Poem: Harsh Reality

Old minds,

memories of young times,

trembling hands,

still know what it was like to be firm,

tired eyes, watching generations pass,

still can see old friends,

weak legs, need assistance to walk,

yet one always yearns to sprint again.

 

All of you ages,

all of you changes,

but pride remains the same,

it doesn’t age and it doesn’t forget,

it remembers the ideal you,

as the You now,

diminishes.

The Painted Bird & How Group Psychology Works

The Painted Bird is a novel by Jerzy Kosinski and the story is set during the Second World War and it takes place in Eastern Europe. The story follows a young boy who is either a gypsy or of Jewish descent as he travels from one village to another constantly being tormented and mistreated largely due to his social status. Although fictional, one can’t help but learn certain aspects of human behavior through the interaction of groups and communities with the main character. There is truth in fictional words, scenes, and action. One truth is how easy it is to behave cruelly towards another human being if that human being is looked at like an outsider.

One example of this is seen at the beginning of the novel, shortly after the boy leaves his initial village and enters a “foreign” community, where he is tired, terrified and starving, the boy lays down in the middle of the road. Instead of being helped, the villagers gather around him and slowly increase their rate of violence, first starting from simply poking the boy to then jabbing him with rakes to eventually hurling rocks at him. His relief comes when a villager stuffs the boy in a burlap sack and takes him to be his servant. The boy is viewed as an animal, perhaps even an object to use, instead of a person to be helped. Kosinski uses the word “mob” when he describes this scene, the mob mentality showing how cruelty towards a child in need can quickly come to be accepted.

Group psychology is often separated between ingroups and outgroups. An in-group is a group with which an individual feels a sense of membership, belonging and identity. Outgroup, on the other hand, are groups with which an individual does not feel a sense of membership, belonging, or identity. Acts of racism, prejudice, and discrimination are often associated with this view where an individual comes to see those out of their group as different, as an “other” and even less than human if one takes this concept to the extreme. In fact, people favor ingroups over outgroups in order to enhance their self-esteem, this is known as the social identity theory.

The idea of the mob or the group mentality is visited throughout the text. The title of the novel is explained in the fifth chapter where the story of the painted bird is told. The idea being, if there is a flock of birds of the same color and then you introduce the same type of bird but this one has its wings painted, the original flock will see it as a threat to their cohesiveness and ability to “blend together” and kill the bird rather than let it join the flock.

Essentially, one who stands out from the group gets killed.

Another truth of the novel is that although our own behavior, thought pattern, and action all play a role in developing our self-identity, this identity is also influenced by the opinions of others. The boy comes to believe that he is possessed by an evil spirit because others believe that he is and punish him for it. He also comes to see that everything bad that happens to him is because he is bad, that it is his fault because others constantly blame the boy for any mishap. Later on, the boy believes that the beatings he has suffered throughout his life were because he had not prayed enough. This idea is implanted in him by the priest he encounters.

This idea is later explored when the boy is saved from his misery by the Red Army. He views his saviors as gallant, brave, courageous, all the positive aspects he could think of and begins to identify himself with these people. Soon he starts to feel a sense of pride with his new group. When he wears his groups uniform he feels good, when he hears stories of his group winning, he feels as if he is winning. When the group does good, he does good.

Another aspect of human behavior that is explored in the text is the idea that a group needs someone to blame when bad things happen otherwise it will turn on itself. People always need someone to blame for their misfortune and when that someone is presented, all that hate is focused on them and this displaced attitude brings people relief for a moment. A scene that depicts this notion is that of the rats in the bunker. Alone, the rats eat each other but when a man falls into the bunker, the rats direct their hunger towards the man and begin to eat him for the time being.

Although the novel has a happy ending, the boy finds his family again, it is hard to consider the story to be a happy one. The damage suffered during his adolescent years will impact his cognitive and physical growth and also how he interacts with others. This aspect is not explored in the novel but one can infer that the boy will live a troubled life, which is another truth about human behavior. One cannot simply block out their experiences. The experiences build upon one another, intermingling with that individual’s genetics, to produce a human being’s psychological state. The boy will be damaged as were the real individuals who participated in the Second World War either voluntarily or involuntarily. The group dynamics impacting the war as it impacts much of societal makeup.

