The Hoarder By Christophe Bassett
It’s everywhere, all these things. I do not think that they are all just objects like you, that’s entirely sick and wrong. They do not confine, they comfort and protect. The room I live in is just the same as yours, but mine is full of joy. Every chair, every cup, every toy, every decoration, every glass, every vase, every book, they all have a deep and hidden history with me. These things are my friends, these things are my family. These friends, these families. The stacks of friends line all of my rooms and the walls remain hidden. Some of you sleep on a bed, I do not. The bed that I have is family; I have had it since childhood. I sleep on the balcony, so that my bed and all of my other friends can have a warm place to be. When I see the stacks and I see all these friends, I feel happy, serene as I experience an endorphinal bliss set forth by the memories and moments that I had had with all of these friends. These are my friends, my family. I am not lazy, that is not why the friends line the walls. My friends are very well organized: by color, item, article, brand, logo, etc, etc, etc. I do not use garbage cans; I live with my apartment (quite large by the way) right next to the dumpster of the complex. Even if I was not so close to a dumping facilitator, I would not defile my garbage can friends in such a way. You and I may have a different idea of what trash might be. You probably think that it is anything out of line, in the way, useless (?). My garbage is anything in danger of rotting, food remnants, or possibly loose papers or plastic wrappers. When I throw something away, it becomes forgotten, it has not been in my presence. It doesn’t exist, never has, never will.
Was I always like this you ask? Yes. No. Somewhat. Of course. Of course not. No, yes, no. Yes, that’s it, no. No is the answer to your query. I was not always like this.
I do not remember this former self. I have but heard of, been told of, seen photos of, read about a former self with so little friends.
One thing that I do remember is that I never tossed a present. It is horribly rude to the saint who proffered upon me a gift…just so that I could throw it out! I did throw some things away that I regret though. I did many many many times. I know these things because I was never as happy as I am now. Maybe it was Kevin who showed me the path to blissful serenity. Yes, it was Kevin that started this.
Kevin is a great friend of mine. He is bearded, tall, red-haired, balding, wiry, very funny; otherwise, a somewhat average man. We have been friends since elementary school; we held the same job at the same office. Went, held.
Around three years ago, when the walls were lined (yet not to such a tremendous extent as it is now), Kevin went to my house in order to help me write a song. We are both guitarists, singers too and I have to admit that Kevin is better than me, much better.
We sang a song that we both enjoyed very much, The Sound of Silence by Simon and Garfunkel. If you have heard this song, you know that the harmonies in the vocals are crucial in order to achieve such a magnificent gloom to the song. Upon the second verse, I began to notice that something was horribly wrong.
“It’s ‘silence like a cancer grows’” I told Kevin. He looked at me, and I saw a look in his eye as if something were wrong, horribly wrong.
“I know the words to the song,” he told me. “What is bothering me is how you could do this.” (What?) “This, this…coating your walls with all of this meaningless junk. It’s making me sick; it’s making me feel claustrophobic.” (Don’t you mean safe? Protected?) “You’re my best friend, you really are, but I think that this is becoming a serious problem that has arisen within you.”
I was shocked; Kevin was never like this before. Why does he even care? (The anger rose). Who is he to say what is wrong with me and what is right with me and all of my friends? (Higher). Why doesn’t he just keep it to himself?
(Peaking) “The many remnants of happiness lines and covers my walls Kevin, it is not a bad thing.” I stated in extreme anger. “I saved everything that reminded me of you. Every gift, every scrap, everything.”
“But this obsession, this, this…disease!” he yelled. What was wrong with him? He doesn’t know if this is even a disease, having all these friends. How does he know if this is the disease, or even the cure!
“Out.” I told him. “Out, out, out, out, out you sick, false friend. You must have been against this the whole time! OUT!!!”
Appalled at my anger, he slowly got up and let himself out. I stood, heavily panting, feeling viciously livid. Then I looked upon all of my friends in the room. A surge of happiness bubbled up within me and I burst into laughter, surrounded by all my possessions, friends. I love all these things. These remind me of Father. These remind me of Mother. These remind me of Sister, Brother. Father, Mother, Sister, Brother, smother, bother, deader, deader, goner. These things are my family. All of these things, these loves, these happies, these serenities. Kevin is in these walls. Yes, the remnants of our friendship created Wallkevin I was to give Realkevin (the one I kicked out) a week before I took Wallkevin off of the walls. If Realkevin abandons me for this outburst, then I will destroy Wallkevin, erase him from existence. I hoped to God that Realkevin came back so that he could continue to exist.
The day was Tuesday (three days after our dispute) when Realkevin returned. I apologized for my rash behaviour and he as well. We had a drink and went to the living room to continue to learn The Sound of Silence.
We had finished learning the song and, content with the way that we remade the song (we made a solo of one of the verses with the guitars doing the harmonies), we decided to record it. We had finished the recording (which took us all but five hours) when I looked at Realkevin again, he was staring at me with a disgusted (disgusted?) look on his face.
