A Harsh Reality
by Henrik Vetterer
Table of Contents
The Lingering Scent of A Magnificent Young Women 4
Introductions in Order 22
Living with the Life of the Dead 42
A Way Out from Within 48
In Touch by Wind 55
Fear, A Misery to Personalized for the Cosmos Alone 77
Of Fear and Dreams 101
A Liar in Waiting 108
An Undeniable Truth 122
A Prince and a Princess un-awakened 133
The Assumption of Arrogance 137
A Final Outburst 152
I once saw a man starving. Picture a man ready to eat his own waste, a man closed off to the world, ready to die! And then give such a man a glass of water, a single chicken leg, and then watch his eyes fill with life… with hope, the slow and forced patience of the passion of living in sorrows. And then let the blind man hear there is one who can heal him. Can you see his eyes light up? Can you see them become (dare you imagine) a tad more focused. The night before he makes his long journey to see the healer, who is a doctor, the night before he sleeps in anxiousness! The sheer joy and hope begins to find itself accompanied by fear and dread. The blind man has sought to be healed before, indeed by the same healer! And yet, it seems, his outcries were not heard. Indeed this is the third time…no! the fourth. He has been listening out for this healers mention and upon a word he is off again. But now, for weeks, for months…nearly a year! he hears nothing and he grows weary of life, becomes very comfortable with the idea of death, and then…… at last! He is off with less hope and belief then the times before and yet he is still off! Yes and as he tries to sleep his life fills up with possibilities again, with aspirations to do and to seek….essentially to live! But along with those once untainted aspirations he finds the fear of the lifeless life he has lived as ensnaring. It cruelly casts doubt on his once indubitable and obstacle free vision of a life of hope. Yes hope! Here and now! Upon this earth! In this century!
The Lingering Scent of a Magnificent Young Woman
“A story”, commented the ecstatic young man named Henry “is truly nothing but a lousy fairy tale. For most all stories, even the ones that assert the gritty and grim realities of life, even they are not all-seeing….. Nor are they all-knowing and thus they are ideal….. in short, a fairytale.” “No!! That is not quite right!” Objected the other young man in the corner of the room. The objector looked more like a boy than a man or even a young man for that matter. “No!!” Isaac continued with a calm arrogance “That is not right, as I find your generalization to be a presumptuous stereotype, not to mention that you, Henry, have also misused the terms “all- knowing” and “all-seeing.” The boyish man re-crossed his legs and settled his folded hands on top of his right knee as he lazily leaned back in his seat. “It is common knowledge that “all-knowing” is more properly understood as omni…” “Shut up you analytic prig! You my dear Isaac should have been sacrificed by your father long ago. You are nothing but an exhaustion to the cosmos, a critic who has no positive information within him except that which is soooo superficial. You are like an actor playing the part of a genius….. A stupid actor who is so very obviously acting!”
Henry continued seething with emotion in complete distinction to the nonchalant fully self-satisfied Isaac, who was now casually sipping on a large coffee mug. “Shall I clarify to the student, whose arrogance puts him in danger of being a poser; should I clarify why stories are fairytales?” Without waiting for a reply Henry again continued “Because ! my dear toad ! Even the harsh ones, stories that is, even they only see all they want to see and know all they want to know. Regardless of whether it is more or less good or bad, all is controlled, all is inner connected, all is understood, all the dots are connected. There are no other dots, much less unconnected ones….. unless of course there is an unexplained one left in the distance for the purpose of an added depth of apparent disconnection.. or mystery or wonder. These unexpected dots set apart as if they were a higher knowledge, whose purpose, whose ‘connection’, in reality, is to appear without a knowable purpose, without a seeming connection. And thus the random, the distant, the unknown is truly known, even in regard to its very design.”
Henry walked over to the table Isaac had put his coffee mug on, and to Isaac’s horror gulped half the cup and then continued his lecture. “The purposefully designed seemingly unconnected dot is merely a facade….. a fake door. Truly it has no secret content, but rather is merely a decoy an empty dot , an unending alternative to add a sense of reality to the fairytale….. a sense of depth to the shallow. “Enough Enough!!” mumbled Isaac with a weak wave of his hand, “Your incoherence and talk of dots is killing me…” Henry interrupted the boyish man yet again “I will finish! Not for your sake, but simply for the truth of my thought.”
Henry was talking in the boy’s priggish fashion. He was speaking the boy’s language and doing it to mock him as he spoke his thoughts beneath the masked and subtly ironic tone. “Even the true stories, the nonfictions, even they have the benefit of being historical or limited in focus and thus are no more than, an approximation, a closed system with limited variables. And thus even with these nonfictions, these recorded realities, we see life from a fraudulent view….. from a view that is something akin to a god. But since neither we nor the people we read of are infinite gods, we read fairytales. For in truth we read merely as humans about mere humans.” Henry paused as he continued to speak every thought out loud. “Ah! I’ve boggled it! We read whatever about, and what we read is as if all of the cosmos is in front of us in that particular story. As….as if we were not bound by space and time in our perspective.”
Henry’s face began to grow irritated as if he was becoming dissatisfied with his speech. In truth he was becoming dissatisfied and boggled in his speech, but the act of appearing dissatisfied fit in with the general persona which he was mocking quite well. And so he went with bluffing a false assurance. What truly irked Henry was that it did not seem he was pricking the obnoxious Isaac one ounce “All I have said is still not clear, but the hell with you! The hell with this!” Henry appeared to be finished and began to walk toward the stairwell not even glancing in Isaac’s direction, for fear of the rage Isaac’s pretentious face might incite.
Henry paused at the foot of the stairwell turned toward Isaac and finished his thought. “It is obvious the reader does not see the character in the story as she sees herself, in that she does not have the advantage of history….. of seeing her own existence as the godlike reader does. No matter how brilliant the author, no story, fiction or nonfiction is reality!” With that Henry left the room. He did not care to hear any rebuttal. He was certain he was right regardless of how he expressed it. His argument was before his eyes, not in syllogistic form, but rather as a portrait of experience and feeling that was in synthesis with thought. Henry fell into his old blue recliner then picked up a book sitting beside him on the floor. His mind drifted to other days and dumb -foundedness as to how it all really came about that he was not still living those fundamentally carefree days, this irked his mind with equal force to the natural pleasure of recollecting.
An outdated black Chevy rolls up to the curb, the door swings open with lightness, symbolic of the whole year, as if it were a leaf being swatted. Blonde hair and green eyes on a solid frame sprints around the car to the curb just as a very rich car and semi-handsome young- man behind the wheel zoom by. It appears obvious that the young man exiting the old Chevy only notices the very magnetizing women in the passing outlandish cars passenger seat. The fellow leaning out the apartment window above the street only has time for a glimpse at a Cleopatra type hair cut and devastating blue eyes against the black haired backdrop. She has a profound nose, a full face, in short, a southern girl who has managed to reach back to the days when Americans had style. All the while she is bursting out of her sleek skin which is lined with orange and blue outlines of an off white dress. Give her a tan and she would look like a Spanish beauty, let her skin grow fare and Russia’s reputable stamp may have been said to be upon her. The truth, as both Henry (who I notice looking out the window from the apartment above) and I knew, was that she is in fact an American with a tinge of native in her that would have to be traced back to the time when the young land was still a virgin. It seemed to Henry that the sporty stylish fellow, who seems to have been myself, was devastated at the sight of her, as if he had seen her before.
But if you will excuse me… I now see the description of this recollection of Henry’s written in his journal as he sat in that blue chair, and I recognize it. I will tell it all from my perspective, since Henry left a very vague description after I arrived and he simultaneously left the window from which he watched me exit my Chevy. The girl was really beside the point as I heard a chorus of hearty, and for the moment, good young-men singing some chorus that drifted out the second floor window, surfing upon the accompanying smoke with a force that snuck it past a confidently expanded tree drifting in the mild summer air. Tax statements, bank accounts, healthcare, loans, 40 plus hour work weeks, inflationary prices, these were all, at best, theoretical relations, if even known to exist by all the young people within that apartment.
I have once wondered why younger people were not allowed in federal government and then I realized such fresh meat would still be too alive to build a stable society upon. They would be too full of life, too devoted with too much unadulterated and purposefully pumping blood running through their veins, blood that might even have the possibility of bleeding out.
He crossed the freshly mowed grass and proceeded up a stair-well that was the type I was always going up. We all lived in the same type of apartments and no matter where we lived, the wooden stairs creaked. The rails gave just enough to use them to launch from step to step up to the second or third floor. He opened the door to the apartment with adjusted vigor and found before him men and women, all of the young sort, moving about, sitting, laughing, smoking, drinking, from coffee to wine, from beer to vodka. The apartment was oldish, but large enough that this gathering had the precise amount of busyness. Frank played in the background, and then Ella, and then some popular British bands. The windows were open and amidst the smoke came the smell of baked goods and food dishes from a few girls displaying their versatility in the latest fashionable clothing with matching heels, and all the while, baking.
It was an environment ripe with energy, with the right amount of steady people to keep the night young for a much longer time then those parties filled with people sadistically eager to wake up the next morning in various assortments of pain. Hans was there, as was Tim and Henry, of course. I will further introduce those three to you later, as this story is, after all, about Henry. The other regulars were there as well, the agnostic lawyer in training, the zealous atheist, who constantly betrayed the fact that he believed in God as much as the most devout theists. If I remember correctly, Don Juan was sitting on the couch drawing sketches of a woman as she posed in the chair next to him, (what a way to read a mood!) The enthusiastic atheist was an extremely good looking dark- black-haired square jawed man of height. He was, at the moment I walked in, in a rant. He was enjoying his ability to irk the preacher boy standing next to him who was trying to convert him. Tim had just joined the two, mostly in order to save this unduly confident preacher boy who had somehow wander into the apartment, and proceeded, it seems, to strike up a conversation with a passionate antagonist, who would, in a rather boyish mischievousness, thoroughly enjoy the idea of making this pastor in training lose sleep that evening, and perhaps every evening of his life.
The very dashing black haired man was slightly upset at Tim spoiling his fun, so he decided to get at Tim a little by asking if it was ok for him to light up an entirely different brand of smoke. “Not in my apartment. And certainly not tonight!” said Tim as he rolled his eyes at his long time friend.
Hans was clearly distracted by some girl he had yet to venture to talk to and Henry had just began to debate politics and economics with a trendy student government man who was also an economic proponent of socialism. It looked as if the trendy socialist was not representing his position well, except to point out that it was trendy to be a socialist, as he was clearly a very stylish gent sporting disgustingly tight pants. I had just come in admiring it all, and especially Henry’s victoriously confident clouds of cigar smoke rising over the head of the up and coming politician. I made my rounds, not looking for anything specific, rather just participating in the general event. It was a simple and common get-together of beautiful and intelligent people, or at least the type of people who had enough general respect for the gift of life and humanity to try and make the most of what they found themselves with. I sat here and there picking up bits of this and that before settling into a conversation of my own.
What things Henry was reminiscing of I cannot be sure of, but my account should be sufficient to get the general point across of what was on Henry’s mind as he sat in his blue recliner. At first glance I found myself by my friend, who we will simply continue to refer to as Don Juan, for now at least. The Don was that type of man who could rightfully be called a womanizer. However, he was a rather rare type of womanizer that truly enjoyed the process and romance of womanizing as much as its end result. All of that is to say, whereas some man- whore’s do whatever they can to achieve their ends, that would not do for the Don. Either it would come about in a rather dramatic and atmospheric fashion, or he simply would not go through with it. Although, no doubt, he could make any situation romantic since he had a very accommodating conscience and apt imagination.
“Women are beautiful! In general women are beautiful! It’s true!” Stated the Don Juan while sketching a very realistic picture of the rather thick brunette beside him. “Of Course, of course there is a universal notion in our generation, a general consensus, but at the end of the day it is each one’s preference. For example, I might say Audrey Hepburn is objectively beautiful, and Jeanette here, who is sitting beside me…. I might say she is subjectively and enthrallingly beautiful. You tell me which is more complimentary.” The Don was looking at me for reassurance to his methodically delivered philosophical exposé. “Well, of course if one values your personal opinion your subjective appreciation will be valued above any general consensus. And since you are objectively good looking yourself, your opinion would carry weight with most people.”
The brunette named Janette began to seem a bit lost in all this insider talk. It seems she got the gist that they both argued she was very attractive and the fact that they had said women in general were beautiful did not seem to disturb her or make her any less satisfied with the compliment. At any rate, I grew bored of the very un-mysterious friend who we endearingly referred to as Don Juan….. the Don, who was on top of his form this evening, and well on his way to waking up in the morning dissatisfied himself only to draw a far cruder picture of another women within the dawning day. Need I say more of the Don, his story has been told often enough , he is the above ground man who like the underground man swims in his filth only to wash up so as to get filthier before the night is up. At the time of this gathering I had no knowledge of the filthy type of underground man. Although I did understand the ironically- mysterious to women, very non-complex Don Juan type that was our friend Anthony.
I side stepped my way around a well appreciated table which was covered in glasses and made my way to the porch in the back of the apartment. In truth, the porch was nothing more than one of those black metal staircases half enclosed half opened with many landings to the back doors of all the apartments. To young adult men it was sincerely referred to as a porch. Who could want more out of a porch then six stories with openings that allowed one to look out into the woods beyond? In front of me and too my left stood the dashing dark-haired olive skinned atheist who could be an Italian in Italy, a Brazilian in Brazil, and Irishman in Ireland , a Jew in Israel. He could be all of these things because he was that type of universal good looking that every country likes to see in its own setting and then say “ ah! A great looking pure blooded Italian, Irishman, Spaniard,” ha-ha. Perhaps he was a descendent of those ever intermarrying royalty or the landowning classes of the past. His parents did not work on Wall Street or for the government, although that would be the progression of analogue to the intermarrying of royalty in the modern day.
His hands were waving, as he swept back his hair and ash sprinkled off his cheaper then cheap cigarettes, “Fuck God! Fuck your Christianity!, and Fuck all those other really bull shit religions.” He glanced at me, and as was his method at the end of his speeches, he became calm again. That was his way; he would speak with the gusto of Hitler, and then simply and calmly take another drag of his cigarette as if he were sitting in a quiet hookah bar in Asia. Tonight, as was typically the case, the vibrant looker had many friends standing around him licking their lips at the icing….. to get the floor to give their rebuttal. The kid that the handsome and passionate antagonist was chewing up earlier was gone, and in his place stood Phillip. Phillip was a sober as a judge type who’s logical and evidential maneuvering was only reinforced by his picture perfect life. It appeared to some of us that providence had showered gifts on him and in return he upheld his supposed ‘Benevolent One’ with possible and logical edifices that were a reinforced compilation of thought through the ages.
Nonetheless, the two could not really talk since they spoke right through one another. Phillip had his rationally grounded God, who is said to be characteristically and purposefully shrouded in mystery. And Zane had his experientially grounded disappointment at truth, and life, and its supposed Creator who is said to be shrouded in His own unfixable destruction. I told them of their communication problems but Zane was becoming drunk and simply said “Fuck you” in the most meaningful and yet jovial way. Having known Zane long before college I interpreted it as “I love you, but don’t interrupt or make us get off topic!” Phillip, who was growing increasingly drunk, not on alcohol but arrogance, was quick to point out my error. All the while Phillip held Zane and their conversation with his postured outright hand. Phillip then stated in a rather smug way something to the effect of, “But experience and rational process of thought are one, and nearly work as one as far as we can tell. So you have mistakenly set them apart.” While all of this was going on Tim had made his way out to the porch. He cut short and then seized the words from Phillips tongue.
