And she had told him the title to use and he had forgotten the piece of paper he'd written it on in the car. This was typical of the man, spending his nights alone in tired bars in the corners of oddly angled streets listening to loud metal music and reading Erich Fromm. It was terribly pretentious of him. He knew that. Sitting in his dusty armchair by the door and drinking his cigarettes and smoking his beer and reading by the dusty lampshade while all around were people in twos and threes but he wasn't alone, oh no. He couldn't be, he had his ideologies, a bucket without bottom in Polish. That's what his ideologies were, and sitting there under a cloud of sweat and blue nicotene vapours and reading about the fear of freedom and the deformations of character created by the need to live and the constraints society placed upon the self as to how to achieve that end.
Oh, it was terribly literary, and terribly pretentious, had he friends, would he not be with them? Had he engagements would he not go to them?
But the terrible truth went beyond pretention. For in fact he did have such engagements, invitations, requests for his company. But this was something that needed doing. Sometimes, To feel truly alone, he had to surround himself with strangers. At home, at night, in this surprising jab of summer into autumn, it was intolerable, the evening was too nice.
Alas, it was too late when he found his second wind to accept any of those aforementioned invitations. They were not bottomless and he had already rejected them.
Now there was only the book, fear, freedom, virtue, vice, all in the safe pages of a book from a man of the last century.
What was it about being alone that he could only feel it positively among a crowd?
The answer was obvious and trite: By himself, he was lonely. In the mob, he signified his choice to be alone.
And occassionally it drove him out of his house. Just as surely as if he'd been shot out.