Artist Statement:

Surprisingly, I did not spend much time on this piece. It was one of those that you write and it just felt like it was already done. I was very excited to hear that the piece was picked for Euphemism too. I got the inspiration for the piece from many sources. The location is an area in my town that has a quasi-swamp in its midst. I feel that everybody places stories they write in familiar places like that. But, the overall story does not come from my experiences. I have to say that I have developed an obsession, so to speak, of shows like Criminal Minds and CSI. From these shows, I draw an interest into the mind of troubled people. Over time, I have reached such people with personal studies into the psychology behind them and how they would act socially. This is where “From the Watchtower” just walked out of my fingers and onto the page. I am very grateful that Euphemism chose my piece and I plan to continue to write and submit pieces. Thank you.

From the Watchtower

Nicholas Mitchel

 

Ted was a walker. He would walk everywhere. The town always knew him as “Running Man”, but Ted just liked to walk. Ted was about thirty years old and lived in an apartment complex in the heart of the town. He chose this spot so that he could walk to all the things he needed. Whenever his neighbors would see him, they would jest fully call out that the “Running Man was on the go”. Ted would chuckle at this and just keep to his paths and trails.


Ted would always take a specific trail on his weeknight walks. He loved this one path the wound through a small and quaint marsh, before it opened up to a large field and playground near by. He especially liked this path because of the ducks that would settle in the marsh. He would watch them as he took a leisurely path through the marsh. Ted was a very observant person and he liked to take his time walking on that path. It was like a little personal path that the village built just for Ted.


Ted was an advertiser. He would take a train down town and he would walk to his building from the station. He loved his job greatly, but it always seemed to cause him stress. There would be days when he would come home from his job at a big advertising firm and he would walk the path not with his usually carefree strut, but with a quick and erratic pace. He would not take time to look at the duck but would walk in the marsh for a little bit and pace on a small strip of dock that went further into the marsh. He would do this pacing thing regardless of the time of day, but he did his leisurely walk at night. Always at night.

Ted usually would not be so stressed out that he could not take the time to at least come out to the marsh for a little bit of time. The ducks would ruffle their feathers and flap a little with every time that he would pass. The first time he went into the marsh, a flapping duck almost scared him enough to yell. He enjoyed the company of the ducks. They would calm him down. They enjoyed his company as well. When Ted was there, the ducks seemed to feel safe.

 

Then one day, Ted just didn’t show up. This was the first time in almost four years that Ted did not show up to the marsh. The ducks didn’t seem to notice the disappearance of him, but I did. I would be in that marsh everyday for him, to see him and to gather up the courage to show myself to him. I would follow him to where he lived and wished I would be there. I always wanted to be with him. I would show up to that swamp everyday for the next week. Waiting. Not knowing if he would return. Soon, my wanting for him to return shifted into a longing that festered into a hating that fact that he did not return. I would wait for him. Months fell off the calendar. I felt that I had built up the courage to talk to him. I would pull myself out of the shadows.

 

I would always go to the marsh.

 

Ted returned on a Tuesday.

 

Like it made any difference on what day he returned. It wasn’t as if I was counting them since he vanished. I didn’t go to the apartment to look for him and with good reason. Rumors circled the building that he had gone to Boston for a couple months. The company was paying for it. But, what difference did it make that he left. He was not gone anymore. He returned to the marsh and sat at the end of the dock. He sat cross-legged and stared out into the marsh. It seemed as if he lost his love for walking. He looked as though he was waiting for something. I was in my usual perch in my tree overlooking the path of the marsh. I was just out of sight. When I saw him, my heart skipped beats. I was smiling and all I could do was stare at the wonderful, handsome man sitting at the end of the dock. I was just about to get out of my tree to tell him everything, when a sound caught my attention. I stop in just enough time to not make myself visible.

