Relationships cannot really develop, as they once did, for each person is lost in his or her own inwardly-spiraling narcissistic technological nightmare, isolated by the photographs one takes and shares or does not share, texts sent and read — I put a lens between me and you and then send the picture to someone who puts the image of you away at yet another remove. No touching allowed. Just pictures.
If you are unphotographed, untagged, you do not quite exist, in this world. We have slowly become more and more disconnected from nature and from the other people around us . . . and how many of us think about this or even care if it is true?
Does it matter to you, that you spend so little time staring at the device known as the sky?
Does it bother you to realize this?
I often consider this line of action:
I’d go over to the local gun-shop, as ubiquitous in Oafwood Estates as fast-food joints and RapidCashTitleBack shops, take it to the range not a mile away, as I learn how to handle what Lolita’s mom, in the movie if not the book, called a “sacred weapon” — not a task I look forward to, by the way, since I hate firearms — and thence, in a few weeks, after I have gotten all my affairs in order, cleaned up as best as I can the mess that is my family finances — kapow! Nóche ciéga: blind night. I know just the place for it.
“Howdy. I’m here to buy a gun for to kill myself.”
“We don’t ask you what you do with your firearms, sir.”
“Is that right? That’s nice of you.” He didn’t want me to tell him; I had put him off.
“Well, and now it pains me — I hate to tell you this, I’m very sorry, but um you’ll have to undergo a waiting period . . . ”
“It’s pretty long.” Light sparkles on the hoods of the trucks parked out front.
“It’s alright, Bob.” I had read his shirt.
“I’m not ‘Bob,’ ” somewhat surprisingly, “in fact, I just wear the Bob shirt if you know what I mean . . . ” His look made me notice how carefully his beard was trimmed. I mistrust closely-trimmed beards.
“I — misunderstood.” Smiling greyly. The boy almost smiled back. How old was this guy? Hard to say. Maybe the owner’s son. I remember standing there a few moments while he went to get some sort of paperwork, staring at all the wood and metal, smelling the smell of the place, watching a few customers as they tried out the wares.
A creepy place. Unexpungable odors. All kinds of weaponry in cases, behind bars, hung up on the wall, piled in corners like so many fireplace pokers. A cardboard sign on one door (I meandered as I pretended to look at various firearms) read “SUPLIES.”
My uncle Walter (he lived with our family for a while as I was growing up) had an idiotic maxim, I heard it every time I pointed out a misspelled word: “You don’t have to spell to sell.”
That’s how I envision it. Kapow! Bob Knelbern, local ex-farmer, found dead in his shed, surrounded by the artwork loathed by all his contemporaries, though he himself was not personally loathed (though at least one person thought they had something to fear).
No one left to write the obit. (I’ll post mine in a later chapter.) I can actually envision the moment, the smells in the shed, the raising of the gun. The final considerations. Pressure of the finger. This is not a personal loneliness; this is an existential loneliness, a feeling of being acutely solitary in a world where others seem to enjoy a world of fellow-feeling. They play games together, they watch television or films together. Happily do they play Scrabble and talk about it afterwards. Someone tonight asked if I wanted to come over and play chess. Nah.
I have noticed in recent years the vanishing of large talk. There is nothing now but small talk — even micro-talk! — though weather-jabber does not quite fall under that rubric since we lost our winters. Climate discussions are no longer small talk: imagine that.
Looking from time to time out this large window, day in, night out, it’s a mise-en-scène, isn’t it? The dog either hyper-vigilant on my sock feet or curled sighing in my lap. Cars sweeping by the flat suburban street, no different than your street . . . it’s then that the memories of inane things I have done or allowed to be done — morose regrets that are so pointless (as we cannot change anything that’s already happened) — that’s it, you know, it is no more than a mass of tangled, wretched regrets that I have as I look back over this paltry thing called a life.
I’ve done nothing good. I’ve loved so badly. All my relationships failed, the emotions that once charged them flattened by time, ennui and — more than anything else — horizon sickness. You know what that is, don’t you? Google it if you don’t.
(c) 2017, 2018 Thomas N. Dennis