There's an old man hunched over a desk. The desk is by a single window in a tiny, one room efficiency apartment in an old, non-descript building in an old factory town that has long since stopped being the place to look for work in manufacturing.
The flood took care of that. Washed the town clean of half its manufacturers, along with the jobs, dreams and futures of the mill workers. The old man was one of these flood-washed.
His stoop shoulders tell a tale of long hours bent over working on intricate machinery and electrical equipment. There's a tale told on the pages of scribed text he has faithfully put on paper for the last 43 years, bent over his desk in the morning before work and after dinner in the evening and well into the night, sometimes past midnight. Day and night. Days - work days, weekend and holiday, months, seasons and years of journals: loose leaf notebooks full of the days' events, reflections, hopes and fantasies. Scores of them.
Some of the journal entries are mundane, taking on the appearance of a diary. Some fly and soar with glee, while others quake and weep with sorrow. And some - the ones that get real, are deep, dark and secret, only known to the old man, his conscience and creator.
It's those deep, dark and secret pages that cause him concern and uncertainty.
Age is catching up with the old man. He worries about what will become of his library of himself, his journals. His life in ink and on paper. It's as if he tapped a vein, fed the viscid blood to his pen and wrote all his words with his very essence.
He worries about "post mortum anonymity" the way others worry about what will become of their physical remains after they are dead. What will become of the journals? Will one volume get a haphazard scan and the whole lot be sentenced to temporary housing in a dumpster before ultimately ending up in the landfill?
Will it be a relative, friend, stranger or probate court official that makes the determination as to what is to become of the journals?
The old man laboriously ponders his options. He looks at his journals, notebook after notebook in neat rows on a multitude of shelving he had fashioned together in the tiny room. He looks upon them as both trash and treasure. Odd: paper and ink. He tried to imagine The End, and visualized a coroner of Greek descent muttering "this is all English to me" while thumbing through one of the notebooks, taking a break from filling out the old man's Death Certificate worksheet.
The old man fancies cremation as the preferred method of remains processing. Much more efficient, clean and proper, at least in his way of thinking. And based on that belief, he wonders if the same should be done to his journals: burn that book, if you would. Please. Not out of a twist on Fahrenheit 451, but out of privacy. Respect for the dead. Respect for the new dead. Curious and peculiar.
Always the curious and peculiar one. Always. The child that was "just a little different" than the others. Under-achiever. Excels in areas of interest to him; hopeless disinterest in all other avenues of study.
Ashes to ashes. The remains of the journals would be incinerated at the crematorium and put in the urn with his own ashes. Other than the tree byproducts and ink, "the mental energy that pushed pen on paper would be there in some way, shape or form, I suppose" he thought to himself.
He thought to himself a lot. He lived alone.
Then he would finally be "at one" with his personal literary therapy. Anonymity secured. The integrity of the enigma sound.