With a last furtive and hasty look thrown over my shoulder I silently crept up the final flight of stairs on my way home in the hopes that I could gain the solitude of my apartment and for at least the next 72 hours never again have to leave its safety. As today was the beginning of a little time off with the unsaid promise of being on my own as well as left alone these next coupla days. While this nation of ours would be busy celebrating an independence that has since come and gone, that is if it had ever really came at all! And besides not working there really wasn’t anything else that I was suppose to do because for one, even though my car was sitting in a garage with its engine destroyed and in need of replacing, for some reason on our nation’s birthday it’s impossible to purchase anything larger than a case of beer; and two, everyone and their brother was going to be either at the beach or up the coast or poolside or BBQin’ at somebody else’s mom’s house and the very thought of joining them at any of those locations or activities was, well, buying myself a case of beer held a greater chance of happening and I don’t even drink the shit!
Yet coincidently just this morning I’d been contemplating the wonders of a cigarette. Like a harsh stubby filtered Export “A” in the green pack and like how smooth it’d be suckin’ down that blonde tobacco through its light brown mini filter and ooh how it would just make my fucking day!
Fuckin’ A! Fuckin’ Day! Fuckin’ A Day!
Though in reality what’s a little time off really mean? Do I get a reprieve on the aging process? Are these days gonna be prorated free off a my rent? Or does it just mean that for three days I get to avoid things like people, work and talking to deranged car dudes dressed in dirty grease covered overalls in the pursuit of a new motor?
Two steps into making my way down the hall towards my apartment from the stairwell, I was accosted by that really tall and skinny maintenance fellow, the one whose missing a few teeth as well as a whole lot a brain cells and he was telling me, or the wall, I really wasn’t sure from the way his left eye was wandering, that the new washing machines were here and that he was going to install them soon. And ya know? He’s a very strange fellow, one that a lot of people find odd or scary—like Natasha in the second apartment over from me who says he looks at her weird. “Like he’s undressing you with his eyes?” I asked. “No, more like he’s gang raping me with his eyes!” was her reply and it’s with that statement churning around my mind that I’m standing there half-assed listening to him all the while edging my way around him, nonetheless totally alert to what his eyes are doing and sort of trying to read what they’re saying, and then making a break for the few remaining feet left of the hallway to the door to my apartment.
When I was younger people really didn’t expressively say gang rape with their eyes, or at least maybe I was just too unobservant to think so! But once someone has pointed out something like that to me I have a hard time not evoking that image every time I’m forced to deal with the person in question, and tonight was no different and I wasn’t really sure what I was gonna do if I saw gang rape in his eyes for me as we sort of talked and thankfully as I slunk past him he just kept sauntering down the hall in that really awkward gait of his mumbling about front load washing machines. Though I was hoping that I at least had some kind of empathy in my eyes for him as he is obviously a very troubled man, not to mention so strung out on methamphetamine that it’s a wonder that he’s still alive.
Only once safely inside my apartment my cell phone announces that there’s a call coming in, and mind you not with one of those downloaded ring-tones that everyone else seems to have, thus once and for all stating their individuality in a world where we all trudge on with a portable phone stuck to our ear; yet thank god for modern technology there’s caller ID and I can successfully avoid another intrusion on my life. And besides who says I gotta answer it? Just because it’s with me all the time doesn’t mean that I have to answer it every time it screams for my attention!
In the meantime every freakin’ electronic devise in my room is blinking away at me, because evidently the power in my building had either been shut off or there’s been one of those rolling blackouts that the city is so fond of indulging in, and of course even my electronic pencil sharpener is in need of having its own digital clock embedded in its interface and now like all the rest of my appliances its silent demand of resetting is another time consuming nuisance that I may just ignore for the remainder of my time off.
“Hey! Like I’m not your slave! Get over it!”
However ignoring blinking digital lights is fine and dandy until you turn off the overhead for a night of rest and then it’s a god damn visual circus, especially in a studio apartment! So I begrudgingly set out to make them all right and besides, what else have I go to do? It’s not like my daily routine is that complicated or anything: Alarm goes off I rise outta bed like a zombie, stare at the floor for two minutes, curse the world, wander over to the sink, floss, brush the teeth and then its time for the shower. Towel off, apply the hair goo, followed by a bit of standing in front of the mirror for the daily mantra – “you’re a loser, you’re a loser, you’re such a fuckin’ loser! And you’re fat too!” Then it’s time to pull on the same clothes as always and head downstairs to meet my ride to work. Where a usual day for me consists of talking with crackheads and junkies as they make excuses and lie about their lives and then after ten hours of that I turn around and come home and that’s about where I was tonight when I was caught unsuccessfully trying to gain entrance to my humble abode unannounced and incognito.
In the parking lot next door a car alarm goes off followed by what sounds like the windshield being smashed and then there’s silence. The kind that always ensues after a crime has been committed in my neighborhood and the locals out on the streets are waiting for the perpetrators to finish their business and be on their way so that things can get back to normal. And just like when there’s a loud noise out in the country and all the crickets and birds fall silent and then one by one they all start up again, the street noises slowly come back to life and I can hear them again through my open window.
Though sitting here listening to the urban sounds of life I’m not all that sure that I can do three whole days of isolation holed up in my little apartment without going totally insane, well, more insane than I already am. Because with the summer heat and the proximity of the walls, if it weren’t for my little fan running full blast there’s not much air and seriously what am I gonna do? It’s not like I wanna admit that I get lonely or anything, but I guess that that may have a bit to do with it, but after years of being in programs and correctional facilities and not to mention relationships it’s hard to not want some time by oneself, let alone some time to figure out just what the hell I’m doing with what little I got to do it with.
And besides what am I gonna do by myself for three days—except sit here worrying about my car and how I’m gonna get it fixed and on the road again? And let’s not forget all the anguish I get from my once rewarding job that these days I can all but barely get myself out a bed to go to. And I’ve already divulged my overall lack of self-esteem, culminating in my poignant morning pep talks in front of the mirror and now that I’ve worked myself up into a rabid lather, my rosacea is breaking out in full bloom and I haven’t even broached my utter disregard for most of the other crap that goes on all around me on a daily basis!
Without warning a red flare roars by my open window just missing gaining entrance by inches as three more in various stages of explosion follow and the night’s sky is lit up in their phosphorescence glare. Suddenly and just as unexpected two chest pounding blasts shake the building’s walls and this time charred bits of explosives make their way through the window onto my carpet smoldering until I can scoop them up and out the window while attempting to close it at the same time. The neighborhood is waking up and whether or not they’re patriotic or just pyromaniacs, it’s obvious that just like the last few years this is gonna be a long night and what the fuck was I thinking? If this is the safety of my home, what in hell did I think going outside was gonna be like?
A man’s house is his castle, or in this case his armory or his crypt! And sometimes I just forget what it is that this life is all about and not surprisingly my neighbors have no trouble bringing me back to earth. Yet I truly do chose my sufferings and at the very least I can still agonize about my car or the lack there of! It’s just this solitude thing that I gotta work on!