Cut and . . . Waste
The old man stood at the entry kiosk. The night was coming. There was small breeze rifling through the strands of hair left on the top of his head.
He looked at the small Cheque in his hand in a cool, detached way. It wasn’t so much the Cheque that he was looking at it, but his hand all of a sudden. Having five fingers that moved and coordinated together to pick up things was quite the amazing spectacle to him right now. Just by thinking about it, he could wave his fingers at himself.
It was amazing how you noticed the most mundane things.
He had put his fingers on the bar of the turnstile and he was about to push. But he didn’t. He held back cautiously. Was this the right thing to be doing?
If I go in here, my life will change forever, he thought.
There wasn’t going to be any life anyways.
He was a good healthy eighty-six years old. No Alzheimer’s. No problems, except for the odd period of forgetfulness. They did not let him drive anymore anyways, and he didn’t have that much to forget.
He had taken his share of Gingko Bilova and he was pretty sure that it had done his brain tissues real good over the years. He hadn’t become like how he had feared when he was younger: a dribbling old man who didn’t know who or where he was.
He hadn’t use aluminum anti-perspirants because he seriously believed that the aluminum in those things went into people’s heads and shot holes in their brains. How could you remember a darn thing when your brain had more holes than Swiss cheese? It was either that or the damn prions. He thought that the prions were probably genetically engineered by the government.
To cut out waste.
The old people were waste, now. Forget protecting the herd now. That was a past deal; a past society--a past world.
He placed his hand on the cold metal of the turnstile, as if hoping that by connecting with it, it would communicate through to him on some invisible mental wavelength what decision he had to take. So far, it wasn’t talking; and it was cold.
The sky overhead was turning from a redder colour to a dark violent. He didn’t want to be out here by himself when the evening fully blanketed the world. It was safe, of course, as the police patrolled with their dogs. He waved to one. Homey didn’t wave back.
The beautiful round-shape globe pulsed with a warm inviting glow. There was something sexual about that glow. If he pushed the turnstile, he would go in there. He would be drawn in there.
The dome had been designed to pull you in. That is what happened to anyone who went there. The Chinese had developed it and it worked like a charm. They had . . . overpopulation problems.
He had to have his hip replaced at sixty-seven and they have given him a brand spanking new Teflon hip. Totally non-allergic; polished and “sanded down” (he didn’t know what was the equivalent to sanding down a ball of metal, but maybe they had to do something along those lines; he had never been a handy man other than to swing a hammer to put up a picture or a clock and usually the job ended up being a complete disaster like the time he had tried to hang up a mirror and he had totally chipped the back wall near the dinner table) to be totally non-intrusive.
They had all these new-fangled ways to do things faster these days even though nothing lasted for more than six months. Maybe the company just poured some gob of molten steel into a mold.
Now, he had a better hip.
He had a serious choice to make now.
He was never good at making choices. He could almost hear his dead poor wife, dead these eleven years, speaking . . .
“Malcolm, you just can’t make choices. You don’t have it in you.” She used to laugh when she said it. Then, she would squeeze his hand. He had squeezed her hand on their last day together in the hospital.
“Bye beautiful,” he had murmured through tears.
After that, the nurse had covered her over. There was no funeral, friends; no money; the hospital cremated her and used the smoke under pressure to keep the hospital lights on.
She had wanted a good decisive man; he wasn’t. Sometimes, when she went on and on about it, it would irritate him, but after a while, in your marriage, you just laughed it off. Or bit down on your lip—hard.