Sunday, May 12, 2013

Desensitization

The water has reached a roiling boil and the immaculate white mug is placed on its coaster on the dining table. There is no thought process involved; everything happens in an orchestrated flurry of movements. Two teaspoons of Maxwell House, hot water till the mug's half mark and a dabble of tepid milk. Two cubes of sugar. Stir well and imbibe. Bliss.

He reaches out for the plastic tongs and adds in the sugar cubes while the drone of the morning news fills the air of his cramped apartment like a miasma. The celebrity newsman prattles on inanely, occasionally demanding order and respect from his panelists who appear on his show only to further their sordid agendas in Parliament. Something about a neighboring country acting up again; fears about another trampling all over our sovereignty and concerns about our decadent moral core. What he'd like to call the Mass Media's wet dream. People are kept angry, fed with half-knowledge and allowed to act on their fears and bigotries. Where would these cretins be without the mayhem and chaos in our current social structure?

The first sugar cube has melted away but the second cube catches his attention. A black ant, with all the temerity that the Hymenoptera order could muster, sits on the dissolving second cube of sugar. A lone man on a lone island grabs onto the only coconut tree as the imaginary plug is pulled from underneath. Glug glug. At first, he studies the ant and gently prods the cube. The ant falls into the scalding beverage and were it capable of expressing emotions it would be screaming no doubt. No pity is offered, no pity is forthcoming. The spoon comes down without repent and the ant is consigned to the depths of the instant coffee.

An old memory is pulled up. At the water slide, he, as a young child, hesitates. The cries behind him get louder and harsher. Kids were unforgiving then too. Finally, with his back turned to the wall and with literally no other recourse, he goes down the slide and hits the pool after what feels like an eternity later. Before he gets his bearings together, David has followed suit and ploughs into his back, sending him deep underwater. The fear is overwhelming and the mind freezes. Arms flay and water invades the nasal crevices. Blindness and burning lungs. Panic and fleeting thoughts of death.

He finally disengages from auto-pilot and looks at the tainted metal spoon. He feels sick to his stomach. The room echoes with the crash of the ceramic mug on the mosaic floor and his screams telling the newsman to shut up. He glances at the black ant and wills with all of his might for the brave Hymenopteran to move.

Note: This is a work of fiction and no real ants were hurt in the writing of this post.