“Why don’t you get rid of some of this stuff? I think it’s changing you.” He picked up an armful of dear friends of mine. “I can help you clear this all up; you need to see your walls. This can’t be healthy for you. Trust me, you need this.”
I was utterly struck with a wave of shock. This AGAIN??? He must want my things, my prides. Yes, that’s what it is, he can’t stand to see me have so much happiness, be so loved and love so much. He must think that the only way to fix his problem of not having as many friends would be to reduce my amount of bliss and exponentially increase his!! A surge of anger blistered my veins at the thought that Realkevin, my BEST friend would covet my friends and my happiness and my loves and my family and my life to such an extent.
That was too much to bear. I grabbed a knife friend with a handle and a blade. This is one of my oldest friends who stayed with me from the beginning. Realkevin walked outside to dump his armful of my friends in the dumpster. I waited behind the door for him to come back. I could let those friends endure the dumpster for a while, I had gone through it before when I had thrown away a fork friend or a paper friend. Though this may be a rough patch that I might have to smooth out with those friends, it was but a small one. There was a much larger patch to smooth out, Realkevin’s and my friendship will be concrete after I wear down the edges to this problem so it might be able to be fixed.
Yes, this is my perfect solution, I wish I would have thought of this in my earlier days of having these friends. I grabbed a baseball bat friend and remained hidden behind the door.
I heard him walking up the steps and I licked my lips in anticipation for the final solution. I clenched the bat friend and the knife friend.
Realkevin walked through the door and said to me as if I was in the other room, “I sure am glad that you’ve decided to-”
I smashed the bat friend over his back. Though a hard blow, it was not enough to kill or subdue, so he lay on the ground making feeble attempts at escape.
“You don’t believe in me… or this.” I bellowed as a pointed the bat friend around the room while he was sniveling in fear. “My favourite friends and my favorite family line my walls Kevin. Do you want to know what I think? I think you’re jealous of all these things that enrich my life and make me so happy! Half of my walls are you Kevin! Every gift, every glass you used, every broken guitar string, every letter, everything that I bought for you! These are remnants of you, and you’ve come to take yourself off of my walls. Let me tell you something TRAITOR! You will never leave me, my house, my friends, my family, my happiness.”
It was then that I made the conclusion to make Realkevin stay. I threw the knife friend at Realkevin. A fountain, a steady, gushing flow left Realkevin. Realkevin was staying here from now on.
He was in the walls too, Wallkevin was here too. My freezer is a walk in (I don’t know why it was built like this, I think this place was built originally as a butcher shop), so I brought Realkevin in there. It was a walk in freezer so that Realkevin could stay. I decided to bring Wallkevin and Realkevin together, in the freezer. All the chairs, cups, presents clothes that were Wallkevin surrounded Realkevin like an audience to a gruesome spectacle. I had noticed that when I did this, Wallkevin and Realkevin became one, became Kevin. That was the day that Kevin decided to stay.
Despite the dispute we had had before Realkevin decided to stay and before he was Kevin, we are still great friends. The only downside is that he cannot play guitar or sing anymore, so I sing and play for him. We look back on the day I decided to make him stay (which was three years ago now) and we laugh. We laugh and laugh and laugh and laugh.
Kevin isn’t jealous of my friends anymore, he doesn’t want them because it makes him glad to see that I have my friends with me. It seems that in a sense, he has these friends too. The friends are not just lining the walls anymore, they make an ocean seven feet high. This ocean is parted with small pathways used to get to the door and to the rooms.
The only place that isn’t filled with many friends is the freezer where Kevin lives. He is the only friend that that room needs. No, I said to myself, Kevin needs room and space to live in.
My beard is long, my hair too. When I go to the stores, people stare. I don’t like when people stare, I am not your freak, my friends don’t make me a bad person. Because of the people staring, I order my groceries delivered, because you know that they do that these days. Today I am getting an order.
It was seven o’clock when the grocer came. I didn’t know which seven it was, a.m. or p.m., maybe it was both. A seventeen year old kid came to the door and gave a proffer on the price, $67.49. I went to the bedroom where I kept my money and retrieved it in exact change. When I came back, he was inspecting the stacks, and what was in them. Then I saw a malicious glint in his eyes. He wanted my friends. “THESE ARE MINE AND YOU CAN’T HAVE THEM, MY FRIENDS, MY HAPPIES, MY SERENETIES!” I shouted in his face. He took a step back and I saw a look of fear on his face. It was the same look that was on (Real)Kevin’s face before I threw the knife friend at him and made him stay here. The look told me that the boy thought that there was something awry, horribly wrong. I mild sympathized for him, so I took the groceries, dropped the cash at his feet, and shut the door in his face.
Why is everyone so jealous? They can’t have my friends! No! That’s not how it works! I need to block them out, I need to wipe out their existence, so that I can have my friends and my kin to myself.
In preparation for this, I made one last trip out. I went to the hardware store to buy some new wood friends and some new nail friends. I then went to the store to buy some canned groceries, enough to last me a lifetime. I used the wood and nail friends to board up the windows and the door and the balcony. No way in, no way out. Now I can be alone with my friends, my happies.
