After his shoes were laced, a chore he hated most of all, Walter stood up and looked himself up and down the mirror. He licked down a few hairs out of place, his eyes focused in-between light to catch more rogues, and tried hand-ironing a few wrinkles off his shirt before giving up and heading towards the door. Walter’s gnawed fingers turned the knob as his chest puffed with a heavy sigh, and stared at the ground as he took off down front stairs and up the street. At the corner Walter turned left. When he hit the next corner, Walter didn’t look up, he knew to cross from other dragging shoes; shoes worn out and scuffed up making their way to daily routines. He knew them as most recognized faces. Faces or pumps, nods or trips, it all meant exactly the same, just a matter of where one looks. Walter’s a fun guy.
If anybody had a chance to look beneath the well-licked mane, they’d see a little-more-than-middle-aged man weathered by wrinkles. His face was a chasm of incidents, his eyes sunk in but appeared enlarged by bifocals he’d needed since childhood. With 1 suit, most knew Walter by his frugality, as he did in kind with most’s shoes. His hair was of no particular importance, but he cut the sides short and kept the top long, anxiously patting at it every few seconds to make sure things were still in place. Windy days were especially annoying for Walter, and he’d spend his work-walk with a head filled with thoughts he’d rather not think and hair at the weather’s mercy, constantly smoothing it back to place until he was safe inside – the only time he’d ever rush to work.
Walter worked as a telemarketer for home goods: knives and kitchen appliances. A job he had to pay for to get. “After all,” his boss said during his final interview, “How else can you sell them without knowing how wonderfully they work for you?” Without leads, Walter’d wiggle his mouse along the screen, making abstract shapes or loops over YouTube videos until a manager passed by, then Walter would quickly Ctrl-F4 to quickly close the tab. He never quite got into trouble, but he knew – they were looking for ways to can his ass. Sooner or later he’d be unemployed, so he never figured to buy a different suit. “What’s the difference?” He thought, it’d be new to somebody else soon enough.
For all intents and purposes, there’s really no reason to write about Walter. His life is plagued by banality, a level of obscurity found so-often in the annals of human time. However, because of one extraordinary gift, Walter’s life was weighed down by unparalleled ability. Great power brought him insufferable insecurity, a painful loop brought upon by every thought he conjured from his being. He knew these deep-well thoughts beyond time, separate from his mind’s dumb opinions about shoes and hair, as a burning that left a red patch across his chest when they bubbled to the surface. Walter held a disdain for most things in life, but only because he’d seen them so many times before. He’d tried forgetting more times than he could count, but feelings and chest rashes reminded him of what he’d seen. Everybody else experienced them too, he knew, but everybody else had the good fortune of forgetting once they re-inhabited a space on this rock. Not Walter. He could recall his past lives with vivid accuracy, feeling the pains and horror he’d received in temporary vessels before this nightmare. Though Walter’s life this time around was much simpler, boring, he thought so much worse of himself than before. “Useless”, in a word. His pains this time couldn’t be blamed on a figure-head: a slave-driver, a Mongol warrior, in one horrific instance a boulder. This time, he was simply miserable for the sake of being miserable. Maybe it was just meant for him, his desolation in a world of grand and oh-so-lucky social amnesia; a terrible joke with more punches than lines. Maybe he was meant to walk alone. The shoes huffing and puffing each morning, they were as close to faces as Walter wanted to get. There was no use remembering anybody. Because, after all, he’d wind up back here again, miserable and – maybe next time, fortune permitting – beaten and bruised so as to quickly vacate the premises for another 100 years or so.
In the blink of an eye, Walter recalled the first bit of boulder crumpling his head. It was a fleeting feeling, one that ended as soon as it began – but Walter’s unfortunate disposition left him with nothing but intense pain for a millisecond and a nasty red streak. Fragments of a single moment in a long-forgotten time that changed his lives considerably…probably. When Walter woke up again, he was born. Again. And when his head was lopped off, it happened again. And again. Each life brought its own variety of displeasure, a special bouquet of pain plucked just for him. Sometimes, when bored, Walter tried putting some order to the madness – he tried categorizing his lives from worst to best, but they all tipped to one end of the scale.
In his face, present to anybody who actually knew – had he ever bothered to tell anybody – his previous lives were painfully obvious. Deep crevices took the place of prior-life scars, bruises, blisters, and cracks. His eyes were a marvelous shade of blue, one that seemed to reflect the sky. This was no coincidence either, as in most lives—the sky was the very last thing Walter found himself looking at before a most-times-untimely end. Tall and lanky, like most times. Thin without muscle; a heap of bones ready for a new tomb.
As Walter half-heartedly tried turning a lead into a sale, reciting his script in monotone, he realized that like most things, this job didn’t matter. After his fail, he tossed his headset and sighed at the ceiling.
“Why?” He said to nobody in particular.
“You say that every day Walter. Every single day at 12:30. Just go to lunch you miserable sack of…” Raquel trailed off before letting honesty get the better of her.
Without another word, Walter picked himself up, punched out, and headed to his car. Maybe he’d come back if he didn’t kill himself in the next 60 minutes.