M. Claude

Now I should tell you that my morning responsibilities included tending to Marcel Jr. He ate too much, but I told you that already. My career as a journalist permitted me to arrive at the office later than most of the worker bees. The subway was always clear. I liked that. Marcel Jr. deserved a lot of attention. Perhaps deserved is not the right word. He needed a lot of attention. In the mornings, I’d help him brush his teeth, take a bath, and get dressed before breakfast. Then I’d drop him off at a daycare like a package at the post office. It was simple enough, and one could say it was our routine. That routine included my getting ready too, and I never once left the apartment without pants. I was a good citizen. I think I still am. On January 7, 1991, I went into little Marcel’s room and found him sleeping. I woke him up by giving him a gentle shake. He rubbed his eyes and frowned at me. He wasn’t very tired, and stepped out of his little bed without any coaxing. I was thankful, as I would have been unable to give him any. In the bathroom, we brushed our teeth side by side at the sink while I ran water for a bath. The tub was around a small walled corner. It was a large bathroom for that size apartment. The apartment had some tasteless art that I picked out. We had some hanging plants too.

There was no sound. I feared I was turning mad. The silence was relentless. Every normal action of the day was accompanied by an abyss of emptiness, and thus, everything seemed new to me…

As I cleaned my teeth, I was struck by the strangeness of the internal sounds created by the bristles against my teeth and gums. It was amazing that although I had no sense of hearing, I could at least sense a subtle vibration. I would be lying if I said it kept hope alive. Because it didn’t. I was very frightened that morning, and my thoughts were all on myself. Even when Marcel Jr. was with me at the sink, I barely noticed him. I was obsessive in perceiving my sudden losses of ability. In the reflection in the mirror, I noticed that Marcel Jr. asked me something. I made him no answer. In the first, I hadn’t heard the question. Secondly, I couldn’t speak. He didn’t understand, and looked at me with wide imploring eyes.

Before shaving, I walked Marcel Jr. over to the tub. He would usually sing in the tub, and it was something I was accustomed to hearing. The water was the right temperature, and I lifted him in. Seeing the water splash around without hearing a single molecule of the whole soup of bubbles was distressing. Marcel Jr. smiled at me. I then returned to the sink. Placing my hands on the counter, I leaned into the mirror before me, staring earnestly into the dumb expression on my face. I hung my head, and reflected on my plight. Miserably, I sobbed at the sink. When I was through with my silent lament, I poured a regular amount of shaving cream into my palm. I slapped my face, as I’ve seen men in trances do to break their spell. There was no sound. I feared I was turning mad. The silence was relentless. Every normal action of the day was accompanied by an abyss of emptiness, and thus, everything seemed new to me, in a unique, vicious sort of way. It was at the sink that I went into a kind of shock. I had never been in shock before, but when I looked into the mirror and attempted to scream, it was too much for me. I watched as my lips quibbled under the intense mental energies exerted by my brain as it ordered them to part. I slammed my face against the mirror, shattering it into fragments. In the splintered remnants that remained moored to the wall, I saw a pretty little triangular piece sticking out of my forehead. I then lost consciousness.

When I awoke, I remember an intense whiteness surrounding me. There was a tube running from my wrist and a number of devices blinking near my head, which rested on two foam pillows. I think there were two pillows. Yes, I am decidedly of the recollection that there were two and not three. At my sides were my wife, a nurse, and two police investigators. The police were in plain clothes, but they showed me badges. It was polite of them to identify themselves. I could tell from watching their mouths that they were all talking to me at once. One of the investigators put a hand up, calling the others to silence. He was the leader of the two officers. He looked like the leader. He had a mustache and the other did not. Men with mustaches are commonly leaders. The officer with the mustache grew impatient with me immediately. I could see his brow furrow, and when he ushered for the other officer to walk Elisabeth and the nurse out of the ugly, sterile room, I knew it was for some other reason than to do me a kindness. When the two women had departed, he showed me photographs of Marcel Jr. face down in the tub. I winced directly, and lunged for the remaining photographs in the officer’s hand. He withdrew them from my reach, glaring at me in an unmoved, discourteous sort of way. I hollered and screamed, but at once did not feel my cheeks so much as move. It was obvious that I remained utterly silent in the hospital bed. I could not see through the tears, nor could I hear the officer’s words as he came very near my face and yelled many things at me. He had an awful odor on his breath of putrid eggs and old coffee. He reeked of an obnoxious, harassing sulfuric tincture.

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