“Where will you look for love?
under the bed by your latest dream
in the eyes of so many of all those long forgotten or hurried past
or in the pockets of book jacketed ideas long past?”
Winter was coming in with what promised to be a ferocious bite. News reports made much of the fact of no Sun spots which in the ‘mumbo jumbo’ of Science purported with the usual confidence that the next months would be frigid beyond all records. The picture window betrayed little correspondence as the expected drafts from the Northwest were merely inferred by the text in print. Thomas was waylaid in another direction backward with his thoughts picking up on a distant conversation voiced some thirty years in the past. The broadcast of it silently proclaiming to him solely as if just instantly spoken in the voice of his aunt. “One day you’ll regret not being nicer to your father!” The tone of it reproachful as his father’s side of the family always tended to be. The lounge of their apartment that he now sat within being sunk deeply within upon the tattered remnant of the last remaining sectional looking foreign. Something more like an encapsulating storage space for his late family’s longstanding collection of personal artifacts. His mind being jarred again with a ghostly reminder. “It’s your home too!” His father’s voice instantly subsiding back into memory. The ornate Rococo era plaster lamp spreading a dim yellowish glow illuminating half the room leaving the rest mostly unrevealed. His long occupancy of almost two-decades filling in the semi-cloaked mystery by habit. So often now he simply sat in the dark. He hated to be alone.
He was past this form of fruitless nostalgia by this point some four holidays since the last of the two had filled their lungs for that recollection last low death rattle. He could recall, though he didn’t want to, that the light at those times had essentially been the same. Yet these recollections were curiously empty of any visual structure. A narrative of events that could be tallied but no images that correspond beyond instantaneous flashes that suggested them in passing. In fact Thomas could not recall much that happened in the tense of the present for many minutes before it was subsumed by the next thought or by the next observation. The reports in the popular press were of terrible horrific new afflictions come of both nature and man that could take such things away permanently and leave one potentially as a hapless vegetable completely vulnerable to the tyranny of a maliciously indifferent society. But then he also wondered if is all to quickly disappearing thoughts were a more pernicious form of his own hiding from the major conclusions of a ever susceptible tragic existence of many empty, cold and fruitless decades. Of an inability on his own part to accept responsibility for it. These headaches and pains in the head. The decline in an ability to see text upon a page in the dimness of evening light. Even the disruption of his gassy intestines as aggravated by an ever expanding hernia that too often became obstructed leaving him in hours of pain that took much effort to salve away in desperate experiments based upon intuition. All these things were unequivocally of his own making!
When was his last real adventure he reflected. When was there a sense of excitement that promised escape. Not perhaps from the pains visited upon his physical form. But escape from the brick and mortar that each day imprisoned his soul a little more. That over arching tomb that he seem so committed now to build over himself to acknowledge the pronouncement of an unyielding world that ‘they’ had won and he had not. And that it was time for him to get out of the way and make room for someone new. Perhaps a valid argument in terms of the necessity of the goals of maintaining society. But something that left him out in the cold. What after all was in it for him. Mere anger was of no use. He could be as resentful as he wished but it did not and would not change anything in this static paradise of all things past. A false generator of life of how it sort of once was now ever more fading. The color of the mind bleached to grays fading to blacks the garments tearing for overuse and mental over wash. What was death after all if it was not mental stagnation?
The morning light that greeted his eyes struck him as a prison gray. Homogeneous mist standing in for a sky as it had slowly come to be so over the last half decade more than not. His own two flawed receptors painfully taking the spill until they adjusted from the latent imagery of the dream world was fully erased by the continuum of his unchanging domicile. A sense of industrial gloom setting the stage for the realization of the holiday ahead. The lamprey of what had become a full out business tradition attaching it’s fangs into a much deflated national observance. The general purpose of still maintaining it upon the calendar as a convenient marker for the end of the year pitch to the population to indulge in fast and loose disposal of their year’s accumulated earnings, meager or not. The faux brown leather wallet that he had bought at a closeout sale two years previous at the demise of the neighborhood department store that went belly up after nearly a century emptied down the residual bottom of the last forty dollars that he had in his possession. Something that he should have been worried about but had resolved to himself days back that he would not. Determined to see this day as a life transition of a sort with an understated hope that things might magically take a turn for the better the following week. Certainly with no job or further change for a conventional income they could not be expected to from any conventional rational sense.The mental barometer being his own sense of Job-like faith that life was ever to be expected as infinitively challenging and that one was tasked with making the best of every situation as it was plain to him that you always ended up back in the same place sooner or later.
