Brian Miller ’18
From the roofs of buildings in the city, any wind creates a droning, ominous tone; a natural siren that constantly reminds the adventurers who dare stand atop the skyscrapers, that nature is a powerful presence. The creations of man, cars, construction vehicles, restaurants, stores, wealth, the sounds of wall street, are all inferior to that drone. Today, on this cool December night, the wind was particularly insistent and demanded to be heard. The concrete walls were vibrating, the buildings slowly swaying like the redwoods in California. Nature demanded to be heard.
Alfie stood atop the roof. He looked down with fear, in total disbelief. For Alfie, this was certainly the last time he would hear this ominous tone, this aggressive display of power by nature. He dangled his feet off the rooftop, carefully. His body and mind swayed together in unison with the building, sinusoidally. He took off his ripped jacket slowly and let it fall. He took off his broken glasses, meticulously held together by the adhesive power of a single roll of Scotch tape. He took off his decaying Doc Marten’s, tattered from many years’ worth of wandering. He lit his last cigarette, a sad and dismal Newport slim which had just begun yellowing from age. A yellow stench, emanated from his body, and was swept away by the white noise of the city wind.
Alfie looked down at the movement of cars, and bustling bodies; he tracked one woman as she ran from store to store frantically purchasing all that she could before the rain melted the skin she worked so hard to keep perfect. He tracked a man as he sprinted through the streets, desperately trying to make his 6:00 shift. He saw a man sitting alone in an alley, covered in the filth of the world, his cardboard sign folded and useless, inspiring no meaning or emotion in his audience. When poor Alfie looked at the world, he didn’t see life. Poor poor Alfie, only saw life as crap. He saw waste. He saw garbage, and trash, and filth. He saw disgust, and vomit. He saw the putridness of things. It was truly a special talent of his youthful brain, filled with cynicism and angst. He pulled one last time on his poor cigarette, (which he had to relight about 4 times due to the ever so insistent wind) and proceeded to throw that as well into the pile of waste that was immediately below him.
Just as his cigarette was wasted and spent, his mind, body, and soul were spent as well. Burned down past the filter, he had no more patience for the eternal dump that surrounded him. And just like his cigarette, he doubled over, and slid off the 60th story roof that was once so welcoming to him. He joined his spent cigarette, wasted jacket, torn shoes, and useless glasses. He joined the endless waste. For the remaining seven seconds of Alfie’s existence, he joined the power of nature, falling freely with the wind. With those precious seven seconds (which are considerably longer than people give credit) Alfie thought to himself a beautifully accurate tidbit of wisdom his father once told him. The end of things are always painful. But pain is a part of being a world and all. And when that thought had already drifted through his blank mind, he had just enough time to question again, if his life was wort-
Then, the gum covered, piss-stained concrete sidewalk gave him a rather heartless and cold hug.
What had given him this uncanny ability to see the waste of the world? Why was it he who was burdened with death? Why did poor Alfie possess the senses required to sense the vomit of society?
Long ago, when Alfie was a young innocent boy, (yes indeed, he did have a childhood, filled with innocent memories) he was unplagued by the nihilistic future that would soon engulf his existence. Alfie was a young boy, who loved to create. He would spend hours upon hours, in his home creating; he would create joy for his family, often followed sorrow, anger, and confusion, and the followed soon thereafter by another burst of joy. He would create art, using the walls and floors as his magnificent canvas. He would create music, using pots and pans as his orchestra. Young Alfie was a happy child.
He biked everywhere.
One day, while biking back to his home, (8 Decidedly Lane, a nice street, with nice people) he saw a squirrel. The squirrel was half plastered to the pavement. It’s head was up, panic in its eyes. Frantically taking short breaths from its collapsed lungs, the squirrel was quickly dying. Its hind legs were obliterated, now part of the pavement. The blood created a beautiful display of art, creating a rather modernistic approach to splatter painting. Its white fluffy tail, was no longer white, nor fluffy. It was barely a squirrel anymore, more of just a carcass, who wasn’t lucky enough to have met death quite yet. Alfie looked over from his handlebars, his eyes fixated on the squirrel. And suddenly, the squirrel, upon making eye contact with him, was brought to its demise. Its head sunk into the hot summer pavement, joining its body which was already glued to asphalt. Alfie raced back home, grabbed his backpack and filled it with some tools; a single kitchen spatula, and a small shoe box. He pedaled his little feet as fast as he could and met the squirrel again.
He carefully, unaware of the death of his little furry friend, used the spatula to separate the squirrel from the pavement. With much effort, he managed to free the squirrel from its prison on the burning asphalt. Balancing the carcass on his kitchen utensil, he carried the squirrel to a tree, where he saw more little furry friends. He placed the squirrel adjacent to the tree, and put the box over its body providing a delicious escape from the summer sun. He poked the carcass, to see if it would thank him for his kind gesture. But instead, the eyes of the squirrel—the completely black portals to the afterlife—stared back at him with fury. He began crying. Waterfalls of inncocent tears flowed from his eyes, down his soft cheeks, down his neck and into his shirt. The salt toughened his soft skin.
He saw the world for the first time that day.
He came home, in tears.
“I killed a squirrel!”
Poor Alfie. He invested all of his time into creating art after that.
Poor poor Alfie.
Ten years later, as he was exercising his artistic ability, Alfie ran into a homeless man. He was drawing the city, creating a collage of the noises and people around him. Through his pencil, he translated the bustling sound of cars into art, he recreated the stress and anxiety of city life on paper. He captured the beauty of diversity. While deeply concentrated on his art, the homeless man tapped his shoulder.
“Can you help a brotha out? I’m hungry and haven’t eaten today.”
