Light Bulb



The light was always on in Herman's room. It was a small room with a small window and only got Sun very late in the day, if there was any Sun. He read a lot and the only way to do it was under a light. So the light was always on. He kept it on at night to navigate through the piles of books to the bathroom, a trip he made at least three times between ten in the evening and three in the morning. Two hours after the last trip, he always woke up. The light was on when he was out, because he never knew when he'd come home. He sometimes met his cronies at the corner bar and once they got to talking, it could be very dark in the room before he got back to it. The night the bulb burned out, he was pretty sober, but very tired. He didn't bother to change it. When he woke that morning, the books were all over the place and the bathroom was a mess. He cleaned it all up, put in a new bulb and set a three month limit on its use. After that, he never had the problem again. Every three months, he changed the bulb. He never ran out of them. He always bought six new ones when he was down to two.

A very nice woman lived upstairs. She used to give him kind lectures about wasting electricity, but he explained the system, calmly, patiently, and finally, she gave him credit for being more sensible that she'd thought. They were friendly then, but not too friendly. He didn't want any visitors, even if they could cook better than he. His rooms were not his castle, but more like monastic holdings, to be held in the protection of the monastery for the owner. That's how he thought about renting. He kept the place in better shape than it was in when he moved in. He never bothered Stupjak, his landlord, about repairs. He made them himself to break up the monotony. He considered it a good life.

He was reading the local paper one winter morning, when he ran across an article about his old colleague Justin Tayme. Justin had been the plant manager at the glass company where Herman had been the chief accountant. They used to drink a beer together after work and Herman had taught him how to fish for trout in the river behind the plant. They hadn't seen each other for five years, since Herman retired, and it looked like at least another five. Justin was on his way to federal prison for some stock scheme he'd gotten involved in with Pat Lapalma and Ed Puccini. Herman chuckled. He'd slapped the bosses hands a couple of times for trying to cook the books. He didn't think Justin would get this low, but that's the way it happens, a nickel here, a million there. He put the paper down, finished his coffee, put on boots, heavy sweater, parka, hat and gloves, and walked up to the municipal building to find Krasny. He'd worked at the plant too, and they could probably talk about this until lunch.

The snow had come down pretty heavily that night, and it was a cold, sunny morning. He enjoyed the walk and met a couple of the neighborhood dogs on the way. He fed them each a treat, patted their heads, and contiued up the hill to the mayor's office. Krasny was sitting behind the desk smoking one of his foul odored cigars. He'd read the paper too, and their conversation meandered from the good old days to how many of the good old boys really weren't. At the noon whistle from the firehouse, they bundled up and walked down the hill to Kate's for Irish Stew Special. The place was full and the conversation was all about the article in the morning paper. Some of Justin's „investors“ weren't as amused as the rest of the crowd and were asking for capitol punishment. If they'd been ten miles south, they'd have probably formed a lynch mob.

Their hypocrasy left a bitter taste in his mouth. He and Krasny had talked about the „group of investors“ and were quite sure they all knew the score when they layed their money on the table. Most of them were Justin's drinking buddies or golf partners. None of them were dumb. All of them had more than enough money to play with and the same lack of scruples as their investment counsellor. Herman and the mayor walked back to the office and laughed about the sour grapes. They could all still play golf and the mmarket with no fear of poverty. Herman had things to do and Krasny was on the phone with the county commissioners, talking about the plans for the exit on the new bypass. It was a nice walk home. The sun was still bright and the temperature had risen a few degrees. The dogs were still out, so he fed them another treat and another pat on the head. In his room, he opened the clothes closet and took out the computer. Once the old thing had booted up, he opened the secure email program and wrote „Local color complicet. Detail to follow.“

He signed the email „823“, hit the send button, closed the email program and opened up the word processesor. This was going to be a great short story.

copyright 2007-2010: john zavacki (the elder)