I remind you yet again that who these main personages are will be told in full detail in just a short while, and along that note I must make it known, at times I write in haste for the world will not wait, and so please excuse me for minor indiscretions, as I am not a writer or an editor, but a sub-par friend with a “six-under” story to tell.
Phillip had begun to explain how evolution and God were compatible, ‘in order to show Zane it was rationally sound to believe in God regardless of his supposedly emotional arguments.’ Tim, no doubt energized by the zest of Zane, broke out “Fuck evolution! Fuck the notion of God and evolution! Are we from and like God? Or are we from the animals and like the animals? If from God, then maybe like the animals, but not from them. Fuck it all if we are from the animals and from God, it all goes to hell. Christianity is built around the notion of a special relationship with God. It’s built around the idea that there is a special relationship between God and humans….. That humanity renounced those aspects that made them most like God, and became more like the other created things around them! In a word, that man was free with God, and then he was not! having harmed himself. Fuck morality if we were once animals, and fuck morality without God! I can’t believe you are so desperate you are spinning that shit now Phil.”
Tim was shaking his head at Phil as if in incomprehensible disbelief. “It’s not about the literal interpretation it’s about the whole ethic of sin and salvation, and the image of God.” Tim took a breath, “And I don’t swear! When have you heard me swear before? Thus the word served me well for emphasis, much better than it does you Zane” Everyone had a laugh at that comment, since the f word was for Zane like saying hello. Naturally Zane felt like he was being plundered, “Thus thus thus thus! What are you guys freaking Brits in the Middle Ages.” Zane flicked ashes at them, they did not actually hit Tim, it was simply a gesture for affect. Tim shot back a look that said “any more of the ash flicking and there will be debating with fists!” Tim was not particularly on edge .He was just very fond of designer clothing, and ashes could break his frugally upheld budget. I caught a glimpse of Henry at the screen watching the tail end of all of this, when he turned and decided to stay out of that old scene. He walked back into the main room and I followed.
Now perhaps you are wondering where this is all going, and who all these people are? It suffices to say they were extremely close friends of Henry’s, some of which, as I have said, will be told of in greater detail later. But this is Henry’s story and these friends and this scene play an integral part in your understanding Henry, and his story. But enough apologies for I have only begun and I can tend to get a bit off point, or do I ? In any case, Henry saw me following behind him, “They go over the same stuff every time were together, and usually I love it, but not tonight.” “It’s a bit like the moonlight sonata isn’t it Henry, how they keep going over the same old topic again and again, adding a new emphasis each time around?” Hans, who was now entertaining in place of Sinatra and friends, popped his head out from behind the piano to roll his eyes at my mentioning of the moonlight sonata, the main part he rolled his eyes at being merely my mentioning of the sonata.
Henry found himself standing over the chair of a woman who he greeted as if she were an old time acquaintance. In fact they had only known each other for barely two years. “You look rather glum. What else is new?” Henry tried to smile and act energetic, as he resolved that this evening would not turn into one of those melodramatic pity parties for himself. “No I am fine just tired….. How are you?” The chicly dressed girl, whose name was Veronica, sat down her half filled glass of merlot on the table, ignoring Henry’s question. “So how did things work out for you and that girl you were so enraptured with?” Henry bought some time and searched the room for a chair finally pulling one next to the chic women. She was styling a grey spring dress that laid upon her skin, her feet dancing within the open toed heels that matched her dress. “Things never began of course…..There was no beginning it simply went nowhere!” Veronica’s eyes slowly grew large with a passive tone of sarcasm, “How exacting you are in your description, not vague or repetitive at all.” Henry was to worn down to have the energy to take the blows from this girl. Even so, he sat beside her; she was said to be an intellectual equal to both Henry and all of his heady friends, and arguably a superior.
V was not a particularly beautiful woman, at least not by zeitgeist standards, but she was young, stylish and smart. Henry had no interest in her beyond platonic, though her intelligence in combination with her stylish femininity are probably the reasons why He settled in to take a beating from her when he would not have heard a word of it from any of his other male friends at the gathering. With a conscious flick of her bleached black hair to the side she renewed the intrigue. “Yes so you kept running into her…..I remembered you telling me. And since you always kept the same schedule you thought she was beginning to take a liking to you. And………and then what?”
Henry’s eyes opened with emphasis showing his startled dread of answering “And what?…………And one night we ran into each other and she ate dinner with me.” Henry continued to swallow his tongue, “A little while after that I asked her out on an official date. Then, of course, She said she ‘clearly had no interest in me’ and then she was engaged nearly two weeks later!” Veronica was poised to solve this and settled into her chair “What did you talk about at dinner?” “This and that… you know.” Veronica’s big eyes rolled over twice, “oh my! This is going to be like pulling teeth…. You’re ridiculous; here have some anesthesia for goodness sake.” Veronica handed Henry her wine glass. Henry took a symbolically appeasing swig, “ ok, ok, we talked about life, this and that, I thought it went well, she mentioned she had a boyfriend , but then made a very suggestive statement about keeping one’s options open…….. It doesn’t matter that she is perhaps one of the most moral and mature girls I have met, and even she could not admit or see, she was in fact considering me,….. leading me on.”
“And before you start…” Henry was starting to come to life, his face flitching with every and any expression it found appropriate, “…before you start, I know what you will say. Either you will say she really was just being friendly and I was reading into it, or I could have had her with the right methods.” Veronica, who was now resting her chin on her hand on her armrest staring as if analyzing his every word and expression, tried to interject, but to no avail. “It doesn’t matter. I saw her fiancé. I took one look at him and I knew he was a good man, and that they will be one of those rare 90 year old couples dying arm in arm. I couldn’t help but feel that my strongest emotions and thoughts for her were brought to silence with a glance at him.” V realized he had finally come to a pause and seized the opening, “You know what most girls will tell you? They would say that she was not interested, and that you are just conceited! However, I won’t tell you that! I know you will hate to hear this, but you could have won her over. If she was so devotedly in love she would not have ever given you the time of day! That’s a scientific axiom!” V grew more and more emphatic and authoritative in her tone, “She was certainly feeling you out. But,….But! You really could have won her over. Whereas in the past you threw yourself at women and were entirely too easy for a women to appreciate, this time you were too calm, it seems. Maybe you had too much of a ‘let it breath type attitude.’ A girl like her didn’t need to breath, she needed you to make the decision for her. If you smilingly suffocated her with a calm and confident fervency she would have been set at ease from her busy and irritating life. You needed to give her an irrefutable reason to venture out to what it was that she was casually considering in you. But as always you were probably missing the one element you have always been missing. And though you are said to be quite the saint I don’t believe that element is so far removed you cannot exercise it enough to gain a women’s attention.”
By now V had gained the mildly chauvinistic Henry Ker’s attention, and respect. “Go on, go on” V saw the change in Henry’s disposition and took the liberty of savoring it a little. “I think I will have you pay for the rest of this therapy session.” The beer Henry had drank earlier in the night finally revealed itself within his system. He took a sexually consuming glance at this rather ‘unattractive’ young women. It was not that the alcohol blinded him, on the contrary, the small amount of alcohol in his blood opened his eyes to the truth that the Don and I affirmed before Janette earlier that evening, and many evenings before in Henry’s presence. With that glance Henry saw his pleasure and happiness in her robust and poignant features. He saw her great mind, which it seems had in fact opened his eyes to her overall beauty. The chronology of his finding respect for her due to her assessment suggests that her mind opened his eyes to her overall beauty, even more then the wisdom juice of fermented American grains. Suddenly V’s disposition had changed. Her face showed scared confusion as she got out of her chair. As her body rose her eyes looked down, and she said with an attempted air of matter –of- factness, “Maybe I have underestimated you Henry.”
All the while I had been glancing over at these two from time to time. I had caught the end of this scene with un-conscienceable eavesdropping and came in just in time to fill the now vacant chair. “She’s some kind of women Henry, though I dare say the boys of your generation are not man enough to handle a woman like that. On more than one level, I might add!” Hearty laughs
There was a lingering look of starving depressed sensuality on Henry’s face as he began to speak. “Oh I could handle her. She is revitalizing just sitting beside her. If it were not for the fact that the most important part of me is left somewhere on someone of the past, I would have followed her out into that kitchen this minute and never looked back!” I just looked at Henry somewhat puzzled with a vague stare. “She saw it in me, behind my eyes, yes she saw the sensuality in it, but only half a heart, and a woman, especially one like V, can always sense the danger of half-heartedness when it reeks so obviously as it does on me.” At the time I was not sure I knew exactly what Henry was telling me, and as I was trying to figure it out when the cowboys came in.
In the accustomed cowboy fashion they drew everyone’s attention to the door in which they had just exploded through. There loud voices could be heard throughout the entire apartment; Hans even stopped playing the piano. And so the assault began, the first of the cowboys made it over to Henry. “Typical, it’s the philosopher scene! Do you all ever get tired of arguing about the same worthless garbage?” The second cowboy in rank could be heard throughout the entire apartment, “Let’s do something fun and go out.. there are only enough women here for Anthony.” The third cowboy was opening the refrigerator and could be heard complaining, “Henry only brought enough beer for himself, and naturally there is red wine everywhere…..we need to all go out tonight, that is for-sure!”
The cowboy’s names are superfluous as they were simply referred to endearingly as the cowboys. All of us had similar and overlapping interests and the cowboys were not excluded in this. The odd thing was Tim, Henry, Zane and I were better athletes then the great sport enthusiasts that were the cowboys. The boys settled down for a bit, made their rounds and then took their turns getting shot down by V. The boys had enough of the south in them to unapologetically appreciate an excellent and youthfully large woman despite what society expected men like them to walk in with arm in arm. They usually each took a turn trying to get to V at every get together, and then as if on a telepathic brain-wave became restless in their rejection. The head of the rough riders announced, “We’re going out. Whose coming?”
Henry and I hesitantly joined the cowboys, glad for the unexpected changeup to the evening. It had already grown late as I pulled Henry’s wrist toward me; both of us standing under the street light to find his nice brown leather banded watch affirming it was twelve o’clock.
We drove into the down-town area, took an elevator to the top floor of tall glass building and found ourselves in a very European posh night club. Most of us were not particularly wealthy, though even the cowboys were always well dressed. In this club, bar, pub, whatever one wishes to call it, everyone was not only well- dressed but seemingly richly dressed, but then again who cares to try and peek at the tags inside of one’s clothes. The jewelry sparkled when the roaming lights hit it, and as is typical of America, the women came in all shades shapes and sizes. The cowboys ordered pitchers of beer, starting off with a dark and flavorful brew and then moving onto more economical choices. Henry had his typical jager on ice and I tried some type of martini. The cowboys were scouting out the room, and as they settled, two of them began to concentrate on Henry. The other cowboy made his way over to a very interesting girl, to say the least. It was hard to hear in the club since a little ways off from the bar and table-area people were dancing to all the latest hit songs. Henry, staring off into the distance, seemed to only be half-listening to the relentless speeches of the boys.
“Henry, trust us man, you need to bag as many women as you can.” “Yeah and you can be a nice guy about it, just be honest, take them to dinner tell them you’re not looking for anything serious and then have fun giving it man.”
“Yeah man its biological, its science!”
Henry was still looking off into the distance, “Yeah but that is not what I want, and I don’t think its biological gold, ever heard of diseases? I do not just want sex, I want a companion, I want some to share life with. I don’t want to roam around like some mindless fucking rabbit.”
The cowboys were happy they got under Henry’s skin enough to make him swear. “But man we are serious! I have been doing it for years and the girls are just as happy with it as we are.”
“Yeah man not everyone wants your romantic western quasi Christian notions of monogamous love for sixty years!”
“People want to enjoy their lives.”
“Even women, man!”
“Especially women!” added the other cowboy.
Henry was fuming to himself, “ these playboys claimed they wanted to go out and have a good time and not think about all the great questions of life, and upon arriving let out a full on assault.” Henry seething with irritation calmly waited for their attention, “Well last time I checked, science as a whole and evolutionary theory is waiting for its own second coming. So in the meantime piss off or don’t get upset when your get married someday and then you find out the Don is doing your wife! At all costs be consistent!”
Henry gave them a wink and left.
On his way out he stopped by the waitress who he had been staring at all night and whispered something in her ear, and then was gone! Meanwhile the lead cowboy was still chatting up some lucky lady by the bar. I joined him as I too struck up a conversation, with a woman who turned out to be an up and coming actress. By now the night was nearly spent and the club was clearing out, people were stumbling out, some by themselves, some arm in arm with a new friend, some arm in arm with the wing-person they flew into battle with. My actress had to leave and so I was left listening to the lead cowboy talk to his very unique new friend. “I don’t give a f—about your car. I don’t give a f— about that stuff!” My friend (the handsome tall and strong yet pretty blue eyed blonde boy) kept at it, and she kept reaffirming that she did not give an f—- about his stuff. “Let’s go back to my place!” shouted the aggressive young lady. Whether she was drunk or just truly unique, it was hard to tell. “Do you want to go to breakfast? let’s go to breakfast” returned the cowboy. She looked at him with a face that said “are you fucking retarded?!”
The cowboys were rough riders, but this particular one who had long been their leader, was constantly at war with his own ideology, which was parroted by the other two cowboys to Henry, and his younger self who was a very religiously minded boy. I just laughed, knowing that either two things would happen, they would go to breakfast and he would do nothing and she would be enraged, or on the way to the diner he would change his mind and just go to her apartment, and go hog-wild. Whether it was lingering morals or the peculiar fear that this women was just as interested in every other man on every other night, I do not know. For whatever reason, he kept giving his innovative breakfast line when it was not necessary to do so. I dropped the two of them off at his car and after that “who knows”. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention on the way out of the club I asked that waitress what my friend had whispered in her ear. She looked up at me with a gentle and sincere smile, “He said I was by far the most beautiful women in this club.” she smiled again as if truly appreciating his no strings attached compliment and walked away. My head was spinning, my hearing watery from the loud music, my body floating from the alcohol, all the while trying to make sense of this mad and mildly eventful evening, knowing that when I got back to Tim’s apartment the night would only be entering the seventh inning stretch.
Henry threw down the book to the right of his blue chair and began to mumble out loud,
“ regardless of the suspense or anxiety that may be on a page it is no comparison to the anxiety a young man feels after realizing he has passed over a potential beloved. A potential beloved who was so ready to love him, whom he now had no reason to think would ever be available to him again. Oh such a feeling, such a thought….,” Henry continued to himself in silence, “is beyond any unrequited love, it is a shock to the whole being; both sorrow and regret, anxiety and shame. Oh the shame of such foolishness, of such blindness. How would those fabled Israelites have fared should they have smashed the manna under their feet while looking for food? How should have that gone over with their God? And then there’s these Fools, Fools, stupid children! They cannot understand what I say they are so obsessed with fraudulent realism and the supposed power of it, because they have not the soul nor the mind to experience reality in all its power themselves. Yes they think their lives are monotonous, and truly and sadly they are right, because they are like the animals, the cows who only see the grass before their face.” With that my friend Henry shut the door not only to his room but to the supposed cows that surrounded him.
