Waste Product | By: Scott mathews | | Category: Short Story - Despair Bookmark and Share

Waste Product

prologue I hate my world. Not the whole world, just mine. I spend most of my time alone. I work, but most of my work relationships are hollow. People who are forced together to complete a task, for an associated earning, but would not normally conjoin into a social group. Maybe that’s just my world. Forced into life, incompatible with society’s receptors. I have sunk deep into myself, no longer do I reach for the laughter of an inside joke between friends or the general human sense of shared humor. All that really matters is what matters to me-eee-eee. That would be a lyric from the late Shannon Hoon of the musical group Blind Melon. I enjoy music for many reasons; one being it’s capability to put a glorious essence behind harmonious speeches. Not all music can do this, but hey, not all farts stink. It’s just one of life’s great phenomenon. I spend most of my time alone. I live in a cheap apartment. It’s trashed, the kitchen is stuffed with garbage bags. Full, overflowing garbage bags. This is where the swarms of fruit flies breed. The bathroom is utterly disgusting. I have an old futon mattress, there’s a couch, random furniture, books, movies and a couple of television sets, even video games. Other than that it’s completely undecorated, except for a few random pictures on the tarnished, cigarette stained walls; some family, some distant old friends. I guess, subconsciously they spark pleasant memoirs in my life that sprinkle me like warm rain. I guess that’s why I post them up, I don’t know? The ones that spark hurt somehow remain in the bottom dresser drawer, though they still are very much a part of who I am. Generally, I eat alone. I order one meal from work and pick at it all night, kinda’ like a sick dog, then lay it on the floor with the rest of the rot that‘s been pilling up for weeks in my room. Pathetic, but the bugs seem to love it. I would get out more often, I do own a car, but I have no driver’s license. And I’ve already been pulled over and ticketed three times since it was originally suspended. Didn’t show up to court for any one of them. That was an older car, I don’t even have a legitimate plate for the car that I now own. I slapped an old expired tag on the back. I have to drive to work, I would lose money taking a cab everyday and walking is out of the question. This leaves me in a position of constant fear. This fear keeps me at home. I’ve grown up to be a 26 year old shut in. You would think that the way I describe my life, I would have a lot of time on my hands, maybe I would tidy up a little bit, take out some trash. Nope. It’s not that I’m just lazy, I also just don’t feel like it. I’m depressed okay. I’m sure cleaning up would ignite a small feeling of freshness, a new beginning. Maybe it would allow me a novel ray of joy. But who needs joy, when your gonna be alone anyway. And why just humor myself? One Today is Sunday or Monday. I’m not sure. It only really matters to me because some stores are closed on Sunday, or at least close early. Meaning that if I want to accomplish certain chores, like paying rent or bills, I’d better be off on Monday. Regardless these two days now alternate to become my one day off a week. I wake up. It’s 4:27 in the afternoon. I cough up a little lung-jelly, then light a cigarette. I spent all night staring at infomercials with a blank look on my face and in some sad tranquillized place in my mind. Than at four o’ clock a.m., the TV show Cops aired back to back reruns. It’s always drinking and drugs or unbridled violence. Or both. It seems that this is what the Nielsen Ratings have deemed popular enough to generate the amount viewers needed to watch the sponsor’s advertisements. I’m sweating. My apartment’s thermostat is fucked up and sometimes the heat doesn’t exactly shut off. I don’t always realize this because I’m asleep. I was probably parched in a desert somewhere, but I don’t know because I never remember my dreams anymore. Not that it matters, they’re not real. I get out of bed. I have to trick the fuse to reset the thermostats senses. I flip the fuse-switch off then on, then I do it again for good measure. I walk to the thermostat and jiggle it a little. I don’t know exactly what this does to the intricacies inside, but it always seems to work. The heat stops. Normally I wouldn’t shower on my day off but I’m sticky with sweat. The feeling is uncomfortable. The thought of a rinse stimulates something in my brain. My body is in charge now and it wants comfort. My soma sensory is demanding satisfaction. I enter the bathroom and my stomach hurts. It’s like a sharp poking in my gut. I decide that I need to shit. It’s would be logical to do this before the shower. Relief. When I’m finished the sweat has already dried. But my body will not allow me to go back on the shower promise. It tells my brain to remind me of how nice the warm water feels. My brain slowly fades the thought. and now I am left jonesing for it, and I subdue as the craving slowly amplifies. I turn the double-temperature knob slightly to the left. The left is the hot side. I test the water. A little more left and it feels right. I pull the little thing that plugs up the bathtub faucet and forces the water out of the showerhead. Ka-chisssss. The water rushes from the showerhead. The apartment unit I live in is a handicap unit. I am not handicapped, at least not physically, but the manager claimed it was a bigger size for the same price. I