“The recent event proves that a perpetrator must stick to his story despite any evidence to the contrary, even the point of losing all credibility, being that it was not a case of having admitted to responsibility for an attack but the consummate lack of thieve’s dignity to have finally surrendered to finally admitting to it”
Robert Marklin sat in the lounge chair with head hanging angled back. He didn’t like to drink alone. But this afternoon had twisted his head around so much that he had to find an ice filled glass slopping over with some scotch. His double breasted coat’s flaps open like twin cargo hatches on an old wooden schooner, his wide tie rumpled look a snake about to strike. To look at the mode of dress of this figure, one might have thought that he was some subsidiary character extra in some low budget nineteen-fifties B movie Film Noir. An over worn three-piece suit cut a little too loose and baggy for current form fitting twenty-first century sensibilities. The evidence of his slight paunch pressing forth a narrow gap of rumpled shirt between belt line and the vest suggest a more contemplative self-indulgent type rather than someone mercurially physically active. The full face staring emptily upwards with widely set peepers focused hard upon some distant un-seeable horizon. A crumbled note out of view on the rug.
“How can it be?”
If it had been something that he had once known then it had long ago evaporated like the forgotten essence of an old perfume bottle. Maybe the slightest of hints of its contents but nothing of substance. No feelings of longing or need. No desire to become close or hold, or be held by another human being. No scenes in one’s recollections that defy the bare impression of a shadow for once so intimately well known. Nostalgia and a cloying internal but essentially empty feeling, perhaps? But now a tacit functional sort of indifference in a land of strangers bearing umpteen painted on smiles that come and go yet remain in one’s thoughts for barely the dawn of another day. “Love!” Indeed. Animals on all fours could demonstrate being more commitment to the business of living than he was committed to mouthing that dirty word at this point.
“Love!?” (Hrmmph!) What was it. Where did it go?
The way things were in this world, nothing ever changed. It was the holidays, again. Or just past them! And he found himself all washed up on the familiar shoals of emptiness. A foreigner to the world of fellow mankind and permanently alone. Or at least that was the scrip of dialogue to the scenario running like a perpetual loop in his mind. The silence stunning as was the feeling of absolute uselessness to any other type of breathing mammal. His multitude of sins a travesty of continued missteps and inaction’s while the rest of his kind had raced past. A race indeed! On foot and in terms of who might snatch the crown of lead species. He was officially not a participant in any of those games. The character sitting coincidentally in the same skin devoid of any commonly known form of desire. Those same ones that had once ruled his every waking moment setting him on a false trail towards fame and fortune and a sense of higher esteem by way of easy recognition towards the attainment of the same by others.
“Well then who presents the lies and demands that they believe them unequivocally?”
So who drew the curtains on this ever-ongoing theater of non-existence? That was the ultimate question that remained ever unanswerable. Those silent voices that whisper in those quiet time of the night without a hint of breath caressing your ear. The ones that no one cannot hear but seem to recall very well after the fact. Simple myth and superstitious heresy. That way you can be sure to have not to heeded the advice when caught short by your latest misstep. Some other called that intuition. The Greeks thought them invocations of the gods! The various models of same offered by other earthly societies often contravening the same excuse. An unsympathetic crowd mentality overwhelming unconventional sensibility. Why always fall victim to marching out each in there own space in rank and file? But then everybody did! Lines of cars and row after row of people struggling mindlessly for the next elevator . . . or yet another quick cup of hot coffee.
He knew the answer before he had even asked the question.
He had ventured out in what appeared to be the early hours of the morning during the newly enfranchised season of Winter. Darkness cloaking his step and cold weather enlivening it on the way to the coffee franchise a couple of blocks down the street. The doll house boutique quality of it corporate window dressing decor shone in the paucity of street lights illuminating the expected lake of asphalt and brick covered concrete that was his destination. He had frequented this spot several times over the preceding holiday season and expected the short battery of questions accompanying the purchase of a cup of coffee to be abbreviated. A vague desire for general familiarity calling to him from within hoping to expect variance from that enforced corporate rituals demanded of its workers. The ‘she’ behind the counter and example of the present tense errant generation that only took their cues from the palm held electronic spokesperson of current politically gender neutered society. He caught sight of the tattoo upon the visible portion of her chest that proclaimed an elegantly inked script that suggested the source of her own identity as a riddle. Only intimates allowed more than that same single word to decipher her mystery that, based upon her wardrobe choices of the day, would be prominently displayed.
Cup in hand proclaiming his choice, he was still required to respond to the fact that he had not the plastic talisman with magnetic information strip that the company would use to track his affinity with their products. Play along! An annoyance to anyone from previous generations when one’s daily business was strictly their own. The bill remanded for payment broken into smaller denominations minus payment, a coin haphazardly dropping from her fingers to the floor. To his horror, she instantaneously dropping towards her knees to bend down to retrieve it from the dusting of crumbs and other foreign detritus that covered the area just below her. To add further insult to his sensibilities the coin still animatedly spinning about out of reach. The tip of her foot behind the counter instinctively applied to restrain it from escape. To his dismay he now was well aware that she would in those next couple of instants present this same befouled piece of pecuniary base metal into his palm as part of his expected change. Something that for his more venerable era might have been interpreted as a direct insult. Or in more forgiving terms. a lesser sense of oversight suggesting perpetually bad manners. Her generation tolerating no outside censure. She like many her age having been raised with an all consuming sense of childish self-importance booking no comments from him. The best acknowledgment he could hope to expect beyond that artificiality of a well-rehearsed cheerful lilting tone being a proverbial have a nice day.