Poem: “Wake Up”

As the sun rises

so does my hope

(you’ll make it)

the warmth of the rays

the gentle touch of aspiration

peace at heart

(you’ll make it)

 

Surrounded by knee-high grass

the path uncorrupted as a newborn

but even with the dawn light, I can only see where my footfalls

surrounded by worn and true walkways

and I could walk them with comfort

(in chains)

but I have to go down this shadowed way; my way

(a voice says)

 

Careful steps or a wild sprint?

See the discovered or find the new?

Cower or stand up tall?

You live my life or I live it for myself?

 

As the sun sets

doubt rises

(hope sleeps)

the cold touch of the evening air

the harsh reminders of possible failures

no peace of mind

 

“Wake up”

“Get up”

“Fuck that”

“It’s going to be alright”

“You’re going to be fine”

You have to remind your slumbering hope

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Poem: Revolt, Rebel, Revolt, Rebel

Freedom lies,

in that which makes you uncomfortable,

ringing of the alarm bell,

do you hear it?

to wake up or stay asleep? That is the question,

comfortable dreams,

dreaming of a comfortable life,

chained to the bed,

unaware of the tightening bondage.

 

Revolt,

Revolt,

Revolt,

 

The echo dims the longer you stay comfortable,

the revolution fades.

 

When will you break free?

did you hear that echo in your head?

no prince charming,

no magic to set you free,

sinking deeper into the soft bed,

going deeper into the dream,

the chain tightens; the clock ticks,

the uncomfortable freedom,

not as cruel as the comfortable imprisonment,

for one must fight for their freedom every day,

cause sleep comes with shackles.

 

Rebel,

Rebel,

Rebel,

 

Eventually, every rebellion dies.

 

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Writing/Life Advice: Don’t Get Overwhelmed

This is a reminder to myself as much as it is to others. I’m currently working on my first novel and by currently I mean it’s been several years where I’ve gone back and forth between different stories, characters, scenarios trying to find the perfect one as if something like that exists. Often times I’ve found myself planning more than writing. It’s a form of procrastination or pleasure-seeking where you feel accomplished because you planned something that you’ll soon do. Like a false start at a 100m sprint, I find myself restarting over and over again and I believe the main reason for this is that I focus on the big picture too much. I’m constantly thinking about 20, 50, 100, 200 pages from now when I should be focused on this blank piece of paper in front of me. This habit of wanting to get to the end can be overwhelming because it takes you out of the present. It gives you unnecessary doubt or stress because the present may not be going well. So, that doubt can take over and cause you to abandon the project altogether, as I have in the past.

Here is where Anne Lamont’s Bird by Bird comes in. In her memoir, she recites a piece of advice she came across in her journey to become a better writer. This advice hit home for me and perhaps it will for you as well.

E. L. Doctorow once said that “writing a novel is like driving a car at night. You can see only as far as your headlights, but you can make the whole trip that way.” You don’t have to see where you’re going, you don’t have to see your destination or everything you will pass along the way. You just have to see two or three feet ahead of you. This is right up there with the best advice about writing, or life, I have ever heard.

Lamott likens this to her idea of the “one-inch picture frame” which is the idea of just focusing on this one sentence, get that right, get this one paragraph right, this “one small scene, one memory, one exchange” correct.

Often times our anxiety kicks in when we focus too much on the future. The reason for this is because everyone’s future is uncertain to some extent. Self-doubt creeps in with uncertainty and this becomes a recipe for a false start.

So, in order to avoid this, we just have to remember the one-inch picture frame or take comfort in the light your headlights are casting and enjoy the ride.

 

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Poem: That’s Life

Destined to be great

(One thinks)

Suffering must have a purpose

(One hopes)

Future full of riches

(one dreams).

 

All to stay sane,

insanity knocks at the door,

letting in it would mean that you accept:

loneliness,

pointlessness,

meaninglessness,

(The truth).

 

Stay ignorant, friend,

so you can smile, but sooner or later the absurdity of life will strike you,

dragon fire,

see death and be cleansed,

reborn once you ask ‘why’,

babe,

naked, alone, terrified,

(It’s true),

but if you’re brave it can have endless possibilities,

(That’s life).

