Robert came up with a Theory of Time in his notebook. He knew there were others, scientists, who were better qualified for this. But, still. It felt like a breakthrough. He had always had a sense that he was at the verge of getting at something, but it was so hard to communicate what that was. His girlfriend Sara tried to play it off as something else, but she used to laugh at him sometimes, and that laugh, so bitter and red, was fuel to him now. He tried to have compassion for Sara now that she was somewhere else with some cretin, the two of them lurching towards the grave with nothing but silly pleasures for their empty heads. She just didn’t have the capacity to understand his brilliance. It wasn’t even her fault.

He was proud that he had mapped out his thoughts using different colored pens, and that he had been very, very careful with his handwriting. The raw nausea of living had subsided for while when he looked back at his notes and sketches. His fingers trembled with purpose.

Robert hated the present age, he longed for what he considered to be more authentic times, but he was suddenly grateful for our current interconnected technology. He could get his discoveries out immediately and into the hands of someone who might appreciate them. He imagined a physicist stumbling on his work and seeing its brilliance, seeing that this was what they had been searching for to unlock their understanding of the universe. But, then again, Robert’s discoveries could be beyond even them.

All he needed was one, though, who understood. Two transcendent, Nietzschean Übermensches meeting and having, for once in Robert’s goddamnned life, a Real Conversation! A Nobel Prize was very well in his distant reach. He had never considered that possibility before, but then again, he had never done this level of work before.

No, he must stop this vain fantasy. It wasn’t about that. This wasn’t about prizes and fame and glory, it was about finding the truth for others, illuminating reality for them so they could finally expose themselves to the cold brutality.

Using his iPhone, he posted photos of his notebook pages on Instagram. For several minutes, he didn’t know how long, he refreshed his app, but all was silence. He shared his photos on Twitter, Tumblr, & Facebook and resolved to wait. He decided that tomorrow he would start a blog.

He turned off his phone, and placed it facedown in the floor. He deserved a reward after that, didn’t he? Did anyone ever deserve a reward? Wasn’t he just like all the other despicable, mindless people reaching towards pleasure like salivating cowards and degenerates? “Desire is a form of entropy,” he had once Tweeted.

But still, this was his nature, bound to the hungers of the flesh. He poured himself a glass of cold, clean vodka straight from the freezer, and ran a bath.

The first sip was sharp, too sharp. It stung his nose, and he slightly feared how fast it would infiltrate his blood, how soon and hard it would fuzz over his mind. For a second he thought of adding the old mango nectar from his fridge, but it may have turned and was too sweet anyway. He thought of adding a bit of water to even out the buzz.

No, this was a harsh reality, and he needed a harsh drink to go with it. While he waited for the bath he opened up his copy of Gravity’s Rainbow. The vodka was already in his head, and one particular sentence throttled him. “The one Word that rips apart the day,” set him off. It inspired him, you could say.

Robert had so much in him. He saw so much that other people, people playing at being happy, could never see. They were too distracted by ice cream and careers and inspirational memes. Even if they could, they never allowed themselves. They shot culture through their veins like a drug, Robert thought, taking another sip. They numbed themselves, hid themselves from the Truth. The burning, searing Truth, as he saw it, their unappreciated seer walking among them. He even looked like them if you didn’t look close enough. He figured the difference was in his eyes. Possibly there were clues to his differentness in his ill-fitting clothes and out-of-step gait.

“What was the point at all, living amongst the likes of these?” he thought. They couldn’t appreciate Truth even if they stared it in the face. They didn’t see Robert for what he was, a bearer of the Truth. Was he chosen for this? Whose sick game was this?

Even though he had never met a human creature he did not find loathsome, even himself, especially himself, Robert continued on for some reason. Something compelled him. “These strictures of your debouched, degraded honeycombed womb,” he wrote.

He took a sip, listened to the running water, then decided to post this to Twitter. He opened up his phone, glowing as if from some unknown dimension, and saw a text from his brother inviting him to a family dinner on Saturday at one of those abominable chain restaurants. Not tonight. He could not respond to this tonight.

Robert Tweeted instead, and then checked on his bath. He would leave the world for tonight. His connection with it was faulty. The whole world was full of black-eyed robots like his brother and his lazy wife and their noisy, nosey babe. Everywhere he looked there were idiots curling their lips into a smile, mimicking the life expected of them. They liked their frozen yogurts and internet shows. They bought houses and cars and mowed their lawns and reproduced, and for what? Robert didn’t want to connect with all that, with the lies they called hope. With their droning pop music, and expensive movies about machines and superheroes. Stuffing their stinking maws with candy and meat.

The bath was extra hot and it stung Robert’s blistered feet as he eased into it. Robert didn’t know what was next for him, but tonight he had this. He lingered in the bath awhile, bearing the heat with the help of his freshened drink. Instead of further contemplating Time and Truth, he composed potential text messages to send to Sara. She didn’t even deserve to receive messages from him. But still, he might feel like doing it anyway when he got out of the bath.

Sara did have something special, didn’t she? She wasn’t quite like everyone else, or he would have never deigned to give her attention in the first place. He wasn’t like these brutes who went out with every female who gave them a nod. He had tests and procedures, and Sara had passed them, or come close, hadn’t she? “Maybe she needed saving from herself,” he thought. “And maybe he was the only person who could do it.” Maybe Sara would understand that all his striving had not been idle, it had not been for naught, because he, Robert, had come up with a Theory of Time.

  • JamesHensley

    I enjoyed this very much. Robert reminded me so much of a character named Ignatius from the book A Confederacy of Dunces and it made me smile, the way he looked down on everyone else with his own (falsely?) inflated sense of superiority. I’m only sad I can’t see what would happen if Robert actually got his chance to discuss his brilliance with accredited intellectuals.

  • Tailless Squirrel

    I feel like I’m supposed to have contempt for this character, or tsk tsk over how self-absorbed or “narcissistic” or blinkered he is, and smh and think, “how sad, poor dude didn’t outgrow his futile teenage angst.” But I don’t feel that way at all. I like him. He’s sensitive. I’d read his Theory of Time.

    • I wasn’t hoping for contempt for him. Were you reading my Twitter conversation about it, or did you get that from the story itself?

      • Tailless Squirrel

        I didn’t read the twitter conversation. I probably used too strong a word when I said contempt. I just felt like I liked him more than I was “supposed to”, if that makes sense. But I really liked the story.

        • Thanks! I’m glad to hear it. Glad you liked it, and glad you like him.