Let there be light, and there I was – wobble
This morning I became angry.
For TWO YEARS I have tolerated relative darkness in my kitchen, all because the overhead flourescents had grown dim. They needed changing. The replacement lights had been sitting on a cabinet in the dining room. For TWO YEARS.
Why, you ask, didn’t I change them?
Because I’m old and wobbly. I was afraid to climb up on the stool.
I was afraid I’d fall.
Falling is no big deal when you’re 28. You get up and keep going.
But falling when you’re 68 is a major, possibly life-altering deal. You could end up in Beal Memorial.
So I put up with the weird, gray twilight that existed in my kitchen – for TWO YEARS – until this morning, when I glanced at those replacement lights lying on the cabinet in the dining room. They pissed me off. I pissed me off.
“You’re going to change those damn lights,” I told myself.
I fished the folding step-stool from beside the refrigerator, set it up under the fixture and undogged the latches that held the cover in place.
Wobble – wobble – wobble. I held onto the microwave, the cabinet, just anything I could grab.
Wobble – wobble – wobble. I got the old light tubes out. The fixture was different than any flourescent light socket I’d ever seen. The prongs just popped into the slots – there was no rotating.
Wobble – wobble – wobble. I put the new tubes in, and let me tell you it was touch and go. Once, I had to quickly jump off the stool, as I was about to fall.
Wobble – wobble – wobble. I got them in, climbed down from the stool, uttered a silent prayer and flicked the light switch.
Voila! I now have light in the kitchen – for the first time in TWO YEARS.
That’s one of the things they never tell you about getting old – the impossibility (or in this case improbability) of doing things you once did with ease. Never in a thousand years would I have expected to fear climbing a two-step stool to change a light.
But I got the job done, and there won’t be a next time. According to the packaging, the new tubes are expected to last 44 years.
Oh, and Nielsen sent me a $5 bill for completing their ratings survey.
Wobble – wobble – wobble. A pretty good day so far.
Next up – the roof!
About the author:
Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”
Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.
As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.
Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, Ello and Instagram. Visit his website at delstonejr.com .
Photo courtesy of Benson Kua of flickr.
I am a lonely, miserable old man, with no reason to get up in the morning. I am alone now. I have always been alone, and I will always be alone.
Would you like to know why?
It is partly my own fault. I have always played it safe. I have never risked happiness. Small, safe steps has been my coda for as long as I can remember.
But it is partly because I have never, EVER been able to be the person I really am. I have always tried to be somebody else. The world required that I be somebody else, and for most of my life, I have been that person.
I did it because I was afraid – afraid I might be told I could not live in this house, or that neighborhood, or among those people.
I did it because I was afraid I would lose my job, that I would end up on the streets, penniless, another faceless person holding a sign at a street corner.
I did it out of a real fear for my safety. I have never been a fighter – or a lover, for that matter. I have always tried to slide by without drawing too much attention, an odd contradiction for somebody who is, or at least was, a public figure.
I did it primarily to spare my family the SHAME of having to live in a community that knew one of its members was a homosexual. Because that’s what our culture does to lesbians and gays, both overtly and covertly. It tells homosexuals that they are damaged goods – that they are defective, morally deficient … that they are unacceptable.
I did not want to subject my family to the harassment, the exclusion, the subtle whispering and the tsking and the million other ways our culture punishes anybody who is different, and anybody who happens to care about those different people.
So I have lived alone, and yes, it has bent me.
I have never known the joys of family, or companionship, or any of those things everybody else takes for granted. What I have known is coming home to an empty house every night. Enduring the withering hatred and aggression directed at people like me. Just trying to make it through the day without being ridiculed, beaten up or murdered.
Now that I am old, and nobody wants me, I have that and worse to look forward to.
Times have changed, but in many ways times have not changed. Some of things are still there – like racism, sexism, homophobia, and all the other “isms” and “obias” we haven’t grown out of.
And that’s why, when I see somebody trying to take back the meager gains that have been made over the past decade, I become angry. It’s not fair. It’s not right.
I should have told the world to go to hell and do what was best for me, but I didn’t, and now I’m stuck with this life which I cannot change.
I don’t want special treatment. I just want to have the same rights as everybody else.
And I don’t want to feel ashamed of being me.
Author’s note: Contact me at [email protected]. To read more of my opinion and humor pieces, visit delstonejr.com . I also write fiction – horror, science fiction and contemporary fantasy. If you’re a fan of such genres please check out my Amazon author’s page. Print and e-books are both available, and remember: You don’t need a Kindle device to read a Kindle e-book. Simply download the free Kindle app for your smart phone or tablet.