“What’s the difference?“, Renny replied, probably for the hundredth time that week. A penchant for habitual repetition of that overused phrase in his everyday speech. Something that had driven his former wife mad. Oblivious to his own usage so many times when he was breezing through the day together with her. A mental bulwark whenever he didn’t want to be bothered with more than he felt was his share. “What’s the difference?” A term he pick up long ago from another role model. But unconsciously had driven his own personality. One that he had said that he would never fall under the spell of. But of course, now nearing seventy years old looking in the mirror, he saw now laid claim to one-half of his own personality. Now it was almost morning. Renny lay in bed flat on his back with his arms spread outward feeling the quiet. The surrounding atmosphere seemed to sizzle. How to describe the feeling of being am inadvertent standard bearer? An inadvertent one whose vast storehouse of rusty memories provided an essence of a bygone era slowly departing as the number of other so endowed, now slowly disappearing. It was true that he was just another solitary nobody stuck in a Mid-Century vintage high-rise honeycomb. Someplace that in that past era was considered a privileged address offering the latest amenities gone sour over the decades into present day blight.
The former world of inviolable principle having long since been sold off on the cheap to Socialist street values. Depreciation of any residual worth to extinction. True love to expedient lust. The slow dwindle of one’s financial resources like sand almost at its end in an hour glass. A declination of society as a whole from well-measured adult perspectives to infantile childish rantings. One big melting pot of fallacious equality transfixed by ideology downsizing opportunities into equality of threadbare outcomes. Prosperity a dirty word. The individual, now the dinosaur, the Do Do bird. That world that he had one inhabited now a long forgotten metal jungle gym playground replaced by low hanging plastic fruit that only pretended to cushion the fall but not address growth. The model citizens of today donning the straight-jackets of Marxist dogma’s aping their Kalergi approved transitions mentally cloaked within inaccurate myths of skinny ties and seersucker suits worn in long lost golden ages of once easily found prosperity. What did it matter now? What was the difference? Who among them really cared?
Minutes had past since he had rearranged the covers above his head to block out the light now slowly building from outside. The near darkness soothing all his errant thoughts of that other world without. The ones that had interfered with the progression of those fleeting recollections of phantom characters left off in lingering states of near sonambulance. Fearful of his inevitable release into the brightness of the day to join the myriad of others that he had to contend with as long as he could recall. Sooner or later Renny would have to arise sleep weary and unsatisfied with the fact of his lack of adequate rest. He could see himself frozen with all those others in the last frame of the broken progress of his final dream. The last in a succession of others fitfully conjured betwixt many wasted hours of sleepless angst. There he was in freeze frame in an office somewhere looking about at the other indifferent faces. The blank expressions of those caught up in trivial conversations exchanging mediocre details occurring on some other wavelength that he could not understand. The content of each of these dialogues meaningless to him. Where could he find a bridge over that gap back into the world as he once knew it? So many bright spots slowly spreading out in slow Brownian motion throughout outer space. The cosmic tides of infinity rolling in and then drifting back over the same in immeasurable lengths of time. That silent invisible radiating force that ceaselessly slumbers away completely responsible for all things material that one could only slightly sense but never be positively aware of. The same force seemly so erratic in its plan but ever responsible for making that difference.
Renny, or Reginald as he was named in infancy, had always been a precocious child. Someone with an innate ability to pick up the gist of things fairly quickly. But with the curse of a persistent lack of motivation to follow through with what was expected of him by his peers. His whole life was settled on the internal. One of those guys that had a faraway perspective that always saw him looking past to the horizon at dinner time rather than that plate of food sitting on the table before him. Unfortunately it was a characteristic that carried him through four marriages and three failed careers. “What’s the difference!“, he would spontaneously utter. How is it going to change things? Everybody is a bullet sent forth on a straight line trajectory. We can only hope that bullet will sooner or later loose its inertia and come down to earth into a hopefully pleasing existence. There wasn’t anything you could really do about it even if you wanted to. Though those many years containing many past actions to the contrary suggested otherwise. A tiger never could lose its stripes. The whole idea from the start was to push. Push hard, then follow through! The way his own father had. A well-seasoned, “Six of one, to half a dozen of the other?” man!
How could it be any other way? The world didn’t wait for you to get around to thinking about it. Even though now, that was exactly what he was doing. An old rotting boxcar left off on some anonymous siding somewhere. His, “What’s the difference’s“, having substantially changed. Before it was a mindset to aid in expeditiously setting forth into flight some project. Anything that this ‘devil make hair laissez faire careless sense attitude had too long cloaked as unfulfilled. But now his own projectile was on the verge of dropping out of thin air as it lost all inertia. All he could see was a final ending providing no continuation. The world had past him by. The now all too popular idea of directing one’s sensitivity automatically to the plight of others didn’t appeal to his sense of logic. “What’s the difference?” “They’ll figure their own way out from their conundrums.”, he thought to himself. “There is not much I can do, I’ve done it . . . done it . . . like my poor dead dad.” “Now what have I got to look forward to?” “What’s the difference?” “This world will go one without me.” “That ever elusive woman that I have always wanted to meet never existed!” “Except of course in some beer ad, or in the yellowed enamel ink coated pages of the Playboy philosophy circa nineteen sixty-two.”
His thought now with those time long past when the world transitioned from the mentality of propelling yourself ahead despite grim circumstances. Those time when you were cooing to have to redouble your efforts to find something to eat now going hungry for a third day in a row. That hollow feeling that one gets when looking into the glass of a once familiar hardware store from your old neighborhood but seeing only empty space. “What’s the difference?” Renny looked around his own apartment taking in the legacy that he had been left with. A place that decades back he had sworn he would never inhabit. The many artifacts collectively on display suggesting a family museum. Each one with its own unique story to tell about a particular incident or new chapter in the rise and fall of his kin. Worthless bric a braq that reserved their charms only for him alone.
Most of the characters associated with each now long gone done the dusty aisles of fading memory. It seems that, as he had been left behind in their midst, his only choice was to forget all and leave on his feet, or be trundled out feet first. Either way the accumulation of these artifacts would end up being dealt out by hand into the tip. His eyes turned upward cooking out of the apartment’s bay window to the north to catch the orange sliver of the sun burning its way through a thin ribbon of low lying city smog. His arm unconsciously fishing about under the bed covers finding it sweeping back and forth until he had found something. It’s smooth motion pulling forth a matte black steel automatic, the barrel of which he unceremoniously stared into. The blackness of its tiny circle presented by the barrel a view port into infinity. One of a total oblivion that was patiently waiting. All he had to do was to snap the safety up with his thumb and pull the trigger and be relieved of all these quandaries and insoluble dilemmas that created distress and had affixed themselves to his war weary consciousness somewhere long ago back along the way.
Eons ago, as a very young man, he had hoped to make a difference with his life. He had felt that he was destined somehow to achieve great things and make his mark on society. But now approaching the end of his life he had to wonder what had he really accomplished? What exactly had he provided that could remain useful in this current throwaway world that could only respond in kind with any achievement beyond constant incessant meaningless change? His own, “What’s the difference?“, age already far past his own in its “Whatever!” phase! Those concrete clouded mentalities of recent generations set in stone hurling forth blindly into empty space.