figured I didn’t care either way. So I was sold. Eventually I figured that elderly or terminal patients could be possibly be considered handicapped, leading me to wonder if anyone had ever died here before. Regardless the handicap unit includes a hose-like shower head. I assume this is how the handicap wash, maybe it’s for assisted washing, I have no idea. Unfortunately there was no wall mount included. This means that when I soap up I have to lay the shower hose on the floor of the tub. This leaves me wet and shivering as I am exposed to the seemingly cold air. So I hurry. I soap my armpits then rinse for awhile. I am warm again. I soap my ass, balls, and dick (which 90 percent of the time leads to masturbation) then rinse for awhile. This is all done in ten minutes or less because this is as long as the hot water lasts. I hate cold. Especially when I am naked and wet. I leave the shower. I use an old sweatshirt jacket to dry off. I don’t very often do my laundry. My last towel stinks like mildew. The sweatshirt jacket is getting close to the same scent. I find a t-shirt, it smells a little funny but not as bad as the rest lying in a pile, on the floor amongst old to-go boxes filled with half eaten meals, beer and soda stains, and other random trash. I pull on some dirty boxers and jeans. I would tell you the jeans were dirty too, but figured you had just assumed. Now to begin the day. The TV is on, it always is. I guess it makes me feel not so all alone, so I sit on the couch and watch. I’d read, but I’ve already read all the books I own and have yet to venture out for something new. I don’t have cable, not that I couldn’t afford it, but bills are just a hassle, and I am extremely lazy. Of the channels that I receive (the ones I don‘t have to get up and adjust the antenna for), the only programs include; two court TV shows and a soap opera. I choose the court shows and flip between them with the remote until something interests me. Nothing does; the cases are bland and overacted and the judges seem extra hammy today. Still I continue flipping between them. I blink to realize I was zoned out in my mind somewhere. I don’t remember what I was thinking. Oh well, not that I would know what to do with a good idea if I had one anyway. I stop trying to think. It feels quiet even with the TV on. The air feels quiet. Boredom has reared it’s hollow vacuum. I feel it sucking me bloody soul away…emptiness is another very uncomfortable sensation. I decide to light a joint. I smoke marijuana and I enjoy it. It’s not so good for my lungs, but my body makes the sacrifice for my mentality. It makes thoughts seem worth thinking. It offers consolation when the scars from the other drugs reverberate into panic attacks, mood swings, and deep pointless depression. I’m not ashamed, I am shame. Anyway…so I’m a little buzzed. I need some action. Some stimulation. I play this baseball videogame on occasion. All Star Baseball 2005 - featuring Derrick Jeter. Of the things that I don’t enjoy doing, this is at the bottom of the list - meaning I don’t mind it so much. I even formed my own team the Indiana Weasels. Currently we are 67-8. This is one of my disillusions. I think that when I play, I actually pretend that this team is my friends and we are working together like a well oiled machine. I let myself believe there is a purpose and a goal. Completing the purpose and striving towards the goal give me a sense of accomplishment. Like I’m on the right path towards fulfillment. You see I lack this in real life. In a pseudo-vicarious way I can, for a small time, imagine myself as a sports hero, a place in society. Create a positive image of myself. Feel as if I am triumphant. I beat the Red Sox. 14-2, they usually put up a better fight, but my boys were all over the pitcher. And I was all over their team with my pitcher. T.J Tucker, one of my false-friends. Otherwise a preprogrammed entity that reacts accordingly to the pushing of buttons. Not to far from most humans when you think about it. OK. So I’m bored again. Burned out, and don’t want to play another monotonous game, once a day is enough for me. The bud wears off and now my stomach is burning for food. I have two choices; eat last night’s spoils from my after work meal - one of the boxes on the floor in my room (it wouldn’t be the first time- yes, I am this retardedly slack), or walk the half mile down to the convenient store. I decide I’m up for a challenge - the store it is. It’s about 37 degrees outside, the wind is whipping and thrashing like a cornered animal. Hey, it’s wintertime, and he’s brought his close friend and associate - bitter cold. I find a wrinkled sweater and a thick jacket. The jacket has Columbia embroidered across the back and the left breast. I put my arms through the sleeves to become a walking advertisement. two Advertisement is worse than cockroaches. They’re both hidden everywhere. I bet there’s one or the other on your shoes right now. If there were a nuclear holocaust the cockroaches would be scurrying amongst fallen Newport billboards, old McDonald’s bags and scorched Coke cans. You might not notice, but it’s there. Corporate brands competing to put their name in your brain. As I walk to the store, I see it in the street. There’s ulterior motives behind printing a commercial insignia all over the packaging of products. They don’t want you to know where you bought it, you already know where you bought it. They want other people to know where you bought it. They want you to litter it into the streets so the whole