The Young Recluse
A Series of Microstories

Chapter One: Irving gets a shoe.

It was early and very cold as the pile of old sheets and covers rolled onto the floor. With a determined effort, Elwin rolled himself onto the floor. He opened his eyes and tried to stand up. In only four tries he succeeded and walked into the little green room to urinate. Then he went back to bed.

Nearly four hours later, he decided it was time to eat breakfast. Breakfast consisted of toast, coffee, onion flavored grits, and a fresh laquer covering that nearly disolves glass.

Chapter Two: Three unsuspecting pedestrians are queried about the time.

It was very early that morning as Heywood began walking toward home after a long night of wandering around, trying not to think. As he was almost home, Heywood remembered that he had left his keys in the car on the lawn in front of the Sir Helmut Pithy memorial.

Heywood was crawling in his window and felt the familiar metalic jingle of keys falling to the floor as he dropped a dollar and thirty eight cents in quarters nickles and pennies into the crack between his bed and the far wall. Sensing his mistake, Heywood closed the window behind him and declared he would find his car someday as he fell deeply into a pit of relentless sleep.

Chapter Three The Slightly Older Recluse

As the time of twilight ebbed past him, Peter Hensew, the slightly older than Irwin Recluse, looked out of his window into the gray halflight that shrouded the forest around his car. It had been 234 days since Peter had actually touched his car. Rather, he had allowed several of his contemporaries to touch it and in some cases, even drive it. One of his contemporaries, whom he called Exeter Nine Seven (E97 for short), had gone so far as to fill the tank with gasoline.

Now, as the 234th day began or ceased to ebb past him, he began thinking about the inferior quality of his life. He even stopped to fancy the idea of striking himself with the iron skillet given to him by an admirer. But he had already been here before - traveled this path - seen the error in these ways. What little remnants of self abusive behavior he had expelled from his system like an old piece of gum that had lost its taste and flavour. That is to say what few redeeming qualities he knew he didn’t have had been replaced by some qualities that made him less inclined to rake the skin off his feet with a wire brush.

Chapter Four: the afternoon

Young Heywood waddled down the sidewalk toward the mailbox where he would often visit. It had been a long walk toward the small rather ordinary mailbox. The mailbox was undented and had a smooth vulcanized finish that Heywood made note of every time he ventured outside long enough to retrieve the mail after having waited until the mailman was out of view. Heywood took pleasure in these outings and would often whistle to himself as he walked back inside.

Chapter Five: The Young Recluse At Night

Albert was listening to the sound of the refrigerator and thumping a rythmic pattern obsessively with his left hand when suddenly, the room lit up as a car drove by. Not wondering who it was exactly, Albert looked over at the pattern on the far wall that the street light made through the window blinds.

Then he looked up at the window again. He held up his hands and squinted as he watched the same fingers he had watched yesterday and the day before that whirl and fly as he tilted them like airplane wings look on television.

Chapter Six: Revenge of the Recluse

Early that evening just before three while Alfred was trying very hard not to think, there were sounds that kept emanating from almost every room in the house and they simply made it impossible not to think. As soon as one thought was shoved from his mind, Alfred would be assaulted by a sound that reminded him that he was still thinking. And being not in the same mood as one who thinks out loud, Alfred began making inward sounds and gestures. All of this was very sick, but he could not help but think about it and this in turn reminded him that he was thinking again.

Chapter Seven: The Young Recluse Alone

Albert was listening to the refrigerator when somebody opened the door to it. Who could that be? Anyone would have to be really hungry to break into Albert’s house just to use his refrigerator. What would they do when they discovered the old old mayonaise? And what about the shriveled lettuce? How could Albert explain this to the police? He would have to say "somebody broke into my house and made a sandwich out of old old mayonaise and shriveled lettuce only there was no bread."

Chapter Eight: Delusions of historical dreams.

There was at one time a great nation of warriors. 3 of whom had no memories of directions. They could not remember which street went where or even where each street was. Somehow they all managed to arrive at a place that was only 3 blocks from where Helmut was. Realizing the importance of this. Helmut telephoned the authorities who immediately told him he was wrong. Then, Helmut realized that there were indeed indians in vermont who used the expression javo which to them means coffee with milk and no sugar.

Chapter Nine: Escape of the Young Recluse

Elwin suddenly realized that the bed was on fire and he had indeed fallen asleep while smoking on thorazine. Leaping frantically onto the floor which by now was also in flames, Elwin danced from foot to foot in a quandry as to which door to take. "Door number one" shouted the radical left wing crowd while in total kaos the extremist right wing audience all but got up and rioted during a massive row at the anual meeting held in august last year.

