Tuesday, January 19, 2016

A Vestige, Part IV of IV


               He plodded southward along the comatose beach.  His feet were aching and his throat was growing increasingly dry and scratchy.  His weary mind continued to search inward for the how and why of where he was at.  Could this be some kind of boring nightmare?  The kind of dream where one is faced by an enemy that is neither completely apparent nor fully absent.  Just a gray eerie presence that exists everywhere and yet nowhere all at the same time.  The farther he walked, the more he convinced himself that he was having some sort of strange dream.

               Upon reaching the southernmost bend of the atoll, he noticed there was more of a breeze and somewhat of a relief from the humid atmosphere of the northwest end.  The foliage seemed more sparse and allowed easier access to the thin area between the lagoon and the outer beach.  He was able to locate a clearing that was oddly shaped very much like the number 7.  Offering views of both the lagoon and the endless ocean, he decided this was the spot to set up temporary residence.  He languidly set about gathering palm leaves, both from the ground and directly from the tree, that would form a roof for his makeshift camp.

               Though the portions were tiny, the stringy and chewy meat from the rats and crabs was without end.  He had painfully learned how to ration his meager fresh water supply to allow for him to barely survive.  His days were filled with local explorations up the eastern coastline and also out into the ocean, as far as his braveness would allow.  Learning how to spear fish was a welcomed accomplishment in an otherwise futile existence.  The nights were dark and lonely, which always invited thoughts of times long gone.  Tortured by what were seemingly dreams within a dream, he grew increasingly dissatisfied with his current state.

               Any attempts to wake himself up from what he believed to be the worst of dreams had failed.  His body weight had dropped to an alarming amount and his overall health was getting worse still.  Emaciated and bordering on delirium, he'd decided he'd finally had all he could take.  Using tied together leaves from the surrounding Buka trees, he'd fashioned an approximately 12 - 13 foot piece of surprisingly strong rope.  He found a coconut tree with terrible posture that grew out of the sandy ground almost sideways.  The tree extended out over the lagoon for a good 20 - 30 feet.  Although not in the healthiest state of mind by a long shot, he mulled his options.

               At worst, this is not a dream and by taking his own life, he will forever cease to exist.  If this is some kind of bizarre dream, hanging himself should cause him to wake from this horrid slumber.  Either way, it would be an escape from this wretched state of limbo.  Deep down he had always felt that everything was an illusion and that the very fact that he existed at all was completely absurd.  He understood existence too well to take great joy in anything.  His passing would go with little to no notice and his entire existence would be forgotten within a single generation of family and close friends.  He had figured out long ago the terrible secret that everything was just an exercise in futility and all things living will come to the same end eventually.

               He gathered his rope and began his short journey across the low lying tree above the lagoon.  Upon reaching a suitable point that allowed for him to hang without any interference from anything below, he began tightly tying the rope to the tree.  When that was finished, he pulled the already completed slip knot loop over his head and around his skinny neck.  He sat there for what seemed like hours, but was really only about a half an hour.  This was it, as he gazed up at the cloudy gray sky and listened to the rhythmic crashing of the waves out on the coral, he leaned back and fell about 9 feet until the rope snapped tightly around his neck and all attempts to breathe and struggle quickly came to a stop within seconds.  He was finally free.  Free from the horrors of the imposition known as life.  There he died as all have lived, A Vestige.


