Old Man Live Alone

Old Man Live Alone was sitting on the toilet, belching, his beard stubble itching his chin, his belt buckle scraping against the tile on the floor, which was yellow from age and bad aim. He was experiencing stomach cramps, and he wondered if he had any Pepto Bismol in the medicine cabinet, or should he just jam a steak knife into his throat.

Old Man Live Alone was an old man, who lived alone, but ironically enough that was not how he got his name. Just trust me on this one… that’s not how it happened. How he got his name, my friend, is a story for another day.

An hour later the plunger- filthy and humiliated- was returned to his home on the pantry floor beside the vacuum and the broom without bristles. The plunger was still dripping with foul, but Old Man closed the door, plunging the poor bastard into darkness.

Old Man Live Alone- wearing a promotional Marlboro polo from 1987- flopped down in his recliner and switched on the television. He liked to look at television, really look at it. His daughter had made him a cable channel guide on an index card so he’d stop calling her at 5 AM and asking, “Where’s TBS?”

She scotch-taped the guide to his end-table, where he kept his pill bottles and glasses case and then she told him how much she despised him, sharing her personal goal of never seeing him again for the rest of her life.

Old Man found the Weather Channel channel and punched it into the remote. He was halfway through the flash flood alert for the Pacific Northwest when his doorbell rang.

“Who is it there?” he called aloud.

The bell rang again.

Old Man got up and crossed the living room floor, stepping on a shard of glass and driving it into the soft flesh of his bare foot. He was too old to curse, but the tears were still happening. He made a mental note to hang himself that afternoon before opening the front door.

A young boy, about eleven years and seven months old, stood on Old Man’s faded welcome mat, a pillowcase in his hands.

“What do you want? Me to do?”

The little boy blinked twice and went into his pitch. “Would you like to buy some candy to send my class on a field trip to Washington, DC?”

“Where is it?” Old Man asked. “The candy?”

The young boy took a deep breath. “Do you have a moment to hear about the adventures of Jesus Christ and The Implausible Paradise?”

“What? What are you talking about?”

“Pennies for Unicef!”

“Listen to me, you little son of a b-”

“Would you play ball with me? And become my de facto grandfather until my real one passes away?”

Old Man grabbed his bottle of Hornet-B-Gone and sprayed the little boy in his eyes. The youngster reeled back, howling in Portugese, and tripped over the porch step, falling neck-first onto an rusty nail that was still Number One on Old Man’s To-Do List. Old Man Live Alone closed the door before the bleeding began, optimistically reasoning that the boy would most likely grow out of the situation.

Old Man felt a sharp pain in his groin. This was the warning of an imminent piddle or the birth of another fatal kidney stone. He decided he would drink that bottle of bleach above the washer/dryer, but before he got a chance he noticed the phone was ringing.

He searched for his cell phone for a good three minutes before he remembered he had lost it six months earlier. That’s when he answered his home phone by picking it up, bringing it to his ear and saying, “Hello?”

Sometimes the classics still work.

“This is Lorena from MalComm Cable… I’d like to ask you a few question about your service experience.”

“I love you,” replied Old Man.

“Excuse me, sir?” countered Lorena in her polite Latin accent, “but I just have some questions for you about your cable experience.”

“Do you? Love me too?”

“How would you rate the quality of the picture on your cable box- Excellent, Very Excellent, Magnificence In G Major, or Dazzle Fantastic?”

“’Dazzle Fantastic?’”

“Thank you, sir, just nineteen more questions for you.”

“You see, Lorena, I’m having a party on Friday night-”

“No, sir, you’re not.”

“How did you know that? And can you be here by six?”

“Sir, I can tell my supervisor that you were unable to complete the survey because you don’t speak English. Would you like me to tell him that, sir?”

“Yes, dammit,” said Old Man Live Alone, genuinely steamed, “speak English!”

Lorena did a dead-on impression of a dial tone, but Old Man hung on the line for a few minutes, just in case she decided to call back.

That was when the smoke alarm started. Old Man noticed the smoke, and remembered the Everything Bagel he had jammed into his filthy toaster oven. Was that this morning or last night?

He ran for the fire extiguisher, remembered he didn’t own one, and ran back toward the blazing appliance, stepping on a thumb tack, which pushed the shard of glass deeper into the pink meat of his footbeef.

“Raspberries,” declared Old Man Live Alone, and he vowed to overdose on sleeping pills the moment he put out the fire.

Old Man Live Alone had long since mastered the oven mitt, but he was so flustered he reached bare-handed into the toaster to retrieve both halves of his flaming bagel. They say fingers don’t burn, but Old Man would beg to differ. He dropped the hot Everything and raised his blazing digits to the heavens, his mouth spouting inspired babble, consonant-free, octaves beyond the human range.

Old Man could only think of one way to put out his barbecued sausages… he ran into the bathroom and dunked his flaming figgies into the cool porcelain waters of his toilet bowl. Like you didn’t see that coming.

It was especially unfortunate that his last bathroom visit had been so furious… the bowl was still filled with lingering marine life, defiant oysters that even the sewer had to refuse. Old Man Live Alone was elbow deep in his own liquid shame. He pulled his hands out slowly, his scorched paws black and ashed, his smoldering palms unrelentingly pungent. Old Man wondered if the Everything Bagel could be salvaged, or maybe just jump in front of a subway car.

The doorbell rang, again, and Old Man washed his hands before he answered. It was the little boy from earlier, duct tape wrapped around his punctured gullet, only this time he was pointing a Slovak semi-automatic pistol directly at Old Man.

“Okay,” Old Man surrendered, “I’ll be your Grandfath-”

The boy fired twice, putting four bullets into Old Man’s belly. Old Man fell to the ground on his welcome mat, clutching his stomach, promising himself he would slit his wrists if he survived this.

“Say hello to Jesus for me,” said the boy, giving the finger to the grote writhing in the doorway.

“Only if you’ll do something for me,” said Old Man Live Alone, dying.

“Tell Lorena I love her.”

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