Frank was ashamed of his indifference. He just couldn't care. It wasn’t as if he was a soulless machine incapable of compassion or empathy; he just found it hard to care at times. He was always impressed by those people in the world that found time to volunteer or work with the elderly or wash the sick and dying. It just wasn’t something Frank could wrap his brain around and it filled him with shame.
It wasn’t enough shame for him to shake off the conditioning of his entire life however and while he felt bad towards his indifference, he still wouldn’t change. He thought that maybe he’d reached that point in his life where he was an old dog and learning a new trick was beyond him. He didn’t want to even bother with caring. Caring leads to deep feelings and those deep feelings lead to attachment, then the fear of loss and the next thing you know you’re telling some Luke kid that you were his father after a prolonged light saber battle on a fully operational battle station.
Frank didn’t want to get involved with all of that. He just wanted to get through his day without having to pretend to give a crap about other people’s issues or problems. In the back of his mind though there was a smaller version of himself that seemed angry. It was a mini-Frank that pounded against the plexi-glass barrier between Frank’s compassion and self-interest, and yelled that it was important to care about others.
Frank knew logically that it was important to care about other people’s feelings and what they were going through but he had just about enough of it. His capacity for compassion had been nearly burnt out. He was so tired of the crying and complaining and constant sorrow he had no choice but to deal with on a daily basis. He could barely stand to hear a conversation about another person’s experience dealing with death or births or who stole the marmalade. He wanted to be away from it all.
The casket was placed at the back of the mourning room and Frank did his job of draping the casket appropriately and making sure the floral arraignments were placed right around the body. He hardly looked at the old woman, the old corpse in the box. She was just another one of the hundreds Frank had, “decorated”, at his family’s funeral home. In his mind though he could hear the mini-Frank, pounding away at the plexi-glass, “She was a person! She was a person! She loved and was loved! Look at her!”
Frank pulled a small flask from his suit breast pocket and took a quick pull of vodka. He’d learned to drink vodka because it was odorless and the funeral home guests didn’t smell it. He’d prefer a whiskey to shut that little voice up in his brain, but vodka would have to do.
The voice inside calmed a little and Frank straightened out the rows of chairs for the mourners. He knew he should be sad though, but he wasn’t. He just wanted to get the day over and get home to his cigarettes, a stiff drink and escape all of it through the soothing glow of televised idiocy.
The shame crept back into Frank’s mind and he felt bad again. Maybe it was time for a change. Maybe it was time to leave this small town. Maybe. Frank took another sip of vodka and turned off the lights in the mourning room.