He was back and awake on the morning after. The dollar bill lay upon the floor neatly folded. A casual reminder of his inebriation from the holiday afternoon enjoyed before. No care to notice or apply any urgency for this financial sprite from flying from leather bound containment to the freedom of the floor. So insubstantial was the denomination of the note that it seemed to serve best as a reminder. A stern warning that all finances had come to full exhaustion and without some exceptionally clever solution no more of same would be imminent. A typical holiday precursor for the official commencement of another year end holiday spend down of bank accounts and pocket books all for some nebulous pseudo religious excuse. A payoff to children as recompense for enrolling them like prison inmates for the bulk of their formative years of development from infant to Liberal steered self-serving delinquent. Thank God for the cellular phone to keep their little hands busy and off the burners of the stove. That most celebrated no go zone for modern females who were stigmatized by its presence beyond the task of heating tap water for tea. The microwave on the kitchen counter being a more politically correct locus of nutrition for the family.
That modern saving grace of the credit card as financial instrument of turning future wages into debt engendering exercises in amassing compound interest being something that was beyond his immediate comprehention as a possible solution to his dilemma. He had ‘deep six’d’ his too own often-ebullient debt producing devices in his heyday of nearly a decade and a half previous. And in the interim had managed to hold his own in the hailstorm of constant new offers of incentives to take on other cards as plastic ammunition to expand his list of unnecessary purchases that were like most obsolete of any particular interest after the shine of their novelty in his existence had quickly worn off. Life since had become an ever descending staircase of diminished opportunities afforded by the overarching corporate hegemony that yearly demoted him to a lesser status based upon the wear of his advancing age, gender and race. There was no getting ahead entertained in the future some fourteen years later so much as trying to stay afloat. And even that was looking like a lost cause as of late.
Strains of an early twentieth-century ‘oompa’ music in fast jazz rhythms seemed to echo silently across the room. A distinctly Teutonic snarky gruff lyric sharply rhyming in syncopation with the brass section extending from a failed Wiemar hall. The inside of the head in the vault of the skull a chamber to echo foreign ideas that would have never occurred during waking. Not so much a protagonist but an observer. Someone with a catcher’s mitt picking up the wildly bounding missed pitches of other from the infield. Not quite sure of the faces of the other characters in the narrow focus of obsessive actions. These mysteries as they ever seemed to flying from the head as if the portal between waking and the unending promise of fantasy would reliably snap shut at every waking. The short snippet of the tail end having the only possibility of providing recollection of the place and the intended purpose in having landed there. If there had been a cigarette available he would have lit it in the dark so as to have the comfort of its embers as a less invasive ready light to steady his thoughts. Light being the enemy of these semi-organized ravings. Their scenarios pressing forth like an indistinguishable tapping on the other side of a wall by parties unidentified. A basis perhaps for speculation as to what actions possible that could be attached. But no clear proof of who or what and certainly no vindication of intentions. How could it be otherwise in this solitary convention?
The chime of the wall clock announced itself. The rusting reverberating melody laboriously repeating until it had counted out the required measures of strokes to signify the hour. But like all inventions of things long past it was wrong. Maladjusted to the present but energetic none the less. A deep breath and rough palms upon the face shepherding the blood up and down where its capillaries had welled up. No real attempt at waking so much as relieving the tension in half being so. What was he thinking about? Grown men in the shadows of a partially demolished long abandoned room filling out their fantasies with toy aircraft. Something still magnificent to the touch to hold these hulking air filled phantoms their outside detail defying reality to simply classify them as physically conjured mental spin offs of the real things. He had come to know the waking universe of the structure of man by such little giants.Now they haunted his dreams. An army green Jato assist powered transport still and silent. The glossy surface of the cockpit dimly visible behind the plastic glass block transparency of the insert. A legend of dials and knobs delicately inferred by a molded bas relief. Another inmate pacing about within the nocturnal fantasy holding an inverted B36 bomber its bomb bay converted to an emptied space to accommodate four C sized batteries tasked to power grain of wheat lights. Its holder saddened that this same space could have been left as intended to carry a brace of scale accurate lethal tonnage of th era it implied. Another similar craft with six small hinged doors below two larger hinged doors. The enigma of purpose by its anonymous designer unexplained beyond the fact of it.
The Greeks it has been said were convinced that the life after death was a place of shadows. A place where kings and heros and the common folk wandered not carrying on their usual activities yet existing within an earthly projection of their midst. The nightly muse of those unencumbered of companions and family seemed fraught with a similar extension of lost landscapes and long discarded urban scenes all in a jumble. There was often a journey that led to temporal resting places where a strange routine was carried on by characters that had a vague familiarity to the dreamer but in turn a solid connection of imposed role. Thus like a puppet this absurdist play of barely comprehensible situations and a fractured narrative of events carried on with apparently no rhyme or reason. Wherein was the distinction between it and contemporary modern life?