world knows where you bought it. I think about this as I step past an empty bottle advertising Gatorade, laying at the side of the curb. I hate my world. I wish I was dumb and oblivious instead of minded and crazy. So it’s cold. This hurts. I’m smoking a cigarette. My breath snorts out like a startled horse. My face burns from the cold whipping wind. My ears are like ice, they feel like they could shatter. I imagine myself with these big throbbing ears and this fat red nose, oversized, juicy, cracked lips. The thought makes me laugh. Not like happy, just shock outburst from the ridiculous look of the image. By now I have reached this patch of grass field. I can see the store. Now everything hurts worse. It feels colder, because I’m so close, because I want it so much. Kind of like when you have to use the bathroom real bad. As soon as you see the toilet, you about pee your pants as you struggle with your belt, because you want to go so bad, and your so close. I want to run but I feel like that would hurt. I’m freezing. The grass feels crunchy and stiff, the ground like clumped rock. I now have the jacket zipped up to my nose, the collar zips up that way. I tuck my head in like a shy turtle, and breathe against the mock neck. The breath is hot as it’s exhaled, but then the moisture is wet against my face and freezes so I have to keep breathing like this. Warm, freeze, warm, freeze… I finally reach the door. I open it and step in. Someone is exiting so I hold the door open for them. Without eye contact and their head down, in order to avoid any accidental eye contact, they say “Thank you.” I say, “No problem.” and enter the store. There’s a couple of police officers sitting at one of the three little booth-like tables. There’s a highway exit here, and this is where a lot of the cops congregate for their shift break. They’re drinking coffee and chatting. I walk through the isles waiting to see which one of these advertisements is going to catch my eye. Besides the rent money, I have nine spendable dollars. Four will be for cigarettes and tax, so I have five dollars. I grab a single serving milk, a Hostess apple pie (I like cherry better, but every time I take a bite and look inside at the filling, the cherries look all discolored and mushy), some kind of microwave pizza bread, and a burrito. I walk up to the counter. The cashier is this kind of weird guy. He likes to talk. He rings me up slowly, as he blabbers on. I keep up with the conversation because I guess in some way I need human contact also. He’s polite, not a snotty dickhead like I can sometimes be. But still a little weird. I can tell he appreciates my friendly ear, and the appreciation draws me to cater to his conversational needs. The last item is rung up. He hands me the change. “Alright man,” he says. “Later on,” I answer. I walk out the door and make my journey home. The sun is setting and it’s beautiful. Golden-lavender with rose and peach wisps. I want to touch it, I want to eat it, I want to roll around and have sex with it. I love the convergence of the colors. The pastel atmosphere. It’s like those pretty scenic paintings, but it’s real, and it changes as you watch it. Then it’s gone and you miss it. That’s real to me. I make it past the grass field. I walk along the side of the road toward my apartment. I see headlights coming. They look like crystal in the super clear, cold air. As the car approaches, the driver begins honking. I think that I’m out of the way enough, but I still move further into the gutter. The car slows down and someone shouts, “Hey!” Now I’m curious, and try to peer into the car as they pass. Maybe it’s someone I know, come to visit me. The lights are bright and it’s cold as hell, so I’m squinting. I don’t see much, except a beer bottle come slinging out of the back right passengers window. They threw a fucking beer bottle at me, what the fuck? I think someone yelled “Fuck you!” I’m sure they got a good laugh watching my curious little squinting face tragically transform into horror and realization. I try to dodge and swat it away with my hand. Big mistake. It clips the back of my right hand as I drop my groceries. Now I wish I would have taken it in the chest, padded by my coat. Instead I’m grinding my teeth because the cold in my hand stings so bad. Like it hit my bare bone. Slowly my hand actually grows hot as the blood rushes around the impact point. I try to shake it off but it still hurts. I pick up the paper bag of groceries and the bottom drops out. The milk had broken open and soaked the bag through. I ditch the bag and shove the remaining items into my jacket pockets. I felt bad for littering more advertisement, but I was pissed and my pained hand was now wet with milk and freezing. I wasn’t about to carry a soaking bag and empty milk container to the apartment dumpster. I get to the door of my apartment. In order to enter I have to dig in my pockets to find the metal keys. They were warm from my leg, but as I pull them out I can feel them start conducting the cold. I fumble with them. I have a car key, a padlock key for a small metal lock box (where I keep my money and pot), a key from the last place I lived, and some key from a long time ago - I don’t even remember what it was for. My keys are the most unimportant timeline in the history of mankind. I find the apartment key. I push it in to the lock, than jiggle and twist. Everything always has to be jiggled in order to work properly, and yet it’s never in the instruction manual. I enter the apartment. It reeks, but