The Short Life of Zachariah Flint

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Other  |  House: Booksie Classic

Daily life of a man.

On most days, the first thing on the mind of Zachariah Flint is the sound of buzzing that rang beneath his ears, beneath and under and through his ears until it hits his spine and slowly crawls across his entire body like some plague spreading across continents. Zachariah has felt the buzzing since he was a child, since before he had the power to remember and dictate the history of his mind. But even now, as Zachariah wakes each morning to the moon still hanging in the sky, filling his shabby apartment with pale silver light, the first thing he always hears is the buzzing. Even if the moon were not grand and eternal and unforgotten, even if it were no more than some child’s blinking nightlight, it would not take any stretch of ability to fill Zachariah’s apartment with light. Someone had once remarked that the apartment made it look as if Zachariah lived a monastic lifestyle, but in reality it was solely because Zachariah could not be bothered to fill the small room with more than a bed and a dresser. Nothing on the walls, nothing on the floor; Zachariah’s apartment was a testament to thoughtlessness.

On most days, the next thing on the mind of Zachariah Flint was the taste of steel. The taste that was so pernicious and oppressive that he felt it as a lump deep in his throat. One that could not be pushed down by any amount of saliva, smoke, or liquor. Zachariah Flint tasted steel in every meal he ate, in every fresh breath of air in every state or country in the world. Sometimes, the taste of steel was so strong that it made Zachariah sick, unable to eat or drink anything for fear of that cold metal taste returning to the back of his throat. The steel would fester and rust in the back of Zachariah’s throat, but it would never dissolve, never dissipate. On most days, Zachariah felt as if that steel was made of sterner stuff than he was. On most days, that steel was the only bit of resolve that Zachariah still carried within him.

On most days, Zachariah would wake up, not with the haze of sleep but the haze of sleeplessness. A haze that seemed to follow Zachariah each day and during the night where he would lie alone in the dark, staring blankly into the blackness that lit up his room until it eventually lulled him to sleep with whispers of promise. This haze, this living miasma, it was often the most present and living part of Zachariah’s life, the rest just some learned autopilot of what he knew he should be doing. When this haze spoke, it would whisper to him sweet songs of the brightest ideals: of valor, of love, of sacrifice. They were songs older than man and far more enduring, the immortal songs that will always be sung but rarely be heard. When this haze spoke, it would only whisper to him at the deepest points of night, when all around him was dead and stagnant. Zachariah Flint hated this voice; he hated the elegance of its singsong whisper, he hated how the voice only reached out to him when he was alone in deepest parts of his mind, never to be heard when anybody else could verify its existence.

On most days, Zachariah Flint would turn on his shower as he readied for work, turning it up so high that the water would scald his skin, filling his bathroom with steam so thick it would replace the oxygen in the room with the impenetrable breath of some unseen demon. Zachariah would let the water run over him and through him in an attempt to wash off the sweat and the dirt that lay under his skin, and on most days he felt more filthy and polluted after his daily shower than he had felt before it. On most days, Zachariah Flint would wipe the condensation from his mirror and stare at his naked body, transfixed by his own image. His short legs, greasy, matted black hair, and his pudgy, pear-shaped body; well, they are all a testament to the death of natural selection. He felt himself to be some aberration of evolution, some creature that would not have survived infancy and adolescence if we had not replaced the savagery of the old world with the savagery of the new.  And he wasn’t wrong, Zachariah Flint was the epitome of ineffectuality.

On most days, Zachariah Flint would exit his bathroom and begin to dress. Slowly, mechanically, he would tighten his belt, fit each button in place and begin on his necktie. He would go through the motions of tying it with no real thought as to what he was doing. And each morning as he began to pull it tighter into place, he could feel it choking him like some noose he could never remove. As its hands wrapped themselves tighter and tighter around his neck, Zachariah Flint would picture himself hanging from the ceiling fan, his limp body rotating slowly as the necktie fastened its grip tighter and tighter until his final breath squirmed its way out of his throat. In these silent movies that played in his head, Zachariah Flint never made even the slightest attempt to fight the necktie, it had always won and it always would.

On most days, Zachariah Flint would exit his apartment and make his walk to the bus. He would wait patiently for it to come, and when it did he would step inside, giving a silent nod to the driver as he paid his fare. On most days, Zachariah Flint would sit quietly on his way to work, trying not to make eye contact with the homeless man masturbating in his sleep with a sense of vigor that Zachariah had not felt in years. Often, Zachariah Flint would dream of joining this man, taking off all of his clothes and masturbating into the faces of all the beautiful women he would never know. Joining this man in his primal quest for pure, unadulterated joy. Zachariah often dreamed of following this man, that after this man had satisfied himself Zachariah would follow him to some three story home in Jersey where his wife and three children would welcome him with a kiss and tender words of affection. But Zachariah did none of this; he would only wait, and swallow steel.

