STACKED CANS

Introverts are people who need to be alone to recharge. In other words, while they may not necessarily dislike being around people, they can’t handle prolonged company and will need to be left alone for a while before they burn out and lose all interest in talking to anyone. Conversely, extroverts need to be with people to recharge. However, is it possible to overcharge oneself? If, say, an introvert goes through prolonged periods of loneliness, could that person actually overcharge himself to the point where he has way more energy than he needs? Could, in a fit of overexcitement, be driven to acts that no rational person would even consider?

Today’s a good day.

I imagine that such a person would run to the nearest mall to rummage through the rubbish bins, jumping straight into the fullest ones to collect all of the disposed soda cans, clean them, separate them by brand and date, flatten them with his heel, before finally using them to pad the walls of his room. Maybe, while he’s in that process, figure out the schedule for when the garbage truck comes every day.

He will begin to notice the little things about those garbage trucks, like how they always beep exactly five times as the driver switches gears to reverse to back up into the garbage bin. He will notice that there are usually two drivers, one in the morning and one at night. And while this hypothetical imaginary person still hasn’t figured out how to go without sleep, he has probably sat neck-deep in garbage in the same parking lot near the Subang Jaya KTM Stesen to know that the drivers work 12-hour shifts. On occasion, he notices that a third driver is sitting behind the wheel, driving with such incredible precision, as though the truck was actually attached to his body, that the truck is just as much a part of his body has the fingers he steadily maneuvers around the steering wheel.

Not that that is possible; the other two drivers also drive that exact same truck, a large oblong box of a Nissan with the license plate “XSB 14.” Our crazed introvert might have briefly considered that this particular garbage company has three different trucks with the exact same license plate. After all, he has seen households with 3–4 cars with the exact same plate number, on his daily walks towards the Asian Café, where he would go to the same stall and order the same thing for days on end. This week, his particular culinary obsession would be pork chop noodles with wonton soup, complemented with iced milk tea. No, those three trucks would have to be different ones, the shattered glass on the second light on the left of the back of the truck was too coincidental to happen to three separate cars.

The cans collected would go into his laundry bag and he would walk for approximately 25 minutes to his home, all the while singing along to Karnivool’s Goliath in his cigarette-scorched voice. It was a decent sounding voice at some point in his life, but that moment has long since passed. But that won’t stop him from singing to anyone who would listen. Sometimes he would sing to the birds, stray cats and trees. He has converted to animism, believing that the trees would applaud his performances. Lately he’s been seen thanking them for the thunderous applause he received, as the small, dust-covered leaves rub against each other in perfect rhythm to his singing. Perhaps one day he will work up the courage to ask Sally out. He has always preferred the luscious ones with full-colored barks. But that is for another time. Now he has to walk home with haste. The cans are waiting.

Every day, this man’s creation will grow while his room continues to shrink. He only going on two trips a day, but his work has begun to pay off. What was once an empty, blue windowless box has now glowed with an assortment of aluminum cans, all stacked neatly by the walls. By now there already are three layers of cans and the room is blue no more.

Fast forward to a few months later, and our hypothetical introvert’s creation is almost complete. His room is almost completely covered with cans and he has just made his final trip to the dumpster, where he has wasted too much of his life watching that garbage truck with the broken headlights and its three drivers. At this point, he has discarded all of his belongings to make way for his cans. His suitcase, along with all of his clothes, will have travelled along all of Malaysia on the backs and legs of whomever he donated them to. His guitar has been pawned for a mere Rm 200 that, along with the rest of his wallet, he donated to the Christian Care Center, a drug rehab in Shah Alam. A few days earlier he discovered that his iPhone and Blackberry does, in fact, blend. Finally, and it should be said that this hypothetical introvert enjoyed this greatly, he set his mattress on fire.

His room has shrunk such that he only has room to walk a few centimeters. He locked the door and he heard the sound reverberate quietly along the empty aluminum cylinders. The colors really are quite pretty. Not wanting to waste electricity, he kills the lights and fan before barricading the door. The dark will not bother him as he has spent months perfecting his can stacking technique.

Now his structure is complete and his room has ascended to a state of total darkness. He could feel his energy rising. He never knew he had so much inside him. “This is so much better than meth!” he would scream. He will never sleep again.

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