that’s normal. Strangely, it’s a little chilly. I didn’t think I turned the heat all the way off. Huh? I reach up and twist the lamp switch. What the…? Nothing. Was the bulb dead? It didn’t flash bright when it turned the switch. My mind races. I step further in and make my way to the kitchen. Flip the switch. Nothing. My growing suspicions are proving true. I never check my mail box. I bet right now sitting in the back crammed behind paper ad’s and junk mail, is my electric bill. Shit. This is another reason I hate my world, because I am dumb and oblivious. I completely forgot about the stupid bill. three This was not good. I wouldn’t be able to fix this problem until the next day. And I would have to drive downtown with my bap-ass car. Just great. The police station was right there. The roads were public and open. Not like the specific routes that I used to go to work. I’d have to get up extra early and go before work. I can’t sleep at night. I can’t come home from work and go right to sleep. I’m alone most every night and anxiety keeps me up. The worries overtake the hopes, I just crumple them like paper and throw them away. I guess to spite myself. Any case I can’t sleep at night. I stay up until around seven or eight in the morning and than sleep until my alarm goes off at three in the afternoon. Now I’d have to get up around one. And I wasn’t going to sleep good at all tonight. I decide to keep my jacket on. It was already sweatshirt-cold and growing more and more jacket-cold every chilly minute. The sun was gone, along with any light for me to see by. I put the groceries in the freezer with the expectation that it would thaw slower. I wouldn’t be able to eat them until tomorrow. I kept the apple pie. As I ate it, I searched with my lighter for a cup. I found one and set the apple pie on top of the microwave. As soon as I run the water, the dormant flies burst in to a hazy swarm. I can’t really see them, but I feel them crashing into my face. One gets into my mouth, and I do a sort of raspberry spit. I swat at them, but they don’t leave. I don’t think they know fear. I hate them, but I almost respect them for that. The water was rushing and I washed the cup like a blind man. I can’t exactly hold the lighter, and wash using water at the same time. I’m feeling for crust. Squeaking my thumb against the plastic to make sure it wasn’t greasy. I dry my hand on my shirt and flick my lighter again to look inside. God, I’m glad I’m not blind. There was this white film still at the bottom and I had actually missed a whole sopping cigarette butt down in the film. I don’t even think it was originally there. The sink resembles more of a trash receptacle than a sanitizing area. And the standing water never quite drains away. Floating on the surface are bits and pieces of food and what else, cigarette butts. I threw the cup down and searched for another one, with the lighter of course. The new cup was a little cleaner to begin with. I washed it, blind again. I scrubbed it up good this round, and with the lighter checked it again. It was good enough for me. I filled it up again, and stood there drinking my water in the dark, surrounded by the flies. This is the good life, baby. This is what it’s all about. So it’s dark but my eyes gradually adjust. I can see shadowy blobs all over the apartment floor, I assume they’re piles of clutter and trash. I try to step over them as I make my way down the hall to my room. Even with my pupils dilated I trip over something. I can’t remember what it was, when it was in the light. It now takes the form of a solid force blocking my forward step. I kick it hard and it tips over. I hear objects clunking into each other as they tumble and spread out onto the floor. The sounds remind me that it was a box filled with still yet to be unpacked junk. Just another mess, I’ll eventually have to clean up. I’m in my room now. It’s pretty cold. I guess I can’t be too angry, but I am. I really don’t think I’m going to enjoy this. Sitting in the dark. I’m very frustrated. There is nothing I can do. Except sit. I take a seat on the futon mattress, and even it’s cold. No optimism here. Whatever. This is where I belong. I serve no real purpose. I’m just a little human pet. I should just be locked up in the dark, neglected, sitting on my futon perch. At least until it’s time to serve my debt to this great society and go to work. I wait tables. I take orders and bring people their food. That way they don’t have to get up and walk the ten or twenty feet to get it themselves. For this I earn $2.13 an hour (which pretty much, half goes to taxes) and about a dollar per head. Sometimes a little more, sometimes a little less. Oh, it’s so fulfilling to serve such an important function in the world. I have no real contribution to the machine. Apparently anyone of importance has already seized a legitimate role in life or are on their way to one. Not me. They are rewarded an allowance, a soothing feel of significance. The rest of us, we become waste product. Refuse. We have nothing immediately visible to offer. We become indentured servants in a secretly feudalized world. We are unhappy. We are overlooked. We are generalized, in fact we clutter the earth and are quietly known as the ignorant masses. four It’s still cold, it’s still dark, and it’s still lonely. Silent. My eyes have fully adjusted and I look randomly around the room. Most people keep their floors clean, and the things that your eyes look at are on the wall; paintings posters, mirrors. For me, it’s the