I

Jack woke up to the sound of his alarm at 6:15 like he had as long as he could remember. Without looking, he shut the alarm up and, with great effort, pulled himself out from under his mountain of blankets, stripped down and stepped into the shower. Sensing his presence, the shower lathered, washed and dried Jack in exactly thirteen minutes. In that time, Jacks kitchen had come to life and made his breakfast of two eggs, a side of toast and a tall glass of artificial orange juice, as it did every other morning. Jack took his clothes out of the printer, a white tee, and grey slacks again, and sat to eat. He tried to take his time but the plates were abruptly taken away exactly eighteen minutes after he sat down. Jack tried to relax for a bit as the kitchen cleaned itself but as he watched and pondered the scrubbing bot making its way speedily across the floor, the chirp of the office chair interrupted the peaceful silence. …


I try to live my life as a mix between a science experiment and an art project. I think of a weird thing to do with some aspect of my life and then take the results, hang them on a wall and call it art. Some examples of this include interviewing my ex-romantic partners on the radio, planning my own funeral as a birthday celebration, spur of the moment road trips packing only a camera, etc. It’s not an ideal way to live but it’s working for me.

My latest experiment is a bit excessive, even for me. It started, as most things do for me, as a joke about having been single for almost twelve years now and having only a vague idea why. Friends would say, “I don’t know why you’re single. You seem fine to me.” and I’d have no definitive response other than “I’m just a weirdo who doesn’t go out.” or the ever quippy, “I can’t afford it.”. We all assumed it was because I’m a curmudgeon, hence the pen name, but somehow grumpier, crustier people than me are happily coupled. Why not this old man? Why can’t I do that? Essentially with my latest experiment, I hoped to get closer to answering a simple question.


A small credit card dropped from the letter as Jack finished reading it. Jack picked it up and read his fathers’ name across the front. His dead fathers' name. His dead father whose funeral he missed because he was too scared or stubborn to leave his little room. A room he had been hiding in for longer than he wanted to admit. While he was hidden away, having every need and whim served to him by robots he summoned on a screen, the world, including his parents, as far as he knew, had been wiped out. …


Jack,

I don’t know if or when you’ll see this. I can’t for the life of me remember your address (I was never invited over) and I don’t trust the bots with any electronic message or to get this letter to you. They wouldn’t consider a handwritten farewell very efficient now, would they?

I know we haven’t spoken since you left all those years ago. I’m not sure why. I know you and your father had a disagreement when you left but I don’t think that would be enough for you to stop speaking to us. It’s fine, I guess. It doesn’t really matter anymore anyway. Still, it would have been nice to see you at his funeral. Maybe you have a good reason for not talking to us all these years. Maybe you couldn’t. …


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The excitement Jack felt from going out into the world for the first time in a long time gave way to dread as he registered the empty streets from the curb where he was waiting for the car that had been called by the front desk computer. The sky was gray with dust and dirt. Jack noticed that his white shirt and gray slacks were already getting dirty which is might be a first for him. He wasn’t sure how these printed clothes would hold up to actual use beyond his apartment. Jack wished he had put his actual shoes on as well. Those shoes that had never been worn of course. They were hiding in a closet somewhere. Instead, he only had his cheap slippers, which, although he had given them five stars, he knew for a fact would not hold up. He already had to replace a few pair just from putzing around his apartment, since they fell apart so quickly. …


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As Jim pulled his cab up to GilbertCo Tower, his two fares continued arguing, not noticing they had reached their destination. Jim started to roll down the separator between the front and back. Instantly, the roar of their heated argument cut into the silence he had been enjoying.

“-just saying, it’s not even a real job!”

“Sure it is! I clock in and get paid to do a thing! How is that not a job?”

“But you don’t do anything! You don’t make anything! It’s not a job unless you make something.”

Jim couldn’t help but interject himself at this point. “Yea. I just drive a cab as a hobby.” There was an awkward silence as the father gathered his embarrassment. …


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“Anne? Anne, are you there?” Jack had been pounding on the door for a solid minute to no avail. Maybe her name wasn’t Anne. Maybe it was Anna? Angie? Amber? “It’s your neighbor, Jack. I’m locked out.” Nothing but silence. “Hello? Is anyone in there?”

After a few more minutes of desperately knocking, Jack moved down the hall and tried every other door and with each of them he was met with silence. Surely someone was home, he thought. Then again, by this time he was normally working. That’s gotta be it, he figured, everyone is at work. …


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Anna was excited to finally have a neighbor close to her age. The lady who had been living next door must have been double her age and would never come out of her place unless it was to talk to the cops after she had called to register a noise complaint. If it wasn’t for the body monitor chip she wore, the medical droids might have never come to take her. Anna felt a bit guilty about the relief she had now that the old lady was gone. It was sad but also, she was old and Anna was excited to potentially have a neighbor that would stay out of her business and maybe become a friend. …


Jack woke up to the sound of his alarm at 6:15 like he had as long as he could remember. Without looking, he shut the alarm up and, with great effort, pulled himself out from under his mountain of blankets, stripped down and stepped into the shower. Sensing his presence, the shower lathered, washed and dried Jack in exactly thirteen minutes. In that time, Jacks kitchen had come to life and made his breakfast of two eggs, a side of toast and a tall glass of artificial orange juice, as it did every other morning. Jack took his clothes out of the printer, a white tee, and grey slacks again, and sat to eat. He tried to take his time but the plates were abruptly taken away exactly eighteen minutes after he sat down. Jack tried to relax for a bit as the kitchen cleaned itself but as he watched and pondered the scrubbing bot making its way speedily across the floor, the chirp of the office chair interrupted the peaceful silence. …


One thing you should know about me is I’m a midnight guy to the bone. At almost every job I’ve ever had, I’ve worked the midnight shift. I’ve flipped burgers, stocked shelves, unloaded trucks and cut plastic all between the hours of 10pm and 7am the next morning. I’m obviously not the only one either. There are many more like me, out there in the middle of the night, burning the midnight oil, as they say. Some do it because, like me, they want to work that shift, and some are in it for that precious shift premium. …

About

Jason Bombach

Just an average weirdo with some thoughts.

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