Short Story: The Man Who Read Everything

Important people walked around the hall with champagne glasses in their hands while their diamond watches reflected the chandelier light in all direction. A permanent smile was slapped across their faces. These men and woman gathered each year in order to expand their network but in reality, it was a celebration of riches. This was the time to show off their hard-earned suits and dresses, leather boots that clicked each time they made contact with the marble floor and cufflinks that were worth an average man’s salary and jewels that would put to shame the Kings and Queens of old. Here was the ideal situation for Abraham Hart.

‘What do you do sir?’ a tall man asked him. He had slicked back hair and one hand was in his front pocket while the other massaged the bottom of the wine glass. Just by the smell of him, Abraham knew he was some lawyer who had made a fortune before the age of thirty.

‘I am a doctor of life, sir,’ Abraham replied. The man was looking around for a higher class person to talk to because Abraham was the only man dressed in a plain black shirt, black trousers, and running sneakers. It was embarrassing to the man to be seen with Abraham but the peculiar answer caught his interest.

‘Interesting also an interesting choice of dress.’ He was not sure yet if Abraham was plain crazy or if he was to be tonight’s entertainment. A jester to make them laugh like in the forgotten times.

‘Nothing interesting about it,’ Abraham replied, ‘it’s what I wear everyday because by wearing the same pairs of clothes each and every day it allows me to save three minutes  from my decision making capability which, like a man of your capacity can calculate pretty quickly means that in a years time I shall have saved one thousand and ninety-five minutes of decision-making time, one thousand and ninety-five minutes which I can spend on more important and more responsible things.’

The lawyer raised an eyebrow and the side of his mouth twitched up for a smirk. He extended his hand and introduced himself, ‘I am Douglas Hanson, I own the Hanson firm’ he said.

Abraham shook his hand and said it was his pleasure.

‘And you are?’ he asked as if he were speaking to a child, still confused whether or not the man was really all there in the head or not.

‘Oh, you do not know me?’ Abraham replied with an air of shock as he looked around as if Mr. Hanson was the crazy one.

‘I am afraid I do not, although you look familiar.’ Abraham knew it was a lie. The two of them had never met but the simple fact that he had made himself important had caused the lawyer some discomfort. The power shifted and Abraham acknowledged it.

‘You must have heard about my experiment?’ It was a good sign to see the lawyer take his other hand out of his pocket and to see his fingers fidget with the bottom of his suit jacket.

‘I’m afraid not, sir.’

‘Well for the last twenty-one years I locked my self in a room and consumed the knowledge of the world in order to find the meaning of life.’ His long hair that reached down to the mid of his back and his gray beard that settle on top of his chest were taken as signs of a man who would do something like that, a man who would dedicate his life to learning and without questioning the lawyer put down his drink and cupped Abraham’s hand with both of his, shaking with excitement.

‘Of course, sir, of course, now I remember. I feel such a fool for not knowing right away.’ By now a few of the others nearby had stopped their conversation and were listening.

‘Your experiment was truly remarkable, I could not believe it when I first heard about it but here you are in the flesh. A living proof.’

‘Believing everything one hears is a poor quality in life so I must congratulate you sir for having some doubt about my work,’ the lawyer beamed as Abraham praised him for something he had not done.

‘Tell me one thing, sir, how did you even think of such an experiment?’ One of the bystanders asked. More people had joined in on their conversation. In the distance music lightly played and people who had not heard of what was going on kept on drinking and networking.

‘My parents passed away when I was young, leaving me in the care of an orphanage,’ people gave sympathizing nods and looks, ‘so my childhood was filled with unstable changes and constant hardship, the whole while I fell in love with books and in them I found my sanctuary and in them I found my quest so when it was discovered that my uncle left me his fortunes in his will, I at the age of twenty-one decided to venture on in my quest to find the meaning, a quest as of a month ago I have completed. In fact,’ he looked around at the perfect faces of his audience with a smile under his bushy beard, ‘this is my first social gathering in twenty-one years,’ a few applauded while more people stopped doing what they were and joined at the edge of the ever-widening circle of admirers.

‘Well, what’s the answer then? ’ someone asked in the back and all eyes stared at Abraham waiting for him to speak.

Abraham continued smiling and he spread his arms wide, ‘what’s the hurry, my friends, if there is one thing being alone in a single room teaches you, it is patience. And another is the sweet climactic release after a long build-up, if you know what I mean, my quest took me twenty-one years, twenty-one years of build-up until finally, I saw the light so please, humor me and ask not what I learned right away for that knowledge shall come in time but first ask how I remained sane all those years, is that not a better question? Would you acknowledge the answer if it came out of a madman’s mouth? Is it not better to question first before believing?’

