Nick Nelson

Carl and Conrad

carl had fallen asleep during the meeting, and was awakened by a poke in his ribs from jonathon.

marcia, the group leader, was staring at him.

i am glad you can join us, carl, marcia said. what do you have to say for yourself?

nothing, carl mumbled. i guess i fell asleep.

well, since you have nothing to say for yourself, carl, i will say something for you.

marcia took a deep breath. carl, you are the most pathetic excuse for a living creature i have ever encountered. you are a complete waste of atoms and molecules. you have nothing to say for yourself, and you do not listen to what anybody else says to you.. you just take up space which some more deserving creature might enjoy. the vibrations you emit are poisonous, and their only saving grace is their weakness. does anybody else have anything to add?

tania jumped up. what marcia said, she said, and sat back down again.

alex stood up. he addressed carl directly. i first knew you for what you are, carl, when jerri spoke about the loss of her cat. it was obvious that you just didn’t care, and you hardly made an effort to pretend to care.

bob was next. i saw the little smirk you tried to keep off your face, carl, when benny talked about his struggles with media addiction. i saw the cloven hoof beneath your priestly robe.

all of the members of the group, except darrell and mickie, stood up in turn and denounced carl. their voices, and their messages, began to blur together in carl's brain in a jumble of meaningless words.

mountaintop… fascism… roots of alienation… summer at the beach… danish pastry… absolutely the worst…

are you through? carl finally asked when he realized no one was speaking any more.

so it would seem, marcia told him.

can i go now?

you not only can go, you will go. and stay gone. you are no longer welcome here.

carl got up and left. he walked through the dark streets to his little room.

he did not see any other people. a bus, looking empty, passed him.

he went into the donut shop on the corner a block from his building. he ordered a small decaf. there was one old fashioned donut left on the rack behind the counter and he bought it.

when he got back to his room carl consumed the coffee and the donut.

then he picked up a small spiral notebook from the table beside his couch.

the first two pages of the notebook contained a list of names, all of them lined through except the last one, which was “carl”.

carl drew a line through “carl” and wrote under it, “conrad”.

he slept through most of the next day, and when darkness began to fall he went back out into the street.

he wandered though the streets for a while, until he found a storefront with a sign that said “meeting”.

he went inside, into a bare looking room. there were about twelve people sitting in folding chairs and a woman standing in front of the room.

i see we have a new visitor, the woman said. who might you be?

my name is conrad, and i am the loneliest person in the world.

Nick Nelson is another member of the Pessoan ensemble that is the horace p. sternwall stable of writers who also have a number of books available on lulu as by the 'total dissatisfaction press' and now also on Amazon.
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