It is said by some that great writing comes out of a lifetime of suffering. A stack of contiguous decades of experience composed of indifferent conclusions and perpetual break even’s that lead to loneliness and right turns down left lanes of irrevocable repetitive singular conclusions. The whole notion of some personal grail quest being noble smacking of solipsism as the rest of the world of man remains equally indifferent to any other sense of despair outside of their own. They have churches for that. One easily postulates caught within in this mindset that the world around them is naught but a poorly controlled fiction drummed up by their unconscious. An inherent fiend of being let loosely the light of day to play nasty tricks. The accompanying fantasy in place that everyone surrounding these daily dramas is simply another bit player summoned up by those same pernicious impulses. Ones that often afflict many of those with too much time on their hands or too much useless daily clutter piled high on their desks. It seems that as long as the conventions of grammar and punctuation remain in force, that anyone possessing a pen or computer workstation non-plussed by direct observation or personal experience is pretty much free to churn out a plethora of parenthetic mush. The only modern distinction designating the crown of works of genius being a the habit erring on the side of proclivity in the number of pages produced.
The horizon of the western sky was a incrementally drifting stain of Prussian blues diluting salmon oranges quickly settling into the brightly void. The phone stood silent on the corner table beneath the picture window. The phone had stopped ringing many months before. Like a miniature stele from ancient times it had become an afterthought remaining in place mostly out of a sense of family respect that was equally evaporating into the surrounding oblivion of uninterrupted silence. A room after all was simply the same designed to hide eclectic combinations of furniture within. And support an acceptable pretense that total sum of its assemblage somehow represented something distinctly eternal about one’s self. It was plenty obvious that one was simply another self motivating fixture restlessly active within the same inventory waiting for an undisclosed moment not too far ahead into the distant future waiting to be moved out into the scrapyard. Modern existence was an easily replaceable universe seeming no different than any other when the lights weren’t turned out. When dreams in the fitful night along with came vistas seemed unfamiliar to the eye. But each were motivated by a sense of longing to discover something remaining sympathetic to one’s standing experience but perpetually out of sight. The storehouse of possibility whittled down to repetitive scenarios gnawing at one. The pages turning within but never able to be fully revisited as before after being first visited. Those few scraps of their recollection remaining after leaving the edge of the bed insufficient to cover the waiting nakedness of a coming day. Thus the pretense of normal daily existence remained unaffected offering another period of routine activity within the interval before the night once again sneaked past the dying embers of the sun to lay claim to one’s attentions yet again.
Solitude was no answer. A game to be played out against the equally phantom opponent of boredom in waiting for something to happen. It had matured into a hard shell outer mantle to be borne in a manner that was every bit as expected as a clean white shirt or properly hemmed pair of trousers. The eventual end of this daily farce remains never honorable. Nor should one expect it to be! It’s a denial of life caught in the tar pit of an unexpectedly mundane favoring unrealistic expectations that nothing worse than before could be expected to come. Every normally unheard residual sound detected about this recognition an underwhelming chorus championing despair. A hellish cacophony of indifference eternally persistent, perfectly disguised as normal. The unexpected awareness of these moments sandwiched betwixt silent reverberations of an otherwise empty room.
When I was a child I made a vow that I would always protect my parents from anything in the universe that might be of harm. As a child in the transitional era of the introduction of television as a significantly influential part of the American family I was introduced to a constant world of chaos with cartoon-like personalities that expressed sentiments that were easily definable as either one thing or its opposite. People were sorted out around me to some degree based upon the conversation between my mom and dad as to their own expressed likes and distastes which I assimilated from the political vagaries of the designated ethnic groups of that time to relatives on either side of the aisle. I was the immediate ally of both. Though in adolescents due to the mounting marital strife caused by my father’s weakness for gambling, I tended to afford more support to my mother’s causes. The rough crowd my father hung with made me wonder if like some B grade fifties film noir wannabe movie, I would be cast in a situation where I would have to avenge his unexpected demise due to possibly being at the wrong place at the wrong time in the company of the wrong people. My mother’s strong sentiments in such matters fueled all manner of emotional divisions that though fading with time lingered well on up until their deaths.