It is true I fall prey to Henry’s critique in recounting his story. Indeed on all accounts I fall prey, though I will do my best to record his reality with the very vision and feeling he had that Tuesday afternoon upon the enlightening of his mind to his failure and his ungratefulness. It is now clear to me what the reality he day-dreamt about in his blue chair meant to him. However it will only be seen in time, as it is not as much about what was in the events, which I recounted above, as what was not there.
Introductions in Order
Fortunately for you Mr. Henry Ker’s story is quite a wonderful reality to entertain; even with all the details and unanswered questions, even with all the true unknowns it is better than any omniscient omnipotent story or fairytale, yes even the stories that are purposefully limited and beautiful or end in disaster without a happy ending. As Henry, my old friend, is quite right in that even the limited stories are limited only to the author’s desire, since there is nothing beyond his desire to write what he has not decided to write. Such an author answers all questions he desires to answer and willfully leaves unknown that which he did not care to know. Yes that is, I believe, how Henry himself summed up the situation of fiction and even nonfictions in a letter he sent me. Surely this story is different since what is left unknown is truly unknown and what was not desirable to write will still be written. Although Henry was always somewhat clearer in letters then in his speech the latter is not entirely clear to me even in the letter. In any case, I am afraid in recounting Henry’s story I will not be able to escape the fact that the reality will not appear to the reader as it did to Henry at the time. Indeed, even in spite of my drawing from his own recounting of events, the task is severe. But I shall certainly not seek to include things unknown to Henry that are known to me without being clear to you that that is the case. In the end my task is rather easy, as keeping people interested in a story is not so depended on the writer as the actual story itself. Henry himself noted “people love realism and a recounting of reality…. And if it is a bit extraordinary it always interests others, since to them life seems all too often, very ordinary. It even gives them hope; even if I can open their eyes to the great excitement of their daily walk to work, they will be interested.”
The story of Mr. Ker is a fairly modern and recent series of events in the America of the limitlessly advanced 21st century; Henry himself being a seemingly limitless young “all American”, prodigious in his studies and standout in his athletic performance throughout school. During this time his looks were not far behind his all American qualification; sporting wavy blond hair and a prominent facial structure on top of his six foot plus athletically cut body. Early on he nurtured the idea of being the best, or one of the few best, at something (but what American, what human does not nurture such an idea). In fact, as he often admitted, his life was quite disinteresting until he fell in love. So then I either must introduce the characters that surrounded our love drunk friend or get to the part where he drinks from a potent well that for once intoxicates him.
The truth of the matter is there would be no story to tell if Henry were it not for two of his friends he met at the university. These young men were not perhaps as “all American” as Henry, though in a somewhat romantic sense they lived life with the type of zeal that the great country of immigrants has always appreciated and claimed as its unifying characteristic. And at this point I should warn you, although I myself am a sort of enthusiastic aesthete, the type who loves beer and women and smoking, smoking simply because people have begun to stick their noses up at it. I also, of course, love the idea of the strong and the young and the beautiful ones partaking of what can kill them and conquering it….. that is, what young people do when they smoke, they say “I am untouchable” and they are, until they become old, but who wants to think about that. Well, you get the point. Maybe not? But the point is when one lives in a society of calculated and depraved moderation, and one sees one who lives with thoughtful and patient passion, well I cannot help but appreciate that, even though my personal passions are rather pathetic and menial and the opposite extreme of one’s typical white collard calculatedly depraved moderation. Yes my color is white enough, but I hide it and embrace those less hypocritical but equally sad sorts who embrace the anthem of ‘drunken drugged and done till death!’
So then, I must warn you I am going to begin by telling you about a few young men that were passionate, patient and if not patient then courageous! Friends that lived, to live and talk about the things most people are afraid to live and talk about. They were first and foremost religious and philosophical, and of course political, and psychologically interested, and now of course you might put the book down, but do not fear for I am neither religious nor political, and as for the characters in our story, these mediums come to bloom in relation to what everyone has always been talking about. In fact, often one of the first things a person asks another after meeting them, ‘What do you do with your life?’Yes these young men were very interested in that and also of course- love, since it became very obvious to them as it does to all at a certain age, that what they wanted in life was to love and be loved.
Tim Baxter sat in his room laughing but he was the only one in his room. Tim was a solitary individual and yet he was energized by the presence of others. This particular night he sat in his room alone as his flatmates pretentiously listened to music and chatted it up with a group of greedy and blasé girls. This particular night, as was the case most nights, Tim preferred to sit alone and drink vodka with only the company of his book. “Stop being such a prig Tim, come down and meet our friends,” shouted his flat mate from the bottom of the old wooden stairwell. As fate would have it Tim eventually ran out of ice and warm vodka would not do, so he had to go down stairs. Upon getting to the bottom of the creaky stairwell Tim found his friends and their lady friends sitting around in the family room. Tim smiled politely to the girls, as was his manner, all the while thinking to himself whether or not his flat mates knew a single attractive looking girl. After filling his snub glass, he proceeded back through the crowd up to his room and pulled the half gallon of vodka back out of his bottom right dresser door. All the while he was still complaining to himself as to whether or not any attractive girls would ever happen to wonder within a remote radius of his existence. “Clearly not if Larry Moe and Curly have anything to do with it” he mused. “But who am I kidding, of course there are, there are thousands of beautiful smart girls my age. It’s simply that all the ones I meet happened to be in relationships ranging from dating to marriage.” Tim’s thoughts wandered back to a night he meet some of his older friends for dinner during his sophomore year of university.
Naturally the room was dimly lit, the floors, dawning an old and rustic wooden finish; the ceilings, arched making up a setting that was genuinely the very definition of 1st class. In walked the strapping young Tim with a countenance radiant with excitement. He greeted his friends at the table and then was introduced too two females and two males, both groups of which were a few years older as were his upperclassmen friends. The glow on his face dimmed as he was struck by the reality that he was invited to a party of couples. What was worse was that other than his two friends from English class, who were engaged, the rest were all married. So there he sat across from a beautiful and extremely married women. Tim said nothing. He was polite as he sensed a strange attraction to and from this young and newly married women. She was an athletic, elegant, and authentic blonde with freckles on her face scattered mildly around her nose. Her eyes were deliberately avoiding Tim’s, and then when her husband left the table to use the restroom she started the conversation. But I must defend myself and note: Henry too knew the intimate details of the story I am telling of our mutual friend Tim.
Of course, the woman was, for her part, completely in the clear in her action, as she simply started a conversation about what Tim studied in college. Tim went on to explain his interest and declared major in history and sociology. “Yes well…” he continued dejectedly since he knew the response coming which had only come 100 times before, “I am a history major.” He began his prepared defense, “Though I am unsure what I will do with it, I really enjoy it and it is very hard work, in fact a very hard major. So few students actually pass the intro class at my university.” He ended his statement with a defeated tone. To tell the truth, Tim was not defeated. He simply did not want to seem a fool in others minds, though in his mind his decision was much more purposeful then those very same others could ever conceive. The young Mrs. X sensed his dejection. In her judgment she decided he was no moper, just as well, she could not exactly lay a finger on what he was. Perhaps, she thought, “he is possibly arrogant,” and thus perhaps she guessed his false dejection. With great sincerity Mrs. X replied “why that’s great I think. You know I just graduated with a degree in literature and I feel my opportunities are so numerous.” And so the conversation continued. Tim, had he lived in a different day and were she not married, would have offered her terms of engagement or to her father, or whoever, and that very night to be sure! But alas he did not and what is mor, she was married and our dear Tim was most likely one of the most moral men in his country at that time. In the least, he was so moral we could not help but suppose it of him in the greatest sincerity spiced with a bit of spite. So upon her husband’s return he started a conversation with this attractive and strong built young man, who was in fact not as intelligent as his wife, but he was, Tim sensed, a “good man” and thus he felt some sense of consolation for the girl whom he loved.
The truth is, Tim and the young women had seen each other before. Our ‘very moral’ Tim devoured her with his eyes upon there last collision and she did not dislike it. In Tim’s defense, he had no idea she was married, and he sickened us with that clarifying point when he explained this all to us with the most disgustingly honest innocence. Of course, Tim (the young saint) would not have looked twice had he seen the ring. I would hazard the guess that when Tim burned holes in her with his eyes, he probably did not move past a purely aesthetic and ethical longing. I have to suppose this, as he was so ridiculously innocent; A man who knew so much of the world at such a young age. Who was so powerful, should history spit out a great event and yet who was when it came to women, so honestly believing of the most pure and romantic dreams that are far too good to be lived out in this world. But the last is my opinion, and this is Henry’s story… so then….
As Tim glanced into the eyes of the young wife, he could see the momentarily torn young women had in fact left her thoughts wander to a place where she envisioned her life if she had held out and remained single a bit longer but the glimpse, the notion, dare I say frivolous fancy, would have crushed her if she continued upon it and thus in an instant, she took her eyes from Tim turning to hug her husband and finally sealing her insecurity with a kiss of feeling. Though it seemed her feelings were anything but unified, it nonetheless was a kiss of feeling, as if in spite of herself, not in spite of Tim…. but herself. That very night Tim Baxter went home and being the religious man he was, before laying down in his bed, prayed for the young couple that they would be happy and strong. All the while as Tim prayed to the Christ he fought viciously against, the seemingly self spawning thought of Mrs. X’s husband’s death and her being left single, falling into one another arms, walking through life in a perfect fit…… not the typical jimmy rigged union that is about as close as being the uniting of separated halves as would be the marriage of a pig and cow..
Tim came back to himself sitting in his chair with the cup of vodka and melted ice in his hand. He could take the memory of the dreadful diner with Mrs. X no further, “after all,” he rationalized to himself, “there were many such women who were of one spirit with me and yet separated from me by the very religion and the very God I trusted to restore me. After all, only two such women is two too many.” Indeed even two such women were far too many for the tender heart of Tim. Tim had enough of these troubling thoughts so he laid face down on the floor of his completely dark room as the shades swung in the wind from the open window and a poor man’s street light put off a soft glimmer. Tim laid prostrate listening to Mozart until he was ready to sleep. In the morning He woke up with a slow ease, made a large breakfast for himself and a fresh glass of coffee and then…and then he joined the Army. After some months of training, Tim was stationed in a far away country. Within six months of his term in the foreign country Tim was shot and killed.
By now of course I am assume you realize that even the names listed are not accurate nor was Tim necessarily in the Army per se. Two months prior to his death Tim was often frequenting the streets of the country he was stationed in. What he encountered in the dark was utter darkness, absolute depravity. However, Tim did not care initially as he viewed all people as depraved by nature, and so he saw them as simply doing evil for evil, and thus what concern of it was his. Surely it was not his problem but theirs. Mr. Bassinger always thought that people, who rejected the idea of a God and a moral code given by that God, were not worth the effort. One night as Tim crept about smoking his all white cigarettes, he stumble upon a place of young girls and young boys and seemingly rich men speaking languages from all over the globe. The short of it is that, Tim’s indifference was brought to a halt, although he cared less about the men’s self condemning actions; he did care about the innocent children, who needed protected and a fair shot at life. Perhaps you are unfamiliar with Baptist type men like Tim. America is still full of religion and no doubt you encountered something of the sort once or twice, but Tim, as he was taught to do since childhood, began to contemplate all he had read in scripture. He was left with two conclusions. The first thing Tim wrote in his journal was that he could either attempt to convert the evil men and care for the young people as best as he could, or he could stand up for the defenseless! The women! And children! The poor and the oppressed! Yes a wonderful sounding notion which all in this century would applaud.
Tim continued to exegete the scriptures in the protestant tradition handed down to him. He concluded these oppressed were the people most probable for inheriting eternal life and that upon a successful military career he could finish his degree and enter politics using politics to end these poor children’s plights, all the while bringing the men to trial and justice. As Tim continued to reason, he remembered the teaching that Christ was judge and all were sinners and yet God allowed and expected governments to uphold a standard of justice. So then, Tim had resolved what he would do and thus the next day he proceeded to tell and thus convince his five closest friends stationed with him of his decision. “It is all clear to me what I will do. So very much does not make sense, and my judgmental and indifferent attitude is probably anything but Christ like, but it does not matter now, as I see my purpose as a Christian, as an American, as a man. Where my actions will leave me?…. With the church or my country or with God… I do not know, but did I need scripture to tell me to defend the innocent and the helpless! Even if the cost is unknown, and I bring judgment on myself……..those children need salvation here and now, today and not a second later! Do not misunderstand me! I am not a hero nor do I have a hero complex……I……. I simply have lost all hope for my own happiness, so it is easy for me to give what little hope I have left to them”
Tim and his 5 comrades proceeded to enter the hell holes the next night and gun down all the patrons and owners. They continued their unauthorized raids again and again, going in and out of hiding. They killed the men, or hogs, as Tim preferred to refer to them, and set the women, girls, and boys free. They ‘liberated’ and hid them away at various mission type organizations. One evening, Tim, who went about his “business” without any fear , for he had no true care whether he lived or died, as he saw death in his final hope as the most certain peace, one evening Tim was shot dead. He was shot by a small gun of a very American diplomat. It seems Tim’s brigade had stumbled upon a favorite spot of certain important officials who were prepared, realizing it was only a matter of time until these rogues arrived. For this particular American official it was a personal matter as he was certain Tim and company would have taken him alive so as to make a statement to the world of the severity of the problem, and also vindicate their rogue behavior in the process. This seemed the only logical end to the Diplomat, as simply stopping to frequent those places did not seem to be a consideration, and certainly that would have been Tim’s action had he found him there. The aid to survive in hiding and continue the campaigns became scarcer, and a ‘find’, such as this official, resided in the back of Tim’s mind as the last remnant of any hope for himself here and now. We humans are so odd…… Tim had found himself in that foreign country because he had lost all hope for his being able to endure the life before him. And then, while standing on deaths front porch, he finds such an idea in his head… as if he had forgotten the life of loneliness which he believed providence would force upon him.
Now my dear reader you may be wondering what Tim has to do with this story, but….. be patient! For Henry and Tim were the closest of friends, and shared a mutual friend in their days upon the earth, and thus their stories are connected. Ah yes! and I must remind you yet again, that minor details are amended as I wish to hold Henry’s wish fulfilled and tell the story in reality or tell the reality, and not a story at all, if that is possible? If I can escape Henry’s criticisms, who knows? It has been years since I have written, and his standards for a composer or even a historian, for that matter, are quite high.
Ah but you find it odd that Tim should end up in such a drastic state over a married women whom he sat across at dinner on one occasion. Indeed as I hinted at earlier events in Tim’s life were of such an ironic nature, he being the butt of irony that only two such occasions as the one at dinner would have been enough to fuel his reflective mind to its own ruin. But alas this other very important event, at least in Tim’s eyes, was the fateful day Tim met Eliza Howell. Eliza was a beautiful young girl, the type that only grows more and more beautiful with each year. It is important to mention that Tim was a chauvinist by 21st century standards. Yet Tim found the strong Miss Howell to be young women unlike any other. But I suppose it would be important to further explain the thinking of Mr. Bassinger so as to understand his drastically absolute views and yet very uncertain decisions. Tim was a very well read young man, very aware of his beliefs and the criticisms raised against them. He marveled at the way in which men and women in history lived in stark contrast to the present culture’s desire to die as slowly as possible. As far as Tim was concerned, the holy scriptures were nearly the voice of God Himself, perhaps with minor nuances. With these perhaps heroic and what some would deem romantic views; Tim held Eliza Howell in awe.
