(note: see the Master Document for explanation of the End Lesstin Kering project.)
Back to the List
Lesstin Oswald Kering stamped
the mud off his shoes. He took a deep breath, felt the autumn air
blow into his lungs. It smelled like returning to school and
Halloween, like treats and costumes, and smiling children knocking on
doors. But Lesstin, Les, barely noticed the smell; to him, it felt
like a lonely valentines day, bitter and cold and all too aware of
He pushed his way through the
loose screen door, and set his bundle on the old wooden bench,
sentinel of the entry, and one of the few things left in his house.
Almost everything else had been sold or given away, but like Les, no
one wanted that old bench. He didn't bother removing his coat or hat,
or even his gloves, all of which were older than the bench, and too
worthless to sell or donate. But, sitting on that old, trusty bench,
he took his shoes off, even now. Today, he had all the time in the
world, and determination was no reason to be sloppy.
Over the years, he had
learned a thing or two about haste. The type of lesson that repeats
itself until a person forms habits that define who and what they are.
In such a way, he had discovered, that even when he thought it
wouldn't matter, just a quick run in for the wallet or keys, that if
he left his shoes on, he, and only he, would inevitably step in the
puddle left by his haste. There were few things in life he hated as
much as wet socks. He suspected there was a larger lesson there, but
couldn't quite pin it down.
Les walked, padded feet
warmed by thinning wool socks. The floorboards were cool, but not
cold, under his insulated feet. The night would be chilly, with the
heat turned off, but he didn't want to risk any trouble, or waste any
gas, on this house, empty and useless. After all, he wasn't sure how
long it would be before someone else was here, and heating the place
seemed unfortunate. Sad almost, in a way that tugged at Lesstin's
heart, just so, pushing a tiny salty tear into the corner of his eye.
Idly, unsure of what to do
next, he ran a hand over his head, still surprised to feel it shaved
nearly bald. Hair always made a bigger mess than he expected. Dust
could be wiped away, water was easy to mop up, but hair snagged,
caught in things, and found ways into cracks, that always shocked and
surprised him. Even in the cleanest house ever, with a dozen people
to work and scrub, he felt sure he could have found hair under a bed,
between two floor boards, next to the toilet, or any of a dozen
So the hair had to go.
Cleaner. Easier. He'd left his eyebrows, after a test a few weeks ago
had shown people's odd reactions to a man with no hair above his
eyes. People raised their unshaven brows, watched him sideways,
whispered, as if he couldn't see them. He hadn't even known those
people. Though, he really felt like he didn't know anybody anymore,
not here, not in this town. Only distant family in different cities.
None were doing better than he had been, there was no one and nowhere
he could go stay on a couch for a while. But it was nice to know they
were out there. They sent him letters at Christmas, Easter, solstice.
The usual. At least someone would come see the house, eventually.
In any event, he wanted
eyebrows when his family saw him, assuming anyone came. How odd to
think he had waited from then until now, just so he would have
eyebrows, for one meeting that might not happen.
Lesstin went through the list
in his head, making sure everything was in order. Closets had been
emptied of clothing, mostly donated, where they would be accepted. So
many closets of shirts, coats, pants, shoes. Even trivial things,
wallets, who needs nine wallets? And ties, enough to fill a box that
barely fit in his car. Wearing a tie, every day, it would have taken
months to wear them all. Of course, he only ever wore two or three.
The red one, the brown one, the blue one. No one wants to see a tie
with pumpkins, or skulls, or guitars.
He smiled, laughed to
himself, wondering at the odd things that distracted him. Ties. Wet
socks. Hair. He took a deep breath, hesitating, waiting for that
tense moment where determination became action. He let the breath
out, and oddly, discovered he wanted coffee. To his surprise, he even
felt a little hungry. Of course, there was no food. The fridge had
been donated to a old coworker who couldn't remember Lesstin's name.
But right now, coffee, rich
and dark, with a dash of cream, which he'd have to go without,
sounded wonderful. The coffee maker was gone too, but he scrounged a
small dented kettle and a single serving pack of pre-ground beans
that somehow had escaped the harrowing of the cupboards. A lonely
survivor. Just like Lesstin.
The old beans made a bitter
drink, the last for the old house, with it's creaking, cold boards,
and windows that neither heat nor cold. Should have replaced those
years ago, but now, Les was glad he hadn't. Can't waste old windows
on a house that had no use. It seemed fitting, for the scene.
He had made every effort not
to waste. Not to make work for someone else. Power was off, gas was
off, mail had been diverted to his aunt in New York. Not that anyone
sent him mail. Even the magazines for plastics from china (laced with
who knows what,) had stopped coming. Personal bills had been paid,
there had been enough money left for that. At least, until they came
for him again. And they would.
Certainly mistakes had been
made. Some remembered, some forgotten. No matter. He couldn't fix
So he continued the list.
Letters had been sent on delay to everyone who would want to know. To
remember. Messages after messages, letters to family and distant
friends, to relatives, old loves, and to Maria. Or, at least, the
last address he had for Maria. He didn't begrudge her a life away
from him, but suspected their separation had been the beginning of
his madness. Well. Maybe not so mad as foolishness.
After all, his entire success
in business had come after their separation. But had he been trying
to escape the memory? Or just prove to her that she had lost more
than he had? It didn't seem to matter. Success had proven fleeting,
and disaster had a way of lingering, like that smell of holidays and
feeling of...nothing. Of nothing he could define. Just, of ending. Of
this, of an empty house, and a man with no ties to the world. Of
apologies sent, checks mailed to charities, the last of his money
given away, the last of his tears, send to people who would value
Lesstin smiled, pleased with
his thoroughness. He couldn't remember the entire list, and it was
sealed in an envelope now. A record of all he had done. Perhaps too
thorough, just this once. But he knew what it would say. Everything
in its place, just so. Right angles, straight lines, and loose ends
Lesstin walked on crinkling
plastic, into the living room. Walls, floors, and ceiling, all were
covered with 8mil plastic sheeting, taped and sealed. The room looked
ready for painting, but the lightly-stained wall boards behind the
plastic said paint was not in the plan. In fact, they were a major
feature of the house. Not that he'd been able to sell it. But someone
might, later, and he hated to ruin them. No waste, nothing destroyed
that didn't need to be.
As he came to the end of the
coffee, Lesstin's mind rolled. Was this what he wanted? Truly, this
was how he wanted to end it? But he could see no other way out. If he
waited, other people would get drawn into his messes; people he loved
would pay for his mistakes. Still, he was glad he checked. Very
thorough. Only a sane man would ask, and he felt better knowing he
wasn't entirely mad.
He unlatched the rifle case,
casually opening the plastic box. He ran his hand down the barrel,
feeling the gloss finish. His heart beat faster, sprinting after his
thoughts. He sighed, fingered the cardboard box of bullets, filled with one
solution, and flicked the tab open.
“I guess this is it,” he
said to no one.
Back to the List