Listen to Yourself

“What the hell is that outside going through our trash cans right now? You would have thought the city would have taken care of that.” Mujibar was slowly getting used to life in the United States. The houses were so much bigger and more available than in his native India, but he still had not got used to how life in the states was so much different. Even in this upscale somewhat quirky neighborhood in his adopted hometown, he did not feel at peace. Tonight was no different from most despite other than the fact that somebody or something was banging his trash can around.

When he first moved to the United States, he read some articles predictably on-line about how the culture of the United States as a collective whole, loved their guns. He simply wanted to be like an American and own a gun himself. It was an absolute leap of faith for him. Mujibar still did his due diligence and one day back in late July he decided to take some of the required tests and he became a regular handgun owner,

Next door David Cabot had a hard time believing the world around him. For a long time he had been semi deep into depression and some of the truths around him he interpreted as illusion. He simply did not trust himself. A few weeks ago, as an anchor to reality, he had decided to attend a Bikram Yoga class. It is difficult to describe David’s tenuous balancing act he had with reality, illusion as well as fabrication and rationalization. Many times, he felt like an old man in a young man’s body. His posture was bad and on many days, he had tingling pains in places he could not explain. One day his hands would tingle for no apparent reason and the next day his legs would for no reason tingle. Some days he even felt like his hair hurt. He smiled when he was angry and he cheats when he lies. Of course that is a cheap description from a Leonard Cohen song however it fits in it its own poetic way. David was never one to cheat. Well cheat in a physical or even an emotional way. Integrity meant excessively much to him. His balancing act with reality of course can be a bit hyperbolic. As he searched for what his meaning, stature and purpose was in his life, it was maddening. It was maddening in a cleansing sort of way as he struggled with himself he could see and feel the light at the end of the tunnel.

What he really hated to admit was that he did not like what he was doing for the longest time. Of course that is not exactly true. He loved being himself and doing things by himself. He loved being by himself. He loved to hear himself think. He thought inside his head in what he considered poetic bliss. On other days, he could not even listen to himself think. He concluded that his meaning in life was cliché. He hated that however the cliché was the true meaning of what he was looking for in life. He was thoroughly sick of going through the motions. Then again that is so cliché and banal. Somewhere in the back of his mind, he felt that somebody had a much bigger plan for him. That convoluted thought was even more enigmatic to him. How in the world could that be? He had no belief in a higher being, He had a vague concept of one. He thought the world was a mean and ugly place however at times there was so much beauty that it could bring unexpected tears to his eyes. Beauty such as this could not be accidental. This beauty was what he looked for in life.

Jesus had a brother and he was not very pleasant. Cabot also had a brother who was more like him than he actually was. In addition, that brother was him. When he was alone. To be more precise that brother, we are speaking ,was wildly creative, warm beyond reason and yearned for greatness. Actually, he yearned for things in life that were much larger than him.He did what he was supposed to do in life. He married the pretty girl with the great big future. It is so darn unclear to him why he did this. Hell, he was comfortable with Marta however, he was comfortable with Marta because she (and him) were in their comfort zone and she was a part of his comfort zone. Moreover, right now in life he was absolutely sick of his comfort zone.

His back had been bugging him for a while and usually the routine of sweating profusely cleansed him. It ran counter to his logic how something so sweaty and exhausting could be so cleansing and cathartic. He was soaking wet as if he had emerged from a thunderstorm, He walked the three blocks home to his house that he shared with his wife Marta. He and his wife lived on the Alameda ridge for the last seven years. For the most part, David was happy and content. He and Marta had been married and semi content for a long time and had settled into a life of routine. Marta loved routine and did not venture out of her comfort zone very often. David ached to be out of his comfort zone. He was comfortable with the routine because it let him concentrate on other meaningful parts of life. He loved the intellectual part of life, that being the side of life that challenged one’s spirit.

When one first meet David, one would assume that he was also someone who would not venture out of his comfort zone. David did not dress especially well, he did not have the body of an athlete and most would describe his looks as ordinary. David would certainly describe himself as that however in the last four or five months David had lost ten to fifteen pounds, cut back on his alcohol and started to challenge himself intellectually. Somebody who lived with him every day might have a difficult time noticing this as the change was gradual and unspectacular.

For Marta it had become a life of relative happiness. The relationship had evolved into a constant of missed communications that only seemed to be getting worse. It frustrated her to no living end but David always seemed to be living in his own private reality. She was always speaking to him about her feelings. It was exactly how she processed things. She was a feeling person whose feelings were hurt easily. It frustrated her that when she expressed her feelings to David he always took at an attack on what he was currently doing or even an attack on his personality. She wanted to share everything with him and David simply wanted to be himself, to live life by himself with an intellectual interlude when he was emotionally ready.

