FADE IN:

 

A bad salesman walks on camera. The scene is filtered through the amateur haze associated with local commercials. Cheap lighting. Cheap graphics.

 

SALESMAN

Have you recently been losing interest in things? Has life lost all meaning for you? Have you run out of people who care? Then why not give suicide a try? What? You say you don’t have the guts to go through with it? You need some kind of push? Don’t worry. Just pick up your phone now and dial 1-8-0-0-6-9-6-9. That’s 1-8-0-0-6-9-6-9. For just 2 dollars a call, we’ll equip you with the motivation you need to bring your stay here on Earth to a necessary end. Whether you prefer a horizontal slash to the wrist, a noose on the ceiling, a leap from a tall building, or an over-emphatic dose of sleeping pills, 1-800-6969 supports you. We have experienced operators standing by 24/7 ready to make giving up easier than ever before. So pick up your phone now and dial 1-8-0-0-6-9-6-9. Death’s waiting for you.

 

Zoom out of the picture to reveal this sequence to be a commercial on television that the protagonist is watching. A HOLE IN THE WALL begins.

NARRATOR

Somewhere there’s a hole in the wall where my head used to be. I have this fantasy about hitting my head against some magical wall so many times that I eventually breakthrough to the other side, and on the other side there would be another version of me. A better version living my life, only better. He would get out more and could dance and would do his laundry way before he had to start recycling his clothes and could play an instrument and could sing, but even if he had an awful singing voice he would sing anyways and he would be disciplined and he would have no idea what any of the Hostess snacks tasted like and he would stop eating when he was full and he would be full of joie de vivre and he could say French things like joie de vivre in an English conversation without coming across as pretentious and he could speak French and he would never have watched that movie with only one of the Olsen twins and the girl from High School Musical about the bully who turns super ugly but then turns handsome again after he learns the true meaning of love from that girl from High School Musical and he would never feel the need to pretend he didn’t know the name of that girl from High School Musical and who she goes out with, or went out with once or whatever and he would definitely know how to use a semi-colon.

               I think of him a lot. The other me. That is, whenever I am not thinking of myself. You know, it’s amazing. My life is so dull; my activity level, my production is so shameful, yet for whatever reason, I am entirely fascinated by me. Is it egomania? Is an inordinately low opinion of oneself as vain as its antithesis? To loath oneself as I do, to spend as much time loathing oneself as I do, requires more time and harsher judgment than any man is surely worth. I’m consumed. What have I done today, what will I eat tomorrow, why me, why not me, when will my time come, did that girl just smile at me, and why do I constantly labor over the silliest things in life? I mean, honestly. Little kids in Africa, right? One particular sick line of thinking includes me wondering if I wouldn’t be better off as one of those little kids in Africa, because then at least I would have an excuse to feel sorry for myself. Feeling sorry for myself is my recreation, my occupation, dare I say, my religion. It’s a nasty cycle. Lots of people feel sorry for themselves, so it isn’t even like I am original. If I could have sole ownership over self-pity, then I would be in business. That would make me interesting. Like that song by Sade, I could be the king of sorrow.  I could publish books about myself, and there would be movie adaptions, and every actor would campaign for the role of a lifetime as this complex and unique character with these totally alien yet compelling emotions, and they would thank me when they win the Oscar, and the critics would publish books on tops of books trying to understand the character-each with their own interpretation. Now that I can get behind.

                But, alas, no. I am just one of many. I am simply another member of the sad sack club. I am not the President, nor even the vice-president of said club. I am the guy sitting in the back corner so nobody can see me. It is perhaps ironic-I am never sure when to use ironic- that if there was such a club, each member would cease to be a sad sack. No, we choose instead to walk the streets alone, eat alone, live alone, et cetera, et cetera, alone, alone. I write “we” do these things, which is purely an assumption on my part since I have no contact or conversation with other losers, and can therefore only assume on their behalf that they share my tendencies. I have very little contact with people in general, by the way. The human race makes me uncomfortable.

