by Mitchell Waldman
He’s an old man, nearing the end. Sitting in his apartment overlooking nothing, a street, traffic far below, a couple of billboards atop the building directly across the street. Rubbing his day-old stubble and sipping his cup of instant coffee (he doesn’t even have the get up and go to do the drip machine anymore). Sitting there listening to the sounds through the walls of unknown, faceless neighbors jostling about, getting ready for work or whatever, listening to the creaks of the building, of water flowing through the walls, the sounds of the old refrigerator’s thermostat kicking on. Thinking, What have I done with my life? What have I accomplished? What good have I done on this earth? Rubbing his chin and wondering, remembering his old daily tread to the office, briefcase in hand, the failed marriage, the children he never had, the cloud of doom hanging over him.
On the old box television in front of him the news reporter is talking about a plane that crashed, 47 victims, he says, as the headline flashes on the screen in big red letters: BREAKING NEWS: VIRGINIA PLANE CRASH, and the camera swings around to show pieces of wings and fuselage lying in a tobacco field, bodies lying on the ground just like they’d been planted there. But, this is television, he expects them to jump up — surprise! — say it’s all a joke, a hoax, a fiction, we’re okay, it’s TV!, this isn’t how reality works, the death of the young, the innocent, the not-yet-washed-up. But they just lie there, inanimate in their suits and pants, T-shirts and shorts, not moving, none of them moving at all.
Mitchell Waldman’s fiction, poetry, and essays have appeared in numerous publications, including The Waterhouse Review, Crack the Spine, The Houston Literary Review, The Faircloth Review, Epiphany, Wilderness House Literary Magazine, The Battered Suitcase, and many other magazines and anthologies. He is also the author of the novel A Face in the Moon and the story collection Petty Offenses and Crimes of the Heart (Wind Publications), and serves as fiction editor for Blue Lake Review. For more info, see his website at http://mitchwaldman.homestead.com.