735 words (2 minute read)

The Beautiful Things

Irvin Ultrich sat in a dark room in back of his house with the room’s only light coming from two rows of monitors sitting on a desk in front of him. He was a rail of a white man who stood 5’6” with short dusty brown hair. He was slumped in his chair, engrossed by what he was watching as he put a lit cigarette to his mouth, and took a pull. When he exhaled the smoke, he blew it upward and slowly to let the warmth of it crawl across his face. He reached over, and tapped the cigarette’s ashes into an ashtray littered with the butts others he had went through during this long viewing session. For a man of 32, he had a boyish look to his face that was accentuated by the freckles spread across his checks. It was late afternoon, but no outside light made it into the room due its only window having been painted over black with blackened shades and being nailed shut. He figured if no light could make it in, then no one could see in either. On the screens, displayed different rooms in semi-monochrome color tones with shifting picture quality which were mostly devoid any human activity except the lower right screen. The vacant screens showed an empty bathroom area, kitchen, and a bedroom that had a device of noticeable size sitting next to the bed. It was the fourth screen that drew all of Irvin’s attention for it was occupied by woman in a wheelchair, sitting in a living room area, watching television.

She looked to be in her mid 20’s with shoulder length wavy brown hair. He examined every inch of her as she sat perfectly still in her chair with her hands lying across her lap. She wore a blue sweater and had a thin quilt over her still legs. The chair was slightly inclined, and there was a piece that rose up from the back center of it that had metal half cylinder arms coming off each side of it. They acted as supports for her head with a third higher arm came around from above it that had a device attached to its end, and the end of the de vice was positioned to be close to her mouth. A bag hung off of the back to the chair with wires that hung down from it and curved back up to disappear underneath the quilt. He watched her there for a while, thinking to himself. He had overwhelming desire to get up from where he was, and go to her. He felt as if he could reach through the screen, and feel her warm, soft skin. He wanted her to know him, to feel his presence. He fought these feelings as quickly as they arose in him. He knew it would only ruin this, and end in more disappointment as it had with the others. He needed to savor this right here and now, and leave it at that.

“Men go round the world to eyeball some crap that fag da Vinci painted,” he thought to himself. “Wars have been fought, blood been spilled, kingdoms fallen over things that were deemed ‘Perfect’.” He took another puff of his cigarette. “I’d rather look at the beautiful broken things hiding in the corners.”

The woman on the screen turned her eyes to the side as an older woman walked into the room pushing a tray cart in front of her that had a plate of food on it. She had her grey hair up in a bun, and wore a similar sweater to the younger woman with a long skirt and house slippers. The two were talking, but there was no audio. The older woman rolled the cart in front of the wheelchair, and slid it over top of the front of it to bring it to the height of the younger woman’s chest. The older woman reached around the wheelchair and was able to manipulate the arm with the device on it away from the younger woman’s mouth. She then walked off and brought back a chair so she could sit next to the wheelchair. She proceeded to slowly feed the wheelchair bound woman her dinner. Irvin watched intently as he had before. He too was hungry, but that would have to wait.