Story: The 1950s revival

“The 1950s revival”

a short story by Catxman

. . . . . . . Everything is quiet when the day’s done, when the work’s been wrapped up, when the cats are sleeping … and yet there is something not allowed: a hiss from a radiator nearby that says “hello there, stranger.”

. . . . . . . The rain is coming down across the window, a slurry sheet of moisture that trickles down in fast-then-slow streams, a combinatorics problem in math with liquid solutions as the answer.

. . . . . . . Earlier on you fed yourself from the kitchen, Fruitsations in a cup and it was hardly enough.

. . . . . . . You want more. You told yourself more.

. . . . . . . So you’re eating a sandwich, chomping down on tomato with mayonnaise and there’s good cheddar in there too and it’s so delicious you think you might make a second one, and even a third one even though you won’t be hungry at that point.

. . . . . . . The TV is on but its volume is stunted, quiet. The house resembles the 1950s.

. . . . . . . The wife and kids are here. They are all boring people, but in a good way, in a 1950s way. They know their positions and roles and never deviate. There are no deviants here.

. . . . . . . Especially you. You go to work and enjoy the experience and vote Republican because you are a serious thinker and that’s the direction the head of the serious thinker tilts … Sock it to me, baby.

. . . . . . . You finish your third sandwich and put the platter in the sink for the wife to handle later. She’s a good little bitch. Knows her place and though she doesn’t move much during sex or make much noise, you know she’ll accept your entry without particular complaint. That makes her a good girl.

. . . . . . . But there’s someone at the office you want. Your secretary. She votes Democrat, you know.

. . . . . . . She votes Democrat and sometimes she doesn’t wear pantyhose and you can see her sheer tan-colored skin and it’s so exciting you almost come in your office seat, which would be embarrassing on a profound scale.

. . . . . . . If you dominated her, you could make her vote Republican.

. . . . . . . The way she should.

. . . . . . . You’re pretty sure your wife hides her Democratic leanings from you, her husband. It is her sacred responsibility to follow in the way you go.

. . . . . . . Your kids were too young to vote last time, but the older boy’s getting close to that time.

. . . . . . . Getting close to the time of ballot-stuffing.

. . . . . . . You’ve trained the boy well. He knows that the Republican Party are what keeps the country together. He knows there is only room for two political parties, and they are Left and Right, and it’s been that way since before the French Revolution in Europe. The Europeans knew what they were talking about. Specifically, the French.

. . . . . . . You know your history. Without stability, out rolls the guillotine. And who would get guillotined? Why the men of the suburbs in their gray flannel suits. Jealousy.

. . . . . . . Because jealousy, I mean.

. . . . . . . There’s a ringing at the front door. You heave yourself out of the too-comfortable chair and trudge your way toward the door. You pass by a pair of cats sleeping together. The rain outside has stopped flowing, you see.

. . . . . . . A bum is at the door. Tattered rags, hopeless eyes, dirty skin. “Can I come in?” he begs.

. . . . . . . “No, I’m afraid we have no spare change.”

. . . . . . . A pause. “I just need a place to rest. My feet are killing me. I sat on your lawn while it was raining and now I’m soaked. I’m afraid of catching pneumonia and I hurt. Please. Everything’s going wrong in my life.”

. . . . . . . If he came in he would bring dirt and disease. He’s probably a fucking faggot too. With interest, you lean toward the door jamb. Maybe he can do some work around the house for nearly free. Get him to clean the leaves from last year out of the gutter … but no. Too much of a risk of the authorities finding out and giving you some kind of absurd Communistic-style fine.

. . . . . . . Firmly, you announce, “We have nothing to give to you. Go to the next house.”

. . . . . . . The beggar puts his hand in his white pocket, which is stained with grass and tobacco and the clatter of coins sounds. He pulls out a handful of gold and silver and plays with it with both hands. Serious-looking, he says, as he plays with the coins, “You could have had these. You could have had everything I bring. Why didn’t you listen to your heart?”

. . . . . . . “I’ll be honest with you,” you say, thinking honesty might pull this out of the fire and still get you something, “and that is that I don’t really have a heart to listen to. I’m kinda heartless — but in a good way!”

. . . . . . . “There is no good way to be heartless.”

. . . . . . . “I love myself. I have a kind of love for my family,” you say critically. You don’t know who you’re damning at this point, but you have a haunting kind of feeling that it’s yourself in some way, some form.

. . . . . . . The bum shakes his head sadly. “You only have a heart for yourself. I can see it in your eyes.”

. . . . . . . You blink to throw the bum off your trail. “Bull-turds! You can’t know any such things.”

. . . . . . . There is only silence from the beggar. He seems to be judging you now.

. . . . . . . “What’s wrong?” you plead. “Why are you so quiet? How can I make things better?”

. . . . . . . “They say every man deserves a second chance,” the beggar murmurs. “I’m not here to curse you or help you, however. I only have enough forgiveness for those who earn it. In my book, you’ve earned a single life, no more.”

. . . . . . . “What … wait … there’s an afterlife?”

. . . . . . . The beggar smiles, a look of white halo beauty ascending around his fast. “There is whatever you would expect there to be. You’ll forget me soon enough and return to your prior ways.”

. . . . . . . “NO! I won’t! Just show me a miracle and you can convert me.”

. . . . . . . “It’s not up to me to prove me to yourself. It’s the other way around.”

. . . . . . . “Oh, dammit. Why must you speak in riddles so?”

. . . . . . . Smile. “If I spoke in confusing riddles truly, you would know it. I am — believe it or not — speaking plainly. And here is my final judgment: You are going to get cancer within ten years. You’ll fight it weakly, and give in easily. You’ll be the quickest death from cancer anyone ever saw. And you won’t remember me. That’ll be the real tragedy of it. Even now you’re already forgetting, and I’m not using any mojo on you. You’re forgetting … forgetting … gone.”

. . . . . . . The bum turned and walked down the walkway to the end of the driveway, turning south toward the horizon where clouds were breaking open to let the long rays of sunshine in. It was going to be another glorious day.

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