Kafka in Retirement
By Jon Tobias
“Today is the first day of your new life.”
The old man stares at the calendar on the wall and reads the note above it. “X off the day.” It is his handwriting but he doesn’t remember being here. All around the house are boxes with labels on them. “Astronaut”, “Contract Killer”, “Ex-Marine”, “Museum Curator”, “Explorer”. Inside each box are notebooks and clothes. Underneath the labels on the boxes, “Go back to the home and go to sleep.”
All he knows is that he woke up in a house full of nurses and other older people. It was almost like they let him sneak out, like they knew exactly where to be at 11 am just so he could walk out the door. All he knows is that he read a notebook where the last page said to come here for the final pickup. What’s worse is thinking you’ve been caught after all these years of drug running. What’s even worse is waking up every morning having to read a notebook to know who you are and who you’ve been.
He picks up a marker and exes out a day. In the square that shows tomorrow’s date says “Family”. On the floor below there is a box labeled “Grandfather”.
The man who thought he was a mafia kingpin opens it, the last page, it says to come here at 11 am. He opens every box and every last page of every last notebook says the same thing.
There is relief in his heart in knowing that he never spent that much time in jail, that every man he killed was never real, that tomorrow he can wake up a better man.
He thinks to himself that he always wanted a family. Being a drug dealing killer for his whole life made him lonely.
In the notebook labeled “Grandfather” the first page reads, “Today your family will visit. The beautiful little girl with the short blonde hair is your granddaughter. You call her Tinkerbell…”
The old man changes into the suit that’s in the box and goes to the home again.