Philosophy of Rent by Mark Antony Rossi

November 29, 2015

We’ve lost our magic. Our instinct for mystery. Most bold questions have pat answers. Whatever’s left—few manage to pay attention.

How I long for a day when the classics are read aloud from atop a balcony to studious listeners drawn to every syllable. Perhaps I’m daydreaming abit. Foolishly expecting culture from soulless mall addicts intent on spoon-feeding corporations. Mindlessly they dump their slave wages into the awaiting tentacles of ugly giants. The fat and prosperous merchants who in turn dump their garbage into our drinking water.

We’ve lost our minds. Our fear of freedom is the root of all trouble. The cardinal reason we as a people are exploited over and over again. We are too willing to trade a piece of liberty for peace of mind. In the end it can’t be done. But you already you know that in your heart of hearts.

Why bother listening?  Fear is a friend beamed in from skyscrapers built by the lowest bidder. Grab that remote switch to something more soothing. You can’t fight City Hall. You can’t change the World. It’s somebody else’s problem. You don’t want to get involved. Not in my backyard!  Daddy will walk out. Mommy might start drinking again. And my God, “what would the neighbors think?”

These are but a few thoughts running through my mind at the precise moment I forced a nervous bank clerk to fill the bag. One could smell her fear…or was that something else entirely? The instant realization that her shopping days were over. It was almost necessary to remind her—the bank had insurance, she did not. What loyalty could such an oversight instill?

Very little I assure you, there was a gleam in her eye. As if to communicate—“take me with you.” Maybe diamonds are a girl’s best friend, but right now I can live without both. A gym bag full of cash and the sight of smartass suburbanites kissing marble is enough inspiration. Thank you.

None of those good citizens care about anything but themselves. The men had no chivalry. A sea of white shirts pissing their pants. I’ve seen more courage in a baby nursery. The magazines say women want romance. I say they want these gutless gold-card holders with little alligators on their shirts.

Women know romance is a fantasy sold by women with the exact same gripes. A man like me, wavering a gun around, is probably more excitement than any of these ladies will see in their boring bedrooms.

The police arrived at a bank swarming with shaken but unharmed customers. The entire bunch much too impatient for questioning. They’re all eager to race home and share a sexy crime story with a friend in front of the nightly news.

I fairly divided the money between my three assistants. Two underpaid bank guards and a single mother: three victims of the American Dream. I’m still amazed to find believers in this fairy tale. But such is life in the land of the free.

I have a young child to feed and a naive woman who expects an island paradise will guarantee happiness. If only she weren’t the mother of my child. If only I could explain to her how things truly are in the world. If only the rent were as sunny as that island paradise I wouldn’t mind believing in myself.

Mark Antony Rossi’s poetry, fiction, creative nonfiction and photography have been published by The Antigonish Review, Black Heart Review, Deep South Journal, Ethical Spectacle, Flash Fiction, Japanophile, On The Rusk, The Journal of Poetry Therapy, The Magill Review, Sentiment Journal, Death Throes, Vine Leaves Literary Journal and dozens of other worthy publications. He currently writes a weekly science humor column “Atom and Eve” for the online publication “Cherry Creek Review.”