In his younger days, Zachariah would have passed time like this by listening to music or watching television, but Zachariah couldn’t escape there any longer. Each time he tried, no matter how loud he turned up the music, the buzzing would just get louder with it, drowning everything else out in vast waves of crashing sound. So now, during his commutes Zachariah would just sit quietly, hearing nothing but buzzing, tasting nothing but steel, and thinking nothing but the haze.

On most days, Zachariah Flint would push open the cold glass doors of his workplace before the sun had even begun to touch the sky, and enter again into his daily duties. He enters the room and hears his secretary say good morning to him. He wants to reply back but by now the steam has filled the room so thick and opaque that it has obscured her face, and all he can do is nod in her general direction. He opens the door to his office and sits down at his desk, finding it all so alien and unfamiliar that it seems every day as if his office has been remodeled during the night. Zachariah Flint cannot even remember when he was promoted from a desk in the pit of cubicles to a desk in his own office. But on some days Zachariah can remember his boss, Linus Clements, sitting him down and telling him about the promotion, saying, “You’ve been here almost 12 years, Flint, and you’ve never once asked for a raise.”

Saying, “We need more people like you, Flint. You’re a goddam model of stability and reliability.”

Saying, “I’m gonna show all these young motherfuckers out there what happens when you work hard, and don’t expect life to owe you shit.”

Saying, “I’m gonna give you a sparkling new desk, Flint. I’m gonna give you some privacy, and just because I’m feeling so goddam generous today, I’m gonna give you a pay bump on top of it all.”

Saying, “Maybe now you can move out of that piece of shit little room you call an apartment, Flint.”

Saying, “Whaddya say, Flint?”

Linus Clements is a slender man, tall and toned. His haircut costs him three hundred dollars and his fingernails are always perfectly manicured by some teenage Asian girl who only gets a tip if she offers to blow Linus after she’s finished with his nails. He is younger than Zachariah by at least twenty years but he holds the position directly above him, a promotion he got only after years of pretending to love and care for his grandfather, some well connected mogul whose family history reads like the same story repeated for decades: “under qualified man weasels his way into high-paying position, blames all mistakes on lower-level employees.” Now, Linus comes into Zachariah’s office each day to scream about some new tragedy of incompetency that Zachariah has committed. Zachariah wants to tell him that his words are wasted, that he cannot hear him over the deafening sound of the buzzing that rings beneath his ears, beneath and under and through his ears. But instead, Zachariah Flint just nods at his boss, and swallows steel.

On most days, Zachariah Flint puts his hands on his keyboard, and begins again his daily duties. The second his fingers touch the keys, the haze takes over and before Zachariah can even blink he is alone, sitting in the dark of the night and his office long after everybody else had gone home. This is when Zachariah picks up his bag, and leaves his office, exiting to deserted streets in the quiet hours of the evening. This is when Zachariah walks to the bus, and waits again for it to return him to his home. He sits on the bus quietly as he watches the same homeless man sleep in the back, hands down his pants with a look of ecstasy that has been unknown to man since the primal days of our youth. This is when Zachariah fits his key snugly into his lock, and opens his door once again to the stillness of his empty life. And on most days, this is when Zachariah begins to undress, starting with his necktie and hoping beyond hope that once he gets it off the hands around his throat will loosen their grip, if only for an instant. Although he always hopes, he is never surprised when he is always met with the same choking feeling, as if some unseen force wants so badly for Zachariah to draw his last breath. After Zachariah has undressed, this is when he turns off the lights, and lays in bed for hours, waiting for the haze to sing him to sleep, feeling only loathing at the song in his final moments of consciousness each day.

On most days, this is how to tide of our hero’s life flows. One action falling seamlessly into the other without Zachariah having even the slightest control of conscious thought regarding the subject.

But today, this is not what the silent chorus of Zachariah’s story has in store for him. Today, Zachariah Flint will not wake to the deafening sound of buzzing, nor the hard steel that forms in his throat like a tumor, nor the haze that washes over him and throughout him like the hand of some great, cosmic puppeteer. Today, Zachariah Flint will wake to the sound of birds, to the bitter taste of coffee that warms him inside like some tremendous dying star, pushing out its last waves of heat in some other universe, distant and unused. Today, Zachariah Flint will wake to a new haze, one of euphoria and bliss; singing a new song, one of radiance and rapture. A song that will be sung out for all around him to hear, with lyrics that could only be written by some child in his paradise of youth, with lyrics that tell of summer days spent in the depths of forests, surrounded by all that is unsaid yet inherent in the hearts of the carefree. A song with lyrics of bright, melodic harmony, of rolling green hills that envelop you with the warm embrace of endless beauty, as far as the eye can see. A song about skin-deep scrapes made powerless by the kiss of mothers, when the world was young and all minds were empty with the joy of existence. Today, Zachariah Flint will wake unburdened by the long-forgotten histories of his innumerable pasts and futures.

