(Originally written on October 10th 2015)
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 could 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 ruling order 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 war horses 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 shaley 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 unthreatened 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 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 treaded 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 expletive’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 settling at the ocean’s bottom as he had feared, ready only to 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. 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 empty bluster of Winter.