She was a young woman who took pride in being a woman in a very traditional sense. She had no desire to be like the funny creatures that are men. Tim was so excited at that time …so sincerely happy. I remember how he rushed into Henry and I. “Gentlemen,” he cleared his throat and summoned a deep voice, “gentleman in the words of Etta James, ‘at last!!” voiced Tim as he burst into the room. “Seriously the girl plays piano, is thoughtful and mild mannered. She is intelligent, sweet, and a moral giant. I have never seen a girl dressed with such style, class, and modesty all at the same time.” Tim was flashing around like he had won a hundred thousand dollars. Henry and I were staring at him with dull eyes. Tim came to recognize his overly extreme excitement, and began to calm down so that we could keep up with what he was saying. “Oddly enough her modest dress, makes here all the more attractive. Henry my friend! Meeting this girl is an answer to prayer, and I must pursue her. She must be my wife, she is my eve. Surely the poets are right, surely I have meet her before.” Henry became excited himself. Since Tim decided to reveal his secret that he had been nursing. Henry let his out as well.
“Tim my man, how is it we both find love at the same time!!” exclaimed Henry. Tim only grinned. He did not need Henry to say anymore. “Haaha… The romantic religiosity we carried out for four years of high school, high school!” uttered Tim a second time with emphasis at the absurdity. “The distant old kingdom in which we walked the courts as twin Princes. All was ours for the taking!”
“Yes, and you were always more dutiful and less enticed than me, but we made it through all the same.”
So it was that Tim and Eliza became a couple. For Tim it was dinner out every Friday night. He had no reservations about spending his loan money for college on the glorious Eliza. Every night Tim came home with a smile on his face as glowing as a full moon. And every night Tim knelt beside his bed and let loose a peaceful “thank you Lord.”
The young Mr. Bassinger was in fact, a man since the age of eight and thus he told Elisa before Christmas break that he intended to marry her. After all, to Tim, Eliza was…. “Eliza is the most beautiful green eyed saint in all the universe who undergoes the title of women. Having met her I cannot now live without her.” Eliza, who was only eighteen and without experience in these things, nonetheless new a truth spoken when she heard it. Nor did Elisa reject his offer, though she did speak some wisdom to his passion in explaining foreseeable obstructions to such a fast pace. Now, it is true, Tim’s passion was wiser and more thought out than any of the pseudo- psychologist, sociologist, or theologians who specialized in relationships. What is more, Tim knew it. As he once said to Henry “these Pastors, these scientific Psychologists who write their books and speak their speeches; they are typically asses and I do not swear Henry you know that. I was raised under the preachers and I have read the great ‘unreligious and scientific’ psychologists and they both spew out more shit than a manure spreader. Whether it’s brown or green I really don’t care!”
Henry nodded his head in agreement, though his stretched eyes showed his mind was mostly elsewhere. “Yeah, in the least they only tell half truths anyway, and they do it so dogmatically. So…. well I suppose you have got a point.” Tim and Henry sat in their apartment eating spaghetti and pretending to study for their classes the next day. “The worst part is people believe it all, they follow the advice and then social norms and stigma’s are shaped by these great sages,” the sing of sarcasm could be heard in Tim’s voice. “Well then,” replied Henry “I suppose independent minds like us won’t have much of a chance will we.” Tim did not bother to ask a chance at what? Rather all was understood.
And so it was, that regardless of Elisa uniqueness as a distinct type of 21st century women, it was still the 21st century. When her parents heard about the proposal from the reserved yet excited young woman who was their daughter, she was sent to a university on the east coast, and cut off from the brain washing day dreamer, who would, no doubt, ruin both her future career and later prospects of marrying well. Eliza was a rational young woman and thus the wisdom of her parents laid hold of her mind. Tim never heard from her again. There is really nothing more to say, nor do I need to describe to you the effect on Tim. Yes, Elisa loved Tim but she trusted her parents, and after all what is more certain then the rational, a qualification of thought that had the support of every institution she had ever gone through since she was a child. For Elisa, the rational consisted of a neatly composed concoction of an evenly flowing formula of pastoral wisdom, and western notions of success along with a deep breath of feminism and two pinches of greed that were referred to as ‘security’.
Was Elisa a heartless woman? Of course not, she was courageous to endure her pain in her heart for what was best…. what was rational. She was however, ignorant and by default arrogant to think the world was so simple….so neat and tidy. Tim was my friend, and I respected and was even stirred by his life and his beliefs, but those other people cut off from the ‘immoral world’ and thus basking in their own private corner of hypocrisy… those stir me in an entirely different fashion. Henry sought to encourage Tim daily. Although this encouragement had a healing effect, in the end it was nothing but the final days of a desperate hope. Truly my recounting the story or rather reality of Tim Bassinger is a rather harsh recounting or reality. But it is necessary to recount in order to tell the beautiful story of Henry in light of reality.
Tim and Henry had another friend at college with them who plays an important role in the reality that is Henry’s story. The excellent Hans Zetreng. Hans, like Tim, was very religious and took his belief in God very seriously. Hans was a devout young man, and thus in comparison to many of the other gentleman of his age he lived the life of an ascetic. Unlike all the other gentleman, who in Han’s mind were anything but gentleman. Obviously Hans is somewhat similar in his views to both Tim and Henry, as it is common knowledge that people with similar interests have a tendency of finding one another and getting along well with one another. Hans likewise was a religious romantic, whatever that is? He beheld the race of women as more moral and pure beings then men. Perverted jokes and pornography were not for him, though it seemed it was the great unity of all other men and especially ones he meet at the university. Hans longed for companionship… ah but I have gotten ahead of myself!
Before he ever thought of a woman he was a musician, and one that would not be outperformed or out practiced. Though he did practice prodigiously he was what one would rightly call a natural. In fact his young talent did not go unnoticed. A neighbor and local ex-professional sought to train him and get him in the circuit, but Hans was not allowed the opportunity as his parents said the recitals may interfere with church. But the confident young Hans, after a glit of doubt smiled to himself and said to the Almighty, whose church schedule had sought to take his love and purpose from him, he smiled and said “ Lord I will be a professional musician and I will do it to your glory and I will serve you in it, but first and foremost I will always love what you love and hate what you hate and so Lord I am going to be a professional musician, one of the best, and no doubt I will be wealthy and do a good deal of traveling, but that is all beside the point and thus will not interfere with Your purpose. So Lord I will pursue this aim as it is clear to me you have given me the ability I will pursue it until I achieve it and…. and if you want me to do something else well then Lord you will have to tell me “No!” in a rather drastic fashion. Otherwise this is my future and I will assume I am to have Your approval in it.” Hans finished his prayer to God as the bathroom began to steam up terrible from his very hot shower. Hans toweled off and went to bed a stable and certain man of 15 years.
One month later Hans’s hand was torn off by a chainsaw while he was helping his grandfather clean up his property. Hans did recover, but he never played quite the same with his repaired hand. Nor did Hans ever have time to make up the time of playing he lost from the age of 15 to 18 while recovering from surgery after surgery. These years were in fact the most important years for the unconnected Hans to prove himself to an excellent music university in spite of his guardian’s opposition and his general disconnectedness from the appropriate circles. But these years were taken away, and Hans did not view it as a setback but as a Divine reply.
To such people as Hans his losing his hand and being unable to play the piano, after his prayer a month earlier could be viewed as nothing other than a response from God. Indeed even to myself it is a rather interesting coincidence. But as I continue to recount this story I cannot help but think how their faith now seems to me to have been nothing but trouble for these moral young men. In our society, at least the ones I have meet, Christians are typically such prosperous and resolved people and yet these men in their integrity seemed to face troubles in the most basic areas of life….as anyone, as the unreligious man would shake his head at the notion of God and the way his life was taking shape. And I believe I am beginning to see the older I get, these young men believed much more sincerely than those others. Perhaps because they were young men and too upright to see that most of what they were taught by other religious people were things those others merely liked to talk about, but did like as much to live out with the same uncompromising and devoted passion with which they spoke. Perhaps, also that they simply had not lived long enough to find themselves living in dishonest and un-devoted religiosity held onto in sentimentality and the desire to feel superior to others.
Do not fear there are no conversion plots in this story. I am simply telling the rather simple and not uncommon events of certain people I encountered once upon a time. Passionate people, who walk about in the same world as us and yet saw it and lived in it with the courage and imagination that we typically only get to see in a movie or a severe event in history, but even in a historical movie or a historical book we get the fanciful that I am trying to avoid in accord with Henry’s wishes. What makes this interesting is these events occur in a relatively peaceful setting, a relatively boring setting, in all reality, a rather monotonous and average setting. I do not speak of the rich or the famous or the fortunately born No! just people much like the very vast majority of people in the world, who live and who die, and who are considered to be rather insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But no doubt these fellows had a rather different take on who is significant and who is not, and what is normal and what is not.
Hans, understanding his prayer to have been answered, went to the university to become a Minister. He really did not touch the piano much anymore rather devoting the same passion to his studies. After Tim and Henry parted his company he was alone for the remaining two years. He was too upright to make the best of his loneliness by ignoring it with various intoxicating forms of distraction. He was to loving of others to destroy other people’s lives simply because he was bored. These fellows all had their ideas, and it was Hans’s particular pet notion, which he said so often, that “people are lonely so they say ‘go with the flow’, they start a relationship off a whim of loneliness and unconscious selfishness, ‘you only live once’ they say, and then the relationship ends since their entire motivation was loneliness and not that intuitive and well intending desire for unending and arduous love, and then two people are in pain and loneliness.” So unlike Tim, he stayed in school and continued to study and to study and became quite excellent in philosophy as well as theology, as well as logic, finding inconsistencies in the great written works of modern scientists and other intellectual giants of various fields. After all, as Hans always made a point to shout out “philosophy is the watchdog of all other intellectual pursuits, we have not yet got beyond it as a foundation.” Once I replied that people like Hawkin have stated we have surpassed it, and then he went on to show me how Hawkin used it throughout the remainder of the same book that he declared it dead in. However, for all his hard work and merits, no professor praised him or even took much of a liking to him. As for his fellow classmates they did not like him because he was too theological, and the theology students did not like him because he was too philosophical. As to the rest of the student body they weren’t much concerned with thinking about what they wanted to do and why. Rather they assumed it all and then went about achieving it. Some sought to befriend him, but it seems they only wished to be parasites and bring the high flying Hans back down to earth, and see if any of those rumored and magnificent parties still went on. They sought him out and sought to show him he was nobody, going about it like it was a moral duty or something.
Initially Hans just smiled and rolled his eyes as they clearly missed the point, eventually he simply tried to avoid these unhappy people. In fact occasionally they really irritated him. The few times I was able to visi,t he was becoming very unraveled by them
“ these morons have no imagination! have no idea of the freedom in life! And they expect the worst of everybody. Maybe they are insignificant! Maybe they live as everybody else. Maybe they do live with passion and courage! But, they are not everybody…… and they are certainly not me!”
“One day Hans they might realize you only speak to them to try and help them, and that same day they may realize you don’t give a damn about what they think.”
“And that day they will be crushed” replied Hans “Utterly devastated!” I replied “demoralized” returned Hans “Because they are..Come on, what are they?”
“Exactly” concluded Hans. “Poor poor posers and yet I no longer have the patients to endure them.”
“So don’t” I replied.
I remember this day especially and that night thinking back to the nights just a few years earlier when we were all together. We would go to the tobacco shop and smoked large Honduran cigars. Life was good. We worked hard. We had each other, and nothing tempted us, to us the only options were the best and the most moral. When one lives in such a way, one is so free! And also, perhaps, so vulnerable to a severe case of devastating love. I suppose I lived un-scondral like merely because I had such a great time going about life with those other three capital youths. What magnificent days to be young out in the world with no one to answer to, except God in the case of these fellows. And this tobacco shop was second to none, it was by all estimation, a palace, a cathedral of tobacco from floor to ceiling. It held the finniest cigars and pipe tobaccos, the most luxurious leather chairs and a huge selection of refreshing drinks. What is more, all the world at this time was increasingly becoming anti smoking, which of course made it all the more enjoyable. And to be eighteen or twenty….smoke for hours and then go play a game of hockey or football later on that night and then to wake up in the morning looking stronger and more healthy then the day before! Who can dream it? Yes, who has time for such confused people as those that began to oppress the abandoned Hans, when life is so pure and so simple and so on the brink of greatness.
However, as I mentioned earlier, Hans was now alone and these leaches who sought to level him out and lasso him down from his surfing through life upon the clouds were the only ones around him. Neither Tim, Henry, nor I were near to share a great laugh at these robotic people who posed as “individuals”. So Hans Zetreng sat alone left to his thoughts. As seems to be the case with people who are left to themselves the desire for companionship that is always within them begins to scream. This was no different for Hans. He sat thinking of love and a beloved. He was thinking of his task in life, of being alive in a world, as opposed to merely continuingly preparing to live. So there Hans sat Friday night after Friday night lying on the floor listening to Vivaldi, wishing something would happen, even if that be death. The great virtuoso could find no help from his God. So in contradictory belief in the God he was beginning to disbelieve; he sought to find satisfaction in things he always considered immoral. He did not think to himself, “gee I want to be immoral that looks like great fun!” No, rather he thought, “I want to do something other than nothing,” and rather than proactively seeking to do good for others, he did wrong for himself.
For awhile, he thought he was lost beyond recovery. However it happened, even in his despair, he had no taste but distaste for the immoral and so he confessed to God but could go no further and sat immobile. Thinking and thinking Hans, continued lying on the floor for hours at a time, day after day, in darkness. He just lay on the floor in despair neither sleeping nor singing just lying there as Vivaldi played through the seasons. Eventually Hans decided to be optimistic. Unlike Tim, he went out and talked to many people. He even introduced himself to girls and began friendships. Every girl Hans talked to, and began to like, eventually declared to have no interest in him. His loneliness and general despair of life grew deeper. You must understand Hans’s view of things. He was not allowed to be a great composer nor did it seem he was allowed to be anything but a tormented mind under the inquisition of God Himself. Hans shot himself. Quite exactly put, he blew his brains out all with a shotgun on a Saturday evening. He chose Saturday, unquestionably, so that Friday …..Which he hated so much, would not get the glory, as Friday nights had long tortured him. Hans believed he would be much happier and perhaps he is.
I was away unable to access my mail. I have often thought that a little conversation and Hans would have patiently endured longer. Apparently Henry also was unable to be reached, for nearly a year it seems. Anyway, Hans made it clear to me that he knew he had made the wrong decision, and have given up the great blessing that is life. However, he also knew he could not handle his life anymore, and thus he decided he would hang his head in shame before His heavenly Father who seemed so severe and uncaring….. in utter opposition to Himself. Yes he would hang his head and beg for mercy and peace. The sad thing is, Hans had begged for years for some type of bone, perhaps he has finally received peace and happiness. But please bear with me, for I am telling you very sad things and few wish to read such sorrow. And perhaps you do not know what to make of these…… skeptic believers, who seem to have more akin to the enlightenment men then atheists, and all the while maintaining this severe faith. Yes well… I myself did not know what to make of them at first. But in any case, even amidst the sorrows, Will it all not be worth it? Will it not all be worth it when one may seize it, not as a feel good chick flick to be dreamed of, but as reality…. unedited reality that is not to be admired….no!… but dreamed of.
