When I found Paul, he was on sitting back on his feet, his knees on the floor. He was in the middle of his old bedroom, in the old house where he used to live all those years ago.
Paul never used to be like this. For the longest time, he was a vibrant kid. He was an artist, someone who people depended on to help cheer them up. The people of the town loved what he did with the murals, especially. On the side of Hamm’s Grocery was a mural of flowers and hopeful children’s faces, and Old Man Hamm appreciated Paul’s expertise with his brushes. The one space that people loved, though, was the mural on the side of the old First National Bank building in town. It showed an eagle with a olive branch in it’s beak, flying toward a twisting spiral of a building. He painted that old mural just after 9/11. And the town very much appreciated it.
That was before the headaches. Before his mom passed away. And before he started withdrawing from the world. As the sheriff of the town, it was my job to take care of all my people. However, I also had to spend more time looking after Paul. He was my best friend during high school, where he defended me constantly. And it was my burden to bear in taking care of him.
What scared me most, though, was when I went to visit Paul only a few days ago. He was rocking back and forth on his knees in the living room of that old house that he refused to leave. He was muttering something unintelligibly, and I had to try and snap him out of it so he could get to his doctor’s appointment. As I leaned over to tough his shoulder, he turned and glared at me with eyes that I did not recognize.
“I’m not here right now! Please try again later!” he said, even though it didn’t really sound like his voice.
After a few minutes, I was able to get him to go to the doctor. After a couple hours of tests, they came back and told me he was showing some signs on borderline personality disorder, but that he hasn’t hit the stage where he could be treated properly for it. I knew what that was code for. It meant that he couldn’t be institutionalized until a later stage. So, after leaving the doctor’s, we went to the grocery store and I picked up as much as I could so that he would be stocked for the rest of the month. He did not say a word or even blink once while we were there.
A day went by after that, and that leads to where we are now. I walked into the house and saw Paul in this bedroom, resting on his legs, an eerie calm surrounding him.
“Carl?” he slowly asked, in the voice I normally recognized.
“I hear voices. They are telling me to do many things.”
“To take my own life, or to open Pandora’s door and let the other voices free.”
That’s right. I was now officially concerned. I pulled out my cell phone, and was just about to call the doctor…when he pounced on me.
I don’t remember how long I seemed to be out, but when I finally woke up, I was not in that room. I was in a meadow full of bright butterflies. It took only a few seconds for me to realize that I was no longer in Kansas.
Paul killed me.