Nobody knew how old he was. It had become a joke to everyone around him, and he had taken all the guesses, and kept them written down in a little pad he kept in his back left pocket and whatever the average was he would take to be his actual age. I mean, he knew his birthday, but he always felt the average.
If someone was one of those particulalry bad guessers, the kind of person that could have a mother crying because their sense of age was always somehow 15-20 years more than what the real number was, and if he had come in contact with enough of these people in, say, a month's span, then the average age of all the ages he was thought to be would have aged him significantly in that month's time.
Today he was 37.
He had been aging three years every month at this rate for the last three months.
That's a shitty average, in case you're bad at math.
In the room down the hall was a man who had painted his entire apartment m&m green, except he had only done one coat (and poorly at that) and the primer white shone through and reflected all the Goddammed sunlight like irradiated novelty vomit the few times a week the man down the hall would open the door to rescue the package that had been leaning against the wall in the hallway which had always been out there so long that they (the packages) had gone limp, and the cardboard would have creased where its weight was bearing the load the hardest, and the contents of the package (everyone in the building had their own guess as to what these contents were) had started to take the shape of the tiled floor even through the boxes.
Everytime he closed his eyes he saw this glowing-novelty-vomit green coming into the smallest line that one's eyelids make when they come together that still allows light before they slam shut, except he could always see this line, this line that (most) other people did not, could not perceive, and this line would just, like, leak this fucking color into his head until every thought was colored this color.
Sometimes when people would ask him a question and he was too tired to answer, or to think to think of the question that they had just asked, he would just unhinge his jaw like a snake and answer the only answer he could. "Green," he'd say. Because people's questions were always so annoying and they kept getting his Goddam age fucking significantly fucking wrong and why'd they care so Goddam much anyway and how was your day and no really how are you because they knew they knew that something was wrong with him but they didn't know what exactly so they'd ask with that inflection to mean meaning sincerity honesty clarity friendliness openness warmth and caring sincere concern and oh fuck it They'd ask (something) (anything) and he'd reply, "Green." It was one of those things that would have been funny if it weren't you, but he happened to be him (go figure), but if he were the him who were the hims on TV shows, he always thought about that, ya know, "What's the movie version of me doing right now?" and, "How much of this winds up on the cutting room floor?" until he remembered that since he wasn't the TV/Movie version of him (and never would be), that the answer to that specific question was, "All of this," that "All of this" wound up on the cutting room floor because nobody cared enough to make him a TV-him instead of just him-him, and how depressing it all was and questions and "How are you?" and all of that shit, but these were just the questions in his head and not the questions that he was being asked and since it was all—everything, his whole fucking life was one big edit, one big cut—that nobody would ever know about the time that lady he worked with asked, "How many days have you been up?" and it took about ten seconds before he said—well, you know what he said.
Over the course of the night he had become 38. "Maybe it's the green that's aging me so fast?" he thought, and then that thought was gone so fast that not even he would know that he ever thought it. Lost in the minutiae that drives away our best and not so best thoughts alike, things like that itch on the side of your head right now and trying to remember what the balance was the last time you got out 80 bucks from the ATM, and how disturbing the thought of the ATM was and how sheerly overpowering the thought of balance and of having a balance is, and the staggering amounts of time we can devote to the thought blackhole that is the last piece of paper with our last balance on it and because his thoughts were shifted to sweaty thoughts of money for the next three minutes or so (three heavy minutes... sweaty, remember?) that he would never know that the thought that he thought so fleetingly was correct. That it was the green that was aging him so quickly, but it would be a long, long time before anyone knew that this particular green had such an effect that his death (not yet) would never be linked to the leaking green coming into his brain from that tiniest amount of imperceptible (except to him and a few other people) luminescence that sneaks into the perpetually wet mechanics of the human machine.
Now that he was 38 (on average) it took him more than eight minutes to tie his shoes before he left the house (which was not a house but a very, very small apartment).
His glasses weren't helping anything. In fact (in fact?), since whatever it was that was wrong with his eyeballs (near-sighted or far-sighted, he always forgot which one meant which, all he knew about that was that it was either the opposite of what he thought or exactly what he thought and if only he had some mnemonic for the mnemonic he needed to remember how to remember which one it was then he'd "be in business" as far as this was concerned he thought and he laughed out loud just the tiniest little bit (which his co-workers thought was a stifled cough) at the thought of this putting him in/or being the reason for any sort of "business"). But whichever one it was, his glasses had a magnifying effect and the specific wavelength of "irradiated-novelty-vomit" green was highly amplified by his glasses therefore speeding up his aging and therefore his dying.
"Another question?" "Another answer." Someone pretended to laugh and then someone else pretended to have heard the answer and joined in with late laughter at something which no one in the room thought was funny (and was not intended to be) and the room became damp with that penetrating, goosebump-inducing feeling of "What do we do now?"
The man down the hall seemed to be waiting until he heard his door open to get his packages now, and as he was leaving to go to work all he remembered when the paramedics got there was the man's hand grabbing the package and, "Green." He needed 23 stitches and 97 minutes had gone by. The total number of stitches + minutes was 120. He liked that number. And now he liked it even more because it all added up to a prescription for painkillers with TWO refills (though he was not an afficionado, he knew that what he was given was better than your run-of-the-mill Hydrocodone, and for the next few days he had a reason to skip work (stitches on a head are one of the great excuses in all the world) and he laid in his apartment where he had put his newly acquired medicine in a tiny plastic bowl with a platypus on the bottom of it that he had had since he was four (actually four) and he watched nothing but Disney Pluto Cartoons for the duration of his prescription. He would remember this as "the honest to God best time of his life," and the one person he told that to, this would be the thing that finally made them cry a few days after the news of his death had come as a shock, and not that this person knew him, but this detail was tragic in the way that is so far from TV/movie tragic that the person who knew wondered why it wasn't used in something they had ever seen before?
He was 65 now (on average) and it was raining and it hurt his joints. It was six months since the stitches. He had died of "old age" which was actually a ruptured colon which had happened in his sleep, which was how he once saw on old man die on a science program about aging he watched one night in high school. He would have thought that this was funny and he would have wanted other people to have thought it was funny also, but it all ended up "on the cutting room floor" as he had heard them say that "they" said.
When they went into his apartment his walls and his floors were full of simple math written in Sharpie. It even smelled like Sharpie in there. They had called a co-worker who they thought to be his friend (who wasn't not a friend but also wasn't the kind of person one would want roaming through one's things when they left this life to move on to another. The co-worker waited until the landlord was gone and looked for his wallet which he found in a brass tray shaped like a large leaf that had a large brass locust in the middle of the leaf. The co-worker opened his wallet and dug out his license from its plastic window that was no longer see-through since it was covered in so many scratches. The co-worker pulled out his phone and texted his actual birthdate to another co-worker and they both mouthed the word "fuck" when thinking of the other co-worker who had won the bet to determine the man's actual age. The take was now just over $700.