The silent crowd broke into different pockets of buzzing, each pocket discussing what the old man had said. Abraham looked on, studying the curious faces closely until finally, someone said, ‘how did you stay sane, sir?’

‘Who said I am sane? HA!’ he cackled looking around at the richly attired folks with expressionless faces for they were used to getting quick and straightforward answers but now, he made them wait to earn his wisdom. Abraham ran his fingers through his beard and cleared his throat.

‘Isolation is said to be the worse punishment a human being can go through,’ he continued, ‘for physical pain comes and goes and we as evolved humans can adapt to receive pain and even adapt to physical pain but when it comes to metal struggle and torture tools that dig into a man’s psyche well then things get interesting, my friends, but there is always a solution.’

‘Dr. Frankl summed it up the best, if you have hope and if you have the will and a clear goal in mind, us humans can do anything. Dr. Frankl survived the terrible Nazi occupation and their camps because he had a mission and so did I, mine was to figure out the meaning of life and that excitement of actually moving towards that goal kept me going the first year of isolation. In that year I read the history of our world, everything from how our planet and universe came to be to how first societies began, when the first societal conflicts arose, the effects the Greek and Roman’s had on the future generations, the impact of the Golden Horde to the greatest scientific inventions that changed how we live and think to the last great world war’s. Everything that has ever been written on our human history,’ he pointed at his head, ‘is in here.’ He cracked a smile once more at the astonished looks he saw.

‘So my sanity survived the first year and the second and the third for my goal was clear and I moved towards it each day and that’s all I cared for. And in those years I learned how lucky we truly are and how there is no difference between the poorest man in the world and the richest in terms of intelligence, the only real difference is in their natural habitat, the richest was born on a higher rung and was exposed the tools that would allow him or her to climb while the poorest was born at the bottom rung and was never taught how to climb. This showed me that the meaning of life cannot be ones riches for it is all subjective.’ More people were listening now and his claim that riches do not matter in the grand scheme of things had them whispering angrily to one another for the goal of riches had been their ultimate end for as long as they could remember. But none of them spoke up and disagreed instead the whispering and buzzing of the crowd quieted down to hear more from the old man.

‘But the fourth year of my isolation tested my will like nothing before. My eyes had grown tired of reading and my mind begged for rest and my body hoped for the comforting touch of a fellow man or woman. I do not exaggerate when I say that I clawed at the door which was locked from the outside, I peeled away the brown paint until the wood underneath poked out and I further attacked it. I do not know what took a hold of me but I had become a savage. My hair tangled and messy reached to my lower back, my nails grew and gathered dirt, even a tooth fell out,’ he opened wide to show a missing tooth in the back of his mouth, ‘I could not tell you why all of this happened. Perhaps it was reading our violent history where since the beginning of time we have killed one another and as time has gone on one thing that became certain was our efficient and effective kill rates and now, even though we live in a time where the crime rates is lowest and the quality of life at the highest, our ability to kill a fellow man has never been better. Perhaps at the time, I believed the meaning of life is to simply die for that is a singular thread that weaves throughout our human existence. And that thought must have depressed me to the point that I wanted to get out of the room and run towards an incoming bullet and end our miserable existence.’ The air in the room thinned and the music stopped for even the band players wanted to hear the old man, their saxophones and flutes and violins hung uselessly from their hands. The somber room waited eagerly for Abrahams next words and he chose them purposely.

He clapped his hands the sound of which vibrated around the room and startled some of the listeners and he cracked his smile again and said, ‘that’s when I discovered the joy of philosophy and my hunt for the ultimate meaning kept going, not believing my previous conclusion for it could not be true, I just knew it could not.’

The tensed up faces of people who for a second believed the meaning of life was to die, relaxed, relieved that there was some other point to this existence. A few even clapped for they dreaded the former notion so much.

‘How do we know all of this really happened and that you are not lying?’ someone in the back spoke up and it was a valid question in Abraham’s mind but before he could defend himself, the lawyer spoke up.

‘This is the world-famous Dr. Hart you are talking about, haven’t you read his research?’ said the man who had not known who Abraham was twenty minutes ago but the embarrassment of not knowing Abraham and his research shut down the fellow dissenter and he did not retaliate further.

