The Movie’s End. Part 3
Tracy heard Mike’s feet scuffing across the hardwood floor as he came out of the bedroom. She had no desire to speak to him, so she pretended to be engrossed in the show, hoping he’d wander out to the kitchen, or maybe he would leave the trailer entirely, finding somewhere else to pass the time until she was gone.
She couldn’t be so lucky. In her peripheral vision, Tracy saw him standing there. He was facing her, his hands at his side, staring at her. Not only is he pathetic, Tracy thought, but he’s a creep!
He was quiet for so long that, when Mike finally did speak, it made Tracy flinch. She hoped he hadn’t noticed; the last thing she wanted was for him to think she was intimidated by him. This wimp couldn’t even scare a neurotic cat.
“Tracy,” Mike said, “I forgive you.”
Forgive me? Tracy thought. For cheating? Well, guess what, loser? I don’t give a fuck if you forgive me or not.
This was the response Tracy’s mind was prepared to administer, but she feared it might start a long, drawn-out conversation. She needed another response, but what could she say? “Thank you?” No, her pride wouldn’t let her to utter those words; it implied she felt sorry for what she had done, and nothing could be further from the truth. Oh, but what words would suffice then? The seconds were ticking by, and he was waiting for her to say something.
Finally, Tracy settled on the most non-committal thing she could think of.
And that was it. He wasn’t going to get any more out of her. Tracy kept her eyes on the television, twirling her hair around one finger, waiting for him to go away.
But he didn’t. Instead, Mike addressed her again.
“Tracy, did you hear me?” he asked insistently.
This was her moment. Tracy knew if she got a little aggressive, Mike would scamper away. She could pretend she was agitated over the fact that he was interrupting her show when she clearly didn’t care what he said.
With her best out-of-control bitch voice, Tracy said, “Goddammit, Mike, don’t you see I’m trying to watch a show here?”
Just as she got to the “dammit” part of her first word, she dramatically snapped her head in his direction. In the past, she noticed that shouting accompanied by a sharp, sudden movement were enough to make him back down. This time, that didn’t happen, but Tracy tried not to let her surprise show on her face. She glared at him, waiting for the moment when he would break.
It wasn’t until he raised his hand that she realized he wasn’t going to…
…because he was holding a gun.
Tracy opened her mouth to tell him to put down the weapon so they could talk things out, but she didn’t have time. Mike flexed his finger, and a bullet exploded out of the gun. He was no marksman, but at this distance it would have been impossible to miss. Tracy’s head rocked back as the bullet slammed into the right side of her skull, entering just above the eye and ripping through the back. There was an audible crunch when the tiny hunk of metal cracked her head open, followed by the wet sounds of brains and blood splashing against the wall behind her. Tracy’s body slumped back and slid down the couch, stopping just short of toppling to the floor. Mike watched her body tremble as the nerve endings twitched in their final death throes. He set the gun on the couch cushion beside her and waited.
Once her quaking was done, Mike picked up Tracy’s body, carrying her into their bedroom and placing her on the bed. As he did this, Mike wondered if she’d had her affair right here in their room. Then he laughed at himself. What an absurd thing to wonder. What difference did it make?
Tracy’s body was now resting on the gasoline-soaked mattress. She hadn’t heard Mike go out the backdoor to retrieve the gas can from his truck, and apparently, she also hadn’t detected the odor of gasoline filling the trailer. If she had, then Mike was certain she would have taken off and foiled his whole plan. Thank God for the Jerry Springer Show because if Tracy hadn’t been so engrossed in that, then Mike would not have been able to do as he pleased now.
With Tracy in place, Mike had only two steps left. He grabbed the gas can and spread what remained of the fluid around the trailer. It didn’t take long because he’d used a lot in the bedroom. His reason for this was symbolic: they had slept together in that room. They’d held each other close, fallen asleep while spooning, had sex there, put most of their possessions in there. It was the place that contained the bulk of their memories together. Therefore, that was the room that had to be burned the most thoroughly. Mike realized he’d used far too much in the bedroom when he got to the kitchen, and only a few drops of gasoline came out. No matter. As long as that bedroom was obliterated, he didn’t care if any of the other rooms burned.
Mike went back into the bedroom, dropping the gas can just inside the door. He went over to the bed, digging a book of matches out of his breast pocket. It dawned on him that he wanted another cigarette first. He stepped back from the bed, so the match wouldn’t make the fumes ignite.
Once the tip of his cigarette was glowing, Mike took two more steps back. The mattress was so soaked that the flames might jump right up to the ceiling once the match landed, and he didn’t want to get caught in the blast.
Mike struck another match and threw it on the bed. It blew out before it touched down, and then he remembered the ceiling fan was still on! He reached up and pulled the string to deactivate it. Then he ignited a third match and pitched it at the mattress, only to watch the flame die out again.
Mike realized what he had to do. He took a step closer to the bed, leaning forward at the waist as he struck match number four. Then, with reflexes he wasn’t even aware he had, Mike threw the burning stick at the bed and jumped back to the doorway. This time, the flame survived its short trip through the air. Just as he’d predicted, the bed practically exploded once the flame touched down. He moved back another step, raising an arm to shield his face against the blast of heat. He remained in the doorway for another moment, peeking over the edge of his forearm to watch the corpse and bed burn. He left when the flames started creeping around the room.
Mike sat on the couch, staring at the Jerry Springer Show credits and listening to the sound of the flames crackling in the bedroom. There was nothing to do now but sit and wait. Out of instinct, he picked up the remote control. He was going to die, but that didn’t mean he had to be bored while he waited.
Mike changed the stations several times. There was either nothing on that he wanted to see, or the program was on a commercial break. He knew he could flip to the TV Guide Channel if he really wanted to find something of interest, but he didn’t feel like waiting through the slow crawl of that menu. Knowing his luck, the flames would reach the couch just as he found something good.
Mike continued to press the “channel up” button, wading through what few stations he and Tracy got, until he came across something amazing, something that blew his mind, something that made him realize the universe was speaking to him.
He came across a station that was playing Metropolis.
Tears welled up in Mike’s eyes. This was an example of the stars aligning just right, something which very rarely happened to him. The saddest part was that, when the news featured a story about this tragic murder-suicide, the irony of this moment would not be discussed. It would be lost in the ashes.
Mike put the remote down and stretched out on the couch, watching the movie that Tracy hadn’t let him finish, while the flames spread. When a commercial break came, he glanced over to see how fast the fire was moving. Judging by the speed at which the trailer was going up, it wouldn’t take that long to reach him.
And he laughed. He laughed at the stupid, bitter, sad, irony of it all. Of everything. Of his life. Of this moment.
He laughed because he realized that, after all these years, he still wouldn’t get to see the movie’s end.