The passing of those that brought you into this material universe and subsequently molded you is an event that inevitably cracks the foundation of your beliefs about yourself. Or permanently cements you inevitably into the stagnancy of never wanting to change them. The increase of years become storehouses for minor incidents that eventually become mythic tales pretending to explain other mysteries that remain unanswerable. The gods and goddesses now deposed to broken marble artifacts and yellowing photo albums become distant personages deposed from your on personal flavor of Mt Olympus back to the world of mere mortals. You feelings for them shift from that sometimes reluctant observance giving respect for better or worse to a great empathy for those quiet individuals who daily suffered the insecurities of fear and longing but never let it be shown. It becomes obvious that you as their offspring never really took the effort to really know and understand them, And now long after their passing realize that in your oversight you must live with the fact that there is much you could have understood about yourself! If only you had long ago swallowed your own pride taken the time to try. The world of long recited official family recollections fade and you struggle more and more to connect with anything beyond vague appearances in dreams that you can now clearly discern. Perhaps, that makes those final moments that you witnessed when their wasted physical forms exhaled for the last time and they became shadows all the more enduringly persistent? The true nature of existence having no sense of glory to send forth from the ever more distant past into the reluctant future of now.
Gladys Elizabeth Becker b. 11/30/1921 – d. 10/7/2014 – 1:57 AM
Ronald Jack Becker b 4/4/1926 – d. 8/21/2011 – 3:45 AM
He was a man for whom the pursuit of purpose had only uncovered its lack. The subterfuge of dreams had once more dissipated within the regular interlude of night. All he coulee be sure of is that he still had an automatic and two versions of a story to share to any interested parties within the cupola at the front of the old blue panel van. Funny he thought how things in both life and the mind centered upon a collage of impressions being pasted together as reliable recollection? That nagging feeling of some default sense of logic hidden within the meaning to his actions persisted from the sunset to its reappearance the next day. An annoying feeling that his personality depended upon staying in constant motion lest it be dragged down to incomprehensibility by taking time to rest.
He had reawakened into a reconfigured universe. A place that had been altered by the current oder for the new generation. Some place where there were no friends to count upon or attractions to distract but a place that was best suited within which to waste time. There were after all different rhythms in play. The hurried rhythms of morning and get to work. The rhythms of lunchtime and grab a bite. And the resultant rhythms of head home that might include both a sense or urgency and the necessity to bide time while there was sufficient space to accommodate the ride back home. But lodged between the three were sufficient gaps. Dead zones offering nothing more than an uneasy respite for the idle who could be taken as vagrant at the very worst or just simply a refugee far removed from societies’ grasp. Something like a derelict tossed to a sandbank at the bottom of the ocean by an ever-present storm whose chaos could offer no underlying reason save for the fact of its presence and the effect that it wrought upon the unlucky or the unwary. He settled into his seat like a worm ridden wooden hull of some ancient lighter lost in the loam at the bottom of the Caribbean. To his own inward tastes, his existence being one of something unique. A sort of unappreciated diamond in the rough.
The window at the front of the coffee franchise was well stocked with characters rushing to and fro. And he took ample advantage of their presence to ponder scenarios of his own analyzing interactions between himself and selected members of this random sampling in-flight towards their appointed tasks. Each permutation lasting perhaps seconds at the most and adding to the inventory of items that might possibly be modified in the future to make his own presence more amenable to the all to obvious prevailing demographic passing by. When surveying his own raison d’être he could find little beyond dusty shelves of old projects half finished stored by necessity for a later date of completion. The importance of each to him gone flat like a party balloon from an event long forgotten. He looked at his hands and found them empty of tasks. The minor details of bills and simple chores having been expeditiously handled. His breakfast well attended by his visitation to this place on account of their reputation for healthy sandwiches and other morning goods. The yogurt and forbidden pomegranate had been consumed. Every small detail having been attended to. His impromptu journey to the new office lasting less that twenty minutes at best. The propriety of action had been served and now he sat there alone within the small grove of empty chairs and tables naked to observation as someone singled out with nothing left to do. The ministrations of the employees of the establishment seemed even more frenetic in a hurried attempt to carry out their tasks around him. Replacing trash bags and restocking shelves with fresh product in anticipation of the coming lunchtime rush. The music pulsing overhead enacting a reconfiguration of mentality to one of unmet goals that promised to possibly be fulfilled by a redoubled commitment to these trivial mundane tasks. The intercession of the manager’s voice on the room’s other side like the crack of a whip bringing an uneasiness to the listener making them wonder if by the fact of its power that there was an argument taking place or simply some over-spirited conversation?