I watched Ted stand up. In the moonlight, I see his beautiful mouth smile. I follow his line of vision to a girl standing at the mouth of the marsh. She is stunning in her own right. She walks toward Ted. They embrace and kiss each other. A fire starts in my stomach as my heart begins to break. I tear up at the sight of this act.

 

“I didn’t think you would come,” Ted said in his melodic voice. He smiled bigger than I had ever seen him smile.

 

“I wasn’t quite sure if I was going to either. If I didn’t know you better, I’d think it a little odd that you decided to meet me in a place like this.” Her voice was just as melodic. She was just as wonderful as he was. When she looked at him, I could tell that she loved him. I hated her for that. It became more difficult to watch when I saw the same eyes staring right back at her.

 

“Maria, I am so glad that you came back with me. I wasn’t quite sure how you would react to the thought of coming back here to this crappy town but you did. I… I love you.” He said this with a smile and with the smile returned. They kissed again and that fire brewed again but it seemed that each time it rose, it became more difficult to settle down. The kissed some more and soon the kissing turned into the ultimate display of love. I watched as they made love on that dock. She was concerned about the whole bit but he reassured her that they would not be disturbed. The marsh was secluded and no one came down the path.

He would know.

 

“I use to walk it everyday at this time. In fact, I have been here more than my own home.” She felt better about the situation and they fulfilled their actions. They lied on the dock, holding each other. He leaned forward and kissed her neck. She smiled. I found the whole situation to be nauseating. I would have thought that the thought of finally seeing Ted in full form would have been arousing. But not with her fulfilling his fantasy. She was everything that I couldn’t be. She was perfect for him. And that was what bothered me the most.

 

Every Tuesday they would come at that same place. They would continue this for more months. I would pass his door when I would come home from being in the forest and I would hear them. It took her four months to move in. I had been living there for eight years. I would wait for him. Sitting on a stool, looking out my peephole, waiting for him to come home. But not to me.

 

No.

 

To her.

 

Her.

 

She was perfect for him and he could not get enough. She was horrible to him. She would ask him to do things for him. He should be telling her to do things for him. He should be more powerful than her. I would do everything he asked for and look for nothing in return. I would cater to him and only him. I would do anything for him.

 

I waited out the relationship. Hoping, praying for it to fail. My prayers laugh back at me when I found out that Ted had proposed to her. I found out because I was there. In the marsh.

They both walked in together and stood looking out over the marsh. They admired the full moon hanging over the pond. They didn’t waste time getting to doing what they do. After, as I sat wanting to gouge out my eyes, they lied holding each other again. Except, Ted started to giggle. It was a nervous laugh that he had pent up inside him the whole time. I saw it in his form.

 

She turned to look at him and asked if anything was wrong.

 

“No. Nope. Nothing is wrong. I just feel anxious.”

 

“Anxious for what?”

 

“For this.” He pulled out a box and opened it. I couldn’t see the content but I knew what it was. And what he said next confirmed my slow demise. “Will you marry me?”

 

She answered him by kissing him an enormous amount of time and making love to him again. She did not care on how loud she was. This was the first time that I cried. I cried and pleasured myself in disgust at what I was doing. I will never have him. I reached my peak and this knowledge still embedded itself into my brain. I finished before they did. The gather up their things and went home arm in arm like some sort of count and his countess. Dignified. But I knew what they did when no one was looking. I couldn’t stand thinking of them.

 

I went home, passed his door and heard them making love again and that sadness that reared its hideous head turned a side to show me utter hatred. I couldn’t deal with it. Hate had such a warm smile and an utterly cold touch. I tried my best to push the thoughts that I brewed out of my head. Over the next year, it became more difficult. Ted and her stopped coming to the marsh. I wouldn’t leave the marsh. The ducks were still there. Over time, though, they seem to have developed a disliking to people. One bit me the other day and took out flesh. This was strange to me. But I didn’t think to far into it.

