Water Buffalo for One by Tim Grutzmacher

Gary still had some paper to use up. He didn’t want anything to go to waste. He had ordered personalized stationery for years and relished any opportunity to use it. This particular batch featured a thick black line across the top of the page with his name standing out in the most powerful font he believed to have ever existed. He had decided to hand write it, Gary was quite proud of his penmanship and had received countless compliments about it over the years, along with decorations from his school days. It went as follows…

To whom it may concern:

I’ve always hated addressing a letter that way, it sounds as though you’re just throwing your correspondence into the wind and whoever’s face your paper wraps itself around is your intended audience. So, I’ll try to personalize this a bit further and say. Dear police officer, firefighter, EMT, unlucky (or perhaps quite lucky) burglar, inquisitive neighbor, or whomever else found their way into my humble (deliberately so, as they say you can’t take it with you) abode, welcome. I hope that what you have discovered isn’t too ghastly but I’m sure that it probably is, there is some ugliness in this world that just cannot be gussied up. If you’d like something to eat I usually keep a good amount of non-perishable food on hand and, while you’re here, if you’d like to help yourself to anything please be my guest. I have shelled out a lot of money on appliances and other kitchen gadgetry throughout the years. I have coffee makers, coffee grinders, a mixer, and several blenders which greatly exceeds my minimal blending needs. Protocol probably prohibits you from ransacking a dead person’s house but I would be truly honored if you took some of these things home as a token of my appreciation for your work.

Anyway, I feel as though I should explain how I ended up this way. I’m not crazy, at least I don’t believe myself to be. As you can see, I’m not a hoarder nor do I live amongst gaggles of animals. You hear stories all the time of fifty nearly starved cats being removed from some old woman’s house. I’ve always wondered if they start out with just one or two or do they just go on a crazy cat shopping spree. Anyways, I’m getting off topic I was going to scribble that last part out but I don’t want that unsightliness mucking up the page, so I’ll just press on.

Where to begin? I feel as though I should start at the beginning, with my childhood but as I’m sure you can tell that was quite some time ago and I’m don’t think that it is particularly germane to our present situation. I’ve always liked that word germane and tried to work it into conversation as much as possible. It sounds like a hearty, fiber rich cereal for senior citizens or a young black entertainer. I’m not sure why I specified black, he doesn’t necessarily have to be black it’s just what I pictured in my mind. Again, I fear that I have taken a bit of a detour, I should have prepared an outline first instead of just winging it.

Anyway, back to my childhood. I would say that I have preferred my own company to that of others for as long as I can remember. People are always so angry and aggressive. They are like a pack of bellicose dogs, always barking and spraying spittle at the slightest provocation. And just like nobody blames a dog for behaving like a dog, I can’t really fault people for acting like the animals they are. I have simply learned to avoid them wherever possible, keeping my hands away from their snapping jaws. Many animals also demonstrate solitary behavior so how I’ve lived my life is not atypical. Nobody tries to shame a tiger for not making any close friends, making him feel bad about not having anyone to share his water buffalo with. Perhaps, the tiger has no qualms about sharing his meat but likes to enjoy it a certain way and doesn’t want anyone to question it. Or perhaps he is rather particular about his lair and does not want anyone putting their little personal touches on it. I have actually made a few friends in my life, unless you’re really making an effort not to then it’s kind of unavoidable, there are plenty of sad people out there looking to glom on to someone. Not to say that my friends were sad or that they leeched onto me, some of my friends were truly exceptional people, some not all.

These may seem like the ramblings of a demented old man but lamentably this is how my mind has always worked. I’ll be thinking about one thing and a new idea will come barreling into my head and scatter all other thoughts like bowling pins. It makes for some rather exasperating conversations, me just jumping from subject to subject without any warning or transition. I’ve known very few people that were able to keep up with me conversationally. I’m afraid that sounds quite braggadocios, like I’m saying that my intellect is vastly superior to most and that the average nincompoop wouldn’t be able to keep up. Fear not gentle reader, I do not believe myself to be any better than anyone else even though I do possess a rather impressive IQ and that’s not just me saying that, it has been verified by nearly all schools that I have attended. Again, I’m not bragging for I’ve worked blue collar jobs my entire adult life. So being the smartest guy in that kind of setting is like boasting about the Porsche on blocks you’ve got sitting in your driveway, nobody is impressed. My particular intelligence level has been problematic for me. I’m not quite smart enough to really do anything great, eradicate disease or invent the first practical flying car and I’m a bit too smart to hobnob with the average joe (at least that’s what I tell myself in regards to my inability to make casual conversation, it may well be a personality disorder.) In my life, intelligence is no more advantageous than a good head of hair which I have done without for a good many years. That sounds like an interesting social experiment, have two candidates interview for a job, one bald man with superior intelligence and one half-wit with shiny, lustrous hair. Every likeness of Jesus that I have ever seen has him with flowing locks straight out of a shampoo commercial, it’s hard to imagine that people would be as willing to follow a messiah with male pattern baldness.

