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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2203357
Rated: 18+ · Short Story · Cultural · #2203357
A man collects the remains of society
Caretaker

I'm a collector. Now I know what you're thinking, but it's not like that at all, it's not hoarding. I catalog and evaluate everything I own. What's it all worth you ask - that depends on perspective, theirs or mine? There's a dramatic difference between the two.

I have a suitcase full of headless Barbie Dolls, body-parts, once highly sought after. In the corner of the attic, a trunk brims with plastic life, stubbled patriotism, a monument to the ideals of G.I. Joe and Spiderman. Under a faded drop-cloth lie hula-hoops, baseball gloves, archery sets and pong. Easy Bake Ovens, Cabbage Patch Kids and skipping ropes, all wait for the next sleepover or after school adventure.

Toy value is proportional age; worthless at death while priceless in youth. Unless you're a collector, unless you're the kind of person who can assign value to the valueless, convincing others of the hidden treasure intrinsic in old shit. I once traded in subjective value, and made a handsome living at it too; a living grounded in remembrance and nostalgia.

My library of artifacts teems with unquestioned answers, lost meaning - items borrowed and not returned, library books heavy with the kinetic value of late-fees. Empty beer bottles stacked in crates, smelling of mold and barley, occasionally clinking as drunken ghosts rifle through once again. I also collect dust.

Primordial dust waits in a state of hope, for one day it may become a strong brick, a cornerstone or perhaps the first man in Eden, once again. But for now, it rests, capitulation its only skill.

Play with my mind in the sandbox. Lay back, look through your eyelids on a sunny day. See the floating dots of heroic dust, unwilling to join the collective. Little gods; there but unseen, out of phase and ahead of mind. Admire the telepathic skill, moving before your eyes think of looking.

Near my dust collection sits my music, acquired over decades - 45s, albums, 8-tracks and brittle crumbling cassette tapes. Shelves of CDs and computers choked with downloads - licensed and owned by the Apple Corporation - illegal in their very presence, but still mine. All mine, except that they don't exist. Without a playing device, systems, pods, or speakers - my records, CDs and tapes are worthless plastic. In the end, I guess it's all plastic. Pretty coasters for my drinks - circles of silver and black wall art.
I also collect food; I keep it in drawers and cabinets in a cold room and try very hard to build my collection, but hunger often gets the better of me. For posterity, the canned prunes will outlive me.

I collect hearts, yes friends, real hearts, beating bloody, and warm. I've never stolen one; each procured legally and offered with no conditions. I took them and kept them, perhaps I shouldn't have, but they are of immense value, if only to the original owner.

In the attic sits a large wooden trunk smelling of rot and it creaks when you open the lid, all heinous and vile - filled to the brim with sin; some mine, some not. On days when the rains come, and the streets fill with the rabid and hungry, I retire to the attic to rummage through the sin, if only for trivia, it has little value since it's still found everywhere. Far from rare, my collection hardly rates a monopoly, but it's history, and I love every page of it. It helps me focus on the one true path - my tangible juxtaposition.

From the attic, I can hear them in my yard. The voices are unintelligible through the air breathers, but I know they're calling to me. They want my collection, want it for their very own, but I know they'll defile it, destroy it, delete it from the only memory bank that matters. For now, it's mine, my museum, my gallery - the price of admission, of remembrance, a beautiful heart.

They surround the house but won't come inside; those who tried before, left their hearts behind.

Locking rubber-gloved hands in a daisy chain they chant:

Cool the earth, erase the past, jail the sun

Kill the lizard, open the door, join the fun

Toast the hearts, sip the blood, you cannot run


I pretend I don't hear them. I play the music in my head and reminisce, dancing at my high-school prom, so drunk, so free. It's possible I danced with a few who now stand in my very yard and, no doubt kissed one or two.
Oh, I could go outside, to the backyard, back in time, but for what? I have enough hearts in my collection, what's a few more at my age? I'm fulfilled and not greedy.

I'm happy and safe for the night, and once the sun comes up, I'll be free to wander again without fear. I don't need a mask to live and breathe, I know what I am, happy to show my face to the world - such as it is.

Tonight I'll sit in the attic and pour through my books, exquisite examples of depravity and indiscretion. Nostalgic writings of the way it was, and the way it should have been, words the Masked-ones still follow, words of guidance, holy exclusion, hatred, and bias. Stories of paradise, the path to immortality and salvation; for those who practice the length and breadth of agape hatred; of segregation and self-destruction.

The meek shall inherit the earth, says one of my books, and indeed they have. This paradise, left to the faithful, the god-fearing, the holy, will surely last a thousand years, for there is no evil now, no sin, and no temptation among the remainder. All are free to follow in unison; all can inherit the planet they richly deserve. Once they have completed their task, once the genocide of memory is complete.

I am the keeper of the way we were. I am the last master of memory.

I'll protect the collection and care for the truth until the final breath leaves me, and the torch of righteousness is set upon my house and all the hearts herein.

Until then, I collect, I evaluate, and I protect the memories with strength, vigilance, and unconditional love.
A caretaker's love, as wide as the mountains, as long as the sea, forever and ever, under an acid yellow sky.






© Copyright 2019 James F Martin (mjfeatherston at Writing.Com). All rights reserved.
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Printed from https://www.Writing.Com/view/2203357