How invigorating it will be! How hopeful to see things in such a light. Perhaps at least the great freedom you have will be realized and it will be remembered that the most beautiful things in life are not for fiction alone. It will be remembered that there is still confidence and courage and pure and devoted love….. even amidst the great horrors, there still is hope. But bear with me! Bear with me! Back to Hans, perhaps you are the religious sort and have not yet burned the book for all its swearing and drinking and promiscuity. And maybe you are confused by my saying Hans knew theology well, and thus God. Maybe my saying Hans lived in obedience to the moral law of God has thrown you for a pill. Maybe these laudatory statements in light of my recounting all these radical things he thought and then in the end have you perplexed. So you may be confused and perhaps you have had a class in religion at the University and you say ‘but the bible is not so terribly confusing, it is, for better or worse, black and white.’ My dear Hans would have agreed with you….. though I believe he put it like this “God’s revelation in scripture is black and white but the blackness is so dark at times you can see nothing and the whiteness is so bright that at times you can see nothing.” Perhaps also you say “ to hell with religions or with the bible,” but this is not what Hans said even as he went to blow out his brains, and that is the truly strange thing. Do not be disturbed by my matter of factness about a beloved friend’s death; for I am now an old and calloused man and matter of factness is my way, except when I find myself unconsciously getting swept into reminiscent reliving.
Yes my friends…. such is life. But you have decided to read this “story” and even if you would decide to put it down and exclaim it is too dense and poorly written, my friends you must face the fact that it is the 21st century, a century not known for rich literature but technological additions. But then again, that is all yet to be decided. So then, continue with me since it is a true story and thus all the more existentially moving.
Living with the Life of the Dead
No! Henry could not trifle with such monkeys like the pretentious posers at the beginning of the story. Truly he could not, after having lived with such alive young men that were Tim and Hans. Henry could not fail to live out his future with passion after having lived with such passionate young men who were now dead. When we left Henry at the beginning of the story he had just stormed out of the room. From then on he cut himself off from all others who lived so as not to die, and who thought so as not to having troubling thoughts. Henry endured the severe fates of his close friends, and then set about his task of receiving his accreditation for the intelligence he already possessed and developed himself. He continued on, often in the very despair that had haunted Tim and Hans. He did not set out for the excitement of the military nor did he turn a gun on himself. Henry did none of these things, in spite of the fact that he was very much like Tim and Hans in regard to views and endeavors of life, as well as having a very religious and conservative childhood.
Henry persevered. He studied and he studied. He faced his fears and failures that ate away at him. He continued to exercise and he grew stronger and stronger. He told the temptation to be a weak and self serving man to go to hell. He nearly drowned in the honest state of mind that is freedom. Yes, he persevered apart from the strong opiates of life that even the best of us lay hold of to cope with the harshness of reality.
He prayed and he despaired…… and he cursed…… and he prayed and he studied. Then he worked to earn money so that he could continue to study, so that he could receive a little pay to help certain decaying fabrics of society. Henry put up with the same type of professors as Hans, the type who much preferred the kneeling poser students, as opposed to Henry. Yes this was his rather sad young life.
I hope I have been clear, none of these three friends sought to isolate themselves, rather they all sought to grab life by the horns. Whatever the reasons, while most young people have the best years of their life, they endured loneliness and depression. At last Henry graduated with his masters. But then what? He persevered and he strove and strove to have faith but he did not have the motivation to go further nor did he know where to use his degree, nor did he try to. He was successful though he was defeated.
Successful, in that he still hoped and still sought to do his duty, even if he had to drag his feet with his hands due to his being paralyzed in loneliness and broken heartedness…..in despair of the world. Seriously, he fought and he stayed prepared for the day his number would be called. He trained in spite of everything, but he was fighting with a hidden dagger wound invisible to the world around him. Henry became a warehouse worker for minimum wage. This was beside the point to him as he would have worked any type of job so long as he had a beloved. He was a trained psychologist working in a warehouse, and he certainly had no women who loved him, and as you know, the type of good friends who would make him forget his despair, well they were gone. His closest friends were dead, and he too began to drown in his faith in God. At least he thought, “ I do not have to face my failure to act on opportunities with women of since there are no women.” Henry found that the university was a rare place far far away. But really the women who teased him merely for the momentary attention of the good looking man that was Henry, are beside the point. As something far more pressing haunted his thoughts, with each and every women he meet who simply did not like him, other than the fact that he was good looking. I imagine they found him boring. I myself thought he was a bit dull, though I stuck around long enough to find out that judging a book by its first two chapters can be a severe mistake if one stumbles upon the rare. Truly, one may go through a lot of chocolate bars to find the golden ticket.
“Oh its hopeless why do I go on? Why don’t I have the courage like Hans, the faith like Hans. God does not need me but I need Him. Oh mighty creator save me……. I try …..I try but I could never take this reality and each day it gets harder and harder to take. Still I hope and I could never completely give up the idea………. even if you shouted and shook the earth commanding me too. I just cannot conceive how it would never cross my mind again.” Henry sat in his apartment alone crying out to God both on paper and with deep groaning covered speech. “ Beautiful girl, kind women, sweet women of my youth who will lay in the grass with me and stare at the stars, who will argue with me and laugh at my earnestness, who will cry on my shoulder, who will receive and hold my overwhelming and loyal love. Who sits lonely now as do I shouting in air the same prayer….. Where are you? How many times have I met you already and yet the very universe worked against us! Indeed my God did me no favors it would seem! (I am pulling right from his journal now,) Where are you and where are You!” This was his type of prayer he prayed with every increasing severity for nearly six years. It was his prayer this particular night (which I now will recount) as well.
If you are beginning to wonder about me and my relation to these three gentlemen, of course at this point it is obvious to you that I was clearly unavailable to them at their most needing times. To say the least I am was not a particularly loyal friend. Though we did all go our own way the year before Tim joined the military. In any case, where I fit in will be seen soon enough. But really Henry is the main character of this story or rather this reality.
5 am came, and likewise the Friday work day was over soon enough. In his bipolar despair and hope, which where all mixed into one. He went to the local coffeehouse to read and stay sharp in case his ‘number would be called.’ Yes his whole going out and thus somewhat leaving his isolation, was a hope for many things…… a sign of hope at last. Henry being a rather attractive young man did not fail to be noticed by a women at the coffeehouse, and thus his nose was lifted from his book numerous times since he could not fail to notice her again and again. “Bloody hell,” Henry mumbled to himself as he walked to his car, “it was just like college. The women sat there and smiled at me and I was too slow to react, too caught up in thinking everything over. What a nightmare.” Nearly simultaneously an opposing thought raced through his mind as if to argue with or correct himself. “No I am not pathetic, who gives a damn about what some arrogant monkey would think of my failure to speak to the women. Who cares if he has known many women. I would wager he does not know himself, nor does he know anything. He is that type of bastard who turns the naturally loving nature of a woman into the image of his own despicable swinishness. Yes he may laugh, but I may also put 275 lbs of my practiced bench press toting fists into his face. He may have it all; he may be the very definition or embodiment of a GQ, fortune 500, and 21st century man rolled into one. At the end of day, despite his 100,000 dollar car and general power over me, at the end of the day I may put my fist into his face. Even if he uses his power to ruin my life and the lives of others to prosper himself, at the end of the day I may ruin his … my God I am mad to hell with it all” As Henry was thinking and cursing in his thinking and trying to repent of the bitterness all at the same time; he noticed a person sitting along the curb.
It was summer, need I say more. But to all those who do not know summer in contrast to a brutal winter, as Henry had his entire life, I will say more. It was summer and it was a cool and refreshing summer evening after a furnace like day. The perfect summer evening air was like a great exhale after months of stress and pressure. The moon was bright and everything was crisp and vibrant, everything was relaxed. It was atmospheric freedom in a free country, truly the weathers correspondence made the country even freer then its constitution had maintained it to be. But Henry was in pain, at war, and ready to lose the seemingly endless battle in a moment when he would reenter his routine of work. He would not enter it! He would do something drastic. Though he did not realize it the evening air of the summer encouraged him in this courage or perhaps craze. What would he do? Possibly drive into the gutters of life once and for all and find what he already knew would be, a temporary Novocain while the root continues to rot unnoticed. Apart from the Novocain it would be a gradual path to the utter lose of freedom and hope to ever reach his hope.
And though I have presented him as a bit of a madman,… surely he was right. Many a young person in mild despair toy with things in the dark corners of every city only to find themselves enslaved in what seemed to be the most certain assertion of freedom. Truly, I know such a man, as did Henry. His story, however, does not fit into this one. But then again no doubt you know many such people and perhaps if you are able to see dark corners in a more abstract fashion, perhaps you will realize you know the person all too well. But back to Henry.
He resolved that at last he might look for death, but even in this he had hope, maybe, he thought maybe in looking for death “I will make it my allie, my means to doing something else which will, in the end, jump in the way of death and be my escape from both despair in life and youthful death as my only escape.” Henry’s characteristically direct and fast walking pace was slowing as he walked to his car and raised questions to his own behavior. “Is all this overdramatic? Do I need to get a grip? I know some would say it is and I do. But I must laugh in their faces as my friends would have. Because, though in fact, I am possibly too serious, and I need to ‘get a grip.’ So do these others that would say I need to. It is obvious their lives have no depth and they live under the false assumption that they will live forever. Yes they live as if that goal ever driving at their mind will mean something. They never truly question any of it, before they begin along the way, they never take adequate time to stop off and think about it. This is the twenty first century and great scientists shout and begin their books proclaiming philosophy is dead and useless, indeed so thought Socrates society.” These thoughts sprinted through his mind as he finally reached for his car door. However with the freedom from the entire world, for it was the end and he simply did not care of what others might think, he turned and shouted “Marie Chardin! is that you?” The women sitting on the curb looked up. She had noticeably been crying.”
A Way out from Within
It was her, Henry was certain. Seeing her tears he reacted “Marie can I help you? Do you need a ride home?” “No I’m fine.” was her short reply. Henry looked around “There are no other cars in the parking lot.” “Marie Chardin” he said again as he walked closer and sat down beside her on the curb. Henry was on crack (not really) though it was all a blur to him; again he said “Marie Chardin.” Each time he said her name he said it with a mix of wonderment and curiosity as if he were asking the question ‘why Marie Chardin why here why now?’
“I’m fine really; my sister is on the way to pick me up!” Again he said “Marie Chardin”. “Why do you keep saying my name, why don’t you just leave me alone, Please, I am sorry, but it’s not a good time!” He had no consciousness, at last he was free from thought “Marie Chardin, I am sorry you know I am so sorry and though you probably stopped caring two days later I have been sorry all these many years, and even if I were somewhere else right now in ecstasy I would still be sorry and still know I should apologize to you, Marie Chardin.”
By now he had her attention, whether for quality or pathetic reasons; he had gained her attention. She looked up at him, and as she sniffled she let out a solo laugh “hah, yes,” she said and then another laugh all the while looking in amazement in such a way that exclaimed, “is this guy for real, and is this really happening right now.” Again she let out a solitary laugh amidst the drying tears “hah, no problem it’s ok.” Henry continued “I have much more I would like to say, but you are clearly not ok.” “No I am not.” she stated with a tone peppered of irritation. Henry continued “I am sorry, I am sorry! but I have been crawling quite a few years now and was on my way to be paralyzed and … and now here you are at 11:56 on a cool summer evening, and I am awake, wide awake and so I must ask, though I have no right to, can I help? What happened?”
Henry continued with half a pause, “I mean it is a safe town, but a young women such as yourself, (and at that point he laid great emphasis) and its dark and there’s a concert letting out and well…”
She broke in “no you’re fine; I just had a really bad day.” He looked at her with his eyes raised and she continued. “Yes well I really don’t want to talk about it.” There was a pause and a very distinct thought struck Mari, the entire scenario flashed before her eyes. In a second she regained her sobriety of thought, but continued nonetheless. “My boyfriend proposed to me today.”
Henry’s heart, which was nearly without a pause minutes earlier, had, with a great and hidden resiliency, risen to the heights of Orion only to sink in this instant…….and yet it was night, a vibrant summer night, and he had pushed the conversation that far, and on this particular night he said he had this invincibility, this strength which he never knew before. Thus when he usually would have closed his mind to all his dreams upon hearing her boyfriend proposed, this night as the dim green light of the mermaid switched off, and the last employee left the shop, this night he would not be a perfect gentlemen. He would not say one percent of what he thought. His heart sank and his energy moved from external excitement to internal emotional buildup. “Ah” responded Henry again signaling with his eyes for her to continue.
“and well one of my patients who I really loved to talk to died today” Henry acknowledge the sorrow of the death but then with inappropriate haste asked “so did you say yes?”
“I did” she replied.
“So then those are tears of joy and sorrow; joy at your engagement and sorrow at the elderly women’s death?” “I guess you could say that,” stated Marie with a distracted tone.
What she was thinking, I could not tell you, as Henry could not tell me. Poor fellow never had a clue what women were thinking, and even if he did he would act on it, they being women would then respond in the opposite, leading Henry too conclude he never knew what a women was thinking. He also had the mildly chauvinistic opinion that women acted dishonest from time to time so as to protect themselves (of course men do the same thing, but Henry, Tim and Hans were completely honest with each other, and girls they were dating), or that perhaps their emotions were so divided that whatever decision they decided upon they understood to be their disposition all along. Really despite all his theories, had no idea and he was left to wild speculation.
Henry looked at her as she spoke and with a glance inhaled every detail of her. All was becoming clear before him, and yet he knew she would never confess what he thought to be the truth. So quickly, Henry had seen it with but a few glances, or so he thought, as he got up from the curb and began taking little steps to nowhere. “Ah yes, she has known him for three years and yet when she first meet him, she only dated him because she was impatient….. because he appeared safe. Yes! And other then the reality that he was man and his views of life were similar, well…… who he was per se was beside the point. Yes he meet her when, that is to say, she an exceptionally beautiful girl was at a point she should have never been at….in desperation. Then, Yes, then he grew on her, he was funny, he was safe and in desperation she thought there were no other options. She consoled herself with the thought that she was not shallow. But now, yes, now the very day he proposed to her after three years she realized, in a sense, she loved him. However at that moment, there upon the curb, she remembered all her hopes and dreams for true deep love, not for a mediocre funny man. Yes! No, she wanted a man she would be scared by, a man that made her a bit nervous, but who, in the end, was the type of man which is the safest a man could be. Ah, but the women’s death…… I do not know where to piece that in.”
Henry minds was spinning, as he, for the most part, was unconsciously was squinting with a certain type of smile on his face. “But for whatever reason, unlikely as it was that a woman should dare to have the courage to continue on such a thought long enough to cry; she thought it and at that moment he crossed her path, at that moment, oh the moment was everything! Tomorrow she will condemn herself for even glancing at such a thought!” This methodically built thought raced through his mind as he slowly stepped forward and then rocked back to the age old sound of silence. He could tell that she would say nothing more.
“Thanks” she replied in a sarcastic and bitter tone suggesting the thought that “you talk as if you know me.” She continued after a pause, hunting down his eyes so as to make him own his bold assertions. It is true; he had in fact said it all out loud. Marie wanted to be enraged at his obnoxiousness and absurdity…. And rightfully so. She found herself unable to reach the justifiable level of wrath he deserved. She apparently found something so natural in his manner of saying what he had said. Given the context of mere acquaintances who had not talked in three years, he was by any social standard, insane.
