Incredibly Miserably


Latching the small hook into the round circle on the door frame, Phil finds the safety of isolation that allows him to be less aware of himself.  Alone, he exists independently of society’s disdainful criticisms.  He had long ago given up personal standards or ambitions, since any expectations or goals would surely end in disappointment.  He splashes cold water on his face and rinses off the shame of standing among fellow human beings.  Looking in he mirror, he doesn’t care that the hair disappears in clumps, or even that his nose had become bulbous and red with big black pores.  He’s sickly and leathery and indifferent.  He notices that he missed a large chunk of facial hair on his upper cheek when he shaved yesterday.  It doesn’t matter, he’ll probably get it next time.  It also doesn’t matter that his pale blue eyes had lost their shimmer when he was so young and that group of older boys hit him with the branch and called him welfare baby and said his dad would die in jail.  He doesn’t mind having only fuzzy memories of his sister, who subtly implied it was too difficult to have him around when she was starting her own family and he left home before she was even a teenager and she barely even knows him.  He doesn’t give two shits.  Not any more.  Not while alone in the bathroom and therefore invisible, as his stream of urine splatters against the porcelain.  

    Grabbing his coat and scarf to leave, Phil turns for one last glimpse just as a shirtless, shoeless deep tan young boy comes scurrying up to Victoria.  He has that wild look in his eyes.

    “Por favor! Por favor! Necessita ayudarme- mi amigo- no puede nadar!  Por favor- he no can swim!”

    “Donde?”  Victoria doesn’t waste any time asking about the specifics, a life is at stake.  She had grabbed him by the shoulders, as if he might dart away without telling her.

    “Arriba! Arriba!” The crying boy cries.  He points the direction and Phil, now diverted from his resolution to depart, slowly reclaims his stool, not taking his eyes off this new development.  The bartender, oblivious to the unfolding drama, assumes Phil wants another beer and refills the mug.

    Victoria sprints off toward the ocean, taking large fluent strides that cause parts of her body to jiggle around like water balloons.  Phil is now completely caught up in the action, his head moving slightly up and down, up and down, keeping rhythm with her movement.

    Phil didn’t see where she had picked it up, but Victoria had acquired a cylindrical-shaped buoyancy device and strapped it over her head and onto her back.  Without hesitation, she disappears head first into the breaking waves, then pops through the surface of the water and begins stroking away from the beach.

___________ right