 

Ted’s marriage caused me great stress. I couldn’t sleep. I tried all that I could to think of something else but nothing came to mind. Every night was devoted to Ted and the miraculous disappearance of his wife. She plagued my dreams every now and then and they shifted to nightmares. To the ever-horrifying picture of the two of them enjoying each other’s company. It was too much to handle. I needed to do something about.

 

I would always go to the marsh.

 

Ted returned. But he brought her. They were celebrating two years together. I never wavered for the nine years I waited for Ted. I would wait forever for him. He would know it too.

 

They stood in their usual spot. The moon was full. For now. Weathermen were saying that the moon would experience a total lunar eclipse. The two decided to view the spectacle in a more sensual and private location. As they looked at the sky, they were already undressing each other. The time was not right. But it would be. When the three of us finished the act, they got on some clothing to not look so conspicuous. The eclipse hadn’t even happened yet. They lay there in silence, waiting for the moon to turn its usual blood red. I slide from my spot in my watchtower, and walked to where they stood. They didn’t hear me walking. But they heard the click of the hammer on my revolver.

 

“Oh my god, please don’t hurt us. We didn’t do anything.” She was being too loud. I didn’t even hesitate. I shot her in the heart. She sputtered a bit before she hit the ground. I watched her last breathe escape her and I looked at Ted and smiled. He couldn’t even take his eyes off her while she lied there. He started to go to her, but I stopped him. He looked at me and didn’t even recognize me. I hated him for it. The first time that I actually disliked him.

 

“Who are you?” Ted whimpered. I pitied him. Finally, all the feelings that were trapped inside me have a chance to leave and now I am finding it easier.

 

“I am the person that loves you. I have watched you for some time. I have been through everything with you. Every intimate little thing that you have experienced, I have experienced. I have always been with you, standing in your shadow. I have been waiting for you to notice me. And now you will notice me. I will make you notice me.”

 

I shot out his kneecaps.

 

He fell backward and I heard a crack and a muffled scream. He lied on his back looking up at me.

“You have been walking this path for years and I have waited for you on it. I have been there, walking with you for equally as long. And yet, you still don’t know who I am. It will come to you.” That is what I am waiting for. His epiphany.

 

I shoot him in his shoulders so that his arms are useless. I don’t want much of a struggle. It takes one more shot for him to realize who I am. I laugh and proceed with my plan. I land my foot on his busted knees and wait. He screams. I do it to the other knee. He screams again and begs me to stop. He even has the audacity to use my name. I shove a finger in both of the bullet holes in his shoulders and he tries to get me off of him. He knows it is useless.

 

When I felt that that was all that I could do, I crawled up his torso. I put my legs around his waist and I put my hands on my knees and I looked into his big, revolting eyes. They reminded me of insects’ eyes. The eyes begged me to stop, and that is what precisely made me keep going. I wrapped my hands around his neck and squeezed with all of my strength. I felt his body convulse under me. I giggled at him trying to buck me off. I was intrigued at how he would do so. After about two minutes, I felt that I was good enough. His insect eyes no longer showed the life that was there moments ago. They already glazed over. I smiled and closed them for him. I walked back my tree, grabbed the length of rope and began my work. I already had my fun.

 

I wrapped what would be Ted and his wife’s carcasses to each other. I made sure to do it like how they always held each other. I then tied them to two anchors that I had bought at a local marina. I threw Ted and his wife in the marsh, but held on to two pieces of rope. I tied these the anchors. I then threw the anchors into the water and the star-crossed lovers disappeared into the water’s murkiness.

 

As they disappeared into the water, I felt that a weight had been lifted from my body. It was as though I could lead a carefree life. I looked up to see the moon. It’s blood red luminance give the marsh a tempted entity. I felt the marsh welcome the new tenants to her trees and water. She welcomed them with her open arms. I left the marsh the way it always was. Ted always came to marsh. Now he lived there.

 

And I would always go to the marsh.

 

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