The old bitch upstairs was dragging her furniture across the floor again! Another knock just as he lowered his head. “Goddamn bitch!“, he yelled! Hoping that his exclamation was just loud enough to be heard through the concrete slab construction of his one hundred and eighty unit Mid-Century dilemma. The snowbound darkness to his left from the old squeaky recliner seemed to evaporate all probability of life beyond his own in the darkened semi-lit lounge. To look at him and his lifestyle one might have thought he was in some terminal form of inconstant mourning. Another drag and a bump diverting his attention back skyward to the old phantom above. There was no way of course of determining the exact identity of the occupant above him beyond the habits associated with the irritation that she caused. The moving of furniture at odd hours of the night suggesting someone perhaps as solitary as he. Small erratic nagging scratching noises or the bang of something upon the floor waking him out of a dead sleep suggesting the possible companion of a feline. The other phenomena less associative being infrequent bouts of fog banks of cigarette smoke that drifted in from the common space betwixt the bathroom and small kitchen that rose up through all fifteen stories of the structure. Sometime the heady aroma of wine treated weed stung his nose before dawn and threatened disorienting his head. It seemed incongruous that someone elderly would be indulging in such mundane hallucinogens. Both then given the era nearly fifty-years previous when society was breaking apart from incessant social dissonance drug taking was the common practice.
His headaches had increased in the last several years from the occasional to the frequent. It was reasonable to assume that all this airborne nuisance was a possible accessory if not prime cause of his distress. As it was the residents of the building had shifted in composition to a less sophisticated set that could be characterized more by their careless excesses than their civility. He had devised a nightly ritual of barring the door with two old steel walking canes and stuffing disposable plastic bags from the local supermarket in the gaps. The settling of the building having thrown all precise angles from their original square into a kilter. More than half way up the tower he could feel the building tremble without a warning seemingly from any more reasonable explanation than it was settling unevenly in such a manner that made the structure more vulnerable. The combination of all these factors adding to a building level of unconsciously gathering insecurities. Dark thoughts in the night fueled in part by the darkness of fractious world events where every day seemed to be another form of unraveling crisis. The faces of his bygone parents looking ever sterner in the accumulating shadows of both day and night. Perhaps another sign of his incrementally fading vision. “What then?“, he thought, “When I finally go blind?”
The lack of company and prospects for the future seemed to go along hand in hand. He seemed stamped from birth in a singular mode as a solitary soul. Perhaps condemned from some previous existence in another lifetime for an oversight or transgression that was considered unforgivable in a cosmic sense of being. Though he had suspected it in childhood there was something about him that others found unsettling even detestable. He seemed to attract expressions of instantaneous scorn or unmasked derision in the initial expression of strangers. His relations with others being tenuous at best. A shadow of a type falling upon his aspirations as they had all one by one seemed to crash prematurely before any lasting measure of success could take hold. Maybe it could be described as a certain sense of an ever failed optimism that was behind that gap with him and the rest of the human world? At this point he had seemingly succumbed. The program upon the screen before him had a taint that seemed in keeping with the ever mounting disaster that his current life was increasingly appearing to be. The space next to him ringing out with another utensil dropped out of a phantom hand.
The accumulation of experience such as it was made one convinced that one’s presence of mind in some way was a result of their own actions over the long term of their existence. One could collect positives as well as negatives. In some respects it gave a possible explanation to his dilemma. Recollections of events past when assembled suggesting more than possibly a pattern that suggested some prior suffering that was prevalent where he played the part of either victim or perpetrator. Bad memories of a childhood twisted by that subversive sense that he had something to be guilty about yet knowing exactly what. Strange affinities with old deposed European cultures now vilified as ultimate villains. Toy sets allowing play demonstrating an interest in resonating with past military grandeur’s. The stage set by entertainment entrepreneurs that had translated their rigorous subversive dogmas to lay in wait for vulnerable minds like his own. Who in that age could tell if any thought formed in their head was truly one of their own devising? The more his day vision suffered and the ability to conjure the recent past of moments waylaid an instant after enacting them the more the same sense of building despair set in. He played with these phantoms in his mind much in the way that he had once done with those little plastic toys.
