Lost Horizons


This is a little story I wrote a couple of years ago. Not quite sure if there was ever any intent beyond the little short story

Lost Horizons

Bill looked around his world; the cramped little room that he called home. He couldn’t remember the last time he had gone anywhere other than down to the corner for booze and smokes. This wasn’t the way it was supposed to be. He was gonna light the world on fire with his brilliance. He was gonna be someone. But instead he was caught in a web of his own making, brought down by addiction and its ever-increasing spiral of poverty and depression.
Slowly, he stood and made his way across the tiny room to the kitchenette in the corner. Opening the fridge, he moved to get another beer but stopped. He looked at the meager contents in the refrigerator: couple of cheap beers, a half-eaten candy bar and a mostly empty jar of mayonnaise. Not anything of substance or really anything for sustenance. His wallet lay open on the counter and he picked it up. There were a couple of ones and the twenty his daughter had given him the night before.
Damn, he felt guilty about that. Nikki worked hard, a damn sight harder than he or her mother ever had. She had put herself through college and was living the life that Bill had wanted for himself. She was always checking up on him, willing to loan him a little cash when she could. Sometimes she would come in and clean his drab little room or stock his cabinets with food. Mostly though, he knew, she was just checking to make sure he hadn’t checked out on her like her mother had done.
He leaned back against the counter and surveyed the room around him. Dirty laundry had piled up and over the hamper. Newspapers and books were strewn everywhere. The TV dominated the small room, covered with dust and prattling on about nothing of any interest to anyone. Piles of wrappers from a variety of fast food joints and beer bottles covered every surface and most of the floor. The ashtrays were overflowing and the room smelled of mildew and smoke.
Sadly, he shook his head and opened the beer. As he drank, he thought of all the dreams he had denied. When he graduated from high school he had dreamed of a career as an engineer, designing high-tech toys for the rich and famous. He planned to invent the next latest greatest. But the party began in college and by the time he graduated he had a drunk, suicidal wife, a baby and a GPA that wasn’t good enough to garner any offers. So he took a job he didn’t want and drank away his pain. Margie finally succeeded in killing herself when Nikki was ten. And the drinking increased. Nik moved in with his mom on her fourteenth birthday, leaving him alone. Now, ten years later, he no longer tried. He scrounged change, begging for it if he needed. Once a month he got a little bit of disability money, just enough to pay the rent.
He shuffled into the bathroom, no bigger than a closet. When he looked into the mirror, a scruffy, gray man looked back at him. When had he gotten so old and rundown? He looked like a worn-out version of his grandfather. How pathetic.
Bill looked down at the beer in his hand and slowly poured it down the bathroom drain. Maybe it was time he started looking for those lost horizons instead of hiding. Maybe, just maybe he could try, if not for himself then for Nikki. With a new sense of purpose, he strode into the room and began to clean up. that is here.

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