Recovery by Salvatore Difalco

February 26, 2024

This guy who lived on my floor had suffered some kind of breakdown. I didn’t know him at all, not even his name, and had only run into him in the hallway or the elevator once or twice. Not to slur the man, but he was quite forgettable. Average height, average weight, medium brown hair, pale, likely a heavy gamer. What do I know? I’ve lived alone my entire adult life and can count my friends and family on one hand. But I’m good with it. In a few years I’ll be done and that will be that. I harbor no unreasonable expectations. I see the universe for what it is and I don’t fear it at all since I’m part of it. It would be like fearing yourself. 


So my neighbour fell out of orbit as it were and must have spent some time drifting around the void. When he reemerged, he brought with him a series of ceramic balloons—red, blue, pink, yellow—that puzzled me to the extreme. Let me explain. I saw him hauling a few large boxes into his flat. Then, as I walked by his open door one afternoon, I observed these ceramic balloons crowding every open space and corner of the flat. I almost felt compelled to inquire about them. Were they part of his therapy? Was he actually that far gone? 


I am neither a psychiatrist nor a social worker. Over the years, and after repeated betrayals and heartbreaks, I’ve grown cold and cynical toward my fellow humans. People are strange, let’s face it. Even I am strange to myself at times, most of the time, so I’m not pointing fingers, merely citing facts. Anyway, jump ahead a week and I’m sleeping restlessly as I do, tossing and turning, when I hear screeching and what sounds like plates breaking. I rise from my bed and rush to the door and open it to see what’s going on. The screeching and crashing continue. It’s coming from my neighbour’s flat. It stops after a time. I return to bed.


Next day I heard the landlord talking to someone in the hallway. Checked my peephole and saw it was a policeman. Shortly, two paramedics arrived, wheeling a stretcher. Turns out buddy had slashed his own throat. Blood everywhere. It left me cold. Guy had no family and was buried without a proper funeral. 


A week later a team in blue overalls came and cleaned out his place. A week after that it was rented again to another dude recovering from something or other. 


I started looking for a new place. On one of those apartment hunts I came across a garage sale. Among the pieces of furniture and books and knickknacks being unloaded, I saw several ceramic balloons. As I inspected more closely, I saw that darkening a yellow balloon like the holes of an oversized bowling ball were several bloody fingerprints.  






Salvatore Difalco lives in Toronto, Canada


Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay