Sunday, June 21, 2009

sunday scribblings~vision

The Best Laid Plans

His planned demise turned out to be just as chaotic as his life had been.

He’d decided to choose his own way out of this mortal coil--whatever the fuck ‘mortal coil’ meant. Although he often quoted Shakespeare, he’d never really liked the guy, finding his writing tiresome to slog through and the iambic pentameter made him feel fidgety. What also made him fidgety were people who had more than 12 items in the 12 item line, the use of the word ‘like’ over and over in a conversation, hedgehogs, birthday parties and Thanksgiving.

His life had never run smoothly; if something was going to go wrong, it usually did. A friend told him once it was as if before he was born, he decided to pay back all of the crap karma he had coming in one fell swoop. Every time he became involved with someone, it ended with the person cheating on him. He’d even tried having a relationship with a guy he’d met and found oddly attractive. It looked as if it was going to work out when he came home and found his lover had left him for a transgendered woman. His love life now consisted of a once a week masturbatory session in the shower, because it was easier to clean up after he was done. Afterward, he’d make a cup of hot chocolate and read a book until he felt sleepy.

Promotions had come and gone; never really his fault when he was passed over. He didn’t make a strong enough impact to give cause for anyone to want to move him up, so, he stayed in his cubicle, which always had enough paper on his desk to cause spontaneous combustion.

Pets ran away. Plants died. His parents moved and didn’t tell him the details. The last he’d heard was via a distant cousin he discovered on Facebook. Turns out they were in Boca, and enjoying their savings. Soon after this bit of news, the cousin blocked him from her account, and his friends dropped down to three, including the advertising company that promoted hair growth.

He'd put things down, and couldn’t find them again. He tried to move to new apartments, hip lofts, only to discover they’d set aside his deposit, and rented to someone else. His weight went up thanks to his habit of eating ice cream at midnight out of the carton while standing in front of the freezer. His car died. So did his neighbor, who wasn’t discovered until a slightly disgusting odor drifted into the hallway.

It was this event that got him to thinking about his own death. How would it be handled by others. Who, if anyone, would come to his funeral. What would happen?

Thus, he decided to take matters into his own inept hands. He had a vision of what should happen, and he moved forward with a purpose to make sure everything would be in place. He started to make lists, losing some along the way, discarding others as too vague. He worked and thought and wrote notes, wanting some kind of peace of mind on his way to ending it all. This way, too, he'd avoid Thanksgiving for once, a fact that made him oddly content.

First, he called around, then went to pay for, a cremation. Not being sure of how many would attend, he felt he could hope for at least one person to carry the urn out of the chapel. Next, he taped the music he wanted played, since it seemed silly to pay for a musician for what could be a small number of mourners. He chose the flowers and pre-paid a caterer to bring both the flowers and the food over to the small banquet room he rented at the Best Western near the airport. Cleaning out his savings was a small price to pay for knowing he’d be taken care of, that a decent funeral would be in place, that he could die knowing this time, he’d controlled the event, the event hadn’t controlled him. For once, things looked as if they would be neat and tidy and everything coming together so neatly brought him pride in his planning of his death.

The Sunday morning of the Big Event, he rose, showered, dressed and had his favourite breakfast of Capt’n Crunch and a bacon sandwich. Two cups of coffee later, he stood up to start this last day on earth... his elbow catching the bowl with the yellowish milk in the bottom, knocking it to the floor. It took him a good 10 minutes to clean up the mess, rinse out the dishrag, and make sure the floor wasn’t sticky. He wanted to finally be able to make a good impression.

Going into the small bedroom, which had been advertised as ‘quaint’ (a nice way of saying a bed will fit, and that is it), he started to put on his suit fresh from the cleaners, only to discover it had a button missing, and that they hadn’t removed the grease stain from the fly area, where he’d dropped part of his tuna salad sandwich the week before. While tying his shoes, one of the laces broke just below the eye, and it wouldn’t thread through to allow him to tie a small knot and still use the lace. Switching out the black laces for a pair of white ones from his sneakers, he moved into the bathroom to brush his teeth and comb his hair...clean and tidy was the final goal.

The blue toothpaste left a small smear on his white shirt, even after he’d dabbed at it with a wet washcloth. His hair refused to obey, being too long to lie straight on his head, instead going into an unattractive wave that flopped over his forehead. He wet it down, slapped on some gel, and again combed it into place, something that only served to give his hair that creepy sex molester look you see on ‘America’s Most Wanted’---stiff with the grooves left from the comb showing.