And yet he apparently said it all with such honesty, with such peace, with such impossible comfort at an unthinkable topic that she found herself nearly disarmed. Perhaps she was even nearly lost in the conversion to the point that the absurdity of this young man was no longer seen. As I was saying, she continued after a pause with utter resoluteness “But I am very fortunate to love him.” Henry was convinced in his view, and apparently said, though this time he truly did think to himself “ah, yes yes she said this to reassure herself. I do not care.
Tonight I will live reality as I understand and see it.
Henry fought against these words she had spoken to him, and their attack on his confidence in his belief, and he fought well for he spoke his heart and mind yet again. “You think it odd for me to say all that I said. After all ‘I don’t know you very well,’ but you know what? Knowing people is a funny thing. I could know a man I talk to for an hour better than his own wife of fifteen years, unlikely yes!… but possible!” Henry continued with animated facial expressions and emphasis on certain word like: ‘know’ and ‘very well,’ as if mocking at some well dressed and opinioned analyst who was standing behind Marie and him, shouting out his views with utter authority, not the authority of God or even science, but the vogue culture- spirit.
In any case, Marie had no idea what was coming next and she listened, no longer half afraid or irritated, but rather utterly engaged with his words. “You are beautiful! You are strong and intelligent but not arrogant;…… you want the same things out of life I want. Henry paused as if thinking over a thought “Yes if you were not already engaged I should have proposed to you right now. Actually, three and a half years ago as we left this very coffee shop into the rain, we should not have parted with smiles. I should have continued to spend time with you until we were dating… until we were engaged, until we were married, until we died.” Mari continued to sit upon as to her reactions, well at this point who could say. Henry went on, as if thinking to himself again. “What more could I have possibly wanted and yet I brushed you aside…”
Marie cut in seemingly again growing irritated, “ I would have had to say no if you did that tonight! Even if I were single” Henry looked at her slightly startled as if discovered from being lost deep in thought, but then he continued “out of the girls I have ever met you were the only one that seemed to truly like me…………. and I hid from you rather then call you. It’s true, I have pursued others, some too rational, others too afraid and yet I was too blind to see it …” Henry stopped talking; he mused to himself unconscious of the fact that he had fully gained Mari’s attention and then left her in mid sentence, or dare I say at the risk of being utterly cliché mid heart beat. …..It should be said, mid heartbeat!
This particular night my friend Henry spoke in unmasked honesty, the type that makes one feel the blood running through their body. In mid sentence he stopped and reflected upon the obvious fact about himself that until this moment had always evaded him. He went pale with the realization that she was the beauty by which he judged others. His inward looking eyes found themselves upon Marie sitting on the same curb. His thoughts wandered over her figure, and he, the idiot who talked to women he found attractive with the type of sexual detachment that a man talks to his cousin with (and out of sheer self discipline he adopted this disposition I might add) he let his desire free. Suddenly her cool neutrality was broken. She was attracted to him and this made her uncomfortable, even angry. “I really don’t need you to wait here! She will be here in a moment. I see her pulling in now.” Henry took a deep breath as he turned taking his eyes off her to walk to his own car. “Well Marie I meant it and I hope you all happiness, but if things don’t work out my proposal stands, so long as I am single, seriously!”
“K thanks …I guess,” she said with a sound of irritation and hesitation, apparently again recognizing the oddness of all that just happened. And with that last word she was gone. That night she told no one of the rather unordinary event that had occurred. Oh, but of course she thought about it even mentioning the events of the day in prayer in passing. Henry was doing well, after all he was on crack cocaine, that is to say he was as high as minus gravity. Henry was not really on crack cocaine, nor could it compare to the incredible and rare feeling he was having. Hope sprang into his being and again he breathed the breath of life. In movies music accompanies such moments of transformation of extreme feeling of being alive, but in reality one acts so boldly so magnificently, so very alive, that the world around him begins to harmonize. And so Henry walked to his old car with Beethoven’s ode to joy blaring all around him. Nonetheless, the uncertainty of existence was not far around the corner and his mind again began to churn. “Will I never see her again? Will she tell of my insanity to all the people she knows?… nah” he declared to himself with resolution. With that he smiled and went to bed. He smiled because he knew precisely when he would see her again.
In his bed he lay in ecstasy, for he was there on the curb again. He stopped the scene examining “the look on her face, the tint of her grey blue eyes, the thoughts hiding behind them, the fair skin freshly moistened with tears, such a beautiful being!” “How could such magnanimity become mine? I would throw myself at her without any shame but why would she not lock herself in a high tower and wait until the most magnificent man in the world arrived? One who was utterly knowledgeable, unbelievably good looking, wealthy, and above all a man of unrivaled integrity, compassion, wisdom and humility. No! she will not be mine. I will hardly believe it even if she has just finished saying I do.” He smirked at his thoughts, at himself that is, and at the reality that his thoughts were so outdated …so un vogue, “haha”
Marie lay in her bed full of struggle between risk and security, faith and certainty, guilt and freedom with an all encompassing anxiety. Ah but perhaps you wonder how I know this, but that will be revealed in time. She thought of her cousin Diana who had once confessed to her that she had another interest beside her American prince charming. The other man was an exchange university student. The mysterious young man had caught her interest and Diana was torn for months, before at last deciding to stick with the American prince charming, casting aside the mysterious Russian gentlemen. “If only I could be a Diana. Once Diana decided, she decided so resolutely. She never considered that solid Russian young man again after deciding upon remaining with her boyfriend. How could the rejection of such an extraordinary man not loom large in her mind? Yes Phil is nice, but how did she end everything so quickly with that striking man who was so clearly taken with her. This is crazy! Why have I not already decided upon Michael? I am engage! This is crazy!” The next morning she could not help but take council with her friends in the form of telling a crazy story. “My god that is pathetic one exclaimed” the other two women agreed. The decision was unanimous, Henry was a pathetic weirdo and she would not see him again. But after all how could she? They had not exchanged numbers or anything of that sort. She was certain that he would not contact her, and of course she would not contact him.
In Touch by Wind
Marie found herself in the parking lot of the café she was at the night before. Michael was calling her as she walked inside. “Hey Marie Baree where are you at?” “I’m just going to grab a cup of coffee and I’ll be over in a bit”. They exchanged goodbyes of course, though that is really superfluous to note. Marie ordered a mocha frappiccino with extra whipped crème and sat down sporting her to date battle tested scrubs. Perhaps you are confused at this point, and so was Henry when he walked in the door and saw her sitting there. His mind all too easily recalled the experiences of his great friends, and how time and the council of others moved their loves away from them. “And she, she is not even my girlfriend” He knew his effect was not profound enough for her to keep it all to herself. He feared the influence her friends might have on her, since they were all unknowingly under the influence. He feared that she would put the precious jewels of the soul amongst an impoverished world or raw unclean and jaded views. The thing is, she knew of Henry since he was in high school. She knew he was not weak or pathetic, despite the lack of soul that encompassed the spirit of the age she was raised in, which spawned distrust of such a man as he.
She was hopeful and imaginative enough, and in fact, pure enough despite all appearances to see the sincerity in his eyes the night before and, and not laugh! The ironic thing being that her wise friends did not have the eyesight she had. I, having the advantage of knowing Henry as a loyal friend can say she judged well. In his soul he carried a hard won and preserved honesty and purity that even the most traveled and desensitized women could sense.
So there she was, even though she had no intention of being there, and yet it was all decided the night before, though it was certainly not verbally spoken by either of them. He walked up to her dressed casually precise. He showered after work and changed for the occasion. Again he let lose his lips love of the name “Mari Chardin, how are you?” She was casual in her reply “I’m fine,” flowed from her thin lips. Her smile was wide her nose perfect. To Henry it was all so fitting that so kind of women would have such a profound face, and his eyes continued to soak in the scene.
But I will stop for a moment, perhaps you are wondering where this story is going? Well it is going exactly where it went. It is a story of reality, a story about young people who, though they have the world before their feet, only want love. A British fellow once said something to the effect that, “one may have the whole world and if he has not that one thing he desires most, the lack of that one thing will ruin all the rest.” In a world were imagination is compartmentalized and patient passion and truth are traded in for immediate appetites and efficiency, I tell you of responsible people who also managed to live with passion and imagination. So yes that is where this is going and the best is yet to come. All will be made clear in the end, or at least as much as reality allows. Perhaps you don’t like my little speeches that interrupt the story. Well then, put down the story and read something else that is like everything else, or do the most common thing and read nothing at all and instead watch humans dance about “in reality,” in front of a camera for money. I don’t care either way I have a strange suspicion that the Babe would have played baseball whether or not anyone cared to watch. Both Martin Luther and Martin Luther King would have kept talking regardless of if anyone wanted to listen. But enough! My friends are dead and I am a bit angry from time to time. But forgive me this is not about me, but Henry the greatest of us all… the patient endurer of life.
“How are you?” asked Marie. “Fine, can I sit down,” replied Henry? “Sure, but I won’t be here very long.” Henry smiled at her response, but she did not notice this. She was too preoccupied wondering what he would say. If he would pick up where he left off the night before, and this idea gave her great angst, or whether it was some type of mood and nothing would come of it. He wondered the same thing, but he was driven by desire. It was not a one sided desire but an all encompassing desire. Although he did not have the mood of the previous night, of course he didn’t for it was day and his mind was at its peak at night, he resolved to be uncensored. “I will be myself, I am not polite or wondering about this or that, I am not compromising I myself am a wild man, a madman in nice clothes. Yes, I am a barbarian, a well educated man…..a contradiction, an intelligent man who has his own ideas who has everything on his mind and nothing on his mind. This was some type of pep talk or something he gave to himself as he savored the smooth finishing Italian roast coffee hitting his mouth….. her perfectly defined face, the ideality of the dreary and refreshing break from the summer heat outside.
He was not the dreamy soul reader of the night before, but he was not sexually detached nor reserved as he was so practiced at being. Yet again his guard was down for he was to be himself, a Wildman, a contradiction enthralled with her beauty that was distant like the stars or the green hills of the east coast. Though he was glad, he was not detached; he was in danger of being out of control. He became aware of his own piercing concentration upon her face and her well formed out body which was like a cool ripe pear calling out to him to be devoured on a stifling summer day. He began as the tamed men whom he had performed so well he sometimes could not escape his role. “Well Marie you heard what I thought about you last night, but tell me about yourself, what has changed since we last talked here in this coffee shop nearly four years ago.” “Well…..” she began with a pause, “well as I told you last night, I got engaged, but other than that I’m pretty much still me.” She looked down as she finished her statement, then looking up she continued since Henry said nothing, waiting it seemed to here more. “I have the same goals, hopes, views, and interests, I guess.” Henry listened intently, and noticed something changed about her since the last time they sat together nearly three years earlier, a time when Henry saw all the world as his for the taking. “Yes this time she is more firm in her appearance, more confident in her posture, but all the rest in the same.” The first time they had meet at this coffee shop, the time Henry had made the great mistake, that time he found her posture repulsive, in fact her entire manner repulsive. She carried herself like a shriveled up and decrepit old women, at least according to how Henry described her to me after that fateful day.
For years after that event Henry tormented himself with the question of why he failed to continue on with this ideal woman whom he got along with so well. He always said she was perfect, but, well he could not explain it to himself or to me. As for her part she never really understood why he brushed her aside. In moments of confidence she concluded he was simply arrogant and conceited, in moments of insecurity she thought she was in some way inadequate. Over time the thought made her bitter and she decided she really did not care much either way. But now, now she wondered yet again, almost passively waiting for whatever madness would happen next. She could not yet understand Henry and this both scared and enticed her. Rather I should say, she thought she understood him and then she was thrown off, and that is what scared and enticed her.
Yes it all became clear to Henry as she spoke, although he had obviously decided to overlook his stupidity; it struck him that he could not bring himself to continue on with her because he subconsciously found her repulsive. “That day four years ago, I found her repulsive because of her posture, her tensed and compressed shoulders sunken in the chair, and her sloppy appearance topped off with a hoody. It was all so counter to her personality and it left me paralyzed to pursue her. My God I am an idiot, or I was an idiot! Who can screw your present self more than your past self, My God!” All the while his mind was again kicking; he had a question on his lips.
But perhaps you find this all too picturesque and perhaps you say life is never so smooth flowing. But what person hasn’t wondered: that if he hadn’t woke up an hour earlier, if I went a step further, had stayed home that day, if only I would have realized how important that moment was and that that very scenario would never repeat itself, and that all these hindrances that we look past and ignore as nothing, since nothing was realized by them, yes we ignore it all as nothing since most have neither the stomach nor the imagination to face the responsibility of decision. Yes Decision, the very thing we carry with us each and every second of each day of each of our lives. And though we think we decide when things are important or unimportant it is apparent that, though we choose this step or that, the paths and the steps on which we walk have their place apart from our choice to walk over them or not. That is to say, one may do what one wants on Tuesday, but the variables that make up Tuesday, seemingly apart from yourself, are just that, and you act and react to factors set in place beyond your control. And since you do not know if the setting of Tuesday will ever present itself again your decisions on Tuesday are so very important. But perhaps you will not realize this until three years of Tuesdays from now!
As another person approached their table Henry spurned the events unfolding around him. It was Marie’s older cousin. Henry had been away for years, and even he knew of her plight. Her husband had cheated on her many times, and then went on to divorce her leaving her with two children. Now apparently he was tormenting her by using their children to try and goad the beaten down women into taking him back. As Henry is the one who made the whole Tuesday’s speech to me years ago, it seems obvious this was on his mind as he resolved that not even Marie’s broken down older cousin would stand in his way. No! no obstacle would stand in his way far too much had already and impossibly gone so right. He had dreamed of this opportunity with Marie over and over again in his head for three years of what could be rightly called solitary confinement. Solitary confinement by circumstance…. as a free man in the world, being much more devastating to the mind then its normal environment of a prison. Here his dream was lying before him and then in walks this broken women. Henry saw her approaching the table trying to walk with confidence, a fresh tan, and hair cut, new cloths to fit her recently achieved smaller size. “What a beautiful women Henry thought to himself, who could not help feeling deep compassion for her, who could not resist being burned with despair at the reality of the human race that her ex- husband embodied.”
Henry’s mind was racing regardless of the time of day; the bold coffee had begun to hit his system. His mind ran rampant his leg began to pulse insatiably. I have yet to describe what type of breed this Henry character was, but suffice to say he was disciplined in what he set out to be. In any case he continued to think on this woman and her ex-husband and their religiosity. He began to inwardly scoff at this women’s ex-husband such a pious man he once was. “What man would cast aside that which was his own for raw gratification, what man but one who is slave? Many men, and especially religious one’s like her ex, who listen to their Pastor encourage them to be weak and pathetic, who turn what must be a wholly distinct Being(if anything at all) into a man on steroids. ‘The spirit is willing they say, but the flesh is weak. This severe morality of Christ is too much’ shouts the Pastor’s, ‘look to His loving mercy,’ and the husband listening , he nods his head. Instead of aspiring to what is best the husband begins to plot out his adultery there in the pew, apparently looking to God’s mercy. This ex of hers would have never let anyone come by force and take his wife and children from him, nor would he yield to any command to give them away, but no he was betrayed, it was an inside job. Now perhaps he finds himself confused, he does not find God perhaps so very helpful, nor will he find existential truth in establish religions or in the brink of science.”