He had seen the man earlier, walking about the street doing the same routine. He had witnessed the others as they passed through him. No eye contact, no human relation, no feelings. The city goers were cold. They walked through the man like he was invisible; a problem that they didn’t have to worry about. This poverty stricken man, in the eyes of the world was nothing. He didn’t exist. A man stripped of his essence, a man that the system truly demolished.
His shirt had that similar yellow stench, with yellow stains. It was most likely originally white, but over the years of hate, has turned into the city waste. His jeans were frayed everywhere. His body was sullen and sunken, worn down by time. His hair was falling out, his eyes were red and deranged. He looked rabid.
Some time must have passed, as Alfie was shaken out of his trance by the man again.
“C’mon man, I just needa dolla! Just a dolla man!”
Alfie, with no filter, saw the man in full. He saw a human, just like the squirrel, only half alive. He saw death lurking behind his deranged eyes. He saw beauty that was lost somewhere in his soul.
Alfie pulled out his wallet, and gave him five dollars.
The man greedily took the money and skipped away, a changed man for all of twenty minutes, where he was transformed from a man with no money, to a man with five dollars.
To the man the five dollars was opportunity. It was life, in itself.
To Alfie, the five dollars were just lost.
The man didn’t acknowledge his gesture. Alfie wasn’t thanked. Alfie had lost five of his dollars to a being that was half dead.
There was no closure to their relationship. The man took his money and ran.
Ten years later, Alfie found himself a happy girlfriend. His life was turning around. He was beginning to see beauty, and not just the incessant shit that controlled his life.
His girlfriend Sidney (whom he called Sid, because two syllables was far too difficult for him) became the light of his life. Alfie’s became Sid-centric. They shared a love for the city, and often had intellectual conversations regarding the universe, existence, and beauty. They both saw the scum of the world. They both lived through it. They both put the waste aside, for each other.
They both wore Doc Martens and bleached jeans, and flannels. They both loved art.
They both lived to create.
For Alfie, Sid was meaning. His nihilistic dread would wane when he was with her.
One day, while Alfie was with his beautiful girlfriend, in his beautiful car, driving through the beautiful city, it began to rain.
The rain poured from the sky above, creating a temporary waterland for the city.
The streets became rivers, where buildings offered the only protection from the wetness and flooding. People evacuated the streets, diving into their homes, and places of work for shelter.
The roads were slick.
While the rain pounded down on his Alfie’s little Toyota Camry boat, he said “I truly love the rain. I think it cleanses the city of everything wrong with it. The water erodes away the rust, the weak points, and the waste. It gives the city a fresh start.”
He was gazing into her eyes with a certain satisfaction.
“I really agree with that Alf-”
Another car had struck Alfie and his poor Toyota Camry.
The excessively large truck (clearly not a city vehicle) had skid across the double yellow lines.
Time, a relative thing, slowed down tremendously; every second became a year, and poor Alfie could see the end for eternity.
He watched with horror as the truck struck the bow of his boat, starboard side. He watched, petrified as his beautiful lady, his meaning, and his life was ejected from the car. Her body floated through the air.
For a moment it was beautiful, but there are no life preservers in Alfie’s make shift boat.
Her body was met with a cold thud from the ground.
Her blood spilled across the pavement. Life was leaking from all of her pores. The sickly red of her blood danced like water color across paper.
Poor Alfie. Doomed in his existence, with truly no meaning.
He played with her paint, and using her hair as a brush and the wet pavement as his infinite canvas. He cried.
His face was covered in water, from the rain and the tears. The wind whipped at his cheeks. The flooding street swept away his beauty; nature equally ravages life. It doesn’t separate beauty from waste before it decides to cleanse. The beauty and the vomit are blurred together, taken away all the same.
The driver of the truck slowly walked over, in awe.
He was an honest man, wearing cowboy boots, leather hat, leather gloves, leather jacket. Cleary from a rich part of Texas.
“I… I—I can p-pay for your car” He stuttered. “But I am really quite late for an event. Here is my i-insurance information; take it or leave it.” They never made eye contact.
And like that, he was off.
Poor Alfie. He was left alone in the streets. His beauty was taken away from him by a thief in broad daylight. Alfie was already a dead man.
That was when Alfie, became a dismal man.
He no longer saw beauty; his brain computed life in series of crap. Useless crap, hopeless crap, dumb crap. Everything was categorized under the blanket file of crap. Dog crap, horse crap, bull crap. He didn’t discriminate. Everything was equally crappy. His cigarettes were unfiltered.
Alfie saw through the lies of nature; there was no such thing as beauty or beautiful. Everything was a ruse, that humans have created to force meaning down their throats. For Alfie, he preferred to down Jack, rather than some make believe crap.
Alfie saw the world as it was; cold and heartless.
Poor Alfie. Poor Alfie, burdened with the truth. The ominous whistle continued to drone out the city life. All human inventions were inferior to nature’s whistle. When the great demise, the grand end to all things, occurs, nature will still be whistling its tune. All things are equal in death – when everything is reduced to zero, unit does not matter, meaning does not matter, nothing matters. In death, there is no matter, to matter.
Poor Alfie. His body lay on the cold, piss stained pavement. His blood created beautiful pools of velvet hues that emanated from his head. His body was mutilated. His clothes, (a modest outfit, just his favorite bleached jeans and a white wife-beater) were stained with blotches of red and yellow. His feet were pulverized upon impact, and now looked more similar to Picasso’s noses. His legs were bent at awkward angles. His blood began to freeze to the sidewalk. His old Newport slim was miraculously adjacent to him. The yellow stench still radiated off his freshly dead body and the freshly burned cigarette.
The ends of things are always painful. But pain is a part of being a world and all.
A man carefully stepped over the pile of crap that was once Alfie, guarding his crisp new leather shoes from the pools of velvet that were once Alfie’s life.