David even admitted this to himself. The last word he would use to describe himself would be normal, but for today, he seemed somewhat on top of his game. Post yoga usually did this to him as did the evening sky. He loved looking at the evening sky. From the Alameda ridge, the sunsets were usually fantastic. This was especially true with the City and Forest Park as a backdrop. He loved seeing the stars appear one star at a time on nights like this. Despite this, the constant nagging anxiety seemed to be a constant for him. In his world, the symptoms were nearly impossible to pinpoint and the only way to describe them were to make up new phrases he wrote down in his journal. He struggled as what he described as electrical sensations that migrated throughout his body and he had a weird sense that his words were alive.

David has been in and out of counseling and each counselor eventually concluded that counseling could do little for David.   His prognosis was not specific and at times to him he felt like he was crumbling around the seams and at other times he felt like he was in the early stages of a crazy divorce or the side effects of one. However, today he did not feel extremely crazy and felt he had a firm grasp on reality. If he had to describe himself, today it was perky and when these moods came along he preferred to run with them.

He ran into his wife Marta as she walked down the steps toward the kitchen. She looked stunningly pretty today. She was all pigtail with a short sexy dress, but of course, he never actually took the time to tell her that.  He liked when she wore pigtails, which were all the rage these days, and the short dress highlighted her still athletic legs. He always thought she looked good in everything and she looked especially appealing today. It had been awhile this they had made love and it was about this time that David became emotionally and physically available.

“Hey what would you like to have for dinner as I am kind of famished? He said to her in a playful and teasing manner.

“What are you doing out there in the garage? There is so much banging and noise and I thought you were out there working.”

“Nope I just got out here I just got back from Yoga and I still have not changed.”  David chimed in almost off cue.

“What is with all the banging out here it sounds like animals in the garage?” She asked this without any inflection in her voice.

“Yeah it is probably the big bad coyote the news stations keep warning about”

“Stop with the joking, It’s not funny” Marta replied bitterly almost scared.

David with his constant struggle with his grasp on reality sometimes doubted sounds that came from other rooms. He heard the stories on the television about the coyotes and he found them somewhat amusing but now here he was hearing noises. At the same time, he loved the idea of a coyote. Portland was a large city and he could not fathom the idea of any wildlife living in the city limits. He being the type that always rooted for the underdog, as well as the type that was an animal rights activist, sometimes found himself rooting for the coyote. If he were to confront the coyote in the middle of the street, he had no idea what he would do.

The sound got somewhat louder and even more consistent. To him it was as if the sound was coming from inside of his head. He had no idea if it was real. David sat quietly and listened. He did not want to disturb what may have been making this annoying noise. He sat there in that dark garage in total silence and once again as per his norm, he doubted himself when he heard noises and could not verify where they were coming from. He liked being out in his garage. At times, his garage was an absolute train wreck. He had various paints and easels out there. He had quite a few unfinished paintings that he would work on when he was in the mood. He would sometimes paint and eerie and disturbing tree in the fall and in the spring he would amend the tree so that had the leaves and flowers of spring. He would simply walk by his desk and paint when he felt like it. He had a radio in his garage where he likes to listen to public radio. He especially liked the bluegrass as well as “This American Life on Wednesday night. David was not afraid of technology, as he would listen to radio stations on the internet. Sometimes he lived in his own little world.

He sat and listened with more interest and he was surprised that he had a small amount of fear. He felt the sweat once again drip down his back one drop at a time. People did not own guns here. Additionally, he was not the type of person to go near anything that could end your life instantly. All he could really do was to sit and listen.

As he sat in the darkness as his wife walked slowly behind him and she whispered with a bit of a quiver in her voice, her footsteps were a complete surprise to him. “Honey there is definitely something in the garage.”

He thought to himself, when would have been the last time she called him honey. It was usually when she wanted his input. In their relationship, He did not like the use of the word honey. However, for some reason today, he missed it.

“Honey there is definitely something out there. Sorry I am a bit scared.”

“There is nothing to be scared about. Who cared if there is a coyote or even a bear in the yard? It is their world as much as ours. We can peacefully co-exist.” David said that as he put on a large hooded sweatshirt he had sitting on his workbench. It was his favorite hoodie. It was warm and comfortable and he could care less that it said was “WEED”. He had purchased the beloved sweatshirt on a business trip down to Northern California. Marta hated it. It was not his favorite rather it was his comfort shirt. In the wintertime, the shirt came out of the wash first. It felt great to wear and that is all mattered to him. He listened to him self churn.

In walked Mujibar with what appeared to be a gun