Formless gray had invaded! The whole world had become gray or was on the verge of becoming same. Sanity had left the planet. A war between demons and mankind. Gray colorless things with horns that tried to stay out of sight just behind one. You might think that you were sleeping but when you couldn’t move it was obvious that it was a contest for your mortal being. The room rose to view with the suddenness of a rock hitting the wall behind his chair. His eyes popped out of register of nondescript shadowing drama and into the unexpected view of a dimly illuminated video screen playing before him. He immediately recognized that he was not within that dreamy world of comatose somnambulant muse but back in the lounge before the DVD program that had advanced far behind the point when his mind has lost its grip of the narrative. The grayness of morning behind the closed door to the bedroom hadn’t shifted one ought since morning. The uninspiring day shifting his lagging attention into a dream world within. Adrenalin summoned by what he suspected was that little rat faced five year old int he next apartment. “The little fucker!“, he spat malevolently into thin air. He was aware that he had yelled angrily when he had been aroused. The room was silent now. And there was no hint of evidence since he had pulled on his sandals and went swiftly outside the front entrance of his apartment to gauge if the little two legged irritant was running about unattended up and down the hall. The immigrant parents being caught in the thrall of Western Liberalism pulling away from their Islamic fundamental upbringing would too often leave the little tyke to his own devices. Idle hands being the Devil’s plaything in such circumstances. No one would of course tag any responsibility upon the brat for his actions. It was just a matter of biding one’s time to wait till something unforgivably bad happened and then chime in incidentally to get the lot of them kicked out of the building. Hopefully that wouldn’t be a fire or worse!
The discomfort of his guts had reached a resolution as one might expect with any late infancy reached towards the limelight of one’s mortal existence. His own internal plumbing had taken a turn for the worse. The porcelain throne and he had as of late formed an intimate bond. His digestion increasingly impacted by commercial brands of produce, meats and dairy that had lost its potential to nourish. The animal that he dwelt within much disturbed as a result of the impact of the accelerating trends of the monocular mentality of profit happy modern Capitalism as his favorite whipping boy. Not being a fan of brilliant lighting and caught at the other end of the spectrum with the ravages of declining capacities in terms of reading in dim light his loo had the optimal characteristics of the reading room. One that afforded him the best view of a block of a few pages to follow the progress of a variety of half-read volumes of fiction and non-fiction. A brace of travel guides upon the tank standing in for a choice from his personal library if animal needs precluded contemplation as to what might be interesting to review. Factual recitation along with fiction mixed with biography and political speculation. They all seemed as if penned by the unseen mysterious same hand. He had lost all pretensions to demonstrating his keen eyes for style or the need to exercise it. Like some weather beaten of standby lawn chair past utility. He waited at the bottom of a long list of things to address in terms of fixing or waiting for the truck to arrive to begin his final journey to the tip.
His labors having taken much effort in rocking back and forth to shake loose his distress he rose up and turned before the counter to face the mirror. He had gone from something that might be routinely described as human to a character. One that might be found on some backwater midway of a classic freak show. “The Amazing Flesh Sagging Man!“, a phantom carnival barker might announce after purveying his sagging un-draped torso. The marked effect of the many hard years far away from joyful youth were all too evidently embodied. Who needed to mark one’s self with tattoos to present something ghastly? Where his looks having once been an obsession in terms of struggling to maintain a certain factor of male attractiveness he calmly took in the evidence of its ruin. His gaze no so much un-approving as curious as to how this own withered mansion had descended so precariously far into public disuse. “Character, indeed!“, he quipped silently to himself now stepping forth into the tub pushing the shower curtain ahead of him to catch the first blast of cold water being chased by hot. The cycle of animal life posed against the infrequent lost rhythms of failed career. The curtain pulled away as the warm water struck him he was at peace with one of the few natural pleasures left.