opposite. The walls are mostly bare, and the only place my eyes want to go to is the lumpy sea of trash pulsating on the floor. It’s a new form of furnishing décor - Art Stinko. Here I am. Stuck. My mind wants me to liberate my thoughts; to go out and find adventure. But it’s connection to my body has gently faded. My body is a tool stripped and dulled by lethargy. So I sit. What’s the drastic opposite of enjoyment? Oh yea, misery. I light another cigarette. I wonder how fire became pocket-sized. All this whoopty-do over a small compartment in peoples’ jeans. If you can’t invent something yourself, build on another invention. Make it smaller. More convenient. Make it so you can strap your whole world to your back and wander out into the great wide open (which is now mostly cramped and confined). The originally gigantic computer has become a more travel worthy laptop, Pocket-sized TV, pocket-sized cell phones, pocket-sized CD player. Holy shit, I have a portable CD player. I scramble over flicking the lighter and searching the trash-ridden ground with my visionless hands. I find the Discman. After that I grab up a stack of CD’s (I have a case for them but it’s such a annoyance to keep them organized. I just gave up, and thus the stacks were created). I pick out a burned disk of random tracks and insert into the player. I put on the headphones. Now I have music. If misery was a paper cut, music would be my Neosporin. The batteries are old. It’s probably not even ten p.m., and they will only last so long. I can’t help but think how I’m going to wake up tomorrow, without my alarm clock. I lay back as the organized sounds and vibrations paint emotion across my being. I float in a soft motion through my zero-gravity imagination. The faster parts send me falling excitedly, induced by subtle adrenaline rushes. After some time passed, I get my first low battery warning. The disc stars skipping. About five minutes after that my CD player shuts off. Now it’s quiet again. Damn. Well, I guess this is where I describe what I did in the dark some more. Nothing much. I rolled a joint - blind. It really wasn’t so bad. I crushed up the buds and felt for stems and seeds with my fingers, checking every now and then with the lighter. It ran a little. I put it out halfway and then lit another cigarette. The cherry grew brighter as I took small drags. I flicked the lighter, just the sparks. The little flashes burn their image into my eyes. They alternate into an assortment of electro-colors and float around in the blackness. I’m not certain how long I sat there mentally stunned. Ten minutes, two hours? The concept of time is certainly dissimilar to the other three dimensions; height, width, and depth. To perceive these three dimensions, you can use your sensory organs, eyes to see, nerves to feel. But time is not something you can see, taste, touch, smell, or hear. To perceive time you have to use outer body comparatives. You know how old you are, not because you see it, but because some ancient civilizations (Babylonians, Sumerians, Mesopotamians?) realized, by watching the sun’s movement, that it was a constant event. The constant movements of the sun, because of the earth’s rotation, and the appearance of and location of the stars and other planets became their comparatives. Thus the calendar system was created, based on these constant comparatives. My comparative was my buzz. Usually when I smoke a half a joint, it takes about thirty to forty minutes to reach phase one of my come down (this depends on my tolerance level of course, but I had been smoking an average amount daily so the buzz timeframe had remained pretty much constant). Without TV, or a clock, and in the dark, this was the only event to base my chronology on. So it’s some time around 11:30? I get up to take a piss. I light the lighter and mini-torch my way to the bathroom. I get to the toilet and lift the lid. Now here’s something to cheer me up, I didn’t flush earlier, before I got into the shower. I didn’t want to wait for the shower water to have to warm up again. I still wiped, otherwise…well, it’s just gross not to. After the shower I must have just forgotten about the toilet. So I flush now. While the toilet drains I put the lighter in my pocket and undo my pants in the dark. I’ve really got to go. My bladder begins to act like an unruly dog who smells a treat, I try to keep it choked on the leash. I open my jeans an pull out my pisser. Because of the pee I’ve got something of a hard-on and I have to stand funny, and force my aim downward. I light the little fire-maker again and urinate in to the rising, post-flushed water. I finish, and flush again. Back to my perch. I don’t know why I feel compelled to sit on the futon mat, but it’s too cold to go outside, and too dark to do anything else. Plus I sit here normally, and quite frankly, I’m too apathetic for change. It’s not really even that comfortable. I guess I’ve just conditioned myself like a lab rat. To sit on my pedestal of insignificance. If I had a dunce cap, I would scratch out ‘dunce’ and write ‘discomfiture’. Eventually I laid back. More hours went by. I don’t remember exactly when I fell asleep. I ventured past the obstacle course in the hallway and into the fly-ridden kitchen for another glass of faucet water. I smoked a few more joint-halves, three-fourths of my pack of cigarettes, and let my mind push little pins under the fingernails of my fragile psyche. The sun came up. Some time after that I fell unconscious. five I had to pee. This is why I woke