Less Than; or Looking for More from Where it is not Likely Going to Come [Flash Fiction]

He cannot say with any accuracy what it was he felt when the doctor came out to tell him his father had died, having been outside the room as the team with the machines tried or did not try to save him, his dad, as he thought later, not having trusted the hospital his father was in; and was outside the room because he chose not to stay with him, his dad, because he wanted him alive, not for him but for him, not for his dad but for himself, everything he did in the hospital was for himself and not for his dad, not really, he later thought, thought about again another time, how many times since he cannot say. What are we supposed to do when someone we love is facing death? Do what the person would want you to do. I cannot tell you how many impossibly stupid people I met at the hospitals in which my mother and father were dying, and I am not being mean, am not being unfair, am not being haughty or condescending; no, not in the least. We are breeding a far stupider functionary level of society. The great mass of people are less literate, are worse educated, are far stupider than they have ever been, he insists. What he thinks others have thought, have said, have shouted, have gotten angry about and written letters against or essays explicating or diatribes in protest on line, in blogs, entries and entries of criticism about how impossibly stupid we are have become continue to be. Far less sensitive we would have to be if we are en-masse a lot less literate than we used to be. Nurses are dumber than they have ever been, and almost criminally stupid here in New York–don’t try to tell me otherwise–and they have all gotten fairly legalistic in protecting themselves against having to take responsibility for their crass indifference, and many of them are not sensitive enough to know that they are crass, right along with a practiced and perfected performance in a masquerade of feeling. 

You are looking for more, aren’t you?


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