Finally, he was ready. Exhausted, but, ready. He opened up the bottle of sleeping pills he’d managed to get from his doctor, citing insomnia, and washed them down with a half empty (in his eyes) glass of tequila. Making sure his apartment was unlocked, he taped an envelope marked “CALL THE POLICE BEFORE COMING IN” with his note to the world inside, along with the instructions on how to carry out his funeral and his small Will, which left everything to that same distant cousin; it was the least he could do to pay back the information he’d been given. As he shut the door, the draft from it closing caused the envelope, held up by cheap tape, to lift off the door and slide under the hallway rug, where it wasn’t found until the following Spring, too late to do any good.

He went to the sofa, and lay down upon it, waiting to go to the other side.

He drifted off, never knowing it took three days for anyone to realise he’d not been into work. Four days before anyone remarked on that same matter during a coffee break. On the Monday of the week following his Big Event, his supervisor wrote him up for not coming in, recommending he be fired. It was the next day, a Tuesday, before they finally sent someone over, who, along with the Super, realised the door was open, giving them easy access. They came in and there he was, not on the sofa (where he’d planned on being discovered, in his some what rumpled suit and the green tie he really loved with his hands folded peacefully on his chest), but, in the bathroom, quite dead.

The autopsy said the pills and booze had mixed in his stomach, churning and gurgling...and it must have roused him enough to realise he had to empty his stomach. The bruises on the back of his hands were from hitting them against the doorway on his trip to the bathroom, to deal with his sickness. There, he’d sank to his knees, bent over the open toilet, and passed out into the BluClean water, thus drowning.

The landlord took possession of everything he'd left behind, selling it on Craigslist, to pay for the complete fumigation of the apartment. When his parents came into town that March, finally stopping to visit on their way to see the distant cousin, they were told he had left no notes, no instructions, nothing, and his body been handed over to the city to bury. His grave was unmarked, his funeral unattended, and the pre-paid food had been dutifully delivered to the Best Western, where it sat for a day, finally being thrown away by the cleaning crew. The maids took the flowers home, enjoying the beauty of the roses and lilies, never wondering who had ordered them nor why no one had shown up.

In May, when the building owners decided to renovate the common areas, the rug was picked up, and the envelope found. It was too late by then to do anything, really, so, it was crumpled up and thrown away, as forgotten as the man himself.


  1. very well written,, but very dark and sad as well...

  2. I like the rhythms in this oddly bouncy piece: rhythmically bouncy, of course, certainly not mood-bouncy. You'd think the Best Westerners could have at least enjoyed the food: I would have.

  3. This is an amazing piece, possibly my favorite; it has everything one could ask for.

  4. OMG Quin - I'm reading along, thinking wow this is dark but awesome and then this: "favourite breakfast of Capt’n Crunch and a bacon sandwich" I nearly spit coffee all over my monitor - am I bad for laughing???

    OMG OMG Poor guy - this would have worked for the absurd prompt (or else I just have a sick and twisted sense of humor) but this just cracked me up. I loved it. Going for therapy now....

  5. I LOVE IT!! It started a little slow, but really began to pick up steam until I suddenly found myself at the end. What a perfect example of Murphy's Law rearing it's ugly head at every possible turn. AWESOME!!

  6. I really liked this piece. What a sad, sorry litle man.

  7. little man - darn it!

  8. This was a really powerful piece. Very dark and tragic. Makes me grateful for all I have.

  9. This man never caught a break! Poor thing!

    I enjoyed reading it from the start till the end. Am I bad?

  10. Wow, I love your attention to detail; you're really an amazing writer! The story is quite sad.

  11. A story of desolation. For too many it is like that.
    Very well written.

  12. despite his sad life, he kept at it, day after day, all that planning and then nothing!!
    and i thought this would have worked for absurb as well!
    and SO very well written...wrapped up nicely!! :)

  13. Oh, the lonely people...

    Depressing as all hell, but poignant.

  14. After reading "Mirror, Mirror," I had to drop down to re-read this beauty. Talk about engineering! This was built like a skyscraper of cool and clever word associations and combinations, descriptions, little clues planted throughout, a great beginning to snag the reader and a killer, crumpled ending. What a job you did at creating abject pathos! My God, it reminded me of how I felt after watching the movie “Lonesome Jim”!