Chapter Ten: Toothpaste is Everywhere

Alvin ventured out that night into the cool and chilling air of gloom that pasted the streets. For hours and minutes he looked high and low for someone to call friend, someone to converse and laugh with, someone to at least nod and say hello to. He went past the Waffle House and did not stop. He went here and there where once he and others gathered and amused themselves. And finally he found someone. He said hello and someone nodded and said hello and for an awkward moment he almost thought of something to say and then someone left. Alvin went back home and rolled onto the couch and vowed never to watch MASH reruns in the afternoon.

Chapter Ten: The Meeting

Clarence emerged from the meeting unsure of himself. The rest of the committee had been quite firm in their pursual of justice. Clarence tapped the rhythm to some obscure melody that had been haunting him since before lunch. Had he been so wrong in supporting the team of specialists that had made the first successful attempt at implant surgery with dental floss? How was he to know the brain would be rejected? And if he did, how was he to be held to blame? It was purely his word against theirs and nobody was around to argue anymore except the rest of the bloody committee and they were so sloshed as to be unrecognizable amongst a subway train loaded with street refuse and grafitti artists.

Chapter Eleven: Unlike the Others

I woke up one day and found chaos. The word "like" had been stricken from our language. Paper was flying in the hallway when I arrived at the office. Only then did I realize what had happened.

They had landed and they were everywhere. A girl in the cafeteria was stricken down as she tried to carry on light mealtime conversation without using the word "like."

They simply did not like that word. In fact, they did not like anything. They were like nothing we had ever seen before. They were weird. I was like far out!

Chapter Twelve: The Young Recluse in the Year 2017

There would be a time and a place for everything and everyone would know what to do without saying it and things would be returned to their proper place and without notice, everyone would be asked questions regarding their intentions and plans and the answers would come easily, immediately as if rehearsed and with a slight monotone quality as if these people had been brainwashed to believe all this, to believe that things were in the proper place at the proper time.

Chapter Thirteen: We are screaming at Fred.

Only two doughnuts remained. "They must keep remaining" thought Fred as he hurried across the room to where the kleenex was. They would have to keep remaining there where they were until later when he would devour them slowly savoring each little piece of doughnut while he chewed and chewed it and swished it around in his mouth. Then he would wash it all down with Mello Yello or Mountain Dew and think about the rest of those cleverly unmentioned things that were in the little box inside the shoe bag hanging behind the side door entrance to Fred’s 3 level 1 bedroom deluxe luxury suite of tiny but industrious, actually thoroughly ingenious housing and storage shelters. Somehow "oh mercy" thought Fred as he waivered anonymously across the room. Fred soon recovered the lost cleverly unmentioned articles from his soiled and wrinkled trousers held most of the time under the wires and things or somewhere outside.

Chapter Fourteen: The Young Recluse Wakes Up

All the lights in the room were on as young Shepard woke up. "All I want to do is go to the bathroom" he said into the little speaker and a nurse came in with a urinal. She untied his right hand so he could use the small half-gallon- milk-jug device. "What a place to find yourself in on a saturday morning" he heard one of them say. "Yeah, what a saturday morning to wake up to" Shepard thought. He pressed the little head picture and an up arrow and while his head rose higher he thought "you haven’t lived until you have escaped from hospital bondage." He squirmed and muttered curses at the pain in his hip from the last injection. "If only I hadn’t been foolish enough to leave the room after untying myself." He smiled a drug induced smile and went back to sleep.

Chapter Fifteen: The Young Recluse Eats For Free

On the outset, it appeared as though the coughing fit would last forever. A contagious panic swept accross the dining room as people realized that they too had phlegm and could not get it out. It was like dominoe theory on a grand scale. Waiters, bus boys, cashiers, an old man who walked in to buy cigarettes - all of them harking and hacking to clear lungs that only moments earlier were okay.

Alvin had cleared his throat already and was looking sheepishly over the plants surrounding his secluded booth not too far from the fat lady, the first victim of the epidemic.

At first, he had imagined that a hair was stuck on the back of his throat. Then while trying desparately to touch it with his finger, he gagged for a bit and inhaled something; choking mildly at first then heaving for air between violent expulsions of only so much pain. Naturally other people began to go "ahem ahem" Then, one after another they progressed into a dramatic display of insipid crowd behavior. Alvin tried to keep his eyes open but the drone of hundreds of people coughing was quickly putting him to sleep. He got up quickly to pay his check, not noticing that the fat woman had fallen into the floor blocking his path.

Copyright ©1985, Robby Garner. All rights reserved.