Everyone seemed to have a sense of responsibility assuring their place remaining unchallenged. Everyone but him. He feet somehow an absence of the same. Something that everyone else possessed but that he did not. A sense of place. The thought occurred to him . . ? Something like a tuber or a tendril arisen in storybook fashion from long forgotten mental vistas of his childhood that he was like a character from a bedtime story at a crossroads. His grail quest an elusive sense of abandon to let the winds carry him where they would without fear of possible consequences. A resolve to step to the edge and jump into things rather than let them pull him along. The building that he was soon to be working within was a leftover. An after thought of two decades or more previous whose creator had the foresight to construct in such a manner that it could pass as ‘new’ by the simple fact of the materials used to build it. Its granite trimmed expanse of glass and steel exterior rose vertically soaring like a third generation air frame attempting to compete with nearby later more energetic models. The dual in the sky to displace more empty space with the reflection of its sightless panels. He continued on past it to reconnoiter a possible path of nightly egress that would be needed to confound the lack of transportation availed when his classes finally let out. Old warhorses of power brokers of yesteryear rose up before him as he advanced towards the bridge leading out of the heart of the city. An opera house with twin limestone guardians longing on its massive lintel in the niche of a low lying gable. The giant layer cake of the once home to one of the town’s most influential journals an immense empty chair now all to apparent for its lack. It seemed obvious to him that this entire city had been repeatedly built upon the disused aspirations of previous generations. Just passed the bridge at the corner was a young girl of no more than twenty scrunched up behind a cardboard sign with a scrawled message pleading for help. Red haired and fastidiously neat in appearance this foundling was wholly out of place for her present occupation. He gazed at the beauty of her smiling face as he walked by expecting some sense of street savvy hardness to leap out at him with the usual demand for chronically pitiable circumstance expecting instant relief from his own sparsely filled wallet. He continued across the wide boulevard towards the municipal entrance of his quest. She was too young to be suffering the infirmities of finical insufficiency all to rampant with the aged. He instantly turned tail and walked back across the still empty boulevard to her.
“Is this for real and not some kind of experiment?”, he said. The young woman beamed back with a firmness behind her persistent smile that she was indeed without resources. The weight of the small bag carrying a sandwich that he had purchased for his lunch became evident. He extended it out towards her without hesitation exclaiming, ” If you’re hungry here is a sandwich completely fresh and untouched!” She reached out equally unimpeded and took the bag with a grateful nod. He found himself stepping back into the threat of traffic slightly disoriented recovering himself enough by the third step to demonstrate the common sense to take a studied look to the left for oncoming traffic. The fact of his exposed position remaining un-threatened by same silently emphasizing that the enchantment of the girl’s beauty in both personality and form had jarred him unexpectedly. He walked forth back to the opposite curve and made himself enter the building trying to expunge his own desires that at the age of six decades plus might be judged as unfortunate. The beauty that the young naturally possessed when applied to unfortunate circumstance could bring out equally the worst and the best of impulses in a man. He publicly expunged himself within the dialogue of an inner court pleading his swift indifference in leaving the young waif’s vicinity vindicated his innocence of any realistic guile. The animal within thought better of that show trial. It was impossible to dispense with the ‘what if’s‘ of offering his condolences and possibly some space in his home for what might in his wildest Hollywood cliche fantasies possibly occur. He exited the transportation megalith and started back along the direct of the corner to catch another glimpse of the girl. There she sat again the streetlamp as solid as a rock or stone. Still unrecognizable at his present distance he walked forward looking right and left as casually as possible his eves ever-present at the state of the girl a half a block away. In his guilty mind, he didn’t want her to see him as he ducked around the corner catching another glimpse of her actually eating the very item that now seemed possibly poisoned by the afterthought of his poorly concealed desires for some form of connection. The high window wall of two successively block long office building acted to visually curb his instincts to suddenly just appear before her again. “Why spoil a genuine act of kindness with the artifice of some ridiculous hope of the impossible?”, he thought as he tread further down the extended corridor to the train?
