Diaphora


Diaphora (di-a’-pho-ra): Repetition of a common name so as to perform two logical functions: to designate an individual and to signify the qualities connoted by that individual’s name or title.


Me: Billy, Billy, Billy. You old Billy goat. Meh! That’s your call, as you hunt for deposit cans and bottles along the road shoulder. I remember when you were somebody, and we went down street side by side. We started college together at the newly inaugurated community college. You had been hanging out since we finished high school. I was a Vet. The government paid my way to college. You had dodged the draft, but your parents agreed to pay for school. More power to you I thought—you didn’t have to go through the shit that Vietnam afforded. But after one semester, you dropped out. You said it was boring and you were too old. I forged on, all the way to a PhD and became a professor at a pretty good university. I raised a family, I lived a good life.

Now, here we are, rounding the bend to the end of our sojourn here on earth. I have a pension and a paid-for house and vacation home. My daughter went to College and lives in San Francisco now. My wife is a professor, she writes books, and smiles at me and cooks us amazing meals.

And here you are are, 76 years old, trolling for deposit cans and bottles like some weird hobbyist rounding out your collection. But you’re not a hobbyist. You’re what they call a “homeless man.” It’s winter, and you don’t have a warm coat. Instead, you wear 2 sport coats over your faded Iron Maiden t-shirt—it must be 40 years old! You live under a pile of blankets and comforters stuffed in the refrigerator box, dragged from behind Home Depot, that shelters you until it falls apart and you have to replace it—maybe every two or three months.

What the hell happened Billy?

Billy: You sanctimonious piece of shit. You think you know me better than I know myself. Look, life is complicated. I had a pretty good job driving a fork lift at the Best Buy warehouse. I was happy. I had a girlfriend and we were saving up to buy a home and get married. One night I saw a guy I worked with loading 70” plasmas into his van. I confronted him and told him I would inform on him if he didn’t put the plasmas back. The next day they found 3 plasmas in my car. The guy I had caught had planted them there.

I was sitting on my forklift when he and the boss came toward me and stopped in front of my forklift. The thief pointed at me and nodded his head. I raised my forks and roared toward them. I impaled them both in one shot. I was convicted of involuntary manslaughter. I served 12 years in prison. My life was over, completely shattered. When I got out of prison I couldn’t get a job. So, I became an ‘independent contractor’ working with discarded ‘redeemables.’ I live on the margin. I have no savings or friends, although I have a pet raccoon named Leila who curls around my head at night, keeping my ears warm.

End of story.

Me: Holy shit! You should consider becoming a monk! You get free housing and food, and all you have to do is pray a lot and make beer or jelly. You get a free monk suit, including sandals. Beyond that, I don’t what else there is, like television, arts and crafts, etc. If you’re interested, I’ll drive you to the monastery in Carmel and I’ll take your raccoon off your hands too! What say? My car’s parked up the street.

Postscript: Billy hit me in the forehead and knocked me out. When I awoke there was a 20-something mugger standing over me with his foot on my chest. He demanded my wallet. When I reached for it, it wasn’t there. I crawled back to my car. As I was getting in, I saw Billy. He was wearing a new black overcoat. He saw me and came over and apologized. He gave me back my wallet, and nothing was missing. He told me he took it for safekeeping. I asked where he got the coat. He said, “I stole it from the Salvation Army Store.”


Definition courtesy of “Silva Rhetoricae” (rhetoric.byu.edu)

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