Today, as Zachariah Flint steps into his shower, the frigid water will shock him into immediate focus. He will feel the water clean the grease from his hair, the sweat and grime from under his skin. Zachariah Flint will think to himself, as he begins to dress, “Not today.” He will glance as his necktie and throw it back onto his bed, not even wanting to feel the slight tug at his neck that it will produce. Zachariah Flint will walk to his bus stop, feeling the cold air hit his face as he briskly follows the street, humming some unrecognizable tune to himself that he finds pleasant, yet impossible to place. Today, when he enters the bus and pays his fare, he will say to the driver, “Beautiful day, isn’t it? Just beautiful…” The driver will only grunt in response, and Zachariah will walk to his regular seat near the back of the bus. Today, when he sees the homeless man pleasuring himself in the last seat, Zachariah Flint will grin as wide as he can and sit right next to the man, joining in with him, stroking himself in perfect sync as if they are Olympic swimmers competing for the same prize. The smell of shit and piss will rise from the homeless man until it finds its way to Zachariah’s nostrils, filling them with their sweet scent.

Today, as Zachariah pushes open the cold glass doors of his office building, he sees it for the first time not covered in the impregnable steam of heat. When his secretary says, “Good morning Mr. Flint, messages for you,” Zachariah Flint smiles at her and returns the greeting. He does not remember bringing the shotgun, nor does he remember loading slowly with a wide grin on his face, but as he looks into his work-bag he finds it not filled with the regular pages and files of his trade, but with knives, guns, and pipe bombs. Zachariah does not know which comes first, his return greeting to his secretary or the sharp pieces of shrapnel that rip and tear away at her flesh. As he walks through the pit of cubicles to his office, co-workers greet him, and one by one he pumps soft pieces of lead into each of them. 

“Hey Zack, you see the game this weekend? Can’t believe the fucking Mets lost again.”

“Sure did, Gary! Those bastards had me on the edge of my seat!” Zachariah replies, another blast from his shotgun following the statement within seconds.

“Hello Mr. Flint, can I get you a cup of coffee?”

“Thanks kid, but I feel more awake today than I ever have.” Deafening roars coming from Zachariah’s hands as each of his subordinates fall down, one by one.

Today, when Linus Clements opens the door to Zachariah’s office and begins to scream, Zachariah hears him clearly for the first time. Waves of disgust wash over him as he quietly stands to meet his boss’s gaze, and plunges the knife into his abdomen. As his boss works himself into a frenzy over some mistake Zachariah has no recollection of making, he forces the knife into his stomach once, twice, more times than Zachariah can count. As the warm spray of blood hits him in spurts, Zachariah closes his eyes and imagines himself on some sunny beach, the calming crash of the ocean spraying tepid water onto his face. When he is finished, Linus Clements lies stagnant in a puddle of red at Zachariah’s feet, and he walks over to his desk to begin again his daily duties. But today, as Zachariah Flint touches his keyboard, he realizes that he doesn’t even know what his job at the company is, much less how he would begin to do it. So Zachariah gathers his bag and pokes his head into his boss’s office to tell him that he will be taking a sick day today. As Zachariah Flint begins to exit his office, he says goodbye to his secretary, and walks out onto the busy streets of midday. Zachariah cannot remember the last time he saw the midday sun, tinting the world with yellow light and making everything seem a bit more lucid, a bit more tangible.

“I feel great,” Zachariah says aloud, to nobody in particular. “I should have done this years ago.” Zachariah smiles to himself and begins to walk down the street, looking into the eyes of every person and animal he passes by.

Today, Zachariah Flint will not take the bus home. Today, Zachariah Flint will not even walk back to his dingy little hovel and waste the night away with sleeplessness. Today, Zachariah Flint has peered into the depths of his future and found a beauty so raw and unnamed that it has rendered him speechless.

Today, Zachariah Flint will find another human being, and love her. He will love her with such totality of the soul that he will find himself, for the first time, hoping for death so he can end his life with some unsullied image of her. Today, Zachariah Flint will father children. He will raise them with ideals and morals and character, teach them about optimism and faith in the human spirit. He will love them with such totality of the soul that he will, for the first time, feel as if some part of his heart has been taken outside of his body, made vulnerable and yet magnificent for all the world to see. Today, Zachariah Flint will travel thousands of miles to foreign countries he had only previously read about in the stories of his childhood. He will spend decades learning about other peoples, other cultures, fostering a sense of compassion and love for all of mankind. He will love them and let them love him back with such totality of the soul that, for the first time, he will feel as if the world could act in complete harmony, if only we could know each other a little bit better.

Today, Zachariah Flint has found serenity. Today, Zachariah Flint has found a calm deep within himself that seems to whisper, “Do not worry, my son. All is quiet again.” Today, Zachariah Flint will lie in the grass of some unknown park and sigh with deep relief to himself, watching clouds float above him like great white whales in the deep. Today, Zachariah Flint has been forgiven.

 

Samuel Henry- September 22nd, 2014.

 


Submitted: November 02, 2014

© Copyright 2021 Samuel Henry. All rights reserved.

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