“Goddamn it! You are so efficient in your persistent ability to absolutely forget your actions of the last few minutes before!”
Here he lay again upon waking back in bed. Flat on his back, his weight evenly deposed with his arms to his sides. His head slightly elevated tilted a bit forward upon an old worn ergonomic pillow. Eyes closed under the protection of the wash weary cotton of his oldest red watch cap laid across his face staring up through the invisible reality of a ceiling into nothingness. His left hand slid out across the sheets from his side catching its coolness past the immediate periphery of his bodies own warmth. Its immediate destination being the expertly machined lump of tempered steel that rested farther to the north before the precipice of the large king size bed’s drop off. His fore finger tracing its trigger leaving the palm to enjoy the sensual pleasure of its cold unforgiving hardness. The deferential in temperature not quite approaching that of an icebox. Superficially an instrument of death fully loaded restrained from accidental use by its safety switch being on. A boundary that he had heretofore never had an opportunity to violate. Something even in the drowsiness of sleep that he was plainly aware to refrain from, save for the arrival of unexpectedly extreme circumstance when an untold sound from another room roused him fully awake. The type of occurrence suggesting movement within his apartment that was out of place with the context of the fact of his sole occupancy. His fingers caroused across the moderate roughness of the soft food grater of its checkered grip, the palm of his hand instinctively fantasizing a two-step process of quickly activating then fully arming its trigger. The experience of it spoke a sense of reassurance to him that guaranteed he would not be without the ability of some form of equally persuasive deadly force to respond to any intruder foolish enough to try to catch him totally vulnerable in the midst of night.
Somehow it made him sleep now more soundly alone in that big empty bed being barricaded in that damn tiny apartment.
The fact of this unlikely companion’s nightly presence in his bed being a longstanding ritual dating far back in some ways to his childhood when upon a Christmas long forgotten his father had made him the gift of a base metal pellet gun roughly coined in the shape of a classic .45 cal Colt. A toy with semi-lethal potential that demanded respect in terms of observing certain limits of its possible use. Too many James Bond flics! Even after all the many intervening years and decades when he stretched the accompanying facility of tactile familiarity that occasionally accompanied fading memory, he could verify that it had on many occasions beneath his bed covers, it had provided similar opportunities. The active followup to both equivalent rituals requiring the pulling back of its slide to mechanically engage an awkwardly shaped piece of lead from a small hidden reservoir found within. The capacity of it to inflict harm demonstrably fading with the frequency of use to the point that, aside from soft tissue, no damage beyond a red mark upon the skin might result from a mishap. Something that after an episode or two of its careless employ, from that point on, he most carefully avoided. The habit had been duly revived during adulthood when on the occasion of his moving to a part of the city where the possibility of finding one’s self a victim of an unexpected break-in during the dead of night was all too real. The only possibility of salvation in such circumstances being in immediately responding to the necessity of one’s own defense. This was how such things had gone from the exception of the rule to a nightly habit. A routine that he always kept to himself. The sense of lethality implied to anyone unfamiliar with such experiences by this custom not residing with the implement, but with a malevolent intent lurking in a certain type of individual behind its possible employ.
It is not unusual to think back past that point when you were too very far past being so!
Too many others in his current society seemed to have been meticulously conditioned to be blind to the many transgressions of those anonymously given power. The same hypothetical group that remains effectively unmentionable in common discourse by regular citizens. Lest they risk metaphorical life and limb in terms of their jobs by being outed from their rightful place for a Freudian slip in this current overly touchy society. The two percent of the total population of the land who capitalized upon special privileges that were never extended to any other demographic. A tribal based cult of scapegoats considered perpetual victims by that same demographic.
Unmentionable! Even to think so by one’s self, or by any other standard!
She had been one of them. A half breed of sorts, or so she had said. Always on the make shaving the points and taking advantage here and there. Too good in bed not to have left her mark on that side that he still not dare sleep upon. And what was it with this business of women perpetually sleeping on the right side leaving men to the left. Was this some lingering sign of marriage carried over from that long ago first spoken incantation of, “I do?” If he smoked at this point he might have lit up to divert himself from re-conjuring this thoughts. The emptiness of the room seemed draped around his shoulders like an overcoat. There were too many old unrequited spirits from the past floating around from his past in here. Each one connected to another old story from his past that at this point he did not care to recall. The place without her had become an open question. When he was a kid he never wanted to walk into an unlit room when he was all alone. Now he lived at night with all the lights off. Maybe deep down thinking that he would remain unnoticed? But by what?