Narcissit? Who me?

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

A little short story.

Walter Smith was a regular man. He was regular in every way that a man is regular. He had a regular workingman’s build; he worked at a regular job that paid him a modest income which in turn paid for the house he lived in and the regular car that he drove. He lived in a regular area of a regular city. When he was younger, but not too young, he married a nice, regular, gal and had children- the appropriate amount. Yes, Walter Smith was a regular man, right down to his bowels (which moved twice daily.)

So enraptured with his own regularity-to the point he no longer thought about his own life- Walter paid no attention to anything that went on around him. While other men his age seemed interested, even obsessed with their advancing age, Walter hardly noticed. Every day was followed by another day without disruption. An occasional birthday of funeral came along now and then but none of them were ever unexpected or shocking. Walter was able to plan for them in a way that involved never having to think about them at all. He knew they were coming and acted accordingly (regularly) when they came up.

Because Walter was a regular person, and regular people often have hobbies and past time, Walter adopted them too. This point is especially important to note because Walter was not bored by his regularity, something that other people, people who write stories perhaps, might think of his life as dull. To Walter it wasn’t. One of Walter’s hobbies was to walk through the neighborhood in the spring and summer seasons and admire the lawns of the people to whom he lived so close. He enjoyed meeting people on the sidewalk and giving them wide happy smiles and offering greetings to them, and he enjoyed receiving them back. Seldom did thoughts pass his mind when he was on these walks. His mind drifting from the walkways, green lawns, and garage doors. His feet always knew the direction of his evening walk and directed Walter, on this particular evening, in early June, through the small green space at the center of his neighborhood. The space could be called nothing but a green space because that was all it was. There were no benches, play equipment, or picnic tables that would classify the space as a park. There was simply one path that wound through the park, in an aimless and thoughtless manner flanked on either side by simple green grass. Maybe that is why Walter always walked through it. This park was his natural environment. Regular.

As Walter walked at his regular pace through the aimless path through the green-space and his eyes took in the green grass and the fences that lined the outside he noticed something. This is a note of extreme importance because Walter did not often take notice of things. He took them in -true- but he rarely engaged his mind to give them thought. This time he did because as he was taking in the fences on the east side of the green-space he saw something out of place. Up against the farthest fence from his position within the green space, painted on the creamy whiteness of the surrounding fence were the words “Eat Shit!” So offensive to to Walter were these words he could hardly stand to read them once. But his eyes could not be torn away. All he could do was stare at the words, in a blazon yet sloppy red scrawl along the wall. So stared at these words and then he began to notice that the grass against the wall, starting in that area and extending outwards, appeared to have lost the lush greenness that the grass throughout the space held. He noticed also that the trees surrounding looked weathered and old. He began to notice, in the brief moments when his mind was not absorbing “Eat Shit!” that the fence it was painted on had peeling paint. Walter stood at one end of the green space for uncountable minutes it seemed. (It was only 7 in reality) Eyes fixed upon the far boarder to the space. “Eat Shit!” He thought over and over again. Why would someone write that on the wall in our perfect space? What made them think of such a thing, when they were enjoying such a pleasant space? Who did it? Obviously it was not someone who lived near the spot. Obviously it was someone who was jealous of their space. Were the first active thoughts that Walter had thought in a great while. But after he had reasoned jealously into the equation he fully expected his mind to go back to sleep. He expected his feet to carry him away, back to his home and his warm bed. He expected his eyes to stop seeing the uglier details of his surrounding. But although Walter expected this, it did not happen; even when he tore his eyes away from the ugly script, his feet did not move. He noticed the cracks in the sidewalk. He noticed the hot smell to the summer air, which tasted like wet garbage. He heard the annoying buzzing of mosquitoes and of a distant lawn mower. He stood in the mark for another long moment (3.4 minutes) until he put forward the effort to start his feet himself.

Walter walked the same route home as he always did. He walked down the same street and past the same houses. Except they were not the same houses. They were smaller houses with windows with broken seals that needed replacing. They were saggy roofed houses with ugly storm doors on the front. There were more fences that needed painting and mending. He walked down the crumbled sidewalk, and noticed the inky blackness of the asphalt streets and how it strained to stretch outward to cover curb to curb. He saw the dried grass and the clover chocked lawns of his neighbors.

Walter was returning from his walk a bit later than he had usually. This was due to the fact that he had spent so much time staring at the words painted on the fence in the green space. The exact words that were currently flowing around his head like his own personal mantra. Eat Shit. Eat Shit. Eat Shit, Over and over and over again in his mind. They were also the words that were flowing through his mind when just as he was passing his neighbor’ Arthur Gerwins house, that Mr. Gerwin decided to pull in his lawn sprinkler. It was at this moment when Arthur saw Walter passing by and waved and shouted a warm, and friendly “Hello!”

And in reply all Walter could say was “Eat Shit.” and continue walking.

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