702

702

All of us on this floor knew when he came in every day. All. Of. Us.
The guy from 702, always furious, decorated with dark circles beneath his eyes and a permanently knit brow, shaggy black hair; untamed and reaching for his eyes.

I remember asking him once if he would stop by one day so I’d lend him some eye cream and maybe trim his hair, he had asked me to f*ck off. Pardon his French. I recall feeling so mortified and angry at myself for even asking, that I dropped the groceries I had been carrying. Since then, I avoided him like The Plague. I unsaw him. That is, he could be in my line of vision but I wouldn’t see him.

I remember Mother asking me to invite him over for Thanksgiving dinner. She said she pitied him, that he was always so alone. He never had anyone come to visit him, no woman, no man, and no child. No one. I said no, of course, ignoring her stunned silence but offering no explanation. She decided to go herself and I watched her walk determinedly down to 702, I watched the door slam in her face and she returned, her small dark hands fisted beside her. She gave prayers on his behalf, you know. Then, chided me for being unforgiving. My mother, so forgiving and easy-going.

“We all sin, child, but Jesus forgives.” She had said, inhaling her lavender tea.
“Does he, really?” I asked, then sipped on my martini.

Then one warm afternoon, towards the end of my shift, Mother called to tell me that 702 had come home earlier than usual. Mother had watched him more keenly after Thanksgiving. She said she had heard him slam his door, lean against it, undress which is a bit disturbing, if you ask me. Then she heard nothing. When I returned much later, I heard the fridge open and close, and bottles, maybe beer or wine.

When the cops came, I was in my room reading Cosmo, Mother was on the couch, knitting. The crack and split of a door alerted me and I ran to check on her, she was at the door, looking at 702.

Later I was asked to identify the guy. So I went into 702, pausing at the door to take it in, clothes folded neatly and everything in its place, I was shown the bathroom and 702 was sitting in the bath, his face pasty and grey, the red lines on his arms, the scalpel on his belly. Bath water, pink.

“Is that Bennett Kemeys?” The officer asked, his pen poised over a note pad.
I nodded slowly, “yes, that’s 702”

Yeah, I remember Bennett, I remember he died next door.
Mother said to me, “suicide is a sin, but God forgives”.
I took a long look at the apartment as I asked.
“Will he?”

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