The Fall of Schibley

Fundered and frilled, and after a strenuous day at the factory, Philip Ronald Schibley wearily returned, on foot, to his oh-so-humble and derelict abode, where he would once again spend his night reclined in his cracked and fracked leather chair bathed in the dim yellowish light cast from lamps with shades so tarnished, nursing his gin and watching the tired paint slowly peel from the rotting wall and fall lazily to the creaky floorboards, only to degrade further yet into toxic dust, an addition to the already poisonous lifestyle he led, what with working around noxious fumes and carcinogens that would not even be the cause of his premature death.

In fact, and indoors, his death would come about in a most disappointing manner; growing aware of his hazardous surroundings, Philip would make the fatal decision to alter his haphazard habitat for the better. Unfortunately for him, and for those of you who wanted a longer story, his positive albeit feeble intentions were ill-executed.

One fateful spring Sunday, when the sky was unusually devoid of hazy overcast that had become residential to this corner of the world, and the birds were all serenading each other with their seductive songs of allure, dear middle-aged Schibley, on his day off, strolled down the crumbling grass- and clover-ridden sidewalk to arrive at the hardware store four blocks from his home. There, he bought four cans of TV yellow paint, for it was the color of his walls and it would remain the color of his walls for the rest of his life. Philip did not like change, you see; he was a simple man with few ambitions, and all he wanted was to live quietly in his house. He would certainly not move, no. If there is one thing Philip Ronald Schibley did not like to do, it was move. He had been living in his current home for nearly 53 years and he would die in this house, no matter how dilapidated it may have become. Of course, he had always imagined himself dying peacefully, an old man enjoying one final and eternal nap in his leather recliner as the cold hands of death seize his last fragile breath. Yes, this is how Philip Ronald Schibley had envisioned his ascent into the infinite peaceful void, but we don’t always get what we expect.

Arriving home, Schibley pushed his dull house key loudly into the abused lock and twisted it between his thumb and forefinger while simultaneously turning the oxidized brass doorknob with his palm and middle finger. It was an adept execution to which he paid no mind. He must have performed that motion tens of thousands of times over all these years, occasionally hesitating to think to himself of all the doors he never bothered opening: the business opportunities, the potential lovers, the potential family. What did his life amount to? What will he leave behind? These thoughts entered his head as mere wisps, evaporating as quickly as they precipitated.

Once upstairs, he set the cans of paint down by the wall in front of his favorite resting spot. They hit the floor with a knock as a floorboard creaked under his pressing boot heel. It was just enough weight concentrated on that one spot to send poor old Schibley through the floor, its splintered wood slicing his throat on the way down to the cellar’s concrete coffin, where he met his cold, hard demise.

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