Robert L. Penick
He lived this way for a number of years: Coffee in the morning, evening news each night at six o’clock. In between, work at a job both necessary and unimportant, with lunch purchased mainly from vending machines and consumed in proximity to unhappy yet complacent people. AA meetings were on Friday nights and Sunday mornings, because that is when the loneliness showed its teeth, those moments when meaning is supposed to appear but doesn’t. His mind was comforted by the company of others, so he joined every book and movie club there was. There was even a group of people who walked around the reservoir on Saturday afternoons, and he strode with them counter-clockwise on the days it didn’t rain. When it did rain, he sat at home with the window open, imagining the Earth being made pristine. Before bed, he read books, mainly about events like the sack of Rome in 1527 and the Plague of Justinian. Distant, greater suffering made his own less formidable, and he could look at himself while brushing his teeth without thinking he’d cocked up his life too badly. The denouement was always the same: Edging into bed, recounting the non-events of the day, then pulling the sky over himself like a blanket.
Robert L. Penick is no one you would notice on the street.
Photo by NeONBRAND