‘Please go on, sir.’ Mr. Hanson said bowing his head slightly.

‘Here is where my isolation ended for these philosophers were with me, it was as if I was back in school just a little kid looking up to my teachers as they opened my mind and put in information that changed my life. I truly felt like I was sitting cross-legged on the floor while Plato or Montaigne or Hume sat on my chair and taught me a lesson or two. That joy of learning was the happiest I had been in my life. it was incredible and it is something I wish all my fellow men and woman to enjoy.’ Nodding heads met his words, all of them most likely making mental notes to find their philosophical teachers.

‘With these great minds I had discussions of free will, of societal norms, of religion and science and the need of us humans to create self-boundaries and self-rule, a code of a sort to allow us to reach our full potential, or like Seneca said to find four or five people we wish to be like, aspire to be like and when the time comes for decisions or you find yourself at a crossroad think and ask yourself what those individuals would have done at this point, how would they have handled this problem, this situation. It was wonderful discussing with them the materialistic life we now so enjoy and the disconnect with our self, our self that is so emphasized in the eastern philosophy which has been drowned by our need for desires. Our life should be about balances like Aristotle believed, do nothing in excess for it just hurts the soul and we should always be a student like Socrates preached I know nothing, that was the motto I lived by at the time and opened my mind up for further suggestions and once I reached the end of the philosophical spectrum, five years had passed and I discovered the true meaning of life.’ Abraham made them wait a moment longer as the crowd visibly leaned closer not to miss the answer. ‘Meaning is to find what makes you happy and just do that everyday not worrying about being the richest or being the smartest or being the strongest, worry about being the happiest.’

Before the crowd could discuss this revelation and revelation it was for these people had not once cared to find happiness but instead spent their lives in a vanity race, Abraham continued.

‘For me, my true happiness laid in reading and even though I had come to the ends of my goal, I stayed in isolation for I was surrounded by what made me happy, books.’

He stopped and took a sip of water. People talked amongst themselves discussing what made them really happy but most of them replied with ‘I don’t know.’

Abraham continued, ‘the next two years I devoted to reading everything from the classics and the giants of literature to the newest released detective novels and my personal drug of choice, fantasy. There I no longer lived in my room and in a way it was cheating that I was allowed to read fiction for I spent time in middle earth, I traveled from Paris to Spain to see bullfighting, then I bore witness to the creation of a magical village that spanned four generations, I went and lived on different planets not just Earth and so a glimpse of our future and then I came back just in time to hitchhike across America and sailed down the Congo River and countless other adventures. I considered myself a well-traveled man having not left my room for about twelve years now.’ The crowd smiled and laughed with the old man who remembered the happiest of his days.

‘But for some odd reason, something kept poking me, something hidden down in my stomach kept me awake at night and no matter how much I read or wrote, that feeling that there was something missing in my life was still there, a constant reminder that I had fallen in a trap of my own illusion so I did not have to suffer more in my quest, a divergent path from my true goal and one day I snapped.’

‘My sanity, which I had kept strong for the past twelve years finally came crumbling down and at the moment when I was the happiest I began to cry, more like weep, and started tearing apart all my books and writings and notes,’ he waved his hands wildly around and the people closest to him took a step back worried that they would in the way of his anger, ‘which I had so methodically gathered in the past twelve years, all gone, pieces of random paper littered my room and each step more paper crumpled under my weight,’ he stepped on imaginary paper lifting his knee to his chest and stomping the marble floor so that the sound echoed in the quiet ball room and the on lookers looked at one another with confused glances thinking the man was truly insane, ‘and I almost broke away from my quest, penning a letter to my servant who brought me food and books each day to let me out that I cannot bear the burden of my mission that no man could carry the weight of it on his weak shoulders but my servant knew me better then I knew myself and he refused to let me out. He is the reason that I stand before you all for if I had been let free I am sure my grief at my failure would have led me to the nearest cliff and I would have jumped to end my misery,’ he jumped where he stood with a smile on his face but none of the others were smiling at the sight of him falling down to his demise, but like an addict, that feeling of missing something came to an end when I found something to plug up that hole. In my case in my rage to tear up all of my books and curse my servants name as I did so I stumbled up a box of books labeled religion,’ he instantly calmed his animated motions and his arms hung down his sides, ‘and the sight of those words calmed my nerves and I took a deep breath hoping that this was the final test.’

