He sat with a lit cigarette between his fingers and another still smoldering in the ashtray. He sat watching the rain slather against the windows of the empty newsroom at the newspaper where he worked. It was after midnight and insomnia wasn't alone in keeping him awake. A blank sheet of paper in the typewriter in front of him... he couldn't use a computer anymore since he left the big time in a big city for the small time in a small town. He couldn't write when the office was full of other workers and he couldn't write in his room. Dank and musty... that was what he saw of himself in the mirror, that was his room where he kept his other suit, his other shirt, his other pair of shoes.
He had gone earlier to a bar for a drink instead of dinner. He didn't drink anymore, but he liked to have a shot of whiskey in front of him to smell it, to stare at it. He didn't talk to anyone, he seldom did. He went to the bar as a remembrance of other times and other people. Finally, as his mouth went dry and his eyes blurred, he left out the back door to walk across the fields to his room. He stepped into the parking lot and into a bizarre scene. Two women, one young, one old, were facing each other, one with a gun in her hand. The older one was sweating and with a falsetto laugh said:
"All I have to say is... look around you, what do we got? The whole god damned country is shot to hell. And you know why? I'll tell you... it started when they shot Jack Kennedy. You know that? You know where I was... I was sitting in a psychologist's office taking an interview-test for a new job, of all places... and suddenly this guy gets a phone call and slams down the phone and says: 'They just shot Kennedy!' I tell you, I ran out into the street and everything had stopped moving, all the buses and cars. Everybody was wandering around like in a daze, you know? And that's the way it's been ever since. They killed King and Bobby and then the oil embargo and this shit war and that shit Nixon, and now what do we got? Hey, this is 1976, we're supposed to be celebrating the anniversary of our great country. And what do we got... disco music, platform shoes, everybody screwing everybody... we got nothing, except one thing: us, family. That's what goes on... that's what keeps it all together, that's what...abides! I love that word. "
Then she shot the younger woman, twice in the chest. Then she shot herself, once in the head.
He was a witness, the only one until the shots rang out. He saw it all, heard it all. He had seen it all and heard it all before. It wasn't part of any remembrance. This was now and he was a witness. This was now and he had to write about it.
The rain had stopped, the glass of the windows dried and cleared. He sat staring at the blank windows in front of him. His mouth was still dry but his eyes didn't hurt anymore. His eyes saw nothing, his ears heard nothing. There was only the blank sheet of paper in his typewriter and his fading memory. He waited for that memory to disappear so he could go home... to the room where he couldn't sleep.