Waking up from a relished slumber John Jameson raised his hands above his head, saluting the morning sun with a rigid flex. His bones clicked concurring the action and an intermittent spasm followed.
“Old age” he murmured under his breath distastefully.
Dragging his feet along the floor he proceeded towards the mirror and flung his arms onto the edge of the basin arching his back as he did so to get a better view of himself.
Wrinkles rippled across his face gravity giving them a curved shape. Dull blue spheres that once shone crystal clear, peered back at his cataract ridden eyes. His grey hair glimmered silver in light as he ran his fingers through his hair, a self-soothing method he had picked up from his father. Biting into his paper thin lips getting a whiff of the after math of his favorite past time.
A habit both he and his late father shared yet never participated in together. Alcohol numbed the pain, drowned his sorrows and cleansed his conscious. It gave him the supernatural ability to forget anything that had happened in the past an all he had to do was piss it all out the next morning. Death would be easier he thought to himself grabbing hold of his toothbrush applying a generous amount of paste to account for his late night antics.
Being a child was so much easier. Do you remember when you had it all? The ignorance, the bliss. Being meticulous was easy enough then without having the additional stresses of loans, bills and a job.
He spat a thick solution of toothpaste and saliva down the throat of the drain. A skill he was proud of after his sixty-five years of living. Gargling with a mouthful of water he chocked and splattered the contents along the cabinet. A scarlet residue dominated the batch he had just spewed out. Staring into the mirror and placing his palms on the skirts of his plump face he searched for any unusual signs on the reflective canvas across from him.
I’m dying he thought, acquiesced. ‘You get what you wish for’ his conscience added, a voice he had forgotten. “If I’m going to die it had best be a quick clean death. I want to disintegrate into tiny little particles. Simple and painless” John retorted. His receding hair line was a biological clock that reassured Mother Nature’s inevitable conclusion. How did I get here so rapidly he questioned. ‘This is the path you chose’ his conscience whispered.
He came from a fortified lineage of commoners. A hard working people of the land and for the land is what his family was renowned for. He had stuck to the script. Securing work at the local factory bottling golden brown ale. He was hands on. Like his father and his father before him. Too were his sons and their children would follow suit. ‘Conditioned to perform tasks’ his conscience raised, the voice still unfamiliar to him.
There was never a need to over perform in his environment. It was the norm to conform and excelling was for idiots in these parts. He and his friends in elementary school had always mocked those who stood out for grand achievements hurling abuse like “kiss arse”, “brown tongue” and “teacher’s pet” imitating the senseless mannerisms of a hound. Another gift he had inherited from his kin. He had repeated his beliefs religiously and carried the craft from his youth right to his ripe old age, perfecting the profession in his place of work.
“Voluntarily or involuntarily people listen to what you say and the tongue only speaks of what it knows. Therefore ‘knowledge is power’” he recalled one of his colleagues saying as a form of admonishment for a comment he had made towards a fellow for being acknowledged by his directors. He dismissed the statement unabashedly viewing it as an inconsequential interaction at the time. It was a prerogative he had protected throughout his lifetime yet looking back, the significance of the words sunk deep into his stomach and weighed him down. His legs buckled beneath him grabbing onto the towel rack for support, feigning stability. For who he was not sure. His wife had left this life a long time ago and he had grown accustomed to an empty bed. What would Jane say if she saw you like this? He asked himself. “She’d be disappointed” he surmised.
The colleague who had offered him words of wisdom was now one of twelve directors who marched the floor of the factory barking orders and sat in meetings, suited up, for several hours at a time. “What did he do differently? What was he taught to think?” he asked no one in particular regrettably. “I could never have achieved what he has” he groaned bowing his head.
He had tried and tried he had till his eyes burned red and face turned blue. Each time he was presented with the same outcome again and again. Failure. John had never latched onto something that he desired long enough if it meant placing extra effort on the table. He had a knack for always developing new hobbies and skills when he felt he had reached the peak. Plucking the strings of a guitar when he was young he had put the instrument down when his hands ached from pressing on the fret board for too long. Providing tinned tuna to the townspeople making a handsome profit, he dropped the ball when the manufacturing plant told him they would stop their delivery system and he would have to procure it himself. Anything you can think of, John had done it. He had become the Jack of all trades and the Master of none.
His oscillating patterns confused himself, his subconscious and even his friends. And it was something he had no power over. Something he could not subjugate. He lost all enthusiasm eons ago in his follies of youth when he decided he knew all there was to know about life. The desire he had possessed dispersed when he stopped speaking to himself one-on-on keeping tabs, when he stopped believing in himself. ‘I’m still here’
The very moment he lost the faculty of dreaming. The same moment he lost his wife. His indecisive nature was clear on his flat countenance even as a pensioner. Always picky yet ever more hesitant. Never clear about what he wanted or how he wanted. And for the first time he was concise, “I hate my finicky tendencies!” he roared, his ribs reverberating from the power of his rhetoric.
He realized he Felt Empty After Reminiscing. His fears were one thing his father his father had never given, rather forced down his esophagus. Think backwards. That is what he was always taught. Look back and watch how things are done in this small settlement. Looking forward he felt light and flamboyant. When he would meet with Jane in the heavens and the skies above he would have a story to tell her.
After that day John was never seen in the tiny town again. The young boys and girls gossiped saying he had hung himself in his house. His corpse left to rot in the four walls of his property. “Driven to his death by madness induced by his old age” the townsfolk exchanged at the pubs a few streets away from the factory.
John had in fact sold his shares the company gave to him as a parting gift for forty-seven years of service. They had begged him to stay for another three to set a milestone for the employees. Instead he bought out an organisation that did philanthropic work in foreign countries and contributed to several societies worldwide.
“Better others in the hope that they better you in turn” was his mantra. ‘Agreed’ his subconscious assented proudly. He manufactured a movement that was manifest. Definiteness of purpose that disposed of fear.
The path of his past now known. The course of his future unknown and under construction.