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Rated: 18+ · Book · Religious · #2064958
The making of a Late-Modern Testament.
#866723 added December 26, 2018 at 9:54pm
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Chapter 32: The Softwell Man
Chapter 32: The Softwell Man

How could it come to this
that even crunching slippers
on graveled path seemed loud
and full of fury
of that last and awful meeting
on floor fifty-two?

He needed the escape
through the welcome unshut portal
to his shed of kinder things
the reassuring smells
of garden scents
paint and solvents
the orderly and predictable rows
of tools to make and mend
in the quiet limpid light
of innocent afternoons
that filtered through the panes
of fly flecked cobwebbed windows
peeling paint
as mute remains of better days.

And yet in the shadows
of this tin room
was something so oppressive
in its silence,
so accusing
in its demeanor,
that he fidgeted
and couldn’t concentrate
except upon a looming dread
a dark and chilling draft
whose icy malice churned his heart.
He could feel the blood swell
and pulse around his temples
bringing on a migraine. 
He tried to massage them
then his nose’s bridge
to relieve the eye strain. 

But with eyes closed
there was no darkness
only harsh fluorescent lighting
in the heavy tabled board room
on the floor below his office
where there’s now a  meeting
and water there for drinking
to slake the desert dryness
of his mouth now dehydrating
salty silence in the making
and cracking lips a-grinding
on a face that is composing
for a blow.

In the room
a bespectacled
twitching mustachio faced
double breasted
brown buttoned pin striped suit
with casual kerchief
breast pocket draped
and gleaming white
as virtue
Stood ‘cross a crowded table
tolling out his anger
with pointed waving gestures
Like frantic swinging church bells
ringing loudly for a reckoning
on a scheduled day that’s set
for execution.

He sat down heavily upon the bar stool
next to the bench vice
slumping over it. 
It still held a rusted nut and bolt
he’d left unprized
some days before that awful scene.
He rested down his forehead on it
pressed till chafing red. 
And that too began to hurt
but ‘twas hard enough
to straighten up his head,
let alone the mess he’d made
without some help
or proper tools. 
What a fool he’d been!

“I am the man whose thoughts have built
the lives of others. 
I put solid ground beneath
the insecure
threw lifebuoys to the drowning
raised up moral boundaries
to gird the name of virtue
Reclaimed and fortified their hopes
against despair
rebuilt their social commons
under fire
made passionate commitment
found bearings
when they seemed lost,
gave the fearful
their courage back,
forgave those who strayed...”

He shifted round his body weight,
for the effort of staying in place,
was just too great.
“I gave all and now ‘tis I
who am so lost”. 
He sighed deeply
air bubbling
drowning in undisclosed
and exponential corporate costs
beyond all hope of rescue
or amendment.

Just out of vision
something moved
as if a restless memory
a foot
peeping through a dressing gown
then scuttling back
or perhaps a mouse
about its daily business,
running round
or fleeing attack.

“If only I were but a mouse,
at least I would have that business. 
but the cat has got me
in a corner
breath forgotten
or was it just I didn’t dare?” 
His chest felt leaden. 
Could he now find strength
to take his air
with the assumed
casual indifference of the doomed? 
Could he distract the cat and bolt? 
Was he forced to meekly meet
his fate? 
“Just breathe! 
No need for parliamentary debate!”

The pin striped cat
and stared
its victim caught
double breasted
with brown buttons and kerchief white
slashed across its chest
now taught.

His eyes opened. 
He breathed. 
It was vintage air
tang of mountain spring,
crisp on the palette,
with aftertaste of pollens
and manure stench. 
And yet there was something
something that oughtn’t
be there
like bad olives in a cocktail. 
He couldn’t work it out
and would have to ask the barman
“Is this at all returnable?” 
But he was unavailable
and looked pale
in the mirror on the bench.

“I can’t stay here. 
I feel claustrophobic. 
The shed's not working
and I’m over it
and it’s over for me
isn’t it? 
So a man just has to find
another way”. 
He mustered all his energy
to stand up strong
and levelly
but his feet crash landed
as if waking
from a dreamer’s nightmare fall. 
The jolt of it unsteadied him
and he grabbed the nearest anything
that’d hold his oddly desultory frame.

