I can’t read the news.
It was easier to understand when I was a boy. Now, the writing seems to be just…words.
People who don’t enjoy what they do – never die. That’s cause they’re never born, they simply exist through life and they hang around like gnats, forever. Doing EVERYTHING, buying EVERYTHING, watching EVERYTHING all the while the grip on their soul gives way and leaves a tattered trail of crisp-withered tears like the leaves in a Twentieth Century autumn. Crick! Crick-Crattle, Flip! Crick-Crattle, Flip! That’s the sound of a dying man’s soul turning over, changing color, getting older…
I’ve already explained to Nancy that I’m dying. I feel myself slipping, the rot setting in between my teeth, eating away at the edges of my brain. Have you ever seen your bliss deflate like a helium balloon in the bleak corner of a public school gym in a working-class neighborhood which thinks it’s middle class? (to be in the middle is to be wedged-in-between, safe within someone’s sticky pages. The top or the bottom – but never, never the middle…)
The frantic sea of job interviews and emails and…how hard it is now to even look for work. It has gotten physically harder for transients who don’t want to be transients. Yes, I am one of “those” who don’t have a computer! And the havoc I have brought upon myself: Bold unflinching masochism!
I’m taking up space. I’m a good person and I try hard and look for the goodness in people (and I usually find it much to the chagrin of most people who act ashamed as if I have found out something about them that they would rather not divulge; I realized being “good” irritates people) and am most grateful when others can overlook my sins or faults and can see a shade, a figment of the man I am trying to be.
But I am taking up space.
And I should either add something beautiful to my surroundings or simply give up the air I am breathing because life – no, the anxiety of life – is simply not worth it. I am ashamed to be part of it. And so I had to say, “YES,” when I was asked because -…Well, because I wanted to be able to tell Nancy I had a job and that I was hired and just once share a moment of victory.
The job starts tonight.
And I need this type of job the way I need a hole in the head.
“It’s not that I dislike children – it’s what they might become. If I had to bear witness to my child’s lack of success I’m not sure I’d be able to handle it. I barely handle my own.”
She laughed, she thought he was being cute. But there was nothing cute about his situation. There was nothing cute about being caught, once again, in the rut trying to keep up, stay sane. He was beyond trying to be witty and he saw nothing admirable or clever about his choice of words or how coolly detached she thought he was. He was not cool and not detached and there was no pose he could stand.
All the armor, all the powder from his make-up had been removed, the streaks of paint had left his soul just slightly bare as if a cotton round dipped in witch hazel had wiped across the face of his soul leaving him cleanly exposed but less raw and agitated. All he could feel now was great remorse for everything he had not accomplished, a peculiar sadness – but not one that could erupt in tears, but rather a frozen gloom that clung to his face like a hockey mask, weighing his temples, the bridge of his nose, and the folds of his chin where all the despair had curled up like a cat preparing to die.
He felt nothing except for the dry sandpaper of his tongue.