The train back from downtown had him seated within the usual lowlifes. The potent smell of weed and stinky boxer shorts fashionably revealed extended unreasonably far ‘ghetto style’. Some overly endowed overstuffed maiden sat high on a perch in a cubicle loudly practicing her street savvy explicative’s and double negatives in counterpoint with the that usual lack of awareness of the usefulness of verbs the some total of which stood in for the popular extinction of any previous claim to culture. He could not help but ponder the incongruity of the presence of the of the other young girl so beautifully crouched on the street corner somewhere far behind. There wasn’t much he could salvage from her conversation as he thought back upon it. Just the unspoken part of it that she was alone with no place to go in this strange town. Perhaps it WAS all a ruse. Maybe a quick way of making money by someone well aware of their own affect on jokers not to dissimilar to himself? Whichever it was, he could not help but take pity on her circumstance. He had given her his lunch. “It was for real!”, she had said when he asked if it was. The umbrella of his own illusions had finally been dispelled as of late. No longer the happy ruse of the comforting interconnections of family to provide much needed solace in his life. Just a nagging sense of insecurity about tomorrow that would soon come to harvest all the missed opportunities packaged together to assure an uncertain end. At least she had her youth and beauty to inspire others. For better or worse their power would guide her through the difficulties that the best or worst of their effect upon others would inspire. That convenient realm of illusion that had enjoyed for a lifetime had finally been dispelled and he found himself feeling equally vulnerable within this urban jungle. He had accomplished some kind of mission in the course of the morning rambling from the neighborhood jaunt to check out the new headquarters of the job that he had managed to get as a broken-down teacher in a school scheduled to close in the coming year. Someone who valued his own high aspirations at the price of a reasonably conventional life to end up riding the gossamer of perpetually unfulfilled promise buffeted about into the turbulence of steadily declining circumstance. That same derelict permanently settled at the ocean’s bottom as he had feared, ready only for decay. “She was a young thing, perfect in every way by comparison as only a nineteen or twenty year old can be!”, he repeated to himself obsessively once again. As beautiful as a young woman could be! Someone whose beauty could inspire the best and worse emotions in anyone. Her ivory mental image squatting behind that corrugated cardboard sign on a busy corner out of place. He couldn’t help but taste in his mind how good that sandwich would have been. The fact of same a pretense to afford an answer to those unwilling such as himself. Arachne extending a strand of silk to his own dilemma of habitual indifference to his own dire circumstance that now exhumed flew carelessly within the vagaries of a larger more dispassionate sense of fate. That perpetual sense of eternal Spring worn out and too quickly departed leaving only the bluster of an empty Winter.
It had seemed apparent that I was in a new job that had a strange sense of stability. Government work. The type of career that offered a decent wage and the promise of pension and good health care benefits. And even better yet! One that was conducted in a pleasant environment with a minimum of stress or mental strain. In fact the surroundings were unexpectedly relaxing in some fundamental way due to the surrounding within which I conducted my appointed tasks within. The office was reminiscent of a late 19th century foyer that might have been typically found within the typical bureaucratic palace of some small duchy or minor monarch. French doors typically allowing the best light of the morning to flood in to illuminate the general mood of both client and functionary alike. Pleasant, as had I said!
