“Don’t Come Home.”, her words echoed in his mind. He stood before the mirror of the unlit bathroom. The flesh of his chest and abdomen hanging down like untrimmed meat. He was no where near the same as that same prideful individual that customarily reassured themselves by the obvious flaws of others. The chiaroscuro of the gray light of an unsure Sunday morning lighting his frame. The last week had collapsed like the aimless vapor of a low hanging cloud rolling in before an oncoming early Spring storm. The carpet in the lounge room a few feet beyond sporting multiple examples of fingertips of lint unwittingly collected from his navel collected from the black cotton T-shirts he had customarily Over the last several years the stack of Pima cotton coverings had been careful allotted based on use had been re-collated based upon wear. He had to contend with the raggedness of their collars by the subterfuge of a serge blue heavy cotton turtleneck sweater. The emptiness of the world outside through the panorama of his windows calmed him. For a few hours the sidewalks and roads would be clear of any competition. He could drive West at any speed he desired with the windows open and the cool wind in his face.
It had taken a week of sporadic viewing to review most of the series in reruns off the DVDs. The protagonists had been established and the drama had begun its meandering course. All towards the median strip of a continuous set of progressive soft-spoken tragedies. The destination of a continual expectation epiphanies followed up by failure the only assurance and payoff of the experience. How like the life that he himself had become accustomed to. The latest scenario suggesting the possibility of a different direction. But the dead end awaiting in the darkness of each corridor becoming the most acceptable outcome. All characters providing ‘bone fide’s‘ of their unavailability at both beginning and end of each episode. Had they been cast in glass or pewter each might have served as a commemorative set for a curio cabinet to be mindlessly treasured throughout till after the end of earthly existence. Then to be passed off as an estate sale at a loss.
Life had not been kind. He could not remember a serious relationship of note now beyond the once frequent bumping of loins in young adulthood. “What a misnomer?”, he thought, “Young adulthood.” What was so adult about those decades of self-indulgence that he had lavished upon himself? Someone always wanting in adolescence. The most available and reliable dupe for young girls whose notion of the ceremony of love was a Byzantine game of reassurance of their egos. His first real girlfriend garnered so unceremoniously out of an unexpected loss of another much younger who had served as the recipient of his passive indifference fielded tot he universe as unconscious payback for those sins of forgetfulness by those who had used him so conveniently. The notion of romance had become a game of Ping Pong. Buoyed by the rapacious stampede of temporal hormones the jungle provided ample opportunities for the physical without the commitment of much more than unzipping one’s fly. Woe betide anyone who had a genuine emotion for him! Attachment was a future memory. A regret that he knew deep down would be savored with old age like Sherry.
The night had concluded twice with heat and restlessness due to an unexpected change in the weather. He was old now and all these thoughts were in the past. There was only that dimly lit creature standing naked in black cotton shorts lit up enough in the mirror’s reflection to suggest that dissipation was well under way. Whatever had been offered up in decades past was now completely unavailable. The abode that he stood bewitched by merely an old empty container for what he wished to recall as some exotic hard to acquire beverage evaporated, drained dry, and left abandoned on the dusty shelf of an abandoned warehouse. The fiction like old frosting on a cake misplaced in a damp cooler had worn thin. He was unavailable. His ability to count included a relationship in college turned reluctant, a rebound in reaction that skipped across the indifference of two others, a determined battle of wills over differing desires, and a string of simply going through the motion exercises in cohabitation to eventually hit dead against the backstop of reality in an insolvent marriage. The rutted wagon path leading to the outskirts of that all so brief marriage paving all future potholes with the reliable mud of indifference. The pursuance of relationship was merely a blood sport the example of which was best illustrated by a patchwork of experiences from his own parent’s early years.
His mother spent her final years attempting to assay her husband’s true commitment. His final parting gift to her on his deathbed being that he could have done a lot of things with other women had he had wanted to. This conundrum in hindsight revealing the irresolution of a sense of angst caused by the misstep of a commitment to marriage with a first husband and, perhaps, hurrying into the second marriage as a result. How hopeless to think yourself so invisible to the world that your needs did not really matter. A sense of loneliness even more unshakeable in a crowd. Her sweetness and caring as a person of unique negated and thrown on the pyre of the indifference of modern life. All one could do in one’s life these days was to look upon these popular tele-fictions as an extenuation of your own. That modern Prometheus of bits and pieces of every hero and villain that had taken your fancy along the sad trail of mediocrity that was everyday life. One lived for these illusions and dressed like them paying attention to what their surrounding set designs had to offer. One’s house was a mausoleum chock full of the useless votives to the temporal desires of mindless yesterdays.
The rolls of the flesh of the side of his abdomen pushed over the sandpaper of the elastic of his shorts. He was tempted to avoid his longstanding protocol of wrapping the top of same over the bottom of his T-shirt. There was something filthy and coarse to him in sinking to this. Better to practice ignorant than to court further derision even if the possibilities only involved his own imagination and not a chance intimate encounter with another. Why could he not have been born a ‘fag‘ or something equally licentious and unconcerned. Instead two instances of molestation by an older neighbor child had merely unleashed a lifelong lack of self worth. That feeling that like a fellow Satan he had prematurely cast format he grace of healthy innocent discovery in the customary fairy tale experience that led to a happy marriage and eventually the satisfaction of grandchildren. But the era that he was grown up in was not made for such conventional leanings he had been instructed to think. All geared to lust and hunger and insatiable desire that one never took for granted lest these decadent feelings might run dry. His own desire for same had long ago slaked. Decades past the ritual of the worship of orifices had become pointless exercises in blind alleys that could bear nothing but an onset of ironic emotional exhaustion.
All this had been brought back with the tele-scripted verbal finale of, “Don’t Come Home.” The second round of discomfort had found him alone in that strange bedroom that had never been his paralyzed. He could see the inference of shadows through the doorway into the room beyond. It’s open maw the entrance to the gate of his own personal demons. All assembled and waiting to be recognized if he so wished to allow himself to let futility fall. The animal terror of suddenly being dismembered if he looked away or lost his sense of watchful focus for but an instant. The sensation of appendages reaching within him from below the mattress and kneading his internal organs like bread dough. A sinking feeling that threatened to cast him down the many stories of a stairwell over infinite steps into unspeakable chaos. The knowledge that if he could just move but an inch or so and turn his body he had a chance of escaping. All he had to do was simply let go. Just surrender. But, then, he was simply unavailable.