The morning had turned bright. Brilliant, blue and cheery. At least as much as any morning could be subsumed int he the deep freeze of one degree above and wind chill forty below. Normal for Winter far to the true North! The home around him that was enveloping him was turning into just any other apartment. Whitewalls having lost whatever charming effect besides the utilitarian task of enclosing the curios and cabinets of once familiar characters long past. Sentiment bleached away by a thousand days since of partial Sun streaming into windows descending his own appreciation of life to any number of lonely days of increasingly meaningless existence. “Go get the newspaper and let’s see what’s playing at the movies!” a strangely familiar but disembodied voice rang out in his ears from the eagles nest of long departed impressions of the past. His mind mused back to that former technologically unencumbered time that embraced the morning smell of newsprint and the constant nagging of ringing telephones from wire connected desk sets on end tables. A sure sign that someone had something worthwhile needing to be said. Something to make you think that you were important to them. And then that immersion of printer’s ink’s choking aroma rising up from a thick section of Sunday funnies resting on the floor below one. The banal sympathy of a relative type of innocence that one was totally unaware of how lucky they were to possess.
The words to describe this current routine that he was now familiar with was one of an ongoing, middle of the road, monotone grayness. A parsimonious spread of inconsequential daily dramas amidst and endless droning of more of the same. One person’s sorrow being attributable to one person’s disease. On and on each day, non-stop. The only options available being to eventually replace one set of bland faces with another newer collection of the same simply for the sake of installing some much desired variation. He leaned forward towards the open pages of a thick volume of detective stories on the coffee table before him. Something concrete in terms of protracted narratives that were fifty years too late to truly be able to believe in. The cushions of the old broken down couch beneath his tailbone giving way as he rocked back and forth finally canting forward into a crouch upon two harachi bound feet. The definition of cold in this part of the room by the bay windows was a matter of supposition. To him, cold meant that she hadn’t called. Called him back, to be specific! That previous day spent between them at the museum having been all smiles and hugs. Then this next day the phone conspicuously switched off into do not answer mode. Technology! A sign of the unexpected resurgence of more geographically available financially solid entertaining company encountered at some point the previous night? He felt that, “Fuck you!“. choking feeling inexplicably building in the back of his throat and threatening to explode forth into actual words.
He wondered about the predicament that his new lady friend seemed to be faced with? Faced with something attributable to a recent development but a lifelong theme. Her lament of the day before was now laid out before him. Somehow despite any evidence to the contrary, that she is unhappy. Always unhappy deep within. She saying that outside seems happy but within the inside, she is not. She is conflicted. “Well!“, he mused, “Aren’t we all?” Isn’t it the prevailing nature of life to be beset by one problem or another seldom solvable? Others, not so! Is that not the same shadow that philosopher Jung speaks about? That same irreconcilable side of one’s hidden nature that seems to draw a shade down upon existence placing a pall upon every action or positive effort to recover some fraction of a bit of lightness our own. Partly to find happiness and joy. Till finally, towards the ends of one’s life, the two become interchangeable. The two having no greater or lesser respective measure of persuasive effect over the conduct of one’s continuing existence. With her it seemed to him a series of ongoing days within which she needed desperately to find some new epiphany. The ultimate solution to all problems in the eventual discovery of some magic elixir. This chalice resting in some golden place far afield of her present dilemma. And yet, from the store house of so many decades of his own experience it seemed that peace of mind would come from facing one’s chaotically abstracted life currently where one stands.
It seemed equally curious that she would say that she wanted to visit his home to make him part of her life. But then always finding an excuse in diversions seeming trivial to him but yet so overwhelmingly important to her. One that would see her traveling a hundred miles to attend a session of an ongoing class but not travel the ten extra miles to see him? Ever tossing it off to his face to some necessity that in her mind is a reasonably responsible solution to the conflict. But he knew that the real reason had nothing to do with any of that. The real reason being that could not make a decision. No need to risk feeling bad, or worse than she already does! She doesn’t risk a meeting with her shadow. She won’t accept the cloak of that mantle of who she really is. Her shortcomings! Or come to terms of what she is willing to do about them to achieve what she really desires. There being a reason to his mind behind her lack of constancy. It had nothing to do with him personally beyond the use of him as a toy. A malleable plaything. It sounded disingenuous to a degree to not provide her a measure of respect on these counts for what outwardly seemed to be her genuine feeling when they met. Yet he knew a secret that was too obvious to plain view but not to her that she chased the attentions of her long departed father. Having chosen older men as lifelong consorts that had no use or the time to supplicate her whims. A series of males in marriage and companionship, all of them indifferent to her emotional needs. The situation of relations them a matter of convenience. And so now, he had to play her monkey. Expected to make great demonstrations of affections but be kept forever at a distance in terms of sharing her own. A bad bargain to someone who had too often been played the fool at the end of his own failed relationships.