“And so there she walks, the beautifully broken women soft spoken and humiliated.
Maybe she was not the perfect wife, but if he was a man, if he was unapologetically a man affirming selfless leadership, he would have his perfect wife. But it is the twenty first century and there are no leaders in relationships, only partnerships. He as a man is said to have no greater responsibility, and as a man he may say such but act otherwise. But the naivety of absolute partnership proponents is even worse, if the man thinks he has a higher responsibility he is considered a chauvinist, as opposed to a being chivalrous or self sacrificing.” Chivalrous and self sacrificing….. terms that are said to be historic nonsense, or that anthem of ultra conservative chauvinists.
I must admit I am quite fond of how things have shaped out in this regard, making my relationships with women all the more to the point. Though, of course, this liberating mindset certainly was of no benefit to those noble souls who awoke to find themselves in a time too beyond them…… I am old and men will hate me for giving the world of women a peek behind our secret curtain, but my day is over and so in utter consistency with my person, I hope their efforts are killed as well. But I am right; any half sighted observer can see a woman and a man and the natural tendencies and needs of each. In any case, Henry’s inner tyriad ended as he concluded with a decision about the very present problem in front of him. “Yes I will go on with it despite her cousin. I must be gentle to her presence, but I must go on, the opportunity will not be considerate of my consideration. I can hide my thoughts no longer, let them mock me en mass though in individuality they are not so certain. Let them call me names, nonetheless these are my thoughts let me live them out and see just how mad they are.”
Jen, Marie’s cousin, sat down by Marie, a makeshift introduction occurred. Jen looking to Marie asked by way of her unguarded expression, “who is this, what is going on here?” Henry sensed he should introduce himself and leave them to themselves, as no doubt the broken down women could use some time with her close friend and cousin. “Marie, he began after the introductions which were shrouded by a dense air filled with questions as to what exactly was going on with Marie and this distinctive young man. Just as both Marie and her cousin expected him to say his goodbye he began “Marie do you love your fiancé?” She was bewildered, and angry, and yet, and yet, she was gripped by the questioned. “Of course!” she snapped back with obvious embarrassment. After all how else would one expect her to respond, and yet apparently Henry hoped for something else. Perhaps I should rightly say my idiotic friend Henry, who was so intelligent he was clearly in some senses far too idealistic and hopeful. Really though, how else could one respond from so blunt a personal question at such a public place. After she calmed and Henry continued to stand there, as if his actions were perfectly normal, Marie continued after composing herself. “I mean he would not be my fiancé if I did not love him.” All the while Jen was in wonder about the scene she had walked into. Henry responded, after thinking for a moment, “not enough” he replied in quiet and assured tone. But apparently he was not finished before Marie could tell him to leave he continued, “yes you love him but not enough to marry him, and not in the way a women should love a man she is going to marry.” Marie was stunned, the dreaminess of a cool summer evening less than 24 hours ago was gone, and across from her sat a demonic figure. The thought of Jen sitting there beside her, and what she must think weighted on her simultaneously like a thundering pulse in the brain. “Ok you need to leave I’m not sure who you think you are, in here telling me about myself, when you don’t even know me, but yeah, go please! She began to tear up and was about to take off from the table, but immediately Henry reacted. His cool and calm intellectual type expression was gone, and he uttered as only a man who really meant what he said could.
Again he began to speak with deep deep feeling, with pathos, with a shiver in his voice as he gazed at her with a deep gaze that connected back into the depths of his being. “But Marie you love me you have always loved me, as I have you. Forget about all this commonsensical timeline knowing nonsense, ( this oh but maybe I am too attached to him ) No forget it you are a women Marie, and when I say what I have just said to you, well as a women you are fully capable of understanding the reality of what I have just said . You know it’s true, you see all the connections of this madness like, I don’t know……….,” Henry threw up his hands, like Sherlock Holmes finding a pin at a crime scene and boom the whole thing is there before his eyes. You and I will always know the truth of what we feel and think within and between ourselves apart from what you or science should someday decide. You know it more then you know the taste of that latte you were just sipping. It’s more certain than….. gee whiz…… I don’t know…. then the pain you got from bumping the table with your knee when you got up to hug Jen a few minutes ago. And I guess what I am saying is….is trust me! Take peace in the fact that I don’t trust myself, but the Designer.” You do of course remember that all this was taking place in a very public and very full coffee shop. Needless to say the entire coffee shop listened and was listening since the moment when Henry told Marie that she didn’t love her fiancé. In any case, now they were sitting there like an audience. If it were one or two people they would have been embarrassed to here all they heard, and put on ear phones or something, but it was packed and they all listen together shamelessly.
This is a harsh reality and thus quite bluntly I must tell you the obvious. The coffee shop audience added a very unromantic and un ideal pressure to the situation. Henry was aware of them when he began, he simply didn’t not care. Initially, Marie was still embarrassed from having to ask him to leave, which she was sure other people heard. And naturally she was worried as to what her cousin Jen thought. When Henry began to speak again she thought the room was closing in on her as if it was on the brink of crushing her. But Henry’s comfort with his own absurd behavior, and his speaking to her from his heart, as if she were the only one in the world and without any concern for the thought of the others, gripped her.
Henry was not merely a man of impulse, he lived in virtual isolation for years, apart from Tim, Hans and I. Henry was working out these ideas of social norms, and their relation to morality and embarrassment and courage etc, for years. Yes, he was a young man who never had the favor of how things were set up on Tuesdays, nor was he one who could just wander about speaking flippantly to people. He observed how things fell into place in his friends lives, and how things outside their control ruined their greatest loves. He saw how social norms in regards to love and relationships were laid by cowardly masses. Coward’s who were either to afraid to enjoy the great depth of life or did not care to, because they were more interested in making everything an opiate of external gratification.
Both Henry and Marie, in their own way, had the courage to let and take part in such ordinary events, for love is rather ordinary, in an extraordinary way. They had the courage, and honesty to take part in such a beautiful heartfelt exchange, in-spite of the world…coffee shop around them. Truly such a pathos filled and meaningful and sincere event may occur in a coffee shop or in a grocery store or at work any day of the week, and in fact rival the greatest fiction portrayal of love in a book or movie. Yes and in fact surpass the fiction portrayal, because it is so limited and so false in its obstacles, for indeed there was no murderer in the way of these lovers. No! the only thing in their way was a little thing called the entire world, the entire culture, and its demand of how one ought to act; a demand that people, even in their attempts of individuality, bow to unconsciously. A demand, an obstacle, so great that people accept a mediocre imitation of life for life! A clearing of the throat for a scream! Did you see? Did you see my dear Henry bow and clear his throat in accord with the slavish demands of the ever proclaimingly free 21st century , yes he is labeled the madman by all within 50 miles, but did you see Marie, in spite of her being unsure of him, when asked to scoff and clear her throat did you see her scream! “and I will here out this madman and I will not hear you.” How beautiful how powerful is life when it is lived, but even though such reality is possible in the monotony of coffee shops in this twenty first century. Yes, even though such soul and such un-animalistic un-evolutionary romance and love is capable of being realized, in-spite of religion and in-spite of science…..the harsh reality is that so is the utmost ugliness which swims parallel to science. To be precise, the monotony of every day is capable of both simultaneously!
And again you wonder why I give another speech, but I too am a character in this reality. And I must tell you, both Henry and Marie knew that Harsh reality but in a certain sense, they knew it in very different ways.
I pulled the following from a letter Henry sent me. The letter gives better explanation to the thought I stole from him in the above:
And the grand trick is that we humans strive for moderation, for an equilibrium. We do this by dulling and desensitizing the greatest sensations, the greatest and most beautiful moments of reality into sureality. We take the impactful and modify it to be a “comfortable and nice day”. Likewise we level off the horrendous events of the world by considering them to be a “common business transaction.” So it is that mediocre masses strive forward mediocrily. They have no stomach for the great realities of life depicted honestly and without censor, nor the soul to appreciate it. No! Neitzche the great atheist and Kierkegaard the great Christian stand alone as honest and consistent men, men who lived and screamed rather than clearing their throat! Oh how they breathed with deep passionate breaths living more in a day then some live in a lifetime. My goodness, their very thoughts were more alive in an hour then many men who are said to be alive bother to think over the course of a lifetime. And I must say as I have come to realize through the experiences of Tim and Hans, that even in at the beautiful moment when Marie and I only heard and saw one another, and not another soul in the coffee shop or in the world for that matter, even then a child was being raped in Thailand by an American ,English, French ,Russian ,Chinese “businessman”. The American was no doubt at a praise and worship service less than a week ago. The Englishman had no doubt just finished telling the press how ethical his company is and how he found it absurd the American press should question his morality just because he is a noted atheist. He closed his statement noting that the corporation was building luxurious dormitories for their work force. The Frenchman who was divorced left his new girlfriend at the swank hotel. The Russian had deposited alms at the church after confession the day before. The children’s parents wait eagerly for the money the children return with. Not only knowing they relied upon their children for money, but what they required them to do for the money, some of which they later burned out of respect for other relatives! Precisely at the same time I realized my soul stood alone with Marie’s, precisely at that time a young boy died of cancer, a young women got drunk at a party and after throwing up in the bathroom passed out and was raped by a few drunk men, a faithful wife of fifty years lost her husband, a child died of starvation, an obese man died of a heart attack having eaten at a buffet two days earlier, a women married a man for money, and millions of men finished masturbating to pornography, some of which greeted their wives or girlfriends with a kiss only minutes later. Oh yes and many peopled finished work, went home, at dinner, said hello to a friend and watched tv. What is a good deal more disgusting is that these statements are statistical facts, what is even harsher is many people who see these ugly and horrendous evils participate directly in them or further them on indirectly. Of course the most disturbing thing of all is a few people might find me presumptuous or self righteous in calling these events evil! But maybe I have not yet got the point across about how cultural preachers of mediocrity see neither the beautiful things in life nor the evil things.
Maybe the general realities Henry mentions in his letter are not good enough to get my point across; perhaps I should give a more specific instance? No? Marie Chardin had lived just such a harsh reality from her youth until she was eighteen, though one rarely ever stops living what has already been lived. At the time of this event in the coffee house Henry had no idea of all the details of Marie’s life. In high school her English was perfect and she had a family, even an older brother that went to the same school. Henry and Marie’s date three or four years earlier which had been at the same coffee shop began with the shared setting of high school and so the topic of family never delved beyond her first year at school. Apparently, Henry assumed that she had always lived with her family. All the while, Marie assumed that Henry knew she was adopted and thus no doubt knew all about her painful past through various channels of gossip. She was an orphan from the Ukraine. The first few years of her life were with her very loving and unfortunately very elderly grandparents. She ran away from the orphanage or something like that, around the age of 9. Eventually she found refuge with that part of society that has traditionally lived in the shadows. A very good hearted prostitute sought to care for her, but being in such a place with no one to look after her when the lady was with customers, well…………. life is indeed hellish. She was abused sexually, and thus emotionally and mentally for as long as she could remember since leaving her grandparents care. Her grandmother was a very religious woman, I might mention as it is important to the story.
Around the age of 12, her self- appointed care taker, who was not one of these modern “I’d rather be a prostitute than a secretary types,” and thus had her own harsh reality to deal with, found a foreign missionary family to send her off with. Although the family was not in the practice of taking in orphans and raising them as their own, they did this time. The husband and wife were telling this prostitute about the redemption and love of Christ assuring her of how Christ changed their lives and could change hers, the lady replied in broken English “ I not see much of Christ love in world, you show it to me???, her eyes flashed with emphasis, take and love the girl then I will see Christ in world for first time.” The prostitute was no fool, she knew an upright man and women when she saw one regardless of whether or not they had a scent of oblivious arrogance or naivety, and she loved Marie, and though she did not speak of it, it was certain Marie was not always safe in her care. The American missionaries were stunned and did not know what to do. They kindly noted how they would be unable to make her a citizen without her papers and the Ukrainian governments’ approval. The prostitute smiled and said “I take care of papers in Ukraine, Ukraine will approve”. The missionaries saw this lady was not joking, and said that they would take her after the children’s group the next night. The prostitute with fierce resistance said “no! You take her now! I have paper here! It’s arranged, Marie never comes here again!” and again she smiled knowingly. The missionaries took Marie even though it was with a great deal of hesitation, as they were somewhat shamed into it against their wishes by the sly orthodox women who knew their beliefs, in the least, as well as they did. Marie was prepared for the move because the prostitute had been planning it for a while. The prostitute had put up with, what seem to her as flimsy offerings of redemption and new life, from the missionaries for weeks in order to make sure everything was right for Marie.
Marie was a very intelligent girl and learned a good deal of English through satellite TV. In fact she absorbed a great deal of knowledge from satellite TV as she often tried to hide away alone and watch TV in the terrible places she grew up. By the time Marie was sixteen and moved back to the states with her family she was caught up with education, and her accent was virtually perfect, at least it seemed so a few years later to an unsuspecting and nervous high schooler named Henry. Marie started in the freshman class at the age of sixteen. It was said she had a rather sickly appearance back then, which only added to her looking the age of the average freshman. Henry described her look back then as, “thin and pale with blood vessels or something showing through her skin, though I always saw she was pretty.”
Now maybe it is seen why Henry and Marie forgot the world around, while the entire coffee shop stared at them, and they felt the eyes but then forgot them entirely. That is why neither of the two vanished in embarrassment. It struck Marie as Henry continued to speak that if indeed the world was as ugly as she knew it to be, perhaps beauty too was possible in an equal degree. There they were, Henry now standing beside the dark brown table, coffee grinders for the first time ever utterly silent, his hair perfectly combed complimenting his intentional five o’clock shadow and hint of cologne beneath his designer clothes. His eyes beamed as they were captured by the tallish thin blonde with a chiseled face of beauty that not even the great Michelangelo could out do. Her eyes were light blue, and her skin was fair, dressed in her most complimenting scrubs, so as not to appear like she cared or planned to be there. But the point is she let him continue and joined him deep in his heart behind his words, she listened.
Is it clear what I am saying? She met this fellow for the first time in three years the night before. He professed his love based on a date three years earlier, a date… singular. But she heard him out, and allowed the possibility of such a person to be considered. Why? because Marie lived the painful realities of life to the core of her flesh and soul…. how else could I explain it. The ugliness of the world wore on the innermost regions of her mind. If the world were capable of such mad and extreme grotesqueness and pain, even if it is passed off as a common place business, what else was it capable of if…….. the facade of mediocrity were ignored. No matter how much we make evil as nothing, as simply a less than ideal but nonetheless matter of fact aspect of life, no matter how much it is rationalized and the world is desensitized to the ugliness; her soul knew the poignancy of its evil sting, even in spite of the sensible color the understanding societies of the world painted it in. She knew one such extreme in spite of the world and its desire to see all as mediocre, if life was capable of one extreme her heart began to dare her to believe in the other.
My friend Henry did not have such an extreme past, although he lived through the experiences of our friends Hans and Tim. On top of that Henry was a thinker. In his mind ever before him were the extremes, seeing the darkness behind many false smiles. The brutal reality of life was ever before his mind. As a child and teen, even up until I first meet him, he was pure and innocent, knowing of temptations from a distance and hating them. He remembered the beauty of those pure days , but his eyes were opened and with such honest eyes that had been nurtured in light they burned through darkness everywhere, even in himself and that of course was why they were so uniquely penetrating. He realized that even in the Pleasantville in which he was raised perverseness floated about in the daylight, understood by the spirit of the day in mediocrity as nothing more serious than bit of fun.
