Last Man on Earth

So there I was, last man on Earth. I do not need to tell you what had happened to all the others. Suffice it so say, they were no longer there, so I was free to do whatever I wanted. Finally.

I spent a year drinking alcohol and eating. I would have used drugs but I could not find them. Or when I could find them, if I could get to them, for example in police evidence lock up. My drug problem existed probably because most of the time my mind was in a state that made problem solving… problematic. So I settled for good old alcohol and food which were both available in mass quantities.

Ingesting mass quantities made my body lose its youthful charm. However, I found myself unmoved by that, as there was no society to hold me up to standards. So I debauched, bauched, and then debauched some more, until the nihilism of it all became too boring to bear.

My next phase was meditation, exercise, reading, prayer, and self-discovery. That was an uneventful period, as I was unable to reach any kind of enlightenment or communicate with any higher power.

My last, third phase, was acceptance. (Suck on that, seven phases of grief, or whatever you call it.) I found myself a nice place by the sea to live out the rest of my days. One day when strolling in the sun, I saw a piece of wood in the sand and I quipped:

“Looks like some morning wood.”

Then I looked around and said: “My biggest regret is that there is nobody to hear my funny jokes.”

No More Fun In Fundamentalism

When I was growing up, there was a playwright in town. He was quite popular, and his plays went on tour around the country, bringing joy and tears to many. I admired him, and he was one of the reasons I started writing myself.

One time, he wrote a play about a woman making her way in the world. She was a strong, independent character and showed the men she could do it without them. There were no religious motifs, no transcendent talk, not even one mention of the odd saint or miracle. It was all very matter-of-fact, but still some religious people managed to take offence. They demanded the play be banned because it showed a skewed image of reality spoiling the minds of the youth, and it spoke against the basic tenets of Islam and possibly even Christianity.

The protests were heated and took the form of many blockades and marches. One of those marches reached a theater and the playwright was inside as it happened. He stepped outside in what the press later described as an attempt at suicide by crowd. It was a failed attempt, as the religious people stripped him naked and shouted curses at him, calling him a blasphemer, a heretic, an infidel, and predicting he would burn in Hell forever. They refused to tear him to pieces or burn him, like their ancestors would.

It was a Thursday.

The following Thursday, the crowd assembled outside the playwright’s house and demanded he abandon the play. He refused and attempted another suicide, possibly hoping for martyrdom. Needless to say, they did not execute him.

They skipped the Thursday after that, but then came back the next Thursday and it became a tradition. Overtime, the playwright went from dreams of martyrdom, through depression and the desire to end it all, to resignation and finally steadfast force of habit.

When I visited my home town last week, they were calling it the “Religious Freedom Thursday Extravaganza and Barbecue” and I could not imagine a more edifying use for an old man.

Ella

Ella got my attention pretty quickly after I met her and she kept it for quite a while. It was not because she was physically attractive. She was, in a very obvious and non-obvious kind of way. At first glance, she was a beautiful woman. Very proportionally built, with nice hair and a classy wardrobe. She also had a face full of character, and beautiful blue eyes. As I got a chance to look at her more, I discovered she was at the same time weirdly disproportional and out of balance (still talking about looks), like an android designed by aliens to trick people into copulating with it. All the ingredients were there and in the right proportions, but somehow they were put together in the wrong order.

It was just that. Not that they were our of sync with one another or something. You just had a feeling they were put together in the wrong God damned order.

I am a pig, talking about Ella’s body so much, as if she were nothing more than a sex object. I cannot help that, I have been diagnosed with sex addiction and that is a serious condition. Am I telling the truth? Who knows.

Anyway, the thing that got my attention was not Ella’s looks. It was the way she acted. And I am using the word “acted” deliberately, because she seemed like a bad actress in an amateur porn video. She stumbled through her lines (and everything she said seemed like a rehearsed line), she bore a resemblance to someone pretending to be a person, and she often glanced at weird angles, as if looking at the camera briefly and then turning away. Sometimes, if you were walking past her and she was doing something unrelated to you, your eye would linger and then she would glance at you briefly, as if you were the camera.

“How are you, Ella,” I said to her once.

“Fine,” she said, glancing briefly at an odd angle, “Why are you dressed like a plumber? And why is there a mattress on the floor?”

Oh, Ella. She was so crazy.

Puzzlefaced Man Gets Bombed

I was very little back then, so I did not understand what was happening. I know most of it from stories they tattooed on my brain as I grew up and later, when I went back to visit my family.

My daddy was back from the Eastern Front, which I did not understand. Uncle Paul told me it was part of War, but I had not seen real War because in our city, War meant only that my mother had to work late and stand in long lines to get things, and I was very bored and lonely because of both things, so I knew War was not good. I also knew sirens sang every night and we had to go down into the cellar, listen to the loud drums of bombs falling overhead. I had no idea War also meant other things. Many, many other things.

Anyway, my daddy got back from the Eastern Front with his face fragmented by scars, like a broken mirror. Uncle Paul called him puzzlefaced and said the Russians tore him to pieces and put him back together with a needle and some dirty thread. They both laughed, I think, though I suspect my daddy was only pretending to laugh. I cannot imagine they put joy back in as they were putting him together. I imagine they put in a lot of barbed wire, broken glass, and potato masher grenades.

I remember when daddy died, too. I do not know whether it is a real memory, but it is a memory of a real thing: it was night time when the sirens sang, as they did every night, and we went down into the cellar. We sat down on wooden benches uncle Paul had made for the garden. They were in the cellar for the winter, I suppose. Daddy was sitting right by the gas lamp, singing a song in a soft voice accompanied by the irregular drum beat above us. I think he was smiling, though the shadows of his scars made his face look like a pile of rubble and it was hard to tell. The song was so pretty, it made uncle Paul’s eyes water. He probably said quietly that we have to hold on just a little longer and the raids would be over. And the War would be over and everything could be back the way it was before everyone went insane. I bet I was warm and cozy, close to my mom, looking at puzzlefaced man, listening to him sing, suspecting the universe is full of wonders.

When the ceiling suddenly collapsed and our entire house fell on my daddy. The noise was so great, that I suspect all the grenades that they put inside him exploded on impact.

I did not know about revenge back then. Later, when I was a teenager, I learned all about the crimes both sides committed and had to decide whether I would join the global revenge movement or not. Would you?

Late for my Bus

I was standing outside the Anthropology Building, hoping to see her, and there she was. She came out with a guy.

“Hi Jeremy,” she said, “Nice to see you, what are you up to? This is my boyfriend, Troy.”

We exchanged pleasantries, but I was devastated. I thought she was single, misunderstood, waiting for the right person. Her hair was red and so long, I had never seen hair so long in real life. I imagined her long hair covering her naked body. She was a little too skinny, I had to admit, and her breasts were too small, but she could get them done. Or I could learn to love her small breasts, with enough self-conditioning. I could masturbate to videos of small-breasted women and that would make me change my preferences. In fact, I was determined to do it, but that was before I saw her with a boyfriend.

And who was he anyway? Probably a sucker, an idiotic jock, an ignorant fool. But who am I kidding? I could tell just by looking at him that he was my sort, intellectual and sensitive. Perhaps a little better looking.

“What time is it?” I asked them.

They told me, and I took off, running as fast as I ever could. Faster than that. I yelled back at them “I’m late for my bus!”

Several minutes later (it took me a while to disappear from view) I collapsed under a tree, trying to catch my breath. My lungs hurt like hell. I was sure I was getting pneumonia, or degenerative lung disease, or worse. I was sure of it.