A Redundant Life Unworthy Of Living
There was a time in my life when I felt beneficial. A time when I expressed my hostility to the world through rhythm instead of violence. They say violence doesn’t solve a thing, but it sure feels rewarding once the deed is completed. Bloody faces have a tendency to learn from the agony and humiliation, where as words for the most part only leave more room for dialogue. The only problem with that is the cost of bail and repercussions of dealing with an unjust system. Either way I feel as though I just can’t win.
It’s another annoying day in Pittsburgh. Winter is here, but it feels more like spring. Each day I choose to live is faced by a constant reminder of a man who gave up, as I jump out of bed and see my fender guitar neatly set up in the corner collecting dust.
Everyone thinks they’re the latest and greatest underground talent just waiting to be discovered. Social media in a way has ruined it for everyone. YouTube is overdosing on mediocrity. Cheap guitars playing the same strings as the last hundred musicians before them. Banality is smothered over the lyrical content. It’s not for sale because nobody is buying. Millions of people are on the internet. Getting them to give you a piece of their valuable wasted time is another story. Good luck with that.
I’m out the door waiting for the trolley, surrounded by faceless people who have no inclination to speak a word. My wardrobe is somewhere between liberal and conservative, not like it matters. Both sides have a proclivity to give me shit. The silence amongst this socially inept crowd is monotonous. Occasionally it’s broken up by the sound of iPhone buttons. They feel a need to update their Facebook status over the most mundane things.
I cautiously walk towards the back of the trolley away from them. Some inconsiderate asshole has his Jordan’s hanging from the seat into the walkway. I run into this problem frequently when dealing with public transportation. If he wants to be an asshole, so will I. I walk right through his hideous overpriced sneakers like they don’t exist.
“Hey, yo! You gonna at least gimme an excuse me?”
“How about you be more considerate of others, asshole.”
The tall skinny black male with a black lives matter attitude gets up from his seat and comes within five meters of my face. This ignorant fuck appears to be upset with my actions and obviously thinks I’m at fault.
Instead of backing down like a little bitch, I stand my ground and speak my piece.
“Look man, I’m not out to have any problems, but I’m also not willing to permit these asshole tactics from you or anyone else to affect my life. If I were you I’d stop being so fucking selfish and think more about other people. That’s all.”
“Man fuck you! I can’t stand y’all white privilege motherfuckers! This ain’t no white man’s world!”
“Exactly, asshole! The world belongs to you, me and everyone else. We need to be considerate of other people, as we do our best to coexist!”
“You preaching to the wrong nigga, white boy! You best be getting the fuck out my face!”
“Who approached who here? Jesus fucking Christ, you’re ignorant. Go read a book a bro.”
“Yeah you lucky I don’t fuck yo white ass up, bitch!”
The eyes of old ladies, scantily dressed sluts and business suits are all enjoying the show. I’m yet again holding back with everything in me not to have another episode that’ll place me in county jail. The cornbread is the best I’ve ever tasted, but not good enough for another appearance.
“You a fucking bitch, yo!”
Mr. Black lives matters takes his seat, and I calmly take mine. All the plebeians go back to Facebook or Twitter. Whatever’s best for their social interactions. Now I’ll be dwelling on this fiasco for the next three days, obsessing about how I could’ve inflicted pain to get my point across, and how all this wasted dialogue didn’t change a thing.
On a normal day I’d go home, create an instrumental with my acoustic guitar, post it on YouTube and receive no applause. If was feeling really enthusiastic I’d go play an open mic at Wilkies Bar, only to be met with further disappointment from a lack luster crowd too busy pounding out cheap drafts to pay attention to the music. What’s the point anymore? It doesn’t exist. I’ve lost all sense of accomplishment, along with the feelings of gratification.
The trolley moves on. Self obsessed people pay the toll and go on living a life of redundancy. I sit all alone in the back glaring out the window. The dilapidated sights of Dormont are gone, only to be replaced by the conditions of the working poor in Beechview. Through the tunnel we go and over the filth of the Allegheny river. More people come, more people go. Next stop is mine. The final destination.
I pay my toll to the gray haired trolley driver. He thanks me, I ignore him like an average American and continue on my journey from the trenches all the way up to the polluted streets of downtown Pittsburgh.
It’s only a matter of time before I’m at the cultural center of Pittsburgh known as The Point. On a typical winter day this place would be deserted. It’s not that type of day though. It’s December and the weather is like spring.
