Box

By Ben Sumner
7/9/95

Where the hell am I? My head’s killin me! Got a bump the size of a baseball! How did I get here? Can’t remember anythin. I can’t remember nothin bout anythin!

“Ugh… helpuh… helpuh…”

Throat hurts… hurts to talk. Where am I? Everythings dark. Smells like shit in here! Isit mine? Don’t feel nothin but this goddam wood! It’s wood around the walls, too! I’m in a goddam box!

“Hellllllpuh… Helpuh!”

My throat’s killin me! My yells’s like I’m whisperin!

Can’t get out! Can’t speak! Goddam eyes burn when it’s opened. The air’s hurtin em, like bein in a dusty room. Can’t see a damn thing anyway. At least this box ain’t airtight. Don’t know where the air’s comin from, but at least I can breath. Breath through my mouth and it hurts, breath through my nose and it ain’t enough air. Can’t even breath normally.

Stomach’s snarlin like a tiger. Can’t remember the last time I ate. What did I eat? Chicken? Steak? Can’t think bout food now. It’s makin me more hungry.

Why’m I naked? Why’d they take off my clothes? Are they a bunch of goddam perverts who keep me in here and take me out to rape me when their peckers get hard? My ass ain’t hurtin, so it can’t be that…

Need some damn water. Throat’s dry as a drought, like I’ve been screamin… screamin for help… but I don’t remember screamin that long… Don’t remember anythin! They took my goddam memory!

“They took it from me!”

Who took it from me? Why would someone take away my memory? I must’ve done somethin. What could I’ve done? Kill somebody? I’d never kill nobody. Killin’s wrong. Killin’s bout the worst thing somebody can do. Steal somethin? What’d I steal? Rob a bank? Steal other people’s money? What kind of punishment’s this for stealin money?

Maybe I did somethin good, and the enemy got me. I can’t be in this alone. Got caught bangin another man’s wife? I banged that wench good, then her husband busts in with a shotgun and knocks me over the head and puts me in this box. I’m a prisoner.

I oughtta try to stand. Maybe there’s standin room up there.

“Owe!” Bumped my damn head. Hurts even worse now. Need some aspirin. Isit bleedin? My hairs all greasy. No blood. Just a bump but it hurts like hell. Right on toppa my head, where the hair spirals inward, and where it starts baldin when you get old. I ain’t bald, so I can’t be that old. I haven’t shaved for a while. Got myself one of them week-old beards.

Now I’m up but I can’t stand… The cells bout five feet by five feet by five feet, a cube. Ninety degree angles. Four corners in a square, eight in a cube. Eight sides in a… octagon, and eight legs on a… octopus. Must have takin geometry or somethin on the other side.

What’s this down here? It’s some kind of handle or somethin. Maybe it’s the way out. Damn. It barely opens. I better keep it shut. Wait. Gotta take a leak. I can do it in there. Gotta turn around.

There we go. I hear it landin. I can shit in there, too. Sounds like it’s goin down a drain. At least I got a pot to piss in! It ain’t all that bad, as long as someone brins me some food!

Now why else could I be here? I was a spy and I got caught. It was a mission, and I succeeded, but then I got caught. I found out that Russia gots nuclear missiles. I told the United States of America that they got them missiles. The United States found out and attacked Russia before they had the chance to use those missiles and destroy our cities. But I was still over in Russia when it happened. It was a suicide mission that saved American lives. They say I’m the man that saved America and they think I’m dead, but I ain’t dead. I’m here. Once they rescue me I’ll be a hero. I’ll get a beautiful woman. Maybe my wife.

Can’t remember if I got a wife or kids. But I’d get one as soon as I get out. I’d be livin in one of them mansions with my redheaded wife and two kids. It got itself a swimmin pool, a garden with flowers, and a statue of one of them angel boys with the harp and the wings and water comin out its dick. What’s them things called again? A cherub, or a seraph. Kind of like them St. Valentine’s Day dudes shootin lovers with his arrows. Now I remember that not all love works out. Maybe Cupid shot em with real arrows. Hell, maybe I had a wife and it didn’t work out. That’s why I’m thinkin bout this stuff.

Man, I can’t even remember if I’ve been with a woman or not. I’m sure I have, but I can’t remember a moment of it. Still got this redhead chick in my head for some reason. Damn, she’s hot. I’d bang her every few minutes for the rest of my life if I got the chance. Maybe she’s my wife.

