There was definitely a knock on the door now. Frank saw the framed motivational poster, a beautiful photograph of an erupting volcano (with words to ruin it), rattle behind the door.
Like rabid squirrels his eyes darted between the door and the drinks cabinet. He looked up at the clock but knew there was something wrong when the numbers melted away into the blue of one of Zelda’s paintings; the one Emma called ‘The Sky is the Limit’.
He tried to focus on the clock face. Digits six and nine combined, forming old-style fighter pilot goggles; seven and four molded into a suit of armour of some sort.
Frank blinked and looked at Zelda’s painting, ‘The Sky is the Limit’. The colours swirled and turned to smoggy city morning orange, and the little figure in the picture, the boy holding on to the strings of a red-striped parachute, spoke in a squeaky voice.
“Frank, the time is now! The sky is the limit! Do it! Do it!”
Someone was trying to force open the door. Frank snatched the lighter fluid. Stumbling backwards toward the drinks cabinet, he nibbled at the congealed blood on his wrist. He kept his eyes on the door from behind which the voices were making threatening noises. He threw his jacket on the floor and poured the rest of the lighter fluid over his head, which soaked his 100% Thai silk shirt—a second anniversary gift from his mother-in-law.
“There’s no time like the right time, Frank!” the boy in the picture shouted. His eyes gleamed with menace and his twisted mouth revealed rows and rows of pointy, yellow teeth.
Frank couldn’t tell how many people were at the door. It sounds like a bloody army, he thought.
Ignoring the urgency in their voices, he reached for the cigar box, which he kept behind a few expensive bottles of whiskey (for important business meetings only). He popped open the silver lid and he took out a book of matches lying in the place where his Zippo lighter had been before it was stolen. Frank decided it was time for a quick celebration. His hands were clammy, and the wound on his left hand and wrist was throbbing where infection was already spreading. He had trouble breaking the bottle cap seal, so Frank broke Johnny Walker’s neck against the window sill instead. He took a few gulps, and poured the rest of the whiskey over himself.
Frank loved how the pedestrians and cars down below in the streets resembled ants at work—it looked even better now through blurry eyes, and there seemed to be a lot more hustle than usual.
It was twelve-forty-five.
They were kicking at the door now, and Frank saw that someone had splintered the hard wood on the inside of the doorframe by using a crowbar.
And there he stood, Frank Miller, with tears rolling down his cheeks. He wasn’t sure if he was crying, or if it was the mix of alcohol and lighter fluid caused his eyes water, but he knew one thing where he stood in front of his twelfth floor office window: he felt no emotion—not a drop.
Frank lit a match and opened the window with flaming hands. He stood on his toes and listened as his eyebrows sizzled. Frank removed Zelda’s latest painting, pulled it over his head, and tore the sky apart.