Disposable Man

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Barry ran away from his life when he was 50. It took him that long to get fed up, to finally give up, give in. Barry felt empty, oh so tired: no matter what came his way, he was just not happy. So he ran.

He had always been a giver, always looking to help, to please, to organize, cajole, and interact. Barry gave, and others took. And took. And took: everyone wanted from him, they wanted something, when they needed it; the rest of the time, Barry didn’t seem to exist for them. They finally sucked him dry, and in giving nothing back in return, Barry was nothing more than a shell.

What Barry wanted was equal parity. What he got was sitting alone in his bedroom, staring at the TV, or reading, or staring out the window…waiting for the phone to ring, for someone to want to him to be with them. “I want you to want me...” played in his head too often; just as often, it would end with “…you can’t always get what you want!

There had been children, family, friends: all got older, their lives became complicated, its own swirling chaos that engulfed them day to day. Barry was forgotten, or he felt that way. The reaching out  continued, but from his side, always his side. When someone needed him he was there. He offered, was taken up on it more times than not, but that, too, was fading away. His children barely acknowledged his existence-both married, both far away. His brothers and sister were fleeting connections at best, more so since both parents were now gone. And friends…friends were few and far between, allowing the miles, years and their own family needs make the inevitable changes. He was “between girl friends,” meaning he’d been alone for a very long time.

One morning, Barry packed what he thought he’d need in the way of clothes and threw it into the trunk of his finally paid off car. He emptied his pitiful bank account, came back home to cancel his phone/internet service and electricity, and then sat there. Fear immobilized him at this point, dredging up all the regrets he carried, winding him up in tremors and cold sweats. Tears flowed freely, something he had not allowed to happen in a very long time.  It took some effort, but Barry finally stood up, cleaned his face, and walked out, leaving the door to his apartment unlocked.

Hours later, Barry stopped only to gas up and give himself a short physical break. Cup of coffee in hand, he sat in his car and sipped the steaming beverage. He tried so hard to concentrate on just that one thing: hot coffee, slow sip, let it run down his throat, heat spreading out. Again. His life kept intruding on this action, but he finally got things buried away, as best he could. Barry placed the coffee in the car’s cup holder. It was time to go on.

Barry turned the key, the car’s engine ignited,  and without looking left or right, forward or back, he sped onto the main road.

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18 responses »

  1. I love the possibility for positive change the ending opens up. It sounds like he had an awfully hard life; maybe things will improve for this character.

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  2. At first I was disappointed that the story was so open ended, I tend to like things in neat little packages. Then I read it again and let my imagination take over the ending and found myself having fun coming up with different ideas. Thanks for the opportunity to use my imagination Stu.

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  3. Great way to end it Stu, especially since the character is so finite…let’s the imagination take me where ever I might want to go…would be fun to revisit this piece later and imagine a different ending than the one in my mind today.

    Good piece…well done. You truly do have a gift for storytelling.

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  4. I ‘hate’ the ending which is why I love it!! It’s so open. But then again, is it really? Oh another amazing one, Stuart! Thanks for igniting my imagination yet again :-))

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  5. There are all too many people who find themselves in this sort of situation. Perhaps a fresh start is exactly what the character needs; an opportunity to start over somewhere, maybe find a way to fill the void, take up a new job or hobby, connect with different people. Then again, we seem to be morphing into a society where everyone is so isolated and consumed with themselves that the old sense of community and fellowship is gone. It will be interesting to see what path Barry follows. Become a volunteer? Join the Peace Corps? Get taken in by a cult? (Let’s hope he doesn’t take Roy’s diversion…)

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