Ain’t gonna kill me if I think bout her for a while. Thinkin bout her. Hey baby… “Hi cutie” she says, flashin me a smile and a wink. Forget the date, hell, she just wants to do it… Get up now, Willie… Come on, don’t leave me hangin… Giddyup! Up and at em! God damn it get up!

Fuck! It’s hangin there like a noodle! Can’t even wank off in this goddam place! I’m hornier than a fag at a weiner roast and there ain’t shit I can do bout it!

Ain’t a damn thing. Ain’t nothin to do but try and remember. Try to remember what I did, what I learned…

I ain’t learn shit. Instead of doin homework I hung with all the gals. Me and my buddies stayed up every night, drinkin brews and playin poker. I got in a fight with the star football player and kicked his ass. Balled a few sweeties in the back of a pick-up by the tracks.

And now all them people I knew, they’re all on the other side, livin rich or poor, family or none, but they’re sure as hell livin better than me. I guess I was the one who’d never make it. I deserve to be put here because I didn’t accomplish a damn thing in my life except bangin young girls and startin fights and hawkin cheap shit from dollar stores. I wasted my whole life only to forget it all and end up here! I know I was put in here for a reason, and I know it wasn’t good! I’ll probably die in here and that’s what I’m hopin will happen cause I can’t live like this! People are out there on the other side with a wife and kids, a job, a house, food to eat, a bed to sleep in. They’re takin it for granted. I don’t even got a book to read. They got books all over the place and don’t read em. I never read em, either. I may not have done a lot of the things I’m thinkin I have, but I sure as hell know I wasted my life. Now I’m cursin em for screwin around, takin life for granted. That’s all I can do now! I can curse em all I want but it won’t do a bit of damn good. No one can hear me but myself. I’m in my own world and I don’t got nothin but my thoughts. There ain’t no point in livin no more. There ain’t nothin worse that could happen to me.

“Why can’t I just be dead? Why I gotta stay in here?”

What’s that smell? It ain’t the crap like before. It smells like… bread. Gotta get up, feel around. Feelin, feelin, feelin. Remember that spot, cause that’s where I bumped my head, right up top there. Didn’t check this wall yet. This was right where my head was restin. What’s this? It’s a hole in the wall. It’s a bowl. There’s somethin in the bowl!

MMMM, bread.

Cool! There’s a cup here too!

Water. There ain’t no better drink than water. Except beer and Jack Daniels. That’s gotta be a trace of memory left in my head. I don’t remember no solid events in my life but I know I like the Jack. But I ain’t cravin for nothin but more food and water.

Wait. Cigarettes. I can use one of them luckies right bout now. Don’t want no drugs. I ain’t snortin or smokin nothin but cigarettes and fresh air if I get the chance. Got all my teeth. I guess I ain’t no crack addict, or if I was, not that bad.

Seems like I got a friend after all, whoever it was that gave me this food. I got all I need to survive. I can piss and shit through this here trap door. As long as someone brings that food to me I should be able to live. Of course once I get out I’m not gonna be able to walk straight. Better bend my arms and legs as best I can to keep em from tightenin up. There we go. Snapped like a twig and cracked like popcorn.

Guess I gotta keep myself in the best shape as possible. It ain’t comfortable in here at all. I can’t stay in the same position for too long. I’ll just move around frequently. I’ll shake my legs back and forth and stretch my arms as best I can. I can move my head around and exercise my jaw. I can try and touch my toes.

I wonder how often I’m gettin that bread and water. Maybe every day, at least. As long as it ain’t string beans. Bread’s good, and so’s water. But beggars can’t be choosers. I wouldn’t mind havin some chicken wings and ranch dressin with a pop. Damn, there goes my stomach. Better stop thinkin bout food. I’ll be hungry even after I eat. My stomach’ll eventually get used to it. I’ll be losin a lot of weight in here. I’m not that fat, anyway. Maybe 175 pounds. But the redhead woman’s much smaller, like a hun pounds or somethin… I’d throw her over my shoulder like a sack of potatoes…

She’s stuck in my mind like crazy glue. Damn she’s knut-bustin beautiful. I met her before, but I can’t remember nothin else. I think she has kids, but I hardly remember. Maybe she’s tellin me somethin. She means somethin to me. I used to have these dumb dreams that didn’t mean nothin or make any sense. I remember I dreamed bout workin at a restaurant and they ran out of cheese. All the employees went over to my house because they had to close the restaurant because there was no cheese, only it wasn’t my house, and we stayed there. That redhead means somethin. Maybe I’ll dream bout her and she’ll say somethin. Maybe I’ll find out if she has kids. It’s hard to believe that she ever had kids with her hour glass figure.