                 I find myself lurking through the streets late at night more and more frequently. No one else is around for the most part. I get to play boogie man and move in shadow, a monster. I have heard that a monster is just something people fail to understand. You know, like the monster in Frankenstein wasn’t so bad, but because he was ugly and mumbled, he’s forever a monster. Let me think, who else could be an example? I didn’t get Dracula. Blackula was a fun movie though. I don’t know, but my point is after years of nonstop thought and attention, I still fail to understand myself.

 

 

THIS TOO SHALL PASS

I believe in God. I do. I have tried living with the alternative, but…but what? I don’t know. I am in too deep. It’s like The Godfather with me, every time I try to get out, they pull me back in. What do I do with my religion? Not much. I guess I’m looking for some kind of wild magic to come and shake off my lukewarmness. Hopefully it will come in time before I get spit out of God’s mouth. That would be no good.

                I have been wondering lately if I fear God. You know, respect him. I am not sure anymore. I feel like Salieri taking down Mozart’s dictation-I don’t understand.  I do know that I’m not afraid of death-at least not the death shown in movies. I can see pain being a problem. I prefer a nice clean death. Some time to get my bearings in order, in the arms of a loved one, spouting off wise words right up until my last breath is the dream. Just an easy fading into the next world is all I ask for. No, the idea of death is not scary to me.

                 What I am afraid of is Hell. Holy shit, am I afraid of Hell. Hell above all else. I do not want to go! And it has come to the point that I don’t care about anything else. My fear of Hell guides my life now. I have no other convictions. I’ve squandered them thinking that they were innate. Well, maybe some of them were, but even things innate can be lost, as I have found. That’s what’s most sad. I still have all the same vices, and I’ve added some new ones. I could teach you how to turn your positives into negatives if only I knew how I did it. I don’t though. I missed it. I closed my eyes for a while, and missed myself slipping. Once you start slipping, it takes energy to turn it around. Energy I don’t have.  Where is the energy supposed to come from? The Bible? It takes energy to read the Bible. Do you understand the problem there?

              However, I do still have moments of true inspiration-moments when I vow to improve, to push myself, and to achieve. These moments are shortly thereafter interrupted and dissolved by anything as simple and meaningless as a Genie-Bra commercial. A Genie-bra commercial! Can you imagine how demoralizing watching an infomercial with middle aged women showing off this wondrous new bra that conforms to any shape is? Probably not, because you probably have a life. People who watch infomercials on television have no life.

         Another thought that plagues me is, if God gets all the credit for everything good, how come he gets no blame for everything bad? I am pretty much convinced there exists a God, but who is to say he cares? Maybe there is just one God and no devil- just one supreme ruler who watches over us like we watch television. No, I don’t ultimately buy into this line of thinking, because it hurts too much, but I do sometimes wonder. What kind of life will this sort of thinking lead to? Nothing productive or worthwhile.

        I think what ultimately brings me back is the people. Not people that I know, but the legends, the great people in our history. No atheist I know or have heard of has ever inspired anything in me.

 

Why Ask Why?

                   What’s my problem? What is so terrible? It is never today that bothers me-the now. The problem is tomorrow. I live in constant dread of…nothing.  However, the dread is very real, almost tangible. I realize with sadness that I wasted many happy years in my life being sad. If only I had known. Am I doing the same thing now? Could this time in my life be a fond memory at some point? Ten years from now, will I think back with a smile at that time in my life when I did nothing but groan and watch Genie-bra commercials? It seems crazy now, but who’s to say? Of course, I will have to last another ten years to find out. No, I am not dying of anything. There is nothing physically wrong with me, but I do genuinely believe occasionally that I was not built to last. As it is-as my life is today-I am rotting. I am rotting in my self-pity. I lack something.

NO STORIES

What do I leave you with? A story, a moral, some witty last line, what? I don’t have anything else. I’m still not even sure I have a point. I needed to put this whole spiel to paper. And then I just wanted something to film. So I did. What’s next? Today was a normal day. Tomorrow will most likely be normal. What? Why? Why ask why? I don’t know. I feel like I should go get a litter of cats and learn how to play the violin, but that whole shtick is awfully tired. I’m tired.

The End. I guess.

-Walter Howard

 

 

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