He could recall for no particular reason and incident of his past in which he had purchased a brand new dark blue long sleeve shirt. Something of a talisman of sorts with which to attract the possibility of female attentions at a weekly party of his male high school friends. Taking it out of the package he had bestowed its magnificence upon his ignominious torso and felt a new confidence building within. His general perspective of being ground down in the world of the untermensch suddenly catapulted to a new height of unbounded self-confidence. Off he strode down the street to make his newly revised presence known. Yet predictably, as fate would have it, in particular his own. a mere half an hour later he was tearing violently at his new covering as he had found that though he was useful as the group’s weekend chauffeur, he had been shut out otherwise. By the time he had arrived home his shirt was in tatters. He had been betrayed by his own sense of foolish optimism to believe that his prolonged curse had been lifted. But found out much to his disappointment that this was anything but true. Much later he would find salvation in the love of another. His first. But then he would also find a way of mucking that up as well. So much for optimism!
His dreams as he encountered their bits and pieces and parsimonious lingering fragments seemed perfectly understandable though it seemed impossible to recall beyond a single glaring aspect past the time of waking. The pennant on the top of a mainmast of a vessel laying hull upright upon the bottom in the sea of his unconscious. There were many such wrecks there waiting to be rediscovered. Occasionally one would spontaneously rise to the surface during the course of a day’s idle thoughts. It was maddening that whatever force guided his consciousness was jealously maintaining control of it to the point of incrementally removing control from him. He could recall the piles of dog poop staggered like poorly laid landmines trailing into the hotel bedroom from the tiled floor in the lobby. The enigma of this unexplained phenomena taking place in some unidentified metropolis for reasons that would never be made clear as to how they related to him. A vague suggestion floating about that the management was not thrilled to off its services to clientele of his stature. Yet the exercise of a dance step type of physical exertion to avoid soiling his shoes seemed as if he had actually performed it while waking? And merely returned to bed and sunk back into the same dream?
Perhaps this curse had been renewed in an incident in years before? Then again maybe congealed in a single incident? He could recall a short road trip taken in high school in the company of other students from the school’s speech club? Their destination being culminated at a crappy Minneapolis hotel for the purpose of engaging with the wonders of the Tyrone Guthrie theater. The student’s after party being accompanied by the latest Beatle’s album of that time, Sgt Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band. The males warming up by having a spontaneous fire extinguisher fight in the back hallways of that creaking edifice. The girls setting up a Ouija board. The entire group congealing under a foggy screen of marijuana smoke to engage in an impromptu seance. One of the girls jumping up to break the circle and declaring that the speaker from the other side was none other than Adolph Hitler. He turned his face back from his thoughts to the window. Any excuse to justify this ongoing insanity of the inevitable ravages of old age both socially and otherwise. So many excuses that might add the value of an unsung melodramatic drama to what had descended into a lackluster humdrum existence awaiting the silent call of the grim reaper. Would his makeshift barricade at least provide some element of forewarning? It didn’t seem likely. The stigma of forgetfulness able to be accounted for in so many causes that one might just say this was merely a plague brought on be mere happenstance. There being no way beyond the ritual of the pronouncement of generally acceptable opinions based upon authority to answer with an air of the definite. And that of itself was its own form of fatal execution.
The thought bringing up another long filed memory from adolescence. The book called the History Of Torture which he had read in paperback form. It’s contents evoking both the sleazy as well as buoy a fearful dread. The institutional insemination of the Holocaust drama in a formative age of many recited personal fictional accounts being transmigrated into the public record of alleged facts. The perversity of the minds of the authors competing with each other to derive the most sensory debilitating descriptions of unbounded evil inhumanity for the sake of garnering temporal notoriety. How much was added to the empty shadows of adolescent minds in that postwar era? Brainwashing starting in the licentious realm of smelly exploitation newsprint paper printed tabloids. And transmigrating into the unsophisticated soulful moral repositories of the naive. The real unbearable torment of human existence not found in the physical dimension of uncontrollable pain but in the estrangement of the individual inevitably finding themselves permanently waylaid from the group as a pariah. Suffering attributable only to one’s own nature and not the all too obvious machinations of a society turned into a cold inhuman vehicle for processing the species into a puppet fit only for its utility. The cog as victim turned into the victim defaulted to the banality of a cog. All the socially proscribed devils found too late to be naught but fallen allies that had proceeded him. The endless futility of all this being the most unbearable burden of all.