The thing was sharp
and tore 'tween thumb and fingers
to the bone. 
Shock suddenly unbent him
swallowing his cries
and groans. 
He felt his feline nemesis
with such a raging
that it blinded
as his eyes dissolved in cataracting tears. 
And then there was the pain
with all its raw despair
for the staring cat was on him
jagging with one claw
smiling still
purring with satisfaction
at his fear.

He staggered,
grabbed the door with his good hand
and swung between its portals
like a drunk
who’s had his last martini. 
The barman watched impassively. 
The feet followed with the dressing gown
that covered up
the unanswerable questions
or was it questionable answers? 
Couldn't even recall suggestions
that might have saved him
from ignominiously going down.

But perhaps he could
for his hand was wet
with muddy volcanic stains
running down his fingers
and dripping luxuriantly
like gutters in torrential rain.
He stared at it
and wondered at this unseasonable storm. 
And then he realized
it was his fair weather friends
who had brought him down
to this
who seemed so loyal at the time
but disappeared
to terribly important appointments
when cat stormed in
swishing his tail like a dislocated
jerking fan
and snarling 
at any man who met his stare
or woman indiscreet enough
to dare
ask after him.

“Oh yes,
the pin striped cat
with the brown buttons
And white kerchief
on breast pocket
was a hunter
for all that was game for his ambition
which he would bring back
as labor stores
for Softwell’s Great Account.
That was the question,
but what was it? 
What were its beginnings and ends;
its chances to make amends?”

He watched a waterfall
running through his fingers
cascading down the folds
of his dressing gown
reddening in the setting sun
and saw the plains and river of his life
sweeping down the garden path
and its surrounds
until he heard a woman’s voice
and saw a familiar scene
which built itself around
where the BBQ
and setting once had been.

At the head of a small Sofgroup
sitting round the table,
a woman raised her hand
for silence
and attention of her guests.
“Dear friends and Fellow Softies,
before we eat,
let us think upon our fate
as it is weighed
'tween the frailty and strength
of life
within us and without.”

She picked up a glass and dripped
part of its waters
into the ceremonial dish
set out before her.
“These are the tears shed
for the suffering and death
we must endure.”

She put this glass down,
picked up another
of wine
and slowly decanted part of it
into the dish.
“This is the blood of the life force
that is sacrificed for us
so we might live.”

She poured more water
into the pool of diluted wine. 
“These are the purifying and renewing waters
that wash away our wounds
and loss.”

She broke some bread in to this mixture.
“The earth absorbs it all
for good or  ill”.
She got up
and took the dish around the table
giving soaking bread
to all her guests
and saying
“thus the earth turns suffering
by alchemy to living feasts.”

When she had finished
she added yet more bread.
out of an oil decanter
poured thereon a black admixture
of vinegar and bitter herbs.
then took the plate
around the table
yet again
“Whatever evil we put on
or into
or above the earth
returns to us as bitter harvest.
Let its acridness remain
upon your palate
as long as it shall last
for in the struggle with our
lesser part
we must endure its ill effects
its force is fully spent
within the heart.”

She sat down again
and with the guests
reflected on the drama
just performed.

At last
one of them looked up and said
“It is over and I am free.”
Each guest
rephrased the words
in whatever way it pleased them
until all had spoken.
Refreshed in spirit
they then began to eat.

He watched them feed,
but kept losing them
as if falling in and out of light
like figures drenched in blinding sun. 
What was his ex-wife’s business here?
“What are you doing in my garden?
But she didn’t even look at him,
so focused was she on her creed
and besides,
the meal was done.

Ignoring him
as he crumbled to his knees,
she went around the table
once again
giving each a piece of fruit
and said
in the slowness of a time

"Go therefore in the peace
that is the fruit
of your love’s labor.
Eat freely of it.
The more that you partake
of love's repast
the more it grows
to ripen sweet
upon the palette's arch.
It can never cost too much.
its value soars
beyond its price
in currency most dear
then stored within the heart
to succor all
its inner glow and cheer
to warm all those that come
just to be near
that they might pass it on
like ripples
'cross a still
and golden pond.

It will enrich us all
while you shall live
and be the better part
that you bequeath
of your estate
as precious footprint
and guiding star.
for those who struggle on
and walk beneath.

Bless you.
May the warmth
and solidarity
we give to one another
steel our hearts
conduct our lives
and hold us in good keeping
and down the generations."

Each person ate of the fruit of goodness
face blurring into fathomless meditation.