Over a period of time, I became fearful and hateful of the dark. The darkness covered my friends, and when covered with the darkness, these things ceased to exist. If I became immersed in darkness, then I would cease to exist as well. To prevent the absence of existence brought on by darkness, I have light friends and lamp friends lighting the whole of my apartment. They all use the same power strip.
One day as I was looking at all of my friends and kin, a light went out. I went to the plug and saw that it was unplugged. I breathed a sigh of relief, I thought that I would have been one step closer to inexistence if that light had broken, for I have no spare light bulbs. It was then that fate had decided for me that I would be thirsty. I went to fix this with a glass of water. I was surveying all of my friends with the glass of water in my hand, feeling contentedness and blissfulness. All of a sudden, I tripped on a loose friend that had fallen off of one of the stacks. The water being held within the glass flew upon the power strip and the outlet that it was plugged into. The lights were out, I did not exist.
In adrenal fear I went to the strip and pulled it out and then plugged it back in. It was out, my entire home had been shorted out.
I screamed. I screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed. The fear plagued me with its horror. I couldn’t stop screaming. The black enveloped me, it swallowed me whole. One of my favourite friends is light. The light was gone. I saw through my screaming fear, a ray of light shining through the wood friends that boarded up the windows. Ironically, this makes me more afraid, because the light made the darkness visible. Darkness is no friend, it is a brutal enemy. It is only darkness here, only darkness that filled up the rooms. Everywhere else is bright with sunlight, the dark is only here, trying to capture me on its break from nighttime. Though Kevin is indifferent to sunlight and darkness, I feel I need to check on him.
Kevin is fine. Since the light friend was gone, Kevin was here to protect me. He stayed with me as I screamed and screamed. The fear instilled itself into me, I thought that I would die.
My screaming did not go on for long. I felt I was giving myself away to the demons in the dark, and anyways, the inexistent do not scream. The demons would look for me in vain. The darkness stayed for a long time, thankfully, Kevin stayed longer. If it were not for Kevin, I would have been the first inexistent man to kill himself.
My darkness voyage gave me hours in which to think. I could not remember what any of my friends looked like. I only knew that I was with Kevin because I felt him with my hands. Stiff and cold as always. The darkness hid the other friends though. Did they even exist? Did they ever exist? Was Kevin always Kevin, not Wallkevin and Realkevin as two separate beings? Did my memories even exist? Did I twist events within my mind so that they were the memories that I wanted? Did they ever even happen? They are hidden in the darkness as well, did anything hidden exist? Does anything unseen, unheard, unfelt exist either? No, it cannot. What I do not see, what I do not hear, what I do not feel does not exist. Nothing exists beyond this room, nothing exists beyond the darkness, nothing exists beyond these eyes.
The fear arose within me. I do not know why, I had calmed down for a few hours, but the fear was back, more strong and powerful than ever. I ran around, banging the walls, doors, windows, all boarded up. I screamed for help in a bloodcurdling manner. I tried to find a lamp and a plug. Before the darkness came, they were everywhere, where were they now? I screamed. I screamed and screamed and screamed and screamed. I was in tears. It wasn’t just the darkness anymore, it was something more. Something that had taken the lamps, or were the lamps inexistent from being covered in darkness for so long? Was it my friends that were out there? No, it was something that could exist within the dark.
I was on top of the seven foot stacks somehow, I was running, screaming, banging the walls. Something (a friend?) stabbed my foot and I fell off of the stacks, seven feet down. The pain brought the lights to me, the lights, the stars, the bright flashes that soothed me as the agony ensued. The friends that were on top of the stacks fell on me, covered me, protected me from the darkness and the thing that existed within the darkness.
These friends, all these friends surround me. I am so happy that I could cry. So happy, so joyful that I wanted to scream. This happiness led me to contemplate upon the query of whether my friends are the cure or the disease.
There were bangs at the door. “SIR ARE YOU OKAY?” a voice yelled through the door. For some reason, this made me bubble up with a fit of laughter, which turned into shrieks of hysteria. These people don’t know how much these friends help me! HA! “I’m coming in to help you” the voice yelled as I heard chopping noises at the door. I ignored him. I was shrieking, growing weaker with each scream. I was truly happy, I had never felt such content with life! Being surrounded by friends make the river of blissful agony feel like an ocean of endorphins. They surround me, they become me, we are one. We are one being. Kevin is me. The knife friends, the bat friends, the wood friends, the friends from the stacks. They are all me, we are one. The person who was only a voice not too long ago finally got through the door and gave a small shout of surprise at the sight of the room. Then the person went digging through my friends to try to find me. My friends and I are leaving. I am leaving. An exit so happy, such an undeniably phenomenal exit with all of my friends cannot be a bad thing. This is the cure, not the disease, my friends are all the cure. My friends already knew this, even Kevin knew this. Now as me and all of my friends are fading away, I now know it too…
When my friends knew that I knew of the cure, we laughed. We laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed.