brings up a little in the back of his throat but manages to swallow it.
“What if you are wrong? What if those pains are just – I dunno – indigestion? My mother died from cancer and it took a long time. That’s heredital isn’t it?” he says getting the word wrong.
“It isn’t cancer and you know it.” Mickey continues to snivel. He is so pitiful sitting there crying, his grimy bald head shiny in the weak, yellow light.
“Take me to the roof. Take me now!” Mickey shakes his head.
“I will support you. I am here. Don’t be afraid.”
Weeping quietly Mickey picks up the typewriter and walks slowly out of the door and up to the roof, he doesn’t take the elevator because it’s slower to walk. He is breathing heavily by the time he gets there.
“Mickey. Your life is over. You don’t want to suffer the humiliation of being eaten by rats, do you?”
“No” he whines.
“Then do it. NOW! Think of the rats. Biting, gnawing through your eyes, your balls. They won’t wait you know. They will eat you while you are dying. Its horrifically painful, the ripping and pulling…”
This time Mickey is sick. He looks over the side at the wet sidewalk below, feeling the pull of vertigo. There is a parkade across from his building. Its dark and Mickey knows it smells like feces, its gross. Just like him.
‘I can’t do it.” He whines and sits down hard on the cold, wet cement.
“Mickey are you afraid?” Clack-clack.
“Don’t be. Its brave to do this – you are a man, aren’t you?”
“Then do it! Take control for once. Show them all that you have some balls. DO IT! DO IT! DO IT!” The harsh clack-clack-clack continues, the only other sound is the whining wind.
Mickey stands and faces it. Its cold and chills his face where his tears and snot run. The typewriter is silent now – waiting.
Sobbing – he steps onto the low wall, slips and manages to catch himself. He looks back at the typewriter and then down. Its so far to the ground.
He can’t see that far but the typewriter is shouting “Go! Go! Go!” he hears the clack-clack. Spreading his arms, he leans forward until there is no going back. He screeches in terror. He falls.
Seconds later from the roof all you can hear is a squishing wet splat. It’s over.
The typewriter glows in the moonlight. Clack-clack.
“76”. It waits.