About that time a cold loud ‘ting’ rang out, issuing from somewhere in the next room where his mobile was left the previous evening. A text announcing her response to his ballooning imagination inspired ire. The short paragraph seemingly written by someone taking unction at being falsely accused. A lightly veiled excuse posited in the form of a brief apology. The last line being the threat of an indictment suggesting some unspoken building wrath from earlier in an onset of the morning’s foul mood. This stark visual retort inferring by its use as the preferred medium of contact the imminence of storm clouds building between them possibly leading to a more resounding degree of a more lasting bad temperament. Cold indeed as excuses went! His mind switched gears to the topic of women in general. A starry eyed vision of sweet child-like innocence transforming too quickly to empathetically deficient self-serving emotional wrecks that he had all too unfortunately known. A class of female that was perpetually incapable of making up their own minds or consigning their hearts to anyone real. They whimpered so well when they lamented! But suffered well-deservedly for their sins. He felt a sort of paralysis come upon him. Something, not a heart attack or an oncoming stroke. One where he felt incapable of moving. The sensation of an unspoken malevolence coming on to him eager to sap away all his life force. He had challenged his demons. If spoken of beyond the conventional boundaries of modern thought in a realm of ancient superstition overcoming current Science the identity being that of the classic ‘Hag’. He had fought the goddamn thing on occasion in times past. Threatening its power by willing himself forth escaping its clutches to grab back at its neck to wring it.
The context of his supernatural plight suddenly shifting to a maze bound construction site where within the interior of an abandoned unofficial neighborhood landmark gives way to the sight of a young precocious beautiful maiden. The young woman completely oblivious to any strangeness coming up to him to offer him some tidbits of food then asking him if he knew what they were. “Greek, I think?“, he confidently declared, “Spinokia and grape leaves!” “Do you like me?“, she suddenly asked. “Yeah!“, he replied. And having heard his response she excused herself and disappeared for a moment. The voice of a man with a thick Mediterranean accent suddenly sounding from just around the temporary barrier of a wall. “Papa, papa!“, the young girls voice sounds out. “Is he OK?” An older face appears from around the end of the wall to stare inquisitively at him. “You got a job?“, the old Greek fires at him. “Yeah?”, he replies to the old codger. The face disappears and the old man’s voice sounds out, matter of factly, “He’s OK!” The scene suddenly shifts and he finds himself next to the young girl as she drives them in her expensive sports car past the building through the intersection to get a marriage license.
He woke up! A bit dazed from his waking nightmare he looked about him. The day was still bright blue outside. He hadn’t dozed away for more than three quarters of an hour. His insides were feeling motivated but tight. He went for a sit. But nothing! A vague sense of impending need but framed within a continuing insoluble discomfort. It seemed curious that in his dreams as best he could recall them the roles always got switched around. Even to the point of your own identity. Sometimes starting out in the audience as someone viewing another completely different person. Then suddenly for no apparent reason switching over to their role. Maybe not even being of the same sex as your own. You may stand by a door trying to bar it fearing some fatal mischief afoot just outside it. And that someone might come in and do you harm. And yet in the next instant, you are somewhere else circumnavigating the structure in order to find entrance to invade it! And then just as enigmatically floating above all viewing what appears to be a conclusion to this mini-drama. Two, three different roles spent, or perhaps maybe more? Hard to say? Hard to say what it all means. An artifact of the events of the day before you went to sleep now rearranged? Or, something else. What is the larger story behind it all? That being what it was most important to contemplate. He got up and looked over at the last scrap of TP hanging off its cardboard tube. The cheap plastic dowel supporting it within the wall mounted holder now lacking almost all its original phony brass. It seemed strange that everything purchased so many years ago would eventually show the years of its existence? The phone rang as if in protest of these dour thoughts. The voice on the other end was her. He realized as she went on that he had never thought about lie in terms of being someone so much as being in love with someone.