And being the ‘newbie’ and wanting make sure that as such I had some measure of job security. Taking some time in the first weeks to consider how to best manage my tasks in the most efficient way possible along the lines of the goals of the job description as it was described to me. “It was a people business!”, or so it was described to me in the expected euphemisms and innuendoes that were part of contemporary business patois. It was my task to conduct one on one interviews with special candidates preselected by the other field branches of our quasi-governmental superstructure. These were people that came to us unbeknownst to them with a future on the wane. Randomly culled from the larger demographic who in the estimation of trained specialists were unable to be reasonably motivated and thus were sent into the office for interviews with me.
In true bureaucratic fashion, it was not my role to judge their circumstance or the reasons behind same but merely to offer the most expeditious solution to the problem that their existential presence presented. The protocol established was on the order of a séance. Create a pleasant atmosphere, as I had said! The idea being to keep the client calm and content in what they expected would be a positive conclusion to the meeting. My own addition to the process was at the point that I had gained the confidence of the man or woman. When after a certain amount of introductory patter had transpired leading to the inevitable smile congealing upon their faces. Then to swiftly produce a small caliber ,25 automatic and place a round in the central part of their forehead. If performed properly, the client was not even aware of their own passing. In the best of circumstances, simply sinking back in their chair into a relaxed almost restful slump the persistence of their grin un besmirched.
It was not exaggeration that my boss was almost exuberant at my dexterity at performing this task. In the previous sense of protocol, this operation was performed in one antechambers by another trained specialist who of course burdened the office with additional expense. The overhead was cut down substantially by the innovation of my own particular sense of unexpected bravado. The wound produced without any subsequent effects of profuse bleeding being hailed as particularly sanitary and efficient. A simple body bag and corrugated container produced each half an hour. The candidates in the outer reception opposite of my suite remaining completely unaware of the transaction. The only concern I had was to wonder if I would too soon tire of the tedium of the repetition inherent in the operation and grow bored of being to adept at my own abilities and suffer the fate of too many lifelong bureaucrats? Somehow it didn’t seem to address the point?
Self-expression aside there are worlds that one can be forgotten by. The so called ‘real’ world in the present that is made up by strangers that sometimes seem like your friends but fall away from your vicinity as quickly as the petals of a daisy. The world of a time that once was solid waking reality but as with all things incidental slips away with the passage of time. Go help you if you no longer play an active role that is no longer visible to others. You exist only in an abstract context of an imaginary pillar on a portico somewhere that is taken for granted as always being there. But nothing can save you from the stillness of the final realization that there is nothing left but the fact of yourself. No one to soothe or rely upon as you might have done so carelessly with those now long gone int he fiction of the past. The winds of change find you too far off course to ever pick up an expected trade wind to bring you to that pleasant fiction once a reality now lost horizon called home.
Sadness, happiness, expectation all beyond reach in the stillness of the night that comes to remind you that you are in the empty space known all to well as the now. That same ‘now’ that has no possibility of supporting the fictional character that you never seemed to be in the first place. You are just there with no clue about anything. Why things happened and what will happen next with no fit explanation of the mechanism that summoned you into life or fit reason why you should continue to be so. You are just another stick of furniture in an empty room gathering dust waiting to be discovered by some faceless person who will make a trivial decision to take everything that reflected who you were and who you tried to be and toss it in the trash. This is the fate of the faceless masses. To by no fault of their own, be totally forgotten. And as such, perhaps, you are washed clean. Tabla Raza. You find the world anew. Or you lay back with the gas turned on and the burners to snuff you out.
And this is the point where the cliche of narrative departs from the path of rambling chaos that seems more in keeping with the present tense of the instant. If the chains of Marley’s Ghost do not chafe then one raises their head up high and looks for that comfort of tomorrow as another chance to find something that amuses. The tail is gone and a phoenix takes flight, if only for a few moments or two before the habit of the emotions comes back to reprimand one for the sin of forgetting. Perhaps we are all convicts condemned in our own court of law for a multitude of wholly human shortcomings? But the sentence past must be a willful attempt to violate the remaining strictures of the past however immoral an abandonment of what might have seemed proper and fit in sensible measure to what had come before. God help the outside world! It is a ramble forward into a dark closet without hesitation with a new hope of discovering that undefined nature. One that however unexpected may matriculate to where fate decries that bilious notion of lifelong intended destiny.