Dammit, gotta think where I’m at. I can’t be in one of them government penal institutions. I’m American, I know that. America don’t have solitary confinement like this. This’s cruel and unusual punishment, and America don’t tolerate that. So I guess I narrowed it down a little. I ain’t dead, I ain’t in an American jail. I’ve been kidnaped. There ain’t nothin else left but that. I was thinkin that I was a spy before. Maybe I’m a prisoner of war. I could be in Nam. No, that ended, and I should be able to remember if I was. War memories are supposed to stay with you forever. No one forgets servin in a war. Then again, I can’t even remember my name. How am I supposed to remember bein in a war if I can’t remember my own name? I’ll give myself a name. Bob. Robert Jones. I like that. If I get out of here, I’ll tell everyone I’m Bob Jones, unless I can remember my own name by then.

Maybe I really was in the army. I bet there’s a lot of people like me in the army. I don’t feel like I’m that educated. All the educated boys go off to college. Some of the high school idiots go into the army and clean themselves up. I was probably a high school idiot. Probably got a lot of girls but got bad grades. I had to go in the army cause I couldn’t make college and there wasn’t shit else to do in the one horse town but blue collar bullshit I’d be doin from 16 to 65.

What else do I remember? Why, I remember lots of things, like how to do things and what things are. I know how to drive a truck, but I don’t remember nothin else bout it. I can shoot a bow and arrow at a deer. Got myself some twelve pointers. If I was huntin I must be into the outdoors. Maybe I went campin and stuff. Fishin! I remember how to do that! I caught myself some trout and bass before. I know that I did.

I hope this stuff’s true, cause I can’t remember doin it. I can lay here and fantasize bout everythin, but that’s a distortion of the truth. I can’t lie to myself. But I don’t know the facts! I forgot em all! If I can’t tell myself the facts, everythin I think of’ll be a lie! Hell, I might notta caught any bass or trout in my life. No, I’m sure I did, I just can’t remember doin it. I know some things I hate. Dancin sucks. People go out on the dance floor and make fools of themselves, like them niggers and their rap crap. Slam dancin’s cool. That’s to the hard rock. That’s when people go bangin into each other. I like that. But that other kind of dancin sucks. I just don’t like dancin. What else do I like? Football. I can’t believe it! I think I remember everythin bout football! I’m a Dallas Cowboys fan, and damn proud of it. I must’ve made me huns of coin off them Cowboys. Yeah! When they won them Super Bowls I must’ve cleared me a thousand g’s. Don’t do me much good now.

I wish I could sleep. Maybe that’ll pass the time between now and my release. I think too much rest and sleep causes dormancy, anyway.

I guess I gotta take a break from thinkin… let me mind drift… I’ll start countin. That’ll pass the time. I’ll count as long as I can, and whatever thoughts drift in my head, so be it.

0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16…

8,456…

The red haired woman stares at me, two brown-haired children by her side, tears in their eyes. She says somethin but I don’t hear. Her lips’s movin. They stand in a house. Gone…

What the? I fell asleep. That woman and them kids! She’s my wife! Who else would she be? And them’s my kids! I got a family! They’re callin for me in my dreams! I gotta get outta here! Let me out!

That ain’t workin. Maybe if I reach back into this here hole I’ll be able to find somethin. Holy crap! The cup’s gone! Someone must’ve takin it out when I was sleepin! I guess I gotta stay awake. When he sticks his hand in to feed me, I can grab it, bite it, and pull his arm in here. I can twist it and break it like a twig. I won’t release until he lets me out. I better do that after I eat. That food regains my strength, somewhat. When he comes back for the cup after I eat, then I’ll do it. He’ll be out there screamin while I’m twistin and pullin it. Lemme feel for the openin. I’m sure there ain’t no latch up there, but I can still feel the edges. There they are. Right up top there. I wonder how this thing opens. Maybe the top comes off, like a coffin. First I thought I was in one of them cells in a prison, solitary confinement or somethin like that. But solitary confinement’s a lot more comfortable than this. I don’t even got room to stretch out in here. My legs are feelin stiff again. I better move em around some.

I wonder how long I was sleepin. Not long, probably. I remember hittin 8,000 before I-

What the hell’s that? Gotta listen.

Kill him? No? Me? What the…

No more voices. I’ll just wait and listen…

My god! Someone wants to kill me! But someone wants to keep me alive! But they’re both my enemies but they’s arguin like a married couple. Shit, I hope they kill me than leave me in here. Death may be better than this place. I’ve only been here no more than two days, if that much at all. I don’t know how long I’ve been sleepin, but if it was long, that took up lots of my time.