‘Here I was confronted with some deeper issues, issues of what is good and what is evil. In my philosophical phase, these issues had risen but I had subconsciously steered away from them because I did not feel I was mentally capable of discussing them and perhaps my reading of literature was a distraction from this big picture but now all of that was over and I was faced with the questions that now I know I had purposely avoided.’

‘By learning and discussing the teachings of Gods from different walks of life it gave me a different, a unique kind of perspective on my previous conclusion of the meaning of life. I started to believe that life cannot just be about self-happiness. It is a great feeling that of being happy and that is a good life but now I believed more than ever that one should give up part of their happiness in order to make the world better and one way to make the world a better place is through love. I cannot tell you how many times I converted to a different religion believing my quest has led me to this faith or the other but in the end I found that the best faith is the one you make for yourself, in other words, I began to follow a religion I created a religion that I constructed through all that I had read and learned in my years of isolation and it was wonderful. In my religion, it was the utmost importance to love, to be happy and to leave our world one percent better than we first got here. I lived by this for a few years, molding the laws and rules to my liking and what I thought would be the best way to accomplish my goal. And now I look upon your faces and I know that you do not believe me, that you think I lie to you all that the meaning of life is to create your own world that best helps our current one and I would say to this,’ he paused and the room held its breath for a moment, ‘is true. All of this was bullshit, excuse my language, but it was for these idealistic notions rarely come true in the real world and so after seven years of faith-based living, I gave it all up and I gave up reading for good.’

The room buzzed louder than ever. Their whisperings were more out of annoyance than anything else. The moon had risen to the top long ago and by now the old man had been speaking for two hours but Abraham did not care, he continued to study them as he combed his beard with his fingers until finally, one person spoke up and said, ‘what is the meaning already, stop philosophizing and just tell us already.’

They had learned nothing so far, not an ounce of patience from a man who had patiently sat in one room for twenty-one years trying to follow his quest. 

‘We are almost at the end my friend. You all with your riches must mean that you are smart intelligent people, right? Well if so then you shall know that nineteen years have passed since I first began to tell you my story, a story you asked for, which means only two more years are left, friend, so if you please, I will tell you what happened in those two years first.’

He did not wait for their approval and continued speaking after a quick breath.

‘When I gave up reading I picked up the pen, my head hurt from all the things I crammed into it and slowly all the information packed into my mind flowed down to my neck and then into shoulder and down my veins of my forearms and my hands and into the black and blue ink of my pen and I wrote everything. I swear, I have written the greatest of novels in that time and I have comprised the greatest of encyclopedias of all fields, for such was the baggage that I carried. As I wrote the more I knew I was heading towards the end when finally one month ago from this day I reached the conclusion of my quest and I simply informed my servant who agreed I had accomplished my mission and let me out and here I am, gentlemen and gentlewomen, a man who spent twenty-one years in a room, following an experiment that nearly killed my sanity but in the end rewarded me with the ultimate truth.’

‘Well, what is it?’

‘Simply, it is to see and if not get a dog, then you shall see.’

At this the room exploded in a round of angry discussion and amidst the rumbling, the old man slipped quietly away but not before hearing people ask one another “what is it that we are supposed to see” or “see what” or “how would I know if I have seen it?” and some even asked what kind of dog.

Abraham did not waste any time, he left the rich dinner party that was full of confused and angry people. He drove to his house and the light coming out of his bedroom told him that his wife was awake. He peeled off his wig and placed the long gray hair on the head of the staircase as he climbed the steps.

‘Yes….how many?….okay I’ll make the appointment.’ He heard his wives voice say through the cracked bedroom door.

When she saw him, she pulled the telephone away from her ear and held her hand over the bottom part so whoever was on the other side could not hear, ‘you won’t believe it Abe but I keep getting calls for adoptions. I swear at least twenty of my puppies will have a new home by tomorrow.’

Abraham merely smiled and stretched his back so that it cracked.

‘All that standing up really takes a toll on the body,’ he muttered.

His wife hung up the phone after confirming the person’s appointment.

‘By the way,’ she said as Abraham climbed into the bed with her having changed his clothes, ‘how did your research go?’

‘Oh wonderful dear, another success in the field of human naivety.’ 

His wife got another phone call. Abraham fell asleep to the image of his smiling wife and the cheery tone of her voice.