There seems no explanation for the scenario of ransom in the dark corridor of the dreams of the very early morning. It there is a sun bringing clarity to this world it’s spectrum is not detectable by man. I could imagine a spelunking expedition through the convolutions of darker long untraveled synapses resting deep within the recesses of the brain. Maybe the human brain is a liability and we are a demonic species evolved to defy and dissemble everything around us that is chaotically beautiful and usefully. Haters of true nature that take on tasks that disrupt the balance that some vast universal unseen force has put perpetually in motion all for the sake of hubris and selfishness? A species whose long term survival depends upon changing all that is encountered into a flawed paradigm of what our simple spinal antennas sense is majestic and out of reach? The individual ‘WE’ have lost the possibility of paradise because we refuse to accept our own passing’s desiring eternal material existence over transitions that our phylum can not control otherwise. So the mistakes of Nimrod always spoiling for a battle with the heavens.
The mechanism of the embodiment of consciousness inevitably decays partly out of entropy, partly from being overwhelmed by a rival miniature world of creatures less intellectual but equally voracious. True Hell would be within the constant battle in the fractious dimensions found on microscopic slides is a battle for turf. Perhaps the FPS realms that enchant the young are naught but a sympathetic recollection of passage through this place. If the higher organisms are notable for cellular harmony then why is their evolution simply a return to the darkness of the paths long ago abandoned in favor of a more sympathetic light? Do we unconsciously dream nightly for the restful notion of our own demise? The vastness of light in the universe might possibly be a myopic illusion? Perhaps some larger sense of entity defies the notion of speed in a manner that dissolves the notion of distance and the evolution of the material? It is so easy to reach out to the artifacts of collective effort and feel grounded in a false foundation of collective enterprise that seem solid and unchanging save for a collective restlessness to build. “more” and “better”. The social evocative a small room increasingly cluttered with the proclivity of last years innovation blocking the introduction of the physical equivalent of this years sense of ‘new’ and ‘improved’. The fissure of internal travel substituted for the dark empty endlessness between immense pimples of immense density of stuff so compacted that it collapses into itself dragging everything else in its vicinity along. All naught but a flawed repetitive pattern of uncountable present tense logics that come and go without the logic of continuity to support them through a dark and seemingly endless nightly dream within a hall of mirrors.
I seem to have a proclivity of punishment and dirty laundry afflicting my existence as a supposed human being. My Job quotient of relative patience has been mightily tested and like some iron pumping Nietzsche I might be stronger for the fact of the increased capacity to suffer even more of the inconsequential ills that I may have missed earlier in life? I look up at the inevitable rise of the headlines of the day from the central orb of contemporary human existence, my computer and find that another bandit chieftain of finance now suffers from lymphoma and feel that the universe has vindicated my hunch. I find this amidst the regular flotsam of trivial situation blown up to national proportions betwixt the glad hand of Pope Francis. Last night it was the unexpected appearance of vertigo that persisted through a short period of rest. A malaise that still knocks upon the hollow of my existence.
We all pay for the world’s crimes by default as unwitting members of a demographic that is fed a constant diet of officially indecipherable compounds in the daily intake of water, food and air. Strapped in against what later becomes our better judgement which in the long run is never as effective ans a dog’s snout. If my earthly tower falls then, society reasons, it is to make way for the next generation of bigger better versions of the same. The collective generations forming an inadvertent stairway to the empty heavens. A human pyramid that like a proverbial pyramid of circus performers will eventually collapse under its own weight. The practice of stoic cynicism having its benefits after all in bot being to urgent to back the latest stalking horse of socially organized ‘public opinion. So, for whatever varied habitual everyday crimes or politically incorrect infractions, I am guilty by virtue of a consensus that is not of my own making. Something that I have never believed in or cared to support. Welcome to civilization alpha to omega.