up. This, besides my job, is the only reason I ever get up. Otherwise, I would stay comatose, all day, in bed. I hate getting up. I’ve considered diapers, but eventually they would fill up uncomfortably, and begin to overflow, and I would have to get up to change them anyway. See, I can’t win. As I’m peeing I’m very worried. I have no idea what time it is. Without the electricity there wasn’t much I could do to prepare. As I was going to sleep, I just kept repeating to myself, one o’clock, wake up at one o’clock. I finish, shake, and zip. I grab a jacket, socks and shoes, and I sprint outside in the hopes of finding someone with an instrumental clockpiece. As I step out the door, there is no one. It doesn’t feel as cold as yesterday, but it’s still something I don’t want to tolerate. I hastily make my way around the building to the parking lot. Sill no one, until I round the building enough, so that it is no longer obstructing my view to the left. There’s someone. Maybe twenty-five, thirty yards away. They’re getting into their older model car. I shout, “Hey!” He looks up. “Hey! Do you know what time it is?” In one motion he holds up his bare wrist, in order to prove he has no watch, and slinks into his car. Come on. If you have electricity you tend to keep a general awareness of what time it is. “Excuse me, sir. I have no power. Do you have any idea of what time it might be, an estimate, anything, please.” I’m getting closer. I’m acting kind of’ frantic. And I think he realizes I’m not giving up so easy. “I think it’s around threeish” he gives me an answer. “Thanks.” I speak semi-sincerely. He shuts the door and the car starts. The rusty tailpipe pants cold, cloudy breaths. I head back to my apartment. If it really is around three, I won’t be indulging in the luxury of electric power for the second night in a row. There’s no way I’ll be able to get ready, make it downtown, wait in a line, and then make it to work by four. I haven’t mentioned this, but I don’t have a phone either. Unannounced, 4:05 was o.k., 4:10 a serious look, 4:15 a stern mentioning. I really don’t want to shake the boat at work, my boss doesn’t like getting angry, and arriving after 4:15 could upset his mood. On the way back to the apartment, another person exits their own apartment. It’s an older woman. She’s not so attractive. She smiles a smile that she hides behind. I see her little wristwatch. I figure I’ll zero in on that whole, around threeish thing. “Uhh…Hey, do you know what time it is?” I ask. “Oh,” she stumbles a little. I don’t think she was anticipating me to converse with her, expecting a reply requiring communicative thought. Strangers don’t often talk to each other. Just a slew of routine noticing. She probably predicted a subtle nod, or a soft greeting. Some meaningless interaction, just because the moment seemed to compel it. “well,” she looks at her watch. She squints, and I wonder if she actually can’t see the watch well, or she wants me to recognize her obliged concern, “it’s 4: 39”. Shit. I’m late. This is an awful turn of events. I hate my world. Fast mode. I rush inside and take off my jacket as quick as possible, than my shirt. Into the bathroom and I turn on the shower. Ka-chisss. I just lean over the tub and wet my head. I try to squeegee and ring as much water out of my hair as possible. With my head down, (I don’t want the excess water running down my back, remember it’s very cold in my apartment.) I make my way over the clustering trash mounds and enter my bedroom. I find the sweatshirt hoodie. I dry my hair and than layer on the deodorant. My undershirt is sleeveless, that way it doesn’t stink-up so quickly. Over that is my work shirt. The rest I’m already wearing so I run to the living room to get my jacket and it’s out the door. Back to the parking lot, I run to my car. A ’90 Toyota Corolla. The driver side handle on my door is broken off so I have to unlock, open, and climb in the passenger side. From there I unlock and open the driver side door. I thought about just climbing over, but the stick shift is in the way, and it’s kinda’ cramped in there. I can just imagine myself attempting the maneuver, slipping, and ending with the stick shift up my ass or something. A situation that would probably require assistance, a trip to the hospital, and a life time of never ending jokes in which I am the butt of. So I get out, shut the passenger side, and go around. As I get in, I see my check presenter and black apron (the utility belt of the modern waiter). I start the car and I’m off. I drive down the same road I walked yesterday. At the end of this road I take a right. There’s the field, and there’s the gas station. The one where the cops hang out at. This is where, twelve days a week, six on the way to work and six on the way back, I gamble that one of the officers isn’t pulling out as I drive past. So as I drive past, I see two cop cars parked, but none pulling out. I rake in a couple stacks of relief as my winnings. I drive over this old, rickety bridge from the past. The guard rails are actually still made of wood. Someone could easily die, a slip of the wheel, a startled animal crossing, a spontaneous suicide. Carefully, I make my way through the streets; obeying the limit, stopping at all the red lights, turn signals. You know, the whole bit. It’s sort of back-asswards because I drive better without my license than with. As I pull into the lot and park, my stomach is a nervous wreck. I keep my face straight though. This is where I’m forced to face some kind of reprimand