Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Light Switch
In the far room someone was sobbing,
and it’s interesting to note that
I could tell it was that of a young man.

I found this disturbing.
More disturbing than if it were a woman…
and why is that?
I guess you just figure it must be
pretty traumatic
to get a man to cry.
Equally disturbing that is matters less
when it’s a woman.
I care more.
I care less.
What’s it gonna be?
Sorta depends on your quality of trauma.

“Hon? Sweetie?
I’ve got something to tell you.
do not love you.
In fact, I never have.
Who could?”

Okay. That’s pretty mean.
Pretty brutal.
Tears well. Damage done.

But listen:
I’m a dick.
I’m a phuqin asshole.
Everybody knows that.
They fill you in.
You push away that box of tissues
and nod your head in agreement.
“Jack? Jack who?
Frickin’ history.
Forget about it.”

You shrug it off.
That trauma?
A little less so now.

I’m eighteen years old
and there in that room,
a man is crying.
A young man.
My age.
I mean…
This sounds pretty bad.
It’s dark in there.
Pitch black.
And the sound…
the sound he emits moves from sob,
to a moan, to a wail,
and back again.
This is horrible.
Someone is in obvious need of help.

I move to the doorway,
reach in and hit the light switch.
The room illuminates and
in less than two seconds,
I’m frantically switching it off again.

There’s allot that transpires
in that two second period.
I see a bit too much and yea,
I guess others do as well.

When the ceiling lamp bursts to full brilliance,
I see that
there on the far side of the room,
a group of my schoolmates all sit around Roy.
Yes, Roy is the focal point.
The sobs; the moan; the wail…
gone. Or rather,
they’ve transitioned to this
high pitched scream.
(Yes. Men do scream.)
The look on his face…
The look on his face…
How do you poetically describe that?
You don’t.
You just say,
“The look
on his face.”

Here simultaneously,
everyone else in the room
starts yelling for me to
“Turn the light off! Turn the light off!”
And Roy?
That scream goes a pitch higher.

So I toggle the light to off.
I switch it off
and turn away.
I don’t want to know.
And yet, as I turn and walk away,
that scream follows me.
It fills the house.
And though the house is full of others my age,
they stand there silent.
They know.
They all know.
Roy is screaming and they and I
(the only innocent left…),
we all know to be quiet
cause Roy is having…
an experience.
A very very bad-da-da-da-da

A little over a decade later,
Roy commits suicide.

When I hear of it,
the first thing I think about is
that light switch.

Yes, it would appear Roy’s
abundance of experience
proved more than one life
could possibly absorb.
Indeed, there came a moment
when it was far easier to unscrew
that oh so bright light bulb,
and simply
throw it away.

©06 Jack Hubbell

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