A man in his early to mid thirties sits in a shabby room, on a shabby couch, playing outdated video games. He wears mostly black, the only colour on his clothes being a dark image on the front of his favorite band t-shirt. He wears black socks, black denim jeans, black leather arm-bands, and a black toque (beanie for non-Canadians). The remnants of eyeliner smoke and smudge his eyelids and the expression on his face is dark and brooding. Little else can be gleaned from his face, aside from the occasional scowl he makes at the game he is playing.
The camera moves from a low angle, left of head-on, to a higher angle from the left (or right) side. His cell phone sits on his lap, his feet up on his cheap coffee table. Frustrated, he growls throatily at his TV, pauses his game and places his controller on the table. He then rises to skulk off to the washroom to relieve himself, taking his phone with him. The camera follows him. As he sits to urinate (some guys do that, don't judge him), he checks random social media accounts. He sighs heavily as he finds no important notifications and puts his phone in his pocket. The man, medium height and slightly heavy build, finishes on the toilet, washes his hands, and leaves the washroom.
Before sitting back down to resume his gaming, he retrieves an empty, capless whiskey bottle from his coffee table and heads to the kitchen. He proceeds to the sink and begins to run cold water, leaning on the counter/sink. As he lets the water get colder, he takes off his toque and ruffles his hair, which has been cut in to the style known commonly as a “mohawk” or “warrior stripe”. He lowers his head, scratching at his scalp and then rubbing the back of his neck. He lets his mid-length hair hang down for a moment, giving his scalp some well-needed oxygen, then suddenly whips his head up and back. He runs the fingers of both hands through his hair to pull it back, then uses one hand to keep it back and the other hand to put the toque back on his head. He then fills the empty alcohol bottle from the faucet, turns off the water and walks back to the couch to retake his place in front of the television.
As he sits, he pulls his phone from his pocket and places it on his lap once more, making sure to put his feet up on the table in front of him once more. For a short moment he just leans back and pinches the bridge of his nose, inhaling sharply and then exhaling a drawn out sigh. Tilting his head from side to side, he leans forward to retrieve his controller and does not find it where he was sure he had just placed it. A confused look crosses his face as he raises one eyebrow and tilts his head to the side. He slowly looks around and finds the controller on the sofa, a few hands' widths from his right hip. Now both eyebrows peak in the centre as he retrieves the item. He sits for a few seconds, expression unchanged, though now facing forward, with a mild distance in his eyes, as if he is trying to remember if he had actually placed his controller where he had found it or where he had reached for it. Shaking his head and shrugging, as if deciding that it did not matter, he settles in, resumes his game, and his face slowly takes on the look of gloomy concentration once more. The camera fades.
The camera fades into view on the same room as before, a medium-height view from the right end of the room. The same man is laying on the sofa, head on the arm of the couch. His right arm is draped over his eyes, elbow pointed upward, and his toque has been pulled down to the tip of his nose for added darkness and comfort. Suddenly, on the table beside him, his phone screams to life, blaring a heavy, aggressive ring tone and rattling on the table. Heaving upward to a seated position and tearing his toque off, the man gasps and cries “Jeebus!”. Gaining his bearing and composing himself, he reaches down and retrieves his phone, swiping at the screen to answer the incoming call. He activates speaker mode on the phone and sets it on the table before him. Rubbing his eyes, he proceeds to greet the caller.
“Hello?” He asks.
“Yes, hello.” Comes the reply. “By chance, is this Joseph? Joseph N. Cubus?”
“I am sorry to disturb you at this late hour, but it is a matter of unfortunate importance...”
At this, the man now known as Joseph glances at the clock above the television, frowning at the strange hour, and opens his mouth to grumpily inquire the nature of the call and is interrupted as the man on the other end continues after a very short pause.
“Mister Cubus, I am loathe to be the bearer of unpleasant news, but it seems that there has been an incident regarding your ex-wife and, sadly, your son, Arthur.”
“Who is this?! What is going on that you need to be calling me at “Hell-o-clock”? Is my son okay?”
“Regrettably, I have called to inform you of your son's untimely death in what seems to have been a partially completed murder-suicide. Your ex-wife is in the hospital in dire condition. Her family has asked everyone to stay “mum” on the location, so I am unable to disclose which hospital she is in and the hospitals have all been asked to forward you to me.”
“Whoever you are, you had better be making a very tragic and cruel attempt at a prank call!” Joseph growls, expression moving from fearful to angry as the caller reveals the information.
“OH! Forgive me, I have neglected to identify myself! My name is Constable Michael M. Sussinkt of the (local) police force. I am the lead on the case. If you wish to discuss this in person, you are welcome to proceed to my office at the North Precinct. Office number is two-oh-one, and my phone number is(blahblahblah). Alternately, I understand if you need some time to process the news.....” After a short pause, “Are you still there, sir?”
“Jeebus,” Joseph moans, “you are serious.”
“As a heart attack, if you will forgive what I realize now is a poorly chosen expression.”
“I need to process. I'll call you.” Joseph then picks up the phone, ends the call before the Constable can reply, and sets it back on the table.
As he sits there, he clamps both hands on their respective ends of the table and, almost imperceptible at first, slowly begins to rock back and forth as his knuckles turn from red to white. A low noise begins to come from Joseph's throat as his rocking increases and what starts as a throaty rumble turns into an anguish filled roar.
“AAAAAAAAARRRRRRTHUUUUUUURRRRRRRRRRR!!!!!” Joseph shouts as he erupts into motion, hurling the table across the room and into the TV. Having connected with the television screen, rendering it a spidery web of broken glass, the table falls to its side on the floor, inches from Joseph's feet. Still standing, heaving massive breaths with a look of panicked agitation, he kicks the table, sending it away from himself toward the other end of the living room, uttering a guttural moan and dropping to his knees. Settling on his knees, he collapses forward, landing on his forearms and resting his forehead against the hard, unwelcoming floor. Joseph begins to sob heavily and dryly as the camera fades away.
One last time, the camera fades back in on the living room sofa. Joseph is sprawled, forlornly, along the length of the couch, which is now on its back instead of its legs. Looking wan and lifeless, he almost seems to not breathe as time crawls by, face shiny from tears now spent and ended. Heaving a massive sigh, Joseph lifts an arm to grip the upended front of the sofa and groans as he pulls himself to a standing position. Suddenly looking resolved, he glares at the clock above the demolished television which now rested at an angle against the wall, still on top of the entertainment stand. The time now reads twelve-o-clock, though it is not apparent in the room whether it is night or day.
“It has only been a matter of hours, Arthur, but these hours have been an eternity of Hell. It won't be long now.”
As Joseph trudges toward the kitchen, his cell phone rattles on the floor and blares the same ring tone as before. Joseph pauses, mid-step, but then continues to the kitchen, deciding to ignore the call entirely. He reaches the sink and opens the cupboard above it, retrieving a full bottle of vodka. Not closing the top cupboard, he then opens the cupboard below the sink and extracts a hefty toolbox, straining against the weight of it. Opening the tool box, Joseph digs through the mess of tools and takes a carpet knife. He then proceeds to the washroom, saying quietly to the air, “A bath, Arthur, and then I will be coming to see you.” The bathroom door closes and the camera fades out one last time.