for my lack of prudence, leading to my inevitable oversleep. six How do farmers grow crops? Fertilizer. How does an economy generate funds? Waste product. Yep, that’s what I think as I’m being scolded for my unavoidable tardiness. I am thought of as nothing more than low-cost fertilizer. Instead of $2.13 a pound, I’m $2.13 an hour. What crop is being harvesting? Well, it’s certainly green. I am fodder. Cannon fodder. Eaten and excreted. I am the feces of a big fat pig society, spread me like manure into the field. The field of work that I am tilled into; the restaurant industry. The pig shits us out, we are collected up to do the dirty work to cultivate the green, then the fiscal pig consumes again. I hate my world. I feel squandered, taken advantage of. I think that I have much more to offer in life than being a receptionist for child-like lecturing. My boss is still presenting the importance of punctuality, he stresses how much more important, it is, than my existence at this job. Spoken in a tone, that symbolizes he is also referring to my existence in the world. I think about how great minds are caught and drowned in this low-wage sewage. With an angry silence, he is finished. I leave his office, and enter the bathroom to check my appearance. People don’t want their food delivered by an unkempt slob - imagine if they saw my apartment. My shirt is stained. I paw at my hair until it’s presentable, I could probably have used a shave. I tie on the apron, one more look and I‘m out. I clock in and I walk out to the front. The floor is a 30 x 30 ft. box. One-third of it is the smoking section. It is separated by a three and a half foot tall partition. This hardly separates the smoke, but the fans blow it around enough so that at least non-smokers can’t see it. On top of the partition, are plastic plants and decorative jugs and pots. Everything is glued down. There’s a TV at the far corner of smoking, and one by the front counter, in the opposite, far corner of non-smoking. This is where I lean, against the wait station. The TV’s are both on mute, so that it doesn’t interrupt the atmospheric eating music, so I read the subtitles as I watch. It’s the five o’clock news. A shooting, some kid almost drowns, a new computer plant, the stock share report…how much money are the major players making? Why don’t they just buy the world, and go ahead and throw me away? Maybe they already have. But than I think of that old saying; why buy the cow when you get the milk for free? And after that I think, why buy the pig when you get the waste for so cheap? It’s 5:23. My co-waiter is an attractive waitress. She is very pretty; jaw line haircut, venomous dark brown eyes, her smile makes me, inescapably think of having sex with her. She is not interested. She makes this perfectly clear with her eyes, when I look at her too long. She wants someone who is not a waste, or at least doesn’t appear like one, to sweep her away from her own withered, boring world. The next table that enters is mine. We are rotating turns, because it’s always slow on Tuesday. The couple enters. They look around confused, and finally take a seat in the back wall of non-smoking. I grab two menus, two silverware. I walk up to the table and say. “Hey, how are you today?” No response. There getting situated; taking off their jackets, shifting their asses in the seat for comfort. They go about this carefully, like tasting a fine wine. They ignore me. I look at them equally and try, “Alright, can I get you something to drink?” Now they look. Yup, here I am, your little servant, give me a task. “Two teas.” the man answers for both, as the female looks at her hands, while she rubs them together. Either for warmth, or to distract herself from looking at the unimportance of me. I go get the teas. When I come back, the couple is talking. I set down the teas and they keep talking, almost on purpose, so that I have to interrupt them and they can have a reason to be rude with me. I could walk away, but that would probably lead to them thinking that I’ve insulted them. “So, do you guys need a minute?” I ask. “No, were ready.” The man answers in a sort of a, ‘I’ll handle this nuisance, honey’ kind of way. “O.k.” I pull out my check presenter with my order pad and look to ensure them I’m ready too. Now were all ready, I guess. “Alright, I’ll have the Chicken Sorrento, and she’ll have the Shrimp Salad.” he sits back thinking - job well done. But I think ‘your not done yet, buddy’. “Oh uhm, sir”, I pretend like I didn’t know he was gonna do that, so he doesn’t feel stupid. “your going to get a salad with that, what kind of dressing do you like?” “Oh, uh,” he thinks. I almost sure he’s gonna get… “Blue Cheese.” he answers. Husbands from his generation always get blue cheese. “And for you miss?” “Oh, yes,” she acts surprised as well. How can people always forget about dressing. It’s a regular occurrence, that when you order salad, your going to need to state your dressing preference - except the Caesar salads. I’m sorry, it’s just frustrating, this happens almost every order. It’s stupid. “I’ll have Oil and Vinegar” “Balsamic or Red Wine?” “Balsamic.” “Alright thank you.” I say. I smile to let them know what a good job they did ordering, while I collect the menus. I walk to the back, and post the order. Then I’m back to the place where I lean. Now sitcoms are on. I like some of these, so it‘s not so bad. Another table comes in it’s her’s. Another one, that’s mine. It goes on like this, every ten, fifteen minutes, until about, seven-forty. Then