the red brick wall

THIS IS FICTION


 

He maintained a small apartment among the clutter of downtown San Francisco.  The apartment was meager compared to the extravagance of his Friday nights.  There was one room and a bathroom.  There was no kitchen.  A sink and mirror sat in the corner in front of his bed and above that stood a small television set which was never on.  There was one window that contained nothing for him except light and fresh air.  The red brick wall of the next building was all you could see out of it.  The buildings downtown are built so close together, one would have to give his life for a room with a view.

The morning light and the fog rolled into his room together like they were playing in bed sheets.  He sat on the edge of his bed smoking a cigarette and stared at the endless brick wall.  He was complacent with his life.  He lacked purpose.  He didn’t have something that he was willing to die for.  He didn’t feel that he was a scale upon which a man could be measured

‘Brrrrrrrring’

His phone rang and he picked up quickly.

“Hello”

After a few moments of heavy silence the receiver clicked.  He grabbed his jacket and went out.  The  cigarette sat in the ash tray with fire still burning at the end of it.

His car sat inert in traffic as red brake lights shone bright on his face.  The Bay Bridge looked like a toy the fog plays with.

“How could she be pregnant?”

He thought to himself, the red brake lights still flashing in front of him.  Aside from the ambiguity of their relationship he was considering cutting off the drunk late night hook ups they shared.  That was all their relationship was predicated on.  Now he thought he would have to marry her without question.  He thought about how his life was going to change.  He thought about how he would have to get a second job and a bigger apartment.  He knew he wasn’t ready.  He knew he couldn’t even take care of himself let alone a wife and child, but he had a calm feeling.  A sense of fulfillment and reassurance.  He knew he would figure it out, he always did.  He thought about abortion for a quick second but then whispered,

“Fuck that”

under his breath.

He pulled up to a suburban neighborhood in Oakland and put the car in park.  He picked up his cell phone to dial out.

“I’m outside” He said.

“I’m sorry, I’m not there anymore” She said calmly.

“What the fuck do you mean you’re not here?” He replied with worried annoyance.

“Christina picked me up, were going to the walk in clinic,  I’m getting it taken care of” she said in a declarative and matter of fact tone.

“So we’re not even going to talk about this?”

“I’m sorry” She said “I didn’t have time to consider your feelings.”

He hung up as his heart fell deep inside him, somewhere not easily found.

The bridge was still gripped by the fog.  He drove back aimlessly but this time a hollow shell of his former self.  He was completely detached.  He felt as if he was watching himself drive from the back seat.  He was at a loss.  He knew he didn’t have a say in the affair.  Ultimately, the decision was always hers.

He sat on the same bed staring at the same red brick wall.  He was chain smoking like he just came home from a funeral.  He thought about his father.  His father was a man.  His father raised him to be a man but he wasn’t.  He was a pathetic hollow little organism with no direction except down.  He decided to write a letter to his little one.

‘Dear my child,

When I was young I would sit by the window and wait for my father to get home from work.  When he would arrive he would always sneak around the back of the house so I would have to go looking for him.

Life is tough my love but you would have made it worth living.  I would have shown you the value of life.  It would have been difficult but at least we would be together.  I’m sorry, your mother is playing by societies rules.  Don’t blame her, it’s my fault I didn’t stop her.

I’m trying to be indifferent but guilt is gripping me the same way you would have gripped my thumb after you were born.  Who am I to say you can’t live your life?  It’s yours not mine.  It’s your heart that doesn’t get to feel love.  It’s your hands that don’t get to touch.  It’s your eyes that don’t get to see.  Now it’s your soul that sits heavy on my conscious….’

He grabbed the letter, crumpled it up and threw it violently but it just hit the wall and landed softly beside him.  His apartment was very small.  He put his face in the palm of his hands and tears streamed down his arms like little waterfalls.  He didn’t understand why he cared so much.  He was free, he could go on living his life.  Then the sun broke through the fog and shone bright on the red brick wall that sat outside his window.


 

I got the inspiration for this story during a recent trip to San Francisco to visit my brother and the book I read there which was The Age of Reason by Jean-Paul Sartre.

 

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