On a cold October afternoon, Ethan walked into his apartment manager's office and returned the keys to the place he had called home for almost thirty years. He looked distant and bewildered, and a scraggly, graying beard flowed from his usually clean-shaven face. His clothes were wrinkled and ill-fitting, and he looked away when he spoke. The reason he was leaving, he explained, was that he had lost his job and ran out of money, and simply couldn't afford to live there any longer. With no resources to draw from, and with no friends or family to help him, he turned and quietly walked away into the night.
An inspection of Ethan's apartment revealed that he had left everything behind. Virtually nothing was salvageable, and the place was a wreck. A thin, gray layer of dust had settled onto the dated furnishings, and papers of every kind were strewn about the musty living room carpet. Stacks of delivery pizza boxes and empty 2-liter soda bottles littered the kitchen floor. Moldy scraps of uneaten fast-food lie decaying in their Styrofoam containers; the stench of which left a pungent aftertaste in the back of the throat. The stained kitchen sink was stacked with unwashed, food-encrusted dishes and utensils. And a dozen empty medicine bottles bearing various prescriptions were lined neatly on the counter.
The master bedroom was dominated by an old water bed covered with frayed linens and a thin, beat-up comforter. It looked like they hadn't been washed in weeks, or maybe months. On top of a frail wooden dresser sat a small black-and-white television. Clothing was tossed all over the place, as if Ethan had hastily put himself together before his long walk to the office. A few pair of vintage pants and shirts hung from a metal closet rod, in the company of a 1980's Members Only jacket.
The bathroom was particularly disgusting. The toilet was flecked with pubic hair and stained with years of feces and urine…and vomit. The tub and shower stall were blackened with multiple layers of filth and soap scum. Scads of empty toilet paper rolls were discarded all over the floor, and some were neatly arranged on the outer edge of the bathtub. The place hadn't been cleaned in years.
The guest bedroom hinted that a child had lived there at some point. A twin bed with cartoon character sheets was pushed against the wall underneath the lone window, and a school desk filled with reading and coloring books sat next to it. A cloth-covered love seat was on the opposite side of the room, facing the desk. A few items of children's clothing hung quietly in the closet, hovering over the kid-sized sports equipment scattered beneath them.
And in the corner of the cluttered dining room, amongst the trays rotting of food and other trash, sitting alone atop a dilapidated reading desk, was a yellow, spiral notebook. It was Ethan's Journal.
The writings within the pages of Ethan's Journal would reveal the forces behind the long and painful unwinding of Ethan's mind, and ultimately, his world.