He was 60 that summer, and deep inside his bones he knew that he would never see another one. Not that he cared – each of his 60 was worth another man’s 100, and he had seen enough to thoroughly understand life and therefore have no fear of death. He knew it was the heart which would get him – still physically and mentally strong, his life of thrills and adventure had taken its toll on his heart and he knew it’s ticking was now more than ever a countdown, but he viewed death as a challenge and a new continent to explore, much like he had viewed things his entire life.
It was always about discovery and self-challenge. Even during the brief period of criminality in his youth, it was never about harming others or the easy money he made, but the thrill, the women, the electric feeling of knowing that you’re outside society, outside the rules and established systems. It was the same reason that despite his enormous intelligence he had never pursued higher education. He hated doing as he was told, hated taking the trodden path.
For the same reason, he had never struggled with women to the same extent as his peers had. He had no lofty ideas of marriage or white picket fences, only experience and adrenaline, and women sought him because experience and adrenaline surrounded him like an aura. His first business was a dismal failure, as was his second. His third made him a millionaire.
By the age of 30 he had enough money to live comfortably for a hundred years, and by the age of 32 he had lost it all on risky business ventures. He had rebuilt it by 40, now richer than ever. He had explored the world. Those who resented his success, the educated, the upper classes who hated new money, attributed it to luck and chance, and some inbuilt characteristics of his personality that God had simply not seen fit to provide them with.
He was a self made man, and they hated that he had done it his own way. He had a criminal record with 2 convictions of car theft from when he was 19, and they rubbed it in his face his entire life, and he never gave a fuck. They were fat; they choked on their spaghetti in expensive Italian restaurants. He believed that food was fuel and the body was a machine, and kept a peak level of physical fitness through his 40′s and deep into his 50′s.
He was 60 now, had 5 children with 3 women, and the children adored him. His grandchildren worshipped him. It was hard not to admire an elderly man with the eyes and the spirit of a 20 year old. He had been married twice, but the women in his life never regretted what they had done with him. He was as he was, and he made no apologies for it, and he had ensured that the children he had with them had received a quality upbringing.
He still had no regrets.
A tear ran down the wrinkled cheek as the old man’s fantasy disappeared from his sluggish mind. 60 years old, he was alone in his room at the nursing home his ungrateful children had thrown him in 2 years ago when the depressions had really started tearing apart his tortured mind.
He was apparently unpleasant to be around.
He had never dared to question or to rebel. He never could muster up the balls to stand up for himself, something would always interfere at the last moment and he would back off every time he had to make a stand. He had achieved good grades throughout primary and high school and attended a prestigious university where he had studied business management and finance. Out of school, however, he had struggled.
He had no experience. He wasn’t good at communicating with people. He had believed his parents when they told him a degree was all he needed to succeed in life, but he found out that owners wanted to hire people with experience, or people with connections. His degree had put him deep into debt, and he began working as a manager at his local McDonalds to pay it off.
Eventually the degree did begin to pull its weight, and he transferred to Coke where he worked for years as the area distribution manager. He earned nice money, 90k a year or so, and pulled a wife from the lower classes who he thought saw past his awkwardness into his soul but only saw past his awkwardness into his wallet. 20 years and several promotions later, he was on 150k, and unhappier than ever. With this kind of money he thought he would be travelling the world, he thought he would be free.. but he only saw cell walls.
The mortgage on the nice house that as a high level manager he was expected to have, the repayments on the expensive European luxury car that as a high level manager he was expected to drive, the private schools that as the kids of a high level manager his children were expected to go to.. the ever increasing demands his wife would make, screaming on stimulants or crying on depressants.. they were eating him alive. He abused prescription drugs and wished he could muster up the courage to put a gun to his head.
Now he was 60, and through a lifetime of stress his heart was nearly gone. He felt in his bones that this would be the last summer he ever saw. He looked back and saw nothing. He looked forward and only saw a miserable end to a miserable life. His wife had left him long ago, and his children couldn’t stand him, the weak old man, the ultimate slave to the system and poster-child for the middle class western world.
His whole life he had acted to avoid mistakes, to avoid being talked about by other people, to avoid doing something he would later regret. Yet now, at the end of the road, he had so many regrets. He would have done anything, anything, to be able to go back to the start and change it. To say fuck it. To rebel against his parents and go his own way.
But it was too late now…
Several months later, his heart finally gave out one sunny afternoon, and the falling autumn leaves were the only ones who seemed to mourn, or even acknowledge, his final, tortured breaths.