Mercy. Show some goddamn understanding for a suffering man.
He had missed his bus again, and they wouldn’t let him in. A vision, brief, but vaguely satisfying, of hospital administrators being flogged in the fires of Tartarus filled the shivering plastic room, followed by his hindquarters as he descended to the chair. This place, obscene with fabricated flowers, the dank smell of decay, cleaning solution, and his ass nestling down, seeking some respite in the ergonomic atrocity. Undecided as to exactly what he was waiting for, his stomach rebelled, clenched, shriveled.
Apples. I should have brought some apples.
He had missed his lunch, absurd really, as he had been put out to pasture and told he could eat whatever he wanted to, sleep late, make love all hours of the day and sail to the East Indies. Surely there was room for a pastrami sandwich on rye with a dollop of mustard. For three days, however, he could do nothing but sleep. Almost as if he had become her, in here, dank and decayed and cleansed until there was nothing of him left. How cruel, to be impaled while wasting. A genetic mutation compounded by a grossly inept 15 year-old behind the wheel.
Brake. A simple matter of stopping forward motion.
He had missed his wife, last night upon drifting off, thinking of how possibly she had felt this, the sudden sloughing off of care and concern, the violent brushing off of responsibility. For him, possibly, more than herself. He had never been able to make pancakes properly, or get where he needed to be when he needed to be there. She always navigated for the both of them; the map folds remembered his defeats, deepened his sense of displacement.
Lost. I don’t even know how I got here.
He had missed his mother, was asleep when the phone rang, when it picked up, leaving the message of platitudes and distance. Absently he rubbed his thumb across the first digit of his left index finger, remembered the three months as a child that he had lost his voice, forced to scribble for understanding. His monther had bought him a writing tablet and a real fountain pen, read every blessed word he put down, kept pace with his silence, rubbed lotion on the thick callus that formed. Reams later he found that in any darkness, words were all he had.
Books. Why always Fisherman’s Quarterly and People? Why don’t they get some books in here for God’s sake?
He had missed his bus again. His watch, hands askew, pointed out the time in embarrassing detail. The next bus wouldn’t come for over an hour more; he surrendered, became part of the chair, lids sloping, breath slowing. Clenched, even in sleep, he dreamt of mealy apples and Marnie’s hands, phantasmal, folding him up with precise care into a sailor’s map of the Indian Ocean, the compass rose conspicuously absent. Drowning, she had no ears to hear his cries.