It is a grim desultory duty in gray dustones, without overt compulsion. We have to build a walkway beside the road. There doesn't seem to be any hurry about it. One or two drab creatures lift heavy sod and carry it lethargically. It is something we accept without joy and set to perform without hurry.
I walk up the line, behind a counter, and tell one I need my brush. She has my brush, which I need on the line, and she isn't producing it. She is one of those who sees her role as superior to my own, and her natural bearing assumes the like superiority. She condescends to answer in monotones and monosyllables. "Dennis said."
Dennis is some twerp from my ancient waketime history who believes his own destiny was set when he took slide rule in high school. Testosterone is troops with banners madly planted all over foreign fields. Dennis said.
I return to my place.
I now am called before a panel. Some serious officers are asking me questions. When I spoke with my son Will over the phone, sometimes I didn't hear. They lean closer.
Yes, yes, I say, I have hearing loss in my right ear, but that's sort of like being left handed, isn't it? You don't use both sides all the time. I am perfectly capable, I say. They don't think so. I attempt to convince them in rhetoric I am quite all right, can complete the mission, for, after all, what is there to hear in hauling dirt?
It is a Catch-22. I am pretending I'm not anxious to leave, indeed want to stay with this noir nonsense, which should convince them to kick me out. I act as if I don't want to be considered aged, damaged goods. I act like I care what they think. I am a good actor, and they are most predictable.
I think of the fatuous, foolish effects of cockamamie causes everywhere. Dennis said.