it’s dead for a half hour and I go to the back to smoke. I ash in the dust pan back there, and then put out the cigarette in the hand-washing sink. seven I wash my hands. I come back up front, and a new table comes in. I take it, than watch her table, so that she can go and smoke. I watch more TV, take another table. It finally turns nine o’clock, and we begin our side work. She does the salad bar in the back, I clean the front and watch the tables. I have to wipe down all the tables, fill up the sugars and Sweet and Low along with the napkins and other table condiments, sweep the bathrooms, the back hall, the front and the foyer. I do this casually as I take a few last tables. My last table is a couple of young girls. One is less than attractive and stares around shyly. Sadly, wondering what people are thinking about her. I am thinking nothing more than what a waste all these emotions are, when were all just ignorant robots anyway. The other girl is tempting, but her persona is that of a child wanting to be sexually attractive. She is wearing trendy clothes that cry out for help. They say “Hey, I want to belong to society, so I watch TV to learn how to dress. These labels advertise popular brands. By doing this I think people will want and like me. These clothes are my security. Maybe the meek will even be intimidated by my imitative look and then I‘ll be a quasi-dominant human.” She doesn’t look at me on purpose, but I feel her yearning for me to gawk at her. I get the menus and silverware. I walk up. “Hey what’s up, how are you doing?” I examine them. They look about collage age. The nervously unpleasant-looking one is actually wearing a collage sweatshirt. Undergrads. Most seem confident. They think they are on the path to success. More than half will fail out, a third will not get a job in their major. Most will soon become waste products. They just don’t know it yet. “Hey,” the less attractive one says, “what your name?” She says it and it sounds rehearsed, like she’s been practicing in her head for the past three minutes. What does it matter what my name is, what does it say about who I am. Nothing. I probably share this name with a million other people. Why introduce myself as a name. I am not a name. I am an emotion. Hello, I am Disheartened. I tell her anyway. She waits for me to ask for hers, but I don’t. “Can I get you ladies some beverages?” I ask. “Diet Coke.” “Diet Coke.” Diet Coke is another fad for fashionable girls or supposed fat people who want to appear heath conscious. The truth is; it certainly ain’t no diet. I walk to the back and get the drinks. I come back and the more attractive one is on a cell phone talking, they want a minute to decide. I figure I’ll go take a puff of cigarette while they decide. I go in the back and light up. Maybe a minute went by, maybe two. I don’t know exactly what happened, but I assume my boss went up to the table to inquire their status, and they must have been ready. When he found me in the back, he became very furious. They were ready, and I was smoking. They weren’t upset, but my boss was. Out of his pocket, I am 2.13 an hour. I am very expendable. “I don’t need this.” he says looking down. Than looks up at me. “I don’t need you anymore. You can go.” he shakes his head and walks away. At first I’m shocked. As I come out of the fog, I am fed up. Fuck this. Fuck everything. The customers pay at the casher counter. So, I have my tips. I don’t need to cash out. $27 lousy bucks. I get my jacket, I clock out and I walk past everyone silently. As I walk out the cold door, I’m hit with a frozen gust. I don’t care. There’s a grocery store next to the restaurant, in the same shopping center. I didn’t stop there for tonight’s meal. A meal that would have been eaten raw in the bitter dark. I open the passenger side door and unlock the driver side and go around. I get in. I start my car. I am numb, but not from the cold. eight The bridge didn’t flinch. How would it have known? I didn’t know. Not until the last moment. I was angry, frustrated and numb. I didn’t want to spend another night in my frozen cave of trash. Sitting on my miserable perch. I didn’t want to spend another week in some dismal cycle. Another year in infinite devastation. Disappointment, aggravation, resentment. These were the words that my mind had been using to describe my life from day to day. I screeched out of the parking lot. As I drove, my foot felt like lead. I let the momentum build to eighty miles per hour. I screeched through the streets. Green meant go and red meant wrath. I thought I was just burning off anger, but when I saw the old bridge coming up, I felt it beg for me. I swerved right as hard as I could. It was perfect, like vivid movie special effects. I did a 180 and crashed sideways through the wooden rail with such velocity, I would have made a metal guard rail look like tin foil, like one of the ripped open Doritos’s bags on my littered bedroom floor. I felt the first impact; the wooden rail. It exploded. Fragments of wood and glass exploded into my car. Into my face. I think this is where my arm was shattered. I felt the three second long freefall into the creek-river. The second impact, into the water, knocked me out. It seems ironic the way I died. Trapped, unconsciously, and drowning in the cold, icy flow. Not so far from the way I lived. I hated my world, but it doesn’t matter. I don’t matter. I am unnecessary, unneeded, and unacknowledged. I am waste product. -DONE

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