I’m starting to think that I should have typed this up, but like a stereotypical senior citizen, I have trouble with technology. And with the way my mind is always taking detours, I probably would have spent a lot of time revising so I guess it’s better to just let it all out. I also have a practiced diatribe against technology and the adverse effects it is having on our society but I’m not going to include it here for there is no surer way to convince people that you’re crazy than to warn against the pitfalls of technology.

By now you’ve got to be asking yourself what’s the point of this. Why is this chrome domed withered old man asking me to read his ramblings? My intent gentle reader (I read an old book where the narrator would address his audience as gentle reader and I liked the sound of it) is to not incur your pity. I know it’s a rather pitiable site, a dead old man rotting away in his apartment without anyone realizing it. I have taken some measures to try and prevent such a thing, I spend most of my days wondering around shopping malls or other crowded places so if I were to keel over there would be people there to find me right away. It is only safe for me there in the morning before the serious shoppers arrive and my leisurely amble gets in their way. I often feel like a carefree little fawn that has unwittingly ventured out onto a busy interstate staring down a big fat truck speeding to the food court. And when did people get so fat? I don’t mind someone carrying around a few extra pounds, in fact I always preferred a more curvaceous woman, but I see all these enormous people scooting around the mall on their electric scooters treating walking as if it were some loathsome burden. Why it is okay to shame an alcoholic or drug addict for their disease but not a fat person? Pardon me, gentle reader, if I have offended you with my prejudices. You’re probably saying to yourself right about now no wonder why this guy died alone. Well, in hopes of not alienating my audience further I’m going to wrap this up.

 

I’M GOING TO WRITE IN ALL CAPITAL LETTERS HERE TO DRAW YOUR EYE, GENTLE READER, SO YOU’LL BE COMPELLED TO READ THIS PART IF NOTHING ELSE. I LIVED MY LIFE JUST THE WAY I WANTED TO AND I WILL DIE WITHOUT ANY REGRETS. WELL, THAT ISN’T ENTIRELY TRUE, I HAVE SOME REGRETS. I DON’T KNOW HOW SOMEONE CAN LOOK BACK AT A LENGHTY LIFE AND NOT WANT TO DO A COUPLE OF THINGS OVER. IN MY CASE, THEY ARE RATHER MINOR AND PROBABLY WOULDN’T HAVE IMPACTED MY LIFE GREATLY. I REGRET MY MOMENTS OF MEEKNESS, THE TIMES THAT I DIDN’T BARE MY TEETH AND BARK RIGHT BACK I’M CONFIDENT THAT THOSE BRASH PEOPLE THAT HAVE NO PROBLEM PUSHING OTHERS AROUND DON’T CHIDE THEMSELVES FOR NOT TREATING PEOPLE BETTER. I HAVE ALWAYS WONDERED WHETHER THOSE OVERCONIFDENT TYPES SUFFER FROM A MENTAL HEALTH DISORDER OR IF THEY HAVE REALLY GOT THINGS FIGURED OUT. IT IS PROBABLY CRAZY TO BELIEVE THAT YOU’RE MORE IMPORTANT THAN EVERYONE ELSE BUT IT IS SMART TO MAKE OTHER PEOPLE THINK THAT YOU ARE. WHOOPS, IT LOOKS LIKE I HAVE DRIFTED OFF SUBJECT ONCE AGAIN. I THINK THAT I’M JUST GOING TO THROW THIS AWAY. I REALLY DIDN’T NEED TO WRITE THAT. MY HAND IS KILLING ME FROM ALL THIS WRITING AND DON’T THINK I HAVE IT IN ME TO DO IT OVER SO I GUESS THIS IS IT.

P.S. SERIOUSLY, HELP YOURSELF TO SOMETHING I’VE GOT BEDDING AND TOWELS IN THE HALLWAY CLOSET AND AN OLD STILL FUNCTIONING RECORD PLAYER IN MY BEDROOM. I HEAR THAT THEY’RE THE BIG THING THESE DAYS.

Sincerely,

Gary Orsulak

 

Gary fashioned the pages into a little paper tent and wrote “please read” on the front in his most tantalizing script and placed it on the table. He repurposed the salt and pepper shakers as paper weights to hold the note down should an errant gale find its way into his tightly sealed apartment. He was exhausted. It was not uncommon for him to feel drained after one of his indignant letters to the editor of the newspaper or to a utilities company, but not like this. Gary slowly shuffled over to the couch to take a nap; the thing he enjoyed most about retirement and old age, the freedom to snooze away a few early afternoon hours He rarely laid down on the couch because it gobbled him up like quicksand and took considerable effort to get up from its cozy depths, but he didn’t mind this time. He didn’t have anywhere he needed to be.

Tim Grutzmacher

Banner Image: Pixabay.com

 

 

4 thoughts on “Water Buffalo for One by Tim Grutzmacher

  1. An elderly loner approaching death reaches out by pen “to whom it may concern” with his final thoughts in an attempt to explain himself and his solitary life. A mournful story but a splendid and unforgettable one.

    Like

  2. Hi Tim,
    This was all good. But the section in capitals is exceptional in its perception. And the p.s brings you straight back into the character.
    I’m sure that I will remember this for a long time to come.
    All the very best my friend.
    Hugh

    Like

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