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The Doorman

The darkness we feel when the world presses in can be quite terrifying.

But in the Gutter, that darkness comes from within.

The Doorman by Matt Mattila

Wake up and the room’s all dark again. Streetlight creeping through the blinds. This is your last night here. This is the end of everything.

Count down the minutes.  You started a day ago when the bank cancelled your Target purchase. You couldn’t afford the sandwich meat. That was the first alarm.

You don’t want to walk out on the check. Doesn’t matter. You’ll have to. Keep counting that time.  Go run out at dawn. It’s a second floor room, sure, but you can bag out quick. That side door leads straight outside.

It’s cold outside. Wet too, by the sound of all that rain tapping away like bullets at the window and the long shadows left across the carpet.

You know this is your last night. You know there’ll never be a roof over your head again. You haven’t even left and already you want to come back forever.

The dread is coming.

You have no one here. Nobody to turn to. You will be alone out on the sidewalks. The police will do nothing to help you. The college kids who campaign for you at their meetings will spit at you at the corners. The commuters who sneer and clutch their thousand dollar purses a little closer and walk past a little faster.  You were never that good looking to begin with, and now? After this? God, you’re gonna fucking break mirrors.

They’ll all ignore you. They’ll all chase you away.  The other walkers won’t help you. They won’t like newcomers. They’ll throw you out of a camp fast and hard that you spent all day trying to find chasing rumors.

Luck’s the only thing getting you out of this. Nothing you learned in school could help you here. It was the only thing you were ever good at. Outside those doors is a different world that only teaches you once. Get it or don’t. Learn or die.  

All your friends tried hard back in college. You did too. You might’ve been good at pretending in class. That was fake. This is real shit. It ain’t gonna help you now. I don’t think you’re getting outta here. You know you ain’t either.

Too much thinking. Too much darkness. Too much silence. Get outta bed. Go turn a light on. Brush the film off your teeth. Watch a movie. Read on your phone. Cruise Instagram.
Do something. Anything. Just live one more minute before you die tomorrow.

Walk out that door with a rolling suitcase and the clothes on your back and you will instantly lose the rest of your humanity. You’re already a street kid. A dweller. A door hugger.  They’ll call you a drug addict, a drunk. It doesn’t matter if you drank twice this year and never smoked a cigarette.

No point in defending yourself when they talk like that. Every word you say is a lie. There’s no real help. They will ignore you. They’ll let you sleep under the lit storefront with your piss in a bottle and your life savings in a paper bag. Or they could rob you. Either way.
You’ve never prepared for this. Just admit it now. You got no idea what it’s like out there. 

Really, you don’t.

Don’t look at that clock. It’s still dark out. You got some time left. Turn on that TV. 

Something funny. Laugh a little while you still can.

Smile pure one last time.

Lord knows the second you hit that sidewalk you’ll never really smile again.

Good luck out there, sugar. Hope you’ll remember everything. The past is all you got out there.

Ain’t no such thing as a future no more.

Matt Mattila was published in a number of e-magazines (The Gutter greatest among them, of course) by the time he turned twenty years old. You can find him on the wrong side of a Connecticut shoreline city if you're careful enough, on Facebook, and his blog: