Copyright 2021, John Manimas


David Soliman sat weary.

His back jerked slightly, but visibly, with a brief sharp pain in the back of his neck. Then he felt warm and comfortable physically, though tired mentally, tired of thinking. Tired of asking himself what he was doing. His father had taught him never to throw away anything that was still functional. He had just rented, and partially filled, his third self-storage space. And that bothered him.

His second self-storage unit was the largest size he had ever found. It contained a kayak he used once, a metal-detector, three large exercise machines, and a bedframe, and boxes of sports equipment and jogging suits. His first unit contained books. Some of the books were his parents'. Some old clothes, Dad's carpentry tools, a calendar collection, a lamp collection, a couple of televisions from the 1950s.

His girlfriend, Dorothy, number five, was visiting her sick mother and had told him she might not return for a while. She wanted to think about things. She wanted to think about them. David wondered what his life meant. He held the page of a lined notebook in his hand, with the beginning of a handwritten list. The things he would keep in the third storage unit, the things he owned but did not need to use right now. He asked himself. Do I need to use my life right now? Maybe I should store my life in the third storage unit. Maybe I just need to hang on to my life in case I might need it some time later.

David chuckled to himself, reminded of one of his favorite jokes. The joke that a "self-storage" unit is a place where you store yourself. Life changes often: death, divorce, downsizing, dislocation. What does "dislocation" mean. Does it mean that my life is "dislocated." Out of place. Not where it is supposed to be. Every change I remember is feeling like a loss. The final loss is the totally dislocated life. Life lost. Life misplaced. Or, maybe, life in self-storage. He had thought he might want to be cremated after he died. His father had made a big issue of burial, often berating his mother because she wanted to be cremated, and she had said that she did not want anyone handling her body. She would say, " 'To dust thou shalt return' and that's what I want, to return to dust."

"Why is it so important?" His father would ask.

Your ashes can be stored, indefinitely. The decorative urn is your last self-storage unit. It can be placed somewhere special, a family heirloom.

"That's a pretty urn. Where did you get that? --- That's my mother." Was an imagined conversation, which actually occurred once.

The storage people had all changed to the modern method of business. You did not "buy" the storage space, or even "rent" the storage space, but rather one "subscribed." Just like subscribing to your television channels and videos, just like you subscribed to the internet, and shipments of wine, or meal kits. Everything was a subscription now.

So David's mind said to itself: I am a subscription. I have subscribed to life.

He climbed the stairs of his old family house slowly, noted the deep nick in the banister as always, and went to his upstairs storage room. He entered the large walk-in closet and looked at his father's hunting rifles behind the glass door. He unlocked the door and took out a rifle. He reached down to the bottom of the gun cabinet and picked up a box of shells.

As he stepped slowly down the stairway of the old family home, his mind spoke to himself: I am dislocated. I am unlocated. I am in storage in the cloud. I think it is time to unsubscribe. Click here to unsubscribe.



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