Saturday, November 28, 2015

A Vestige, Part III of IV


             “Thanks again for your hard work on this, Charles.  I’m gonna make sure the investors hear about what you’ve done for this project the last few months”, he said shaking hands with one of his most valuable research team members.  He held a high ranking position at an invest firm in downtown Kansas City, Missouri.  The love he had for his accomplishments was only surpassed by the love he had for his beautiful wife and soon to be mother of his child.  They shared a modest two story townhome with a single car garage perched atop a fairly steep concrete driveway, which made the icy winters somewhat of a challenge, but nothing a little proactive salt spreading couldn’t handle.  He awoke every morning laying in a queen size bed next to his beautiful, albeit lately moody, pregnant love.  She was the girl that upon first seeing her shuffle quickly from her bedroom to the bathroom in her panties to brush her teeth, had forever locked his heart into a vulnerable and helpless state.  No other would ever do.  She was the love of his life.  The immediate rollover morning kiss that you see in movies and on tv, was mutually understood between the two as better left until after the brushing of the teeth and a swift gargle of mouthwash.  His workdays were challenging and stress-filled, but ultimately rewarding.  Not just the pay, but the sense that he was succeeding in both matters of a good leader and of a vested heart.  He would come home to a warm cooked meal peppered with the thoughts and gossip of his wife concerning the neighborhood wives and other such petty goings-on.  As the night would draw to a close, they ultimately exchanged a kiss and sometimes more, then gave their goodnights and turned out the lights.  
               This was what life was supposed to be.  So why then was this more of a nightmare than a happy dream?  Was it because that if you never ultimately achieved this ideal expectation, you had somehow failed at a position you were unwillingly thrust into to begin with?  Or was it because there really is no “way life is supposed to be”?  Or both?  As with every single aspect of anything to do with the human, happiness is completely subjective and fleeting at best.  Happiness does more damage than good, as it fills it’s host with the toxin known as hope, that is to say, the false and completely unsupported idea that everything is gonna be okay! 
               He awoke with a sweat soaked start.  It was still dark and the fire was down to a few smoldering cinders.  Waves crashing in the distance, always with the waves.  A few rats bolted away as he sat up and took in his surroundings, like one of those moments when one awakens from a slumber and for a very brief time doesn’t know where they are.  There was no breeze.  The damp air just kind of sat there like an uninvited guest with nowhere else to go.  He immediately set about adding more tropical kindling to the dying blaze.  Whenever daylight arrived, he knew he would have to hike on to find a more desirable spot on the island.  A spot where he could at least feel some kind of breeze and where he could set up some kind of more permanent way to collect fresh water.  A place such as this harbored no ill will, nor did it cater to any ideas of surviving.  There was only a complete phlegmatic oneness.
                Daylight was finally beginning to break.  He gathered his shirt and wooden spears and was on his way.  As he headed out, he made sure to pass by where he had left his freshwater holding coconut shells and drank the small remaining amount.  This was it.  It either had to rain or he had to find some sort of fresh water spring of some sort somewhere.  He traveled south at a moderate pace.  The sky was overcast and the heat unforgiving.  As he walked, he remembered the days of his youth spent in the country.  Being from the country meant having a respect for the great outdoors and everything that style of life brought to the table. 

While his mother went in to the city during the day to work, he was left to the care of his elderly grandmother.  She was a kind and well-meaning woman with wiry grey hair that sat atop her head like a straggly birds nest.  Faith was a big part of her life, as it always had been growing up in the rural south.  She did her best to teach him manners and to make thanking the Lord an everyday occurrence.  He never really grasped the idea of worship.  To him it was just something that was expected.  But like a seasoned thespian, he could close his eyes and bow his head and begin to pray with astonishing conviction.  To whom or what he didn’t know, nor would he ever.

A creeping sadness constantly stalked him like a mischievous specter, a feeling that was no stranger to him.  His devout and caring grandmother had even noted to his mother about his occasionally sullen and distant appearance, like it was a kind of sad wistfulness.  Throughout his life whenever he came into close proximity of a mentally challenged or somehow otherly afflicted person, he oddly never really felt pity for that exact person, only sadness and pity for mankind on the whole.  That just being born into this world brought the chance of being one of these helpless victims of a mistaken biological mutation.  He’d always regarded humans as a sad lot indeed.

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Vestige, Part II of IV

He walked across the dusty wooden floor with a slow purpose towards the outdated and rather foul smelling kitchen. Sunlight illuminated the depression era eastern facing room, a large wash pan was propped against the wall by the deteriorating back door. A small table buttressed against a termite scarred wall with two benches so as to look out the single paned window into the expansive rear of the property. A boy was playing fetch with a small hound dog. The corners of his chapped lips curled ever so slightly as he watched the young boy with his dog. He walked over to the dilapidated door and gave the pearl circular knob a turn but it would not budge. Pulling on the door also proved fruitless. Suddenly, from the south end of the house, the sound of a man and woman shouting at the top of their lungs could be heard. He made his way back out into the hall and towards the direction of the shouting. He entered the south facing room which appeared to be a guest room. There was nothing but a wooden chair in the corner and the outline of where a bed apparently used to be. He noticed the belligerent couple shouting in each others faces, what they were saying was not decipherable. The man abruptly struck her in the face and she fell to her hands and knees. The man then presented a revolver from his right overall pocket, pointed it directly at the woman, and pulled the trigger as the woman pleaded and cried for mercy. He took the chair from the corner of the room and tried to smash out the window but to no avail. He noticed the man remove his farmer’s hat, as his dark thin wisps of hair fluttered freely, put the barrel of the revolver in his mouth, and pull the trigger. He looked away quickly.

It was as if he was stuck in some kind of dank purgatory. A place where he could look out on both the beauty and the horrors that conscious existence brings. He realized then and there that that was all life was for every human ever brought in to this world; a subjective window peering out into a lawless objective universe where we constantly trick ourselves into thinking that the things we do and the things we buy and believe somehow will result in a triumph other than an inevitable lonely meaningless death. So what now for a biological prisoner in this house of doom for which there is no living escape?

