Squandered (Story by Risa Peris)

Composed and performed by Risa Peris

“For having traffic with thy self alone, Thou of thy self thy sweet self dost receive: Then how when nature calls thee to be gone, What acceptable audit canst thou leave?”

Story Based on Shakespeare’s Sonnet iV


Smart TV. More like Dumb TV. Reggie Miller Esq. let that fool teenager with acne convince him to buy a smart TV. Reggie could barely get it to work. He sat slumped in his chair, pushed a bunch of buttons on his remote and magically HBO came on. He couldn’t remember where he left off in Game of Thrones and he didn’t care. He fiddled with more buttons and the History channel popped up. History. More like the Hitler channel. In fact, there was Hitler now in all his agitated, massive inglorious manner. He was quite hypnotizing. Reggie looked at his phone and ordered a sandwich from Uber Eats. He lived alone in the Hollywood Hills in a tiny one bedroom house perched precariously along the edge of the hill. Reggie was convinced the house would topple with a major earthquake. It hadn’t been since the 90s when a massive quake hit. Snapped the freeway in two. 

Reggie, though you wouldn’t believe it to look at him now, was once handsome, debonair, and attracted many women, young and middle-aged. Now he was a curmudgeonly old man with a soul sucking law practice. He worked sixty hours a week. He never married. He could never find the ‘right’ girl. God. Sometimes he thought he was gay. This made him laugh. His office was plastered with old sixties photos of women with lustrous hips and full breasts. No. He wasn’t gay. He was just tired. That was it. All those years building a law practice and never once making love a priority. There was no balance to his life. These days he straggled home, opened a can of beer, ordered food unless he picked something up at the deli, and watched TV until his eyes drooped. Then he went to bed, blissfully, until the alarm went off and the whole mess began again. Sometimes he wondered about children. What would it be like to have a piece of you move forward through time? 

Reggie finished his beer, stubbed out his cigarette, put the half eaten sandwich in the trash, and thumped down the short hallway. When he walked in his bedroom he saw a piano and a beautiful, youthful young man who looked very much like himself when he was in college. 

“Are you weary?” asked the youth. 

“Too weary. My life is nearly over. Work has been my shrine. The bank the altar. The tortuous hours my God.”

“Go to sleep,” said the youth. “I will play something.”

Reggie collapsed on the bed like a brick dropped from a roof. He was too tired to cry, but he knew he had squandered his life and he would never get it back. He thought he heard little feet. Ghost feet. The children he never had and never would have. 

Reggie fell asleep and, as always, slept dreamless for what is there to dream when there is nothing in your life?