Limitations- Things between the trees and men.
|So, is it asking too much to have Mrs. Asher, (whose name reminds me of a sneeze) to confer with the other tenants including myself before allowing a perfect stranger to move into our apartment building? Do we have no rights, civil or otherwise?
Here is this ugly shabby old man, a living fossil, an ancient relic, with thick sprawling beard, a crows nest to be exact, dark gray and twig like disgusting, with one eye milky white and cloudy, protruding, bulging out of his head, an abomination to nature, showing up unannounced on our door step with a big black box or chest of some sort, which God only knows what the contents are, with the motive, the purpose of moving into the upstairs flat of our complex.
He could be a killer, a pirate or furniture upholsterer for all we know. The worst part is that he has a missing leg. It does not matter which one. The fact remains he has one leg on his body where there should be two.
In place of this missing appendage is a wooden stump that looks like something he fetched from a near by tree without taking the time to remove debris. This deception of placing something in place of a real leg is unfathomable. Who would do such a thing? I’m surprised he took the time to remove the twigs and leaves from the wooden branch. He is certainly lazy. People like him always are.
Melba Asher, our landlady, thinks I’m over reacting. She thinks I should keep my thoughts and opinions to myself. She even hinted at reporting me to the Registry. Government officials don’t like it when people have opinions. It does not matter that I am a retired mathematician in good standing with the authorities and a recognized citizen of the state. Free thinking is a high crime so I need to tread lightly in these deep waters, which are only getting deeper. We must see to it that they become deeper still. I refuse to compromise my standards to a peg leg stranger from who knows where.
I have a good mind to discuss this matter with the other five tenants. I’m sure they would agree with me wholeheartedly. Strangers only bring bad luck and disaster. The only problem is; I have never spoken to any of them in the twelve years I’ve lived here, that is outside of saying, "Isn't it a nice day?" when in fact it is not. I have to rise to the occasion of the situation, stretch my humanity, convince them of the matter at hand before it gets out of hand. Clearly it is out of a leg and foot already. Missing appendages of tenants can not and will not be tolerated.
It is my job, my duty as a citizen of the building to make the others see the light and along with me,
Convince! No! Compel Ms. Asher to do the right thing, to immediately capitulate to our needs without delay. We demand justice. We demand the eviction of the intruder in our midst. We will tell her that it is for the common good. No one can be above the house rules. We all are required to make adjustments in these dire times. People need to fit in. They need to observe and respect our norms, our customs, our ways. We can not have commoners walking around doing what they want to, especially those individuals who have no leg to walk around on. It is just not civilized.
The Registry has hundreds of thousands of agents, spies, busy bodies with body cams, out on the streets every day listening in and recording every word we say to one another. If they had it there way they would record our thoughts. Their cameras are always on and always capturing all infractions for the immediate prosecution and persecution of any perceived misstep of citizens and non-citizens alike.
The clandestine footage is fed directly into the court chambers where the Registry judges are ready at a moments notice, any hour of the day or night to execute swift justice at the drop of a hat on those who would not think like them. A simple misstated word could get you executed.
I’m ready and willing to take my chances. I intend on gathering a signed petition, a consensus, a coalition of support from my fellow apartment dwellers to have the one leg man evicted. He must be removed at all cost.
He is living right now above me on the 3rd. floor so I hear the thumping of his cane and dragging of his wooden leg as he climbs the stairs in a snail like irritating fashion every day. I listen to him as he paces constantly back and forth on the floor for hours on end directly above me driving me insane.
It is all so confusing. Is he animal or vegetable? Is he a man or a tree or some kind of freak of nature?
A tree beast perhaps. I wish he would make up his mind and become one or the other. It is the least he could do. He should grow a new normal leg and foot made of flesh and blood to fit in with the rest of us so we don’t have to talk about him behind his back. People do talk you know. They might say things like, “I wonder why that man walks around with a tree limb attachment to his lower abdomen?” “I wonder if he waters it to keep it fresh?” “Does he screw it in or tape it to himself?” “Does he sleep with it or take it off at night?” And so on.
While my plans are taking shape as I wait for my neighbors to get back to me regarding the notes I placed under their doors, I must try my best to make the best of this terrible situation. I can no longer burden Ms. Asher with my constant complaints. She might make good on her threat. The last thing I need right now is some bureaucratic slug from the Registry coming around asking me questions.
I’m taking matters into my own hands. I have had no sleep in over a week so I have plenty of time on my hands. Yes! I have two hands and two feet not like some person living above me who has no decency to know better.
For the last few nights around 2:00 am I have been sneaking quietly up the stairs to his apartment.
He locks his front door. What is wrong with this man?! What does he have to hide? Does he think we are going to remove his tree limb while he sleeps? So much for trust in humanity. He never moves. The man snores like a fog horn; all the more reason for me to think he is a retired pirate who left his work at sea and the annoying sounds that used to accompany him in his chosen profession.
For some strange reason my neighbors are not getting back to me. I can’t imagine why. I need their support. Maybe they are busy. Maybe they are afraid of the peg leg man or Ms. Ascher or both. Ms. Ascher is a hand full. She is a large and overbearing person. She is very large and very overbearing.
Too much time has passed. I’m getting frantic. For the past several nights I have been creeping up to the old coots flat and using a crowbar to jimmy my way into his apartment. I only open his bedroom door a sliver, enough to shine my small flashlight into the total darkness. The light finds the artificial leg still attached to the man. I am only interested in the wooden appendage. After all that is my all absorbing concern so I focus the light accordingly on that alone. The thing never moves. It taunts me. It mocks me. It intimidates me in its cold raw starkness, lying there limp surrounded by dark, like some dead actor on a theatrical stage who was just cut down by some medieval king, saving his kingdom from some awful dragon, waiting for applause or the curtain to fall.
Oh! If only I were younger and braver. I would run in there and yank that wooden monstrosity from the man. I would take it into the forest and burn it in a campfire along with all the other tree abominations.
In reality I’m not really obsessed about the artificial leg or crusty old man so much. It is the large limb on the tree outside my bedroom window that concerns me deeply. It was blocking my view of things in the distance. Now it’s gone missing. I don’t see things any clearer. Someone must have stolen it in the middle of the night. What kind of person would do such a thing? Is there no limit to what people will do for kicks? This world is filled with crazy people and limbless trees. Why can’t we live in peace?