I woke with a word on my chest. Disposable. It was written in laundry marker. The writing was scrawled. Whoever did it was as drunk as I was. A two day bender, a lost weekend, I couldn’t remember any of it. Disposable. It had a nice ring to it, a finality. I looked at my disposable razor. It had given up the ghost before it even touched my stubble. I left it. I have a dictionary somewhere. Throwing books, papers, pizza boxes asunder, where is it? It’s under the couch. Actually, holding the couch up. Half way through the D’s, Disposable: something designed to be thrown away after use. I liked it.
Looking around the flat, there were thousands of things I didn’t need. Toothbrush, razor, blender, microwave, mobile phone, settee, I would bin the lot. But they don’t make rubbish bags strong enough. The pointy bits of everything I owned poked out in iceberg angles. The television was the hardest. So many years spent absorbed, amused, brain-dead. Letting go of it was like giving up my appendix. It was a part of me that served no use but to possibly kill me someday. Disposable time.
It was too much to carry down the stairs. My flat overlooks a forlorn alleyway where drunks spend the night sleeping off their booze-hungry day. Hookers also ply a trade down there with sad men who hide their wedding rings. I made sure nothing had my name on it and threw it out the window. It made a satisfying crunch-bang when it hit the pavement thirty feet below. It was a reassuring sound, not like the thump of a body being crushed by falling life debris. I was glad I hadn’t killed a wino or whore today. But if I had, it wouldn’t have been that big a deal. Disposable vice.
I looked around the empty apartment for more things to do away with. I threw out everything in the fridge, the kitchen drawers, and... oh , Jane, my girlfriend...
“Hi Jane, it’s me, we’re through.”
That felt so much better. I threw the mobile phone out the window with still four months on the contract. I would be a missed customer. Disposable love.
Religious icons hung around like unwanted baby teeth. I had collected them over the years in the hopes of finding peace, happiness, enlightenment, revelations, or at least a hint of something spiritual. Nothing ever came. It proved my point. Possessions, even holy ones, don’t do what they say on the label. They just take up space and soul time.
“Mrs. Jones, would you like my crucifix, menorah, and Buddha? I am going atheist.”
My next-door neighbour blanched but took them all. Disposable religion.
My flat echoed when I walked on the floors. All the detritus money could buy had damped my time in this box. Without it, the minutiae of banal sounds bounced and crashed around me. It was pleasing. I jumped up and down with malice, knowing that grumpy man downstairs would curse me. It made me jump harder. I looked for some hiking boots I had never worn but would have looked good on Everest. Putting them on, my feet felt behemoth. I leapt in the air for a full ten minutes, each landing a catastrophic cacophony. I had a silly, my-face-hurts grin. Then I stopped. Silence. Disposable noise.
Clothes. It was summer. They were unnecessary. Out the window they went. I felt virtuous. Having not killed a drunk, I was now clothing him. I hoped he was my size. Disposable charity.
I stood in my neutered flat, naked. I eyeballed the bare walls and empty floors. They look back at me, thinking, saying, well, now what? They had a good point. I was a bare man in a barren place. It was never really mine. I rented it from someone who had never made it theirs. It was all a buy to let life. I walked out the door and down the hall. Disposable sense-of-home.
Strolling down the street, traffic stopped to look at the nude with the writing on his chest. In my mind, I expanded my new concept to encompass the world. I wiggled my bits at a nun walking past. Disposable morality. I nipped into a museum just to stand next to the paintings of naked people and compare, my humanity versus theirs. Disposable culture. I listened to two old men arguing on a park bench and, when they noticed me, I told them they were both wrong. Disposable rationality. There was nothing I could think of that couldn’t be thrown away.
With a head full of rapidly clearing junk, the sky looked brighter, my feet felt lighter, and there was a glint in the eye of a few passers-by. It made me happy to see them smile, gawk, give them something to tell the person in the next cubicle. Disposable amusement.
I walked into work. No one looked up. They were busy being call-centre drones hardwired to their ubiquitous black phones. At the corner office overseeing us all, I entered without knocking.
“Mr. Smith, I quit.”
He took it well. Disposable employment.
I walked out of town. I passed people, places, cars, road signs; none of it was immortal, all of it temporal. I pressed on into the fields. The crops were high but I knew in a few weeks the fields would be fallow again. Onward towards the ocean, I came to the beach. Each wave that crashed was different from the last. None of them lasted more than a moment. Loping over the beach, plunging into the water, deeper water, and going further still, I submerged.
But, I couldn’t do it.
I sprung from the wet and ran, dripping dry, back to the city.
I robbed a gun store. Even better.
(above text & photo by David E. Oprava)