Drip. Drip. Drip. His eyes slowly began to open and the realization that rain was falling quickly came to him. He felt near death. He lay destitute on the damp tropical floor. All around and about his bedraggled body crawled dozens of some species of Hermit crab, meticulously scanning him as a potential source of food. He slowly rose, shaking off the pesky crabs. Suddenly remembering his dire need of fresh water, he clamored about for the coconut shells he had picked up earlier and ran out of the cover of the tree onto the beach where he could capture the most rainwater. He collapsed onto the sand and coral once he had roughly a dozen shells set out. What had made him so deathly ill? The pooled rainwater in the misshapen tree was the only clear answer.

Why was he alive and not dead? A question that has habitually plagued the minds of serious thinkers throughout human history. If a man’s life is equal to what he has put into it, what then of the man who contributes naught? Either way, the ending is always the same, from the most brilliant and philanthropic do-gooder to the most vile putrid excuse of a “civilized” person. If a god existed, he/she must surely be the maddest being ever contrived. Why would he/she bless his/her children with “free will” only to chide them should they choose to question it? Likely a more ubiquitous view than is ever actually let on by those who must maintain the hopeful pious exterior.

The rain began to lessen, his coconut shells were full. Though, clearly he needed to set up a more thorough system to collect water as this method would only quench his thirst briefly at best. He guessed the time to be late afternoon by the way the sun peaked through the passing rain clouds. His focus was now on food. Luckily, his surroundings abounded with rats and crustaceans. He drank a fair amount of rain water leaving a few shells worth left. He carefully carried each shell back into the thick brush and placed them beneath the large leaves of a Mao plant. Next, he sought out a few roughly waist length sticks of medium thickness and strength. Once he had those, he then set about collecting lava rocks about the size of his fists and slightly larger, which seemed quite plentiful. If he could bang the rocks together at just the perfect angle, they would come apart and he could fashion a sharp-edged tool on which to whittle a good solid wooden spear head.
He managed to block out the hopelessness of his current mysterious situation by setting about employing himself as a sort of primitive arms manufacturer. In a sudden moment of proud accomplishment, much like that of the common man in modern society who occupies himself with the illusory nine to five daily workload, he felt as though his triumph in the face of this shitty predicament somehow meant something on some sort of larger scale. He produced three needlepoint sharp spears upon which he hoped a few invasive rodents might die honorably for a higher purpose. But before that would transpire, a means of rapid oxidation would have to be concocted. So, much like he had seen in some movie in what he now considered a past life, he needed to gather some dried leaves and vegetation from the surrounding green fortress he currently called home.

He amassed a small pile of damp dried leaves and sticks. Being that it had just rained recently, this fire was going to be more difficult to start than originally expected. But with the well timed friction created by furiously rubbing the tough, dried out wood and light bursts of air from his mouth, he was able to achieve a steady flame. Before long, he had a nice roaring fire going. There was a primitive pride he felt by achieving this feat. A feat first performed long long ago by his hominid ancestors which forever changed the fate of his species. Fire protected man from the natural predators of the night which waited curiously just out of reach of the bright licks of firelight. Fire would play host to countless tribal ceremonies by indigenous peoples worshiping their gods, celebrating feasts, and preparing for war. But now most importantly, fire would be used to cook the carcasses of rats and crabs that fell victim to his sharp wooden spears. Rat meat was exactly as to be expected; stringy, unfulfilling, and nearly non-existent in between the tiny bones. The eating was incredibly tedious, trying to suck small slivers of skin and meat from the bones. But above all, these recent accomplishments meant that he could remain alive for at least the time being, until perhaps a ship or airplane were to pass close enough to see his fire.

Darkness had now completely encompassed the small coral atoll that lay in the middle of nowhere, like a rogue dwarf planet in an infinitely dark expanse. He stepped away from his fire out to the beach of the lagoon, where he gazed up at the innumerable bright specks of light in the otherwise black sky. The view was astonishing. He had never in his life been witness to such an area where the pollution from man-made light dared not exist. Although he was completely alone and deserted, he felt no more alone than when he was surrounded by people on a busy city sidewalk. Mindless, thoughtless drones completely ensconced in their meaningless daily existence. Whether they were to be admired for their blissfully ignorant state, or abhorred for their involuntary emotional investment in the fallacy otherwise known as society. He was alone as he always had been, alone as he always would be; a tragic victim to an evolutionary crime known as conscious existence.

