Simpleton – Anthony Statham

 It was an accident, is how it began. And how it ended. One of those chance occurrences that kick off with no real indication of resulting in positive or negative light. One might think, however, an invitation to an exclusive dinner party warrants a glint of marvel at wonderful possibilities.

The blasé – could be alright – might be nothing much – attitude of the man in question, a Mr. Simpleton – with any back-checking or looking into at all, plainly would shine light on his casualness in the face of newfound revelations.
He is a boring man, Mr. Simpleton, an uninspired bore, a man with little of interest to say and an individual carried through life mostly by a conscious desire to remain alive in the face of coming death.

He cares of nothing in existence save for continuing to be in it, an insignificant cog, and the result is a meticulously irrelevant being, more often than not interfering in the joyous merriment and debaucheries of those with whom he comes in contact.

He is dull, and even in his fascinations and proclivities toward outward events, expresses little more than out-the-side-of-his-mouth mumblings, hands in pockets.

He is mortified at the prospect of death.

He moves about as if made of cloud matter, drizzling tiresomely on those around him, the gloomy aura of his life force. A human storm cloud graying the subway route to work, the organic produce section of the local grocer, the doctor’s office he frequents more than necessary and the pharmacy where he spends most of his modest salary.

Those who are stuck in his presence for longer than desired lengths of time find their eyes growing heavy and catch themselves yawning at an ever increasing rate until they wake up the next morning having overslept, and finding that Simpleton is so unassuming, it is not in their hearts to curse his name for having caused them the delay in beginning the new day.

Every other Saturday he stands outside a locally infamous abortion clinic, picket sign high in the air, silently one notices (unlike the others there with him), stalking the curbside in defiance of anything and anyone voicing opinion or taking action against the only thing he champions above all else – this life on earth. The crowd is merciless and he is more often than not called names unrepeatable and hit with all kinds of debris-turned-weapon. Trekking home afterward he gives not an inkling of thought to the animosities imparted upon him, doesn’t notice the savage spit from enraged anti-protesters glued all about him.

As boring as he is, it isn’t necessarily stupidity he possesses, for he is aware, though not inclined to make changes in acknowledgment of his disastrous reputation with human females. So, in rebuttal, he scribes any number of emails, has racked up quite the phone bill sitting on hold, and turns in application after application, in the name of adopting his own child.

A youngling who in time might see eye to eye with him in regards to importance of maintaining a healthy diet of natural food products and regular visits to the local physician.

A confidant, who might enjoy a mild tea and game of Solitaire, played next to him as he plays his own game of Solitaire, occasionally commenting on the weather.

A child who before entering high school would surely have memorized to heart all pertinent information wherein by he can make safe and educated decisions as to which insurer to entrust his life and good name.

Someone who knows which airlines are reliable and which have the highest rate of fatalities among passengers both in flight and the following year after having unloaded; a friend and son in which to shame death and hide from it.

And as it were it was only moments after dropping yet another application into the post box on the corner of Quimby and 23rd avenue, this in concentration shown toward a child in Somalia with an extended stomach and large eyes, alien like, a gentle and bewildered smile on its face in the one and only photo he’d seen, an honesty Simpleton admired, knowing, or assuming anyway the life the boy had led thus far was nothing to brag about. And so he transplanted optimistic imagery into the child’s future where he himself was caretaker and father figure and best friend, the only suitable applicant surely, who could take on the responsibility and give a deep and meaningful life to the small bug eyed thing.

It was then he encountered a woman who mistook him for someone else entirely. Shopping bags jangled at her knees and beside her was a child of about four years. In a great seeming rush, as some people are, busy that is, with all sorts of things they deem important, all in the name of spending money and acquiring goods – this woman took Simpleton by the forearm in the delicate grip of a woman who comes in contact with all wakes of life, though clearly, it is clear, she prides herself in this action thoroughly and only in the entitling action it provides her very base soul, as she is never in a situation in which she is not Queen Supreme and those who she touches feel the lavish and weighty importance of her essence.

She mentioned a dinner party and said he must, no excuse to be made, come.

She said the name of a person he’d never heard of, emphasizing said person’s interest in conversation with Simpleton.

She would hear nothing of excuses, it was unheard of, she implied, to say no or have something else going, as this dinner would be grander and more important than anything he could mention or concoct.

She referred to him by a name that rang no bells in his mind.

She could detect, she said, in any mortal even the first particles of a lie collecting in the synapses of the mind and thus was in hopes of saving them both the embarrassment of him trying to refuse the invitation.

He remained silent, expecting her to go on his eyes shifting curiously to the child at her side.

She said only that she would see him at the appointed time and turned on the heels of expensive boots and walked directly into traffic, her chin upturned and noble, her eyes blind to the ambitious carriage of her being aloft and beheld as superior, and was squashed in a magnificent display of carnal rapture by a passing bus.

Simpleton viewed it so clearly, and still within him as always, allayed by strangled fears of death and its wildly unpredictable patterns, watched on and could only think of a tomato being thrown at a wall by a strong-armed person, exploding ripe and fresh, red everywhere, viscera abound. Beautiful garments, sweaters, scarves and delicate negligees erupted from the bags as they scattered into the air.

The sight was so foreign it happened as if unreal, only an idea.

The child was beside him now, and looked to him with swelling eyes, a crimson painting with a pair of women’s underwear on his head. Simpleton removed a fresh handkerchief from his coat pocket and wiped the death mask from the young boy’s round face. Having forgotten the exploded woman and the screeching, smoking tires of the bus pluming around him, the screaming pedestrians – he felt at this moment, exhilarated – a strange notion that today was his lucky day.

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