They got up to leave
embracing each to each
squeezing out the breath
until they bleached and blanched
as cat bit down into his neck
and something snapped
collapsed into the final dance
of death.

The sullen summer’s day began to dart
like prey
shadowed by a predator. 
It twitched
with each successive cloud
that dulled its eye. 
Tree tops moved
but the breeze balked
at the still overwhelming question. 
Once loyal servants
the now tardy armies of life
marched insolently to a beat
that would not play for him
the man now guttering
choked within
on the grass behind his house
in summer's heat.

"I got a good job
that paid me a bob
but I left
left right left.
Sound off!
Sound off!
One two…
two left feet Private! 
Get into step you dozy digger
or daddy will not buy you
a bow wow
bow wow."

So he danced like ‘Binka’
the wind up prancing horse
although his reins broke
the studs came out
and fur went bald.
But it was Father Christmas
that really made him cry
squirming till he fell
between the cracks
screaming obscenities
that seemed too old
for one so young
even at his twenty-first
when his girl friend came for him
in the backseat of their marriage
which brought up two kids
a mortgage
and a venomous tongue.

He raised them like flags
that were so heavy
they only got to half mast. 
The winds blew them away before
they could climb the rest.

His aloneness grew beyond his girth
and age o'ertook in the homeward straight
past the cheering crowds that came
to see Collingwood play
on their grand estate
though the team couldn’t make it
and he was just breathless
in his dash to the finish
in the race for the answers
lying dead in the bleachers
in the arms of their trainers.

He never passed the exam he forgot
the timetable lost
couldn’t find the right building
though the sign made it clear
that he'd have to go north
and face up to his fear.

His search grew old
lost its wary gait
slowed his mental state
And ability to concentrate
Enough to duck
or run for cover
before his feet got cold
when the shooting really started.

"Left, left, left right left…."

Amongst the discomfort and pain
of organ failure
events became disconnected
as cause and effect 
slipped past each other
in childish games of hide and seek. 
Yet there were moments of extreme
almost unbearable lucidity
that drowned him in last minute information
as he slid beneath the white tide
drifting between its narrowing walls
towards the unanswerable.

“Don’t worry,” said the captain. 
“It is only a data storm
but under no circumstances
must you ever look
no matter what the wind shall say.”

He shut his eyes,
but he heard the wind calling out
his name and saying
“Sorbent is the whitest and softest of them all. 
All those who believe in it
will be saved on our website. 
You can blow a gale into it
with confidence
and wipe away
all the tears you’ve ever shed. 
No mess you have ever made
is too demanding
for its ever ample absorbency.
No place  too sensitive
for its silky touch. 
It will flutter down like gossamer strips
and caress your face to such baby smoothness
that only Sorbent can. 
Take the filament
that’s just above your right hand

He opened up his eyes
only briefly
to make the catch
and saw every experience he’d ever felt
down on him like snow. 
But as he saw them
the wind drove them 
up his nose
and it was the whitest and brightest thing
he’d ever had
ever could have
as it blinded him
into the everlasting void.

In the last blast of energy
released in shutdown
the pattern of all things
was illuminated
in ways only possible
when irretrievably released
from the burden
of the now disintegrating ego
its history
and the limitations of its
that is
consciousness without walls
or assumptions
or language
the last vision
before the neurological hardware
taking the software with it.

And then the man was gone,
leaving only the ever flattening ripples
left by his life
his progressively diluting descendant genes
and the vanishing living memories of him
in the minds
of those who’d shared
in all its rollercoaster
rattle and strife.

The recorded memory of him
residing in media outlets
might keep his ghost
for somewhat longer,
until finally
it too is thrown away
becomes anonymous
subject to accident
fades or disappears
into shimmering lakes
of sun baked tears.

But most of all
whatever has been left of him
to the still living,
to forget
revile and overwrite
in the ever shifting process
of recontextualization
from life to life
and life’s remeasure.

As soon as it was still
the corpse upon the grass 
began to seethe
with all the possibilities
All the juices left in it
would soon be drained and dried
for a very prominent entombment.
presided over by
a grave and black armbanded
double breasted
pin striped cat
with brown buttons
white kerchief breast pocket draped
and whiskers slicked
in sweet scented Makassar oiled


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Softwell grows rich by enriching others more than it enriches itself. Softwell is run by and for Softies™ whose highest aim is to make the Softwell Plan™ work for you.

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