reaping the cost of solitude

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Bacon & Eggs and Cold Conversations

The seat sent shivers through him. It was morning, and he had just taken a nice warm bath. Benjamin was dried up and seated before the dinner table now- a dinner table with breakfast on it- still trying to swallow the drowsiness from the night and waking his sleeping appetite. The breakfast was the bacon and eggs cliché. It smelled nice. At least it did.

He kept his distance from his father. They both lived together for as long as he can remember but they seldom talked. His father was across the table with a couple of pills strewn beside a glass of milk. Father started scooping rice and made a delicious mess of eggs and bacon on his plate. Swallowed one pill and started talking.

“Doesn’t Joseph want to work in the same industry as you?”
A light shrug. Joseph was a friend, but more a drinking buddy than a friend actually. He worked in some bank.
“I mean, industries like yours should interest him. It’s managerial.”
Managerial. That word somehow sent a small puke in Benjamin's mouth.

A brief silence followed by the clinging of silverware.

He felt his father had always wanted to talk to him, but he always remained quiet, replying with no more than half-hearted shrugs and nods. It all comes naturally to him. At times he felt sorry for his father and wanted to at least make an effort to answer his questions properly. "How hard can it be?", he thought. But there’s nothing more awkward than taking five minutes to come up with a reply. In his mind being awkward was worse than being cold. It was the norm in the household after all.

After drinking his milk and taking his share of vitamins, he stood up. Wandered about the room and looked at the morning paper for awhile. He had not changed into his work clothes yet. His father was finishing his last slab of bacon when Benjamin started up the stairs.

“Do we have a small screwdriver?”, Benjamin was finally saying.
“What about the one you had in one of your drawers?”
“I couldn’t find them. I need to fix the mouse. It’s got dirt inside and it’s a pain to use.”
"I'll check..."

His father immediately stood and started to walk at moderate speed, likely headed towards his room to look for some tools he probably stored there. Benjamin could tell his excitement.

“Not now. I think I’ll fix it later. Maybe tonight.”
His father stopped, looked confused for a moment.
“Oh, okay”, his father said and headed back to the table.

Benjamin was all dressed up when he came downstairs. He had a white polo shirt, dark pants, and squeaky black shoes.
“I’ll be on my way now.”
His father was still at the dinner table, chewing some left-over peanuts from the fridge.

The road was strange today. It had fewer cars than usual, especially during the morning rush hour. He was playing some Zero 7 and turned the volume to a good 30, drowning the sounds from oncoming traffic and the outside world. He stopped listening to radio a long time ago. Felt he had to be very selfish with his music. It was his brush and paint. It was his landscape.

He awoke when he felt something warm flowing from his neck. The impact had dislodged his jaw from its sockets and it had uncovered a fountain of blood. It was hanging now. He had not seen so much blood before. His neatly ironed white polo shirt was in shreds, dyed dark red from the newly opened faucet. A crowd was forming around the misshapen vehicle with a figure inside. A bloody disfigured creature. Benjamin could make out random buzzes of electricity. The throbbing of the warm flow of liquid. The sound of worried gasps and murmurs. All fading in unison.

He lay motionless. He felt no more.

Father was still at the dinner table, now with a set of screwdrivers before him.  He wondered what he should be fixing today.

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