He lifted the glass with a tremor, setting it down, empty, with a growl. Holding the open pack to his mouth, he lipped out a smoke and chuckled as he lit it. Michael always felt like a camel doing that, lips gripping in and out, looking for purchase. Taking a deep drag, he lifted the first picture.
In it stood a tall sturdy man holding a new child, grinning like a moron from head to toe. A ghost of that smile touched Michael's lips. Memory flooded through him, hazed by the scotch. The hospital smelled of, well, hospital things. Disinfectant and cotton and bowel movements and lysol. There were small warbling sounds from machines, and a tired woman sleeping just behind him. The flood receded and his features smoothed. Tossing the picture into the bucket, he poured another drink.
The next picture was of two small children, burdened with their fathers features, playing in autumn's shedding. The smell of dry leaves and cold wind swept through the room. Michael closed his eyes and felt the contrast of the still warm sun battling the chill in the air, laughter drifting just out of focus. Into the bucket.
The tremor returned as he held an image of a few men in hell, smiling despite wading through the slog of humanities hatred and disgust. Sand and grit cunched between his teeth as he ground them. The sounds of the wind ripping at canvas tents, bad guitar playing, and curses from a partners shitty bid interrupted by the sharp whistle and quickly followed explosion. Michael shuddered and sobbed as he fought to keep himself from flying to the ground.
The glass raised and emptied again. A phone vibrated on the table, the screen alight with a young girls face, one reminiscent of his own. He let it go to voicemail. More pictures went into the bucket, more ghosts of smiles and scents of times and places followed. Once they were all there, lighter fluid poured over them, and fire consumed. He sat there, watching the flames erase all the love and laughter from his world. Acrid smell filled the small apartment.
"Finally" Michael said with a breath. The loud bark of a 9mm semi-auto filled the silence.