He returned fireside to his makeshift camp. He knew his freshwater supply was in an unimaginably scarce state. But for now, he fed his fire so as to invest in at least a few hours worth of protection from the intruding native rats and crabs. Using his flimsy shirt as a pillow, he drifted off into a troubled, comatose-like slumber.

A Vestige, Part I of IV

Darkness comforts the soul. Not all souls, just this particular one. But that’s how it’s supposed to be, naturally. From the beginning, eons of centuries ago, in a dark remote corner of the universe, this filthy little planet took shape. Darkness encompassed all. There was no love, no hate, no due dates, no time. Just the fledgling stages of the most beautiful and pure indifference ever conceived.

Waves constantly crashed against the unforgiving coral. It was dark and he could barely make out his hands that he held up in front of his sweat covered face. The heat was sweltering, despite the blackness of night. He had no clue where he was or why he was there. But clearly it was some place tropical and remote. He felt no pain, so any kind of injury was not a factor. There was a tree line he could make out some yards behind where he was standing. Oddly, he felt no need to call out for help or to see if anyone would answer. He was wearing ragged loose fitting clothing, his beard not much unlike that of some unsightly vagrant. He just plopped down right there in the sand and didn’t know what to think. Recollection was proving a challenge given his sudden state of confused bewilderment. There were only the unrelenting waves and the random arrangement of tiny specks of light spattered across a black canvas.

It was beginning to become light out and the man woke with a start from the fetal position on his new bed of sand and coral fragments. He noticed rats scurrying into the dense foliage that made up the tree line. Fresh water, he needed fresh water immediately. His throat felt like fleshy sandpaper. He began to jog at a slow lope south down the beach along the tree line looking for something, anything that might resemble some semblance of human life. At that moment, he immediately thought of all the times in his life that he would have done anything to get away from human life. But this was no time for reflecting on his past misanthropic desires.

He suddenly spotted just up ahead a clearing that appeared to lead into the profuse vegetation made up mostly of dense scrub and towering Pisonia and Coconut palm trees. It was still mostly dark as he peered into the abundant gnarly flora that lay before him. His failing loafers and ragamuffin clothing were not the most desirable combo to be trudging about a dense forest in, but it’s not like he had other options at this juncture. He stepped thru dead palm branches and incredibly sharp low lying bushes. His skin constantly being scratched and scraped by foliage that looks like it was designed by a masochist with a hard-on for pointed punishment. At the base of a curved and oddly shaped tree he was able to make out a knot in the wood with an opening at the top which had managed to collect a small amount of rain water. He dove at the sudden opportunity for a much needed drink. He quickly sipped and lapped up the small amount of water accumulation at the base of the warped little tree. It wasn't nearly enough to quench his undying desire for more. Such is life.

Ahead he was able to make out the first rays of oppressive sunlight which would soon be all the way up. He made it thru the jungle forest of thick undergrowth and came to a massive lagoon. The island he was on, while seemingly covering a large area, was really only a small strip of atoll in the shape of a Toucan’s bill with a fairly shallow lagoon comprising the middle. Again he resumed walking, this time in a northerly direction. Coconuts, rats, and different varieties of crabs abounded. The sun, that universally unimpressive ball of fusion, was already punishing and it was still only early morning. He seemed to be coming to a point on the beach where there was a narrow entrance for the lagoon water to enter. It appeared to be low tide as the water was shallow and didn’t rise past the knees. By this time, his stomach was churning with hunger and was not shy about voicing it’s yearnings. Despite being in shock, he noticed old cracked coconut shells lying about and had the wherewithal to grab a few to use for catching falling rain should a storm cloud pass over. He once again headed into the dense shrubbery for the shade of the looming palm trees. A clearing with nothing but old dead palm leaves and branches seemed worthy of a spot to stop and rest.

He sat down with a thud and leaned back resting on his bony elbows. Tipping his head back and staring up at the straggly canopy overhead, he began to drift off into his former life. She had long dark satin hair just past her perfectly proportioned shoulders. Her skin was as close as one could get to porcelain white and peppered with little freckles in all the ideal places. With breasts as if molded by a talented young artist with everything to prove. She had gripped his youthful unassuming heart from the first moment he met her. Like most young and inexperienced folk, he thought he knew all there was to know about life. But her emergence shattered any and all control he thought he had over even his most basic emotions and actions. Time spent with her was time spent without a concept of time at all. When times were good, they were the best of his life, unrivaled by any other. But when times got bad, as they inevitably do, his life came to a screeching halt and all knowledge of an outside world ceased to exist.

Suddenly, a shooting pain gripped his midsection and he began to vomit despite not much coming up. Then, he immediately removed his trousers as he suddenly felt the urge to defecate. After about three or four rounds of dry heaves at both ends, shaking and sweating profusely, he fell unconscious.