I’m not surprised to see herds of people down here living it, like life’s worth living. The yoga sluts, the suits, the homeless and unwanted. They’re all here talking bullshit and the air reeks because of it. I walk towards the underpass that leads to the magnificent fountain. It’s a sight to see at the summer time if you’re a fan of vaginas. It’s the pussy epicenter around that time of the year.
I hear acoustic rock music ahead. It sounds surprising good. I approach the man and make an introduction. He’s an older man with long gray hair, tethered clothes, medium build and a unbearable smile.
“Hey what’s up bro? I’m Mario.”
“Hello. I’m Harold.”
“So how’s it working out down here? That guitar sounds beautiful.”
“Oh, I can’t complain. I’ve been down here for about an hour. It looks like I made about fifty bucks. People must either be feeling generous or the music really is that good. A man like myself must remain humble.”
“Haha. Humble my ass. I’d really appreciate it if you’d let me strum that thing. What is that, a Martin Guitar?”
“Yes it is, kind sir.”
“Well what do you think? I’m a fellow musician who’s never strummed anything as beautiful as that. This could be a new life experience.”
“Oh, I guess it couldn’t hurt. Just be easy with those strings. If you break one there goes my livelihood. A man gotta earn a living.”
“Yeah, I understand. I’m currently unemployed and seeking work. I’ll be easy with it.”
I play a couple chords, jumping around from E to F then from A to G. This guitar is everything I’ve always wanted. A sound like this could get me the recognition I deserve. I haven’t played guitar in six months, now that I have, I feel like the time is overdue. It’s time to forego this pessimism and move on. There’s an audience out there for a man with a Martin Guitar. I know it.
I play an original song which draws a crowd. Hot bitches are giving me the eye, suits are dropping ten dollar bills in the guitar case, people are openly applauding. What a difference a day can make.
I stop playing after that and inquire about the price of this guitar.
“This thing is amazing! How much was it?”
“This guitar was over six hundred dollars.”
“Holy fuck! That’s expensive.”
“Yes it is. Can I please have it back.”
“What if I said no, old man?”
“Then I’d have to get up and manually take it from you, kind sir.”
“I’d love to see you try it.”
“Come on young man. Stop playing around and give me what’s mine.”
Luckily for me the crowd dissipated after the music. The old fuck is all alone now. No one’s here to save him.
“Listen here you old washed up bastard. I need this more than you. I can’t get social security or a job right now. I’m betting you get a nice check every month. How about you do the right thing and bestow this to me?”
“You fucking little shit! Who the fuck do you think you are?”
The old man jumps to his feet with uncanny speed and wraps his hands around my throat. My left hand is placed firmly on the neck of the guitar. I’m going out of my way to protect it from any unnecessary damage. My only viable option is to let him have it with the right. I reach back and unload on his face. Three direct hits. I might’ve shattered what’s left of his dentures. The old man’s hands release their deadly grip and he staggers back. I seize the moment with a fierce right hook. The old fuck wobbles back even more and trips over his guitar case going face down onto the pavement. There’s a streak of blood on the guitar case. The old man is knocked out, snoring. I look around and see a couple physically fit white males running towards this crime scene. Now’s the time to take what’s mine and make a run for it.
“Get the fuck back here, you piece of shit,” scream the physically fit white males.
Fuck that shit. I got what I wanted. I’m running through the afternoon commute, down to the trenches, hoping the trolley will be there waiting for my arrival. If not I’m going to jail after a much deserved beat down. I’m out of breath and looking conspicuous. I can feel their vigilante eyes upon me. Here’s the last set of steps and a motherfucking trolley! Hallelujah!
I jump on the trolley, pay the toll and go back to where I came from. I’m feeling overjoyed and accomplished. Two feelings that have eluded me for quite some time now. Fate is on my side.
Life can be funny at times. My original goal was to go downtown, find the biggest skyscraper, go to the very top and make the big plunge. The cycle of life had become a burden.
Now I’m a street musician making a couple hundred dollars a day for a few hours of playing and it’s all because of this beautiful Martin Guitar.
◊ ◊ ◊
Michael Marrotti is an author from Pittsburgh using words instead of violence to mitigate the suffering of life in a callous world of redundancy. His primary goal is to help other people. He considers poetry to be a form of philanthropy. When he’s not writing, he’s volunteering at the Light Of Life homeless shelter on a weekly basis. If you appreciate the man’s work, please check out his blog: http://www.thoughtsofapoeticmind.blogspot.com/ for his latest poetry and short stories.