Whoever said that bout killin me probably wants it done. I couldn’t make out much of what they said, but I know that if someone wants me dead, it’ll probably happen. The one that wants to keep me alive’s probably the one feedin me, because I wouldn’t feed no one if I wanted them dead. If I go through with that plan of breakin his arm, they’d kill me for sure. Even the person who wants to keep me alive and who’s feedin me ain’t my friend. I don’t got no friends. If I had friends, I wouldn’t be in here. No friends. Not even a bug.

What if it’s the redhead woman out there? Maybe she’s the one that’s keepin me in here. What if I break her arm? I wouldn’t wanna break a woman’s arm, even if it’s my enemy. No, she’s my wife. She’s my wife and I love her and she loves me and she’s at home with the kids cryin cause she wants to know where I am. Hell, even if I break whosever arm it is, I still don’t got a way out. I can hold the arm with all my might, twistin it and turnin it, snappin the elbow backwards. He’ll be screamin. They’ll have to open the box to get the arm out, and then that’ll be my only chance to escape. But if they open the box, they’d probably kill me right away. If I had some kind of weapon I might have a chance. They’d have a gun a blow my brains out like a rock star.

It’s too bad this wood’s sturdy. It’s somethin hard, not that pine shit. Can’t make anythin out of pine cause it breaks so easily.

Back to where I am… Now I know for sure I’m in America. I’m not a prisoner of war, because I’d most likely be in a foreign country, not able to understand a bit of their funny talk. I ain’t in no state or federal prison, because America’s too nice for this. I’ve been kidnaped. Maybe taken hostage. Someone robbed a bank and grabbed me, beat me over the head and put me in this box. The police are outside right now, sayin stuff like, ‘what do you want? We will meet your demands,’ and they’re screamin back ‘we ain’t negotiatin!’ That’s a possibility. I’m doin a good job narrowin this stuff down. I bet other people’d be in here cryin the whole time. I bet they would just be sittin here waitin, without thinkin that hard. This’s hard thinkin here. I usually don’t go formin words in my head like this. Who does? When someone thinks, it ain’t like this. I bet I’m smarter than I think. I just forgot a lot of stuff. I certainly ain’t stupid. Now all I gotta do’s figure out exactly why I’m in here. Maybe I’ll find more clues.

Clear my throat. Spit… That’s a lunger… Gotta decorate my place with somethin… Need some more water.

Please come back, whoever you are and bring water… Please come back… Please let me out… Please let me out… Oh God tell someone to let me the fuck outta here! God do it! Take yer almighty hand and let me outta this hell! Do it God you bastard! God you son of a bitch! I’d nail you up there all over again! I’d nail yer healin hand deeper than it was! I’d grab the cup and drink yer drippin blood cause you ain’t died for my sins, I die for my sins! I suffer for my sins! I’m here and I suffer! I don’t even know what the fuck I did and I suffer! God, I got two words for you…

It don’t matter. Nothin matters. If I was on death row, and they were walkin me down to the chamber, I’d start swingin as best I could. I’d use every last effort to break myself outta there. I’m gonna die, so I might as well put up a fight. If they shoot me, so what? I’ll be dead anyway. If I had one day to live on the other side, I’d be bangin chicks and eatin lots of expensive food. Bangin that redhead… shit. Why’m I here?

It ain’t gonna do me no good to find out why I’ve been put in here. Maybe I really don’t wanna know. The truth can hurt me and hell’ll be a lot worse.

Here comes someone again, I can hear. Nows my chance. Forget eatin. I gotta do it now. I’m gonna die in here and I’m puttin up a fight. Even though they’re feedin me, they’ll kill me sooner or later. I’m a hostage. I’ll be dead. Might as well break someone’s arm. I take their pawn, they take my king. But they’re gonna win no matter what.

The top of the cubby hole’s openin.

How come this light in my eye didn’t wake me before?

A gloved hand with a cup…

Gotta get that hand! Dammit! My hand knocked over the cup! Got water all over me!

“Wait! What am I doin here?”…

“I swear! I got no idea what I’m in here for! I got a bump on my head and I can’t remember nothin! I got amnesia! Lemme out please!”…

“At least tell me why I’m in here! Tell me please!”

“Yer shittin me…”

“Yer shittin me…”

“God damn it tell me yer shittin me!”

“Come back and tell me yer shittin me! Oh fuck! No way I did that! No way! Oh God! Nooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo…”

I’m the man in the box

buried in my shit

won’t you come and save me?

– Alice in Chains

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