A few minutes earlier, he was standing in his bunker, angry that someone had figured out what he was doing and found their way inside like rodents in the pantry. Prior to that, he heard the rustle of leaves in the barren woods behind his home accompanied by voices screaming, “He’s got a gun!”
Previously, he stood on his porch, aimed for the night sky, and squeezed the trigger, warning all who dared upon the property that he had no reason to be afraid.
Two minutes before the gunshot, his four year old daughter was wailing, “There’s a monster!”
But first, he had awoken abruptly to his wife’s panicked eyes glinting in the dark, his daughter’s fear, and a knocking that sounded like old pipes settling beneath the house.
One year earlier, Bobby glanced up the street and saw little lumps like blobs of tar as far as the eye could see. They lay across the suburban landscape of roads, cars, and rooftops like blots of ink from a leaky pen altering the canvas of a perfect painting. They made him think about survival.
Ten seconds prior to that thought, Bobby broke the silence and asked his neighbor if he could borrow her broom to do the same. Before breaking the silence, he watched his neighbor use the old broom to sweep the corpses of blackbirds from the roof and hood of her car. Moments earlier, he looked at his own car and knew he had to do something. A few minutes prior, he walked out his front door to go to work, but instead, he slowly froze like cooling wax and noticed his neighbors were all outside in silence slowly aiming their astonished faces in every conceivable direction.
Earlier, at four in the morning, he stood barefoot in his bathrobe on his front lawn and stared up at his roof. A couple of minutes before he ventured outside, he woke up to the sound of thump, thump above his bed.
Two years before the thumping, Bobby told the real estate agent, “We’ll take it.” Five minutes prior to the acquisition, in the empty echoing foyer of their soon-to-be new home, Bobby and his wife smiled, embracing each other, sandwiching their one-year-old daughter between them with love.
A year and three months earlier, the happy couple stood holding each other in their small one bedroom apartment, celebrating the great news. Thirty seconds before the celebration, Bobby felt a wave of joy so strong it made his face hot and his eyes water like melting ice cubes.
Preceding that moment, Bobby’s wife sobbed, “I’m pregnant.”
Ten seconds previous to that, Bobby’s face was confused when he asked, “What is it?”
One minute before he asked, Bobby’s wife hysterically cried and said, “I’m so sorry I’ve been such a mess lately. I’ve just been so scared about money and everything, and there is something I haven’t told you.”
A minute before that, they cried out, smiled, and embraced one another.
Three minutes before the embrace, Bobby received a phone call that said, “We’d like to hire you for the teaching position.”
Fifty-nine minutes prior to the offer, Bobby blinked maniacally, quickly disregarded the breaking news on TV reporting that the bee population was critically low, turned his attention to his wife and with frustration replied, “Somehow, I will always take care of you. I don’t give a shit what I have to do.”
One minute before his vow, with a shaking voice accompanied by shaking hands, Bobby’s wife asked, “If this doesn’t work out, how are we going to survive?”
Rick Carr works as a Learning Assistant for a community college in New Jersey. Previously, he has had work published at Blazevox.org. He attained his BA from New School University in 2005, and is currently working on his MFA through the Solstice Low-Residency Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing Program of Pine Manor College in Massachusetts. At the moment, Rick is working on two novels and a collection of short stories titled, “The American Nightmare.” Rick has also been making music for more than half of his life. He sang and wrote lyrics for the experimental band T.W.i.NE. from 1997 to 2009, and he is presently beginning a new musical project. You can follow Rick at www.twitter.com/IAmRickSee