Bradley listened to the words of the song playing endlessly on his music player, its words being injected into his brain through the earplugs jammed into his ears and blocking out all sound from everything except his music.
“Secrets I hide in me,
Deep down inside of me
I keep them,
I keep them at bay
No one will ever know
What I don’t wanna show
I lock them,
I lock them away”
As the song echoed in his head, he wrote word after word on his computer. An endless stream of words, telling one story after another. All stories from his memory, his life. All things he’d lived through, endured, survived.
The time that old man demanded, “Look at me while I’m talking to you!” That old guy never knew, never understood, how hard it was for Bradley to look at anyone. Especially to make eye contact. Bradley hadn’t heard a damn word that guy had said. All he could remember was, “Look at me while I’m talking to you!”, and the old man’s eyes, the anger in them, the scars, the pain, the demand for respect. As if those eyes were saying, “I’ve been through hell in life, and I’ve earned some respect, damn-it! Now look at me while I torture you to get even with life for how it treated me!”
Bradley wrote it all down. Every memory of that moment. And the song played on and on, over and over, in his head.
“Oh worries, stop haunting me,
Don’t you keep taunting me!
I won’t be,
I won’t be no slave
I put you to rest for good,
I did the best I could
So get in,
get into your grave”
He wrote down his memory of the guy at work, the boss, the person in charge. The time that guy called him a prima donna. Yeah. A prima donna. “Spoiled rotten little primadonna.” Bradley never talked about it, not to anyone. He never let anyone know. It wasn’t the first time. It wouldn’t be the last. People had always said things about him. Always called him names. Primadonna. Sally. Bitch. Privileged white boy. Momma’s boy. Weakling. Clueless.
Bradley wrote down every name he could remember. Everything he remembered being called. No one knew. He never told anyone. How it felt. How he felt. Like when he was in Junior High, and the other boys called him, “Sally.” Even when he played street football with them, and his knees and elbows scraped up from landing on the asphalt and gravel, as his blood dripped from his fingertips, and he kept playing.
And still, they called him “Sally”.
He wanted to scream, to cry, to pick fights. He had nightmares of those fights where he wound up with busted lips, a broken nose, black eyes, and the other boys standing over him where he laid, beaten, on the ground, as they called him “Sally” over and over again.
He wrote it all down. Like he’d done a million times. Page after page. And all the while, that song played on, and on.
“Farewell ye gentlemen,
Goodbye my mental friends
Hear what I’m sayin’
Ashes and dust to dust,
That is the end of us
Oh Lord I’m prayin’”
When he couldn’t write anymore, he saved the file. Then he printed it. When the last page printed, Bradley placed the pages in a plastic bag, then went to his back yard, where he’d left his shovel.
In the middle of the night, while everyone was asleep, Bradley carefully cut a chunk of sod from his yard and placed it to the side knowing he’d need it later. In the bare dirt, he dug a four-foot deep hole. Carefully, he placed the bag of printed pages at the bottom of that hole and buried them under four feet of dirt, topped off with the sod. No one would know what he’d done.
And that song played over and over in his head. All night long.
“I’m goin’ to bury my troubles away
I’m goin’ to bury my troubles away”
This is my entry for Year 2, Week 39 (Week 2.39) of Jeff Tsuruoka‘s Mid-Week Blues-Buster flash fiction challenge. This week the prompt is the song, “Bury My Troubles” by Imelda MayI. Please, go read the other stories in the challenge.