Fall of Man

June 5, 2008
By Christopher Capriotti, Havertown, PA

John Rocosky hated his job. Every day was the same meaningless tasks, the same cream-colored cubicle, and the same annoying coworkers. His phone was ringing on his desk, and he hated that too. It was a black, scratched phone, the handset heavily abused by constant slamming into the hook. It hated John a little back, or so he thought. He watched it ring with absolute contempt. After three rings, he picked it up.

“Yes?” he asked with obvious distaste. The scratched receiver still smelled faintly of Lysol, because John disinfected it once a week. He had an acute fear of other people using his phone.

“Hello John, its Maggie.” His wife called frequently to complain to him about what he did or didn’t do. Usually it involved their son Todd, who neither of them approved of.

“What is it? I’m at work, you know.” He often used this as an excuse, because he really hated talking to her. They both discussed divorce but never got around to taking that step. Still, she didn’t need to talk to him.

“Do you know that your son broke the DVD player today?” John sighed. Their college dropout son, a delinquent, always seemed to break something while he was around. It angered John even more that his wife refused to fix the things he broke.

“Well, why can’t you fix it? I’m at work, and I don’t use the DVD player anyway.”

“Because I’m going out in minute and you’ll be leaving work soon. So you do it. Call the company and ask for help if you need it.

John hung up just as the clock struck five. He drove home, and took out his anger via road rage.

When he arrived home, he found his son passed out on the couch in the basement. The room smelled suspiciously of smoke, but he passed it off as the incense all those kids today burnt. He ran a hand through his gelled hair and pulled out his cell phone. The next forty five minutes were spent on the phone with India, jabbing various buttons on the DVD player and staring at the information on the television screen. He hated this outsourcing more than he loathed his son’s lifestyle choices. John reset the obviously undamaged player and decided that there were other things that needed fixing. He started by throwing out all of Todd’s clothes into the trash. The boy wore studded vests and skinny jeans, totally unacceptable and unexplainable choices. Next, he poured all of his wife’s liquor down the drain. There would be no more nights listening to her drunken complaints.

Moving on, he found his wife’s sleeping pills and his son’s marijuana. Both went down the garbage disposal. The shower radio was trashed, the headphones stomped, the laptops and mp3 players smashed to bits against the granite counter top. All modern conveniences and inconveniences were destroyed in the name of a happier life. As John rampaged, his mind cleared and he understood: the modern age of consumerism and capitalism had ruined his life. He was unhappy because the world was. Via progress and processes to make your life easier, he had discovered that it distanced everyone from each other. And he would no longer let that happen.

He stalked outside and drained the fluids from his Mercedes. He threw the GPS across the yard into their pool. His vision blurred red as he found everything that he could blame for his unhappiness. The CDs, the cell phone, the PDA: all were conspiring for his downfall. He spun out and crashed onto the front lawn with all his neighbors watching.
His wife pulled into the driveway just as he set fire to the thing that had started it all, the one thing that had enlightened him to his plight: the DVD player. Its plastic blistered, its wiring fizzled under the oil and flame. He could feel the radiant heat of the flames against his face, and saw dazzling white patterns as he stared. He dimly recalled someone screaming at him, but he couldn’t tell who. He heard sirens screaming, but they were faint, seemingly unattached to the reality he was operating in. And then, just as the police pulled him away from his pyre of the modern age, he stumbled upon yet another discovery: he had no one to blame but himself.

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