He awoke on the couch with the gun still in his hand. The bright light shining through the windows must have woken him. He looked around the living room but his girlfriend wasn’t there. She hadn’t been home yet. It must have been a bad dream, he thought to himself.
He walked into the bathroom and looked into the mirror. He was not happy with what he saw. He saw his discontent, his failures, and his meaningless existence staring back at him. He didn’t even realize he was still holding the gun when he went to splash water on his face. He put it down on the sink and proceeded to try and wash the insecurities away. He looked back up at his reflection and he saw Stan behind him. Startled, he turned around and saw that no one was there.
His mind was playing tricks on him. Stan died years ago in an accident. An accident that he felt was avoidable. He thought that he should have been with Stan when it happened. He scooped up the gun and put it back in the safety box from where it came. He remembered his last conversation with Stan. He was leaving for vacation and told him, “I’ll see you in a week.” Stan never made it out of the hospital. The injuries he sustained in the car accident proved to be too much for the doctors to repair. He died during surgery.
A great sadness fell over him as he remembered his friend. If he were still around he’d tell him to stop feeling sorry for himself. He’d quote his favorite Rocky movies to him for inspiration. “Life isn’t about how hard you hit. It’s about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward.” He could hear Stan reciting the words.
He became confused because Stan didn’t live long enough to see the movie that he was quoting from. The last one that was made when Stan was around was Rocky IV. It was at least a 20-year difference. He shrugged it off as a false memory and started remembering Stan.
Stan was a few years older than he was when they first met and bonded over music. Stan got his license a few years before him and didn’t mind driving him around to record stores, concerts, fast food places, and the like. Stan also became of legal drinking age before him and because of this there was never a time when he would have to hang out in front of liquor stores and beg a stranger to buy him beer.
There were a few other people that Stan and he ran around with. He lost touch with most of them through the years, hearing about their exploits every now and again, reading about them in the crime section of The Bergen Record or worse, reading about them in the obituaries. Stan and he never lost touch. Sure, as they got older they didn’t see each other every day but they did manage to make time for one another one Sunday a month – Fun Day.
He remembered their last Fun Day. It was right before he was going on vacation with his fiancée. They hit up the burger joint and stopped at garage sales looking through other people’s garbage in hopes to find treasure. One of their jaunts had Stan find a piece that brought him right back to his childhood. It was a Batmobile complete with a plastic Batcave with secret entrance. It was missing the detachable road that connected to a small hand pump with “KAPOW!” emblazoned on it. When you depressed the pump it would break the plastic road apart allowing Batman a clear escape. Stan wanted it but was put off by the $20 price tag.
“What’s the best price you can do on this?” He asked.
“Twenty dollars.” Came the reply from the lady sitting on an old folding chair. She was seated at a foldout table guarding her black metal lunch box, which acted as her cash register, along with other assorted bric-a-brac. “Come on really. What’s the best price you do for me?”
“Just what the sticker says. Twenty dollars.”
“That’s a little exorbitant. How about five dollars?”
“Five dollars is way too low. I’m asking for twenty.”
“While normally I would gladly give you the full amount for this particular item, I cannot however offer that as it’s not a complete set.”
“No it’s not. You’re missing the break-a-way roads and the pump for it. The packaging is banged up, ripped, and dented pretty badly.”
“It’s over 40 years old.”
“Yes and while in remarkable shape for such an old piece, it’s still dented and ripped and pieces are missing from the set. If you accept my original five dollar offer I will gladly take it off your hands.”
“Five dollars is too low. She repeated.
“This late in the day, I’d hate to see you just pack it back up into the garage unsold. What do you say? Five dollars and we have a deal?”
“I’m sorry what?”
“Ten and it’s yours.”
“You, my dear lady, have a deal. Have a nice day.”
“You too and thank you.”
Stan and he walked away with Stan beaming at his find.
“Why are you so happy?” He asked his friend.
“Just got a steal of a deal.” Stan replied.
“But you said the box is all ripped up and it’s missing pieces.”
“Ah yes, but what you and that silver-haired young lady don’t realize is that I couldn’t care less about the box. I’m just going to throw it away anyway.”
“But what about the missing parts, the pump and the roads?”
“She also didn’t know that I have those already. Just lost the car and the cave years ago.”
“Frugality at it’s finest.”
“Come on let’s go test it out?”
“Aren’t we a little old for it?”
“Never too old. Let’s go. I’ll be Batman.”
“But you’re always Batman.” He said feigning a whining voice.
He snapped out of his flashback and walked back over towards the couch. He hadn’t noticed the blood splattered across the walls behind it, nor the puddle dripping from the couch to the floor. He was confused and staggered backwards into a solid object. Slowly turning around he was face to face with his dead friend, Stan.
“Stan?” he asked in bewilderment.
“But how? How are you here? You’re dead.”
“As are you my friend. As are you.”
…To Be Continued…