So there they were in the coffee shop, in what most would call a deluded state of existence ignorant of reality, but the dappered up young man and the natural beauty that was the young women, had a secret, which as they gazed into one another’s eyes ,minds, souls they began to realize they shared. They were not the ones ignorant of reality. NO! It was all the grey shaded folks around them that were ignorant of reality, of the consuming blackness of evil and the blinding white of good. Yes only those who live out that life is capable of both utter blackness and utter whiteness can speak of grays. But the deluded people sitting around them understood and reveled in the grays of life; knowing in honesty neither its blackness nor its whiteness. To Henry her goodness radiated through into her skin and now long blonde hair which had been short for years earlier.
Again I stop and go off on the details. You must pay attention to the details my dear reader for though books of this form have not been seen since old Europe it will all be worth it in the end. After all if you cancel your television and read this book for the next four months you will save money and be both intelligent and vogue. I must make this point clear I have described Marie’s appearance from Henry’s perspective. Yes she was beautiful with blonde hair and blue eyes, and even had a well formed tallish-ness to go along with her capturing gait. But now you have in your mind the stereotypical image of the American blue eyed blonde. Marie’s look was more humble than a typical pin up notion of a fair skinned blonde haired blue eyed girl. Henry was not blind to this humility in her beauty and in falling for her he found her all the more beautiful because of it. In his words, “she was arguably as beautiful as any women in the world.” He even on occasion went on to protest that she was arguably the most beautiful women in the world, and on such occasions it was apparent he meant it. But so that you may see her better in accommodation to what I suspect are your misconceptions; you must see her as a shorter five three five fourish women with brown hair with brown eyes with pale skin, with a wide and full smile, and with teeth that have noticeable dark shading in the background. Instead of picturing an exotic European flare substitute more of a common look. Marie is a tallish blonde with blue eyes. But please! see it all in light of the more common look of a short brown haired girl. But I suppose that is all beside the point. Henry did not know of her past, and as is my way I must tell you another story that pertains to this very point in the story.
“Listen, Listen! Gentlefem. In a prostitute one may find the beauty of a pure and humble women. In a married women one may find the sensuality of a slutty and arrogant women. One is a whore with a pure heart and will be pure of heart in the end, and one is pure by virtue of being married and a whore at heart and will be a whore in the end.” Henry was smiling sensing the agitation and antagonism he was brewing in his pals sitting around him, for the most part this was his main aim in what he was saying. “Cleary gentlemen, Cleary God would take into account the things virtually determined beyond our control, and of course not without accounting how we respond, as that is for all intensive purposes in our …..,no! Simply that is in our control.” (Some of us could not tell if he was being sarcastic or not.) Is it not clear enough? You all look baffled. One, gentlefems, is a women rather ignorant and undereducated with the fortitude to where her lot with humility. The other is women rather intelligent educated and arrogant. The humble women in the end shall be praised as wise and the arrogant one a fool!” The other young man at the table was ready to tackle him with his pseudo religious and baseless claims. Before they could attack, and as they were all ready to shout out objections he said “at least by me that is!” and then smiled from ear to ear. This all took place at the early part of college when the four of us were all still together. Henry sat in the back corner of the pub with the entire restaurant in front of him. Next arrived Hans in his easy going and natural nerdy intellectual manner, surveying the room he walked back to join Henry. Henry was in top form this particular evening as he always was on the occasional night on the town. I being a bit older and married joined the party looking rather worn down. Tim came in last looking like a 007 type agent with his muscular form and polished wares. And so it began, the four us all distinct and quite different from one another were in reality to similar in our zeal for life. I myself was, apparently this particular night, in appearance, less zealous then the other three possessed young men. Immediately I was barraged for not appearing to be happy to be there. Initially it was Tim who had called attention to my apparent mood and Tim’s comment lit the already wired Henry.
“It’s the wife huh? Iyiyi yyyiii , boy you got a ruff draw, how could you have seen all this coming.” Tim moved his head sympathetically and in sincerity as he said this to me, and the whole table. Before Henry could join in, no doubt while he was finishing the organization of his onslaught, condolences were sent to me from each person at the table in affirmation of Tim statement. My wife was, as my wife, a known piece of work. But Henry was not to be so very mild and gentle this particular night. He was out with his friends whom he loved to be with and he was a man so very alive at life’s most modest occasions. In fact he was not much different than a young pup let out of a tight cage into a full and large backyard. But this particular night, though I did not realize it at first, Henry had other interests in the subject of my wife. I later realized they were in relation to certain accusations she made against him. And let me add, I believe Henry loved me so much that he loved me as his own brother.
“Gentleman!” Henry stated full of vigor with great captivating capacity, “Glance over to that center table there. Do you see that women sitting there with her husband?” “Who can miss the size of that ring,” returned Hans with a roll of the eyes. Everyone but Henry chuckled and he quickly brought everyone back to attention as he seemingly had something important to say. “Do you see her? She’s a whore! Look! Listen,” Henry stated, clearly but quietly. “Do you hear her domineering tone, look notice her jealous and haughty stare at the women the table over. See her husband nervously tapping his fingers whenever the waiter comes to be whipped. Listen, Listen, how she jumps to show her knowledge. Listen how dogmatic she is , how confident she is in her superior upbringing in her American Christianity in her humane politics, and how she will raise a child one day!”
“My word! Henry we hear her!, but what’s your point!” interrupted Tim, “Psych lectures ended six hours ago and last time I checked you weren’t the professor anyway.”
In a few seconds the table became tense, everyone could upon second thought see behind the curtain easily enough. I was in limbo realizing I was about to be accosted, taken back to the wood shed, and I was not yet sure how I would react. After all it was my wife who was the indirect subject, and yet Henry in his antics always had some penetrating truth he unearthed. Plus we were like brothers. “A perfect whore that woman is, boys…… She has no respect for her husband… for anybody, a complete psychopath. Shall I hazard a guess what income bracket her pious parents are in, or how they understand an ancient text in the 21st.” No one else was aloud a word he waved them off with a face or with an increased speed of delivery right as someone was about to object. “Boys that is what I am always telling you about, excuse my German, but to make clear the strength of my feeling on the matter, that women is a complete Bitch! You see her you heard her, how self centered, egotistical and narcissistic to the core, self righteous, and judgmental she is, and all with a false smile of sweetness. A feminist, who is angry at the world, since no matter how hard she tries she is never the same as a man. Henry began to chuckle, and in complete contradiction to his entire enthusiastic rant and thus in great bipolar fashion, he mumbled with a sound of despair, “and that is her problem, what is so terrible about being a women…. as if visible strength and power is the only measure of strength or of anything.”
Henry quickly continued, visibly becoming more energetic again “Even if her husband does have testicles his life will be hell! That is what I was talking about the other night when I was going on about “whores” being wise, beautiful, and strong, and “virtuous” women being foolish and arrogant…. ugly and weak. The former are admirable women of fortitude and the latter whore’s of a spoiled 1st world childhood, conditioned toward bitchood. And I am not excluding men of the 1st world 21st century, they are even more…” Henry took a breath to pin down just what he wanted to say. Tim who had obviously aimed to cut him off after Henry’s using the phrase bitchood finally gathered himself to cut in “good you have finished Henry. That’s enough! Have you been drinking all night.. ooorrr what’s your deal?” Henry not missing a beat shot back “I am far from drunk but thanks for asking.”
The air at the table became as rigid as razors, and there I sat. “I heard her apologize to you,” I said looking at and addressing Henry amidst the sudden and full silence that loomed over the table on what was to be a cheerful Saturday night. “What does that have to do with anything,” retorted Henry. “I am not idiot Henry.”
“Well I wasn’t speaking of your wife, but the lady at the center table, and it was merely to exemplify what I was talking about the other day. “ Just as everyone was on the verge of being relieved, Henry as was his habit continued. “But now that you mentioned it, the description does fit your attention craving wife, and she can save her apologies I’ve tolerated her long enough. Because of my friendship with you, that’s why I’ve tolerated her. Face the music my friend, though Hans is the musician, your wife is a bitch.” And with that I left the table, Henry was laying on the floor, no doubt his head was spinning, and the whole place was gawking at our scene we had managed to make in the back corner of the restaurant.” As I reached the door I heard Henry’s voice mutter from the floor “The prig scuffed my shoes when he got out of his seat.” All of that to say Henry was right and I knew he was right in his little theorization on women. But he told me a little too late, though that is for another time. Marie was not arrogant nor was she a rebel against what Henry understood as her innate and glorious womanhood. One only need meet Marie once to know it was certain she was a bold women in the traditional sense, but maybe Henry, it would seem, had to make certain.
A Misery to Personalized for the Cosmos Alone
Upon finishing his profession of love, and his desire to be trusted and loved in return, Marie was still sitting looking up at the young man standing before her. She was completely focused on him, with examining eyes. Henry just stood there silent for a half a minute as she continued to look at him with interrogative eyes. Henry again looked up and into her eyes for the first time since he finished speaking, as if to accept the full blunt of the blow her questioning eyes might execute. Then looking into her eyes as she was looking into his, he put out his hand. Marie just sat there in her place in the coffee shop, in the world in the 21st century….unmoved, and then after a moment placed her hands in his. He guided her out of her chair, and asked or rather told Jen he was stealing her cousin for a second. Jen’s face was blank until Marie looked over to her and smiled, as if assuring her it was all right. Naturally everyone was staring at them all the way to the door. But it all became like a whirl wind. Standing no longer in the brim packed coffeehouse Henry found Marie before him in the park on the bench. The type of park every suburban to city type area has, green with shade trees and grass and benches made of wood or recycled plastics that look like wood. There were tears in her eyes yet the torrent of conflicting thoughts and feeling had waned. She was at peace when for a second a smile, the true kind that overflows out of uncontrolled joy in the whole of ones being, broke out and Marie said with deep and utter sobriety as only as person who had lived the life she had lived could “ I love you, Henry…. I love you” again a smile seeped out for a second and evaporated into a deep seeded serious disposition. I fear I do not possess the skill as a writer to portray Marie accurately in words. But I continue on noting my weakness, so as to stay faithful to the reality.
Henry was in disbelief and overjoyed at what he had just heard flow out of Marie’s beautiful pale pink lips. Just as sunny and beautiful days with just right temperatures must be interrupted by thunderstorms for there to be life, likewise the duty of honesty showed itself to be immediately attached to Henry’s newly found joy. Whether he wanted it to or not it was seemingly an essential and inescapable aspect of his being alive.
He was compelled to kiss her and in kissing her the desire to consume her overwhelmed him, but his love for her, no doubt the same love that compelled him to kiss her, checked him at the kiss. He grabbed her hand instead, “Marie I will date you as long as you like, but on the other hand I would marry you today,…. though if you wish to wait 10 years to marry me I will endure the long engagement. Will you marry me? Before you answer I want you to know I want to marry you and only you. My mind is at peace…I love you, but if yours is not then we can date.” Henry always had too much to say whenever he was being himself and letting his passion flow in synch with his overactive mind, which is certainly worse than an overactive bladder. With his putting the question the way he did Marie’s remembrance of her, current betrothed, creped before her resisting mind. Her eyes were fixed on Henry as she was looking into him and the husband he would be. Again she took her time looking intently at him, and with an undertone of hesitation and nearly complete lack of emotional expression she replied, “I will marry you………..Today if you wish”
He did wish, but he knew that, though he believed they knew each other well enough, it was an unspoken knowledge, and thus there was much to be spoken. He guessed that men had betrayed her trust in the past, but never to the degree that actually was the case. But this small suspicion was enough for him to desire to show he was different from other men, even her current betrothed, that his love for her was for all of her, not just her body, but also her spirit along with those barely describable aspects that are something of a psychological aroma. He wanted to demonstrate the greater depth of his love, the truth of it, possibly never before known by her as even existent in reality. “No, we can be engaged or go to the court house even, and sign the paper work, but lets hold hands awhile my dear.” Marie’s eyes again began to unabashfully interrogate him as if saying are you serious? She thought to herself “is he serious is he sincere, what is this “my dear” so fluently so naturally stated, he calls me his dear!” All the while Henry’s faith and ideas began to weigh on him to be upfront and honest about what he thought he must be as a husband. He became agitated, continually pulling out grass by his feet twirling it and throwing it into the near distance, and then repeating the movement. Marie began to notice this as odd “he is irritated?” she thought.
But before I continue I must confess of having grown so very fond of the previous interludes that I must endeavor upon yet another. Just as the cinematographer gets the live shot from as many angles as possible in the heat of hast, for he cannot do it again if he films live unscripted reality. (And yet in general no doubt he could film the same thing, though with minor difference again and again). Precisely as the cinematographer seeks to take all in for the live audience, so I also must remind you dear reader we speak of a harsh reality, of reality. In the eyes of the fragmentary lenses of the masses that make up society, who categorize life into section and forgets these sections all have in common the reality that they are all a part of life, all is presented as normal. The extreme is mediocre, surreal extremes become commonplace reality, everything means something very important and yet everything means nothing to important, all is a blur, mutually exclusive things are accepted as the same thing. To sum it up, life is like a person trying and trying to think through an idea, giving up and drinking a bottle of vodka, and then waking up asserting ideas as if he has unraveled them all! Truly magnificent! In movies and reality TV a man is shot from miles away, a car blows up, a man goes to confession, a women gets married, a child dies, and the attitudes toward these events are ‘realistically’ presented. The bride cares more about the ceremony details that what kind of man the groom is. The man who kills the child doesn’t care, and then proceeds to eat breakfast or shoot himself. “Bad” language fills the script, fuck this or fuck that, Jesus this or Jesus that. Wonderful! Complex! Brilliant! Next we will film people on the pot pushing and sweating to clean their bowls, and the viewers will respond as the detached critic (and rightfully so) “this was a well done film, really well done!” But I ask what the hell does that mean? What does fuck mean when it is said every other word or what does a man going to confession mean when we all know it’s a half hearted reaction, to his prior actions, and what’s more he and the viewer alike do not really believe in God. Does every person find himself standing separated from himself amidst every event of life unable to grasp and feel any consuming significance of the moment? Is everyone as immune to life as the actors in the flashes of life presented whether they be ‘reality’ of fiction. This is a very complicated issue of the paradoxically simultaneously melodramatic and de-sensitizingly sensitizing nature of this new century. However all of that is to say in this recounting I am giving to you the word fuck means something, to say the name of Christ out of order means something very define. To say a woman is a prostitute means something. That is to say this story presupposes a framework, Henry and Marie’s framework. As for myself I am much easier going…you say tomato I say toemato …. in any case I really do not care much about you or what you say, unless you catch my attention .
“What is it, what is it Henry?” stated Marie as she finally gave way to the inclination to say his name. He threw down another wad of grass got up from the bench and began to pace. “Marie I have just realized I must be completely honest” at these words her attention was heightened. She almost feared what was to come next, and yet she would hear it no matter what. “ I have studied I am well studied in theology, and science, as you know Marie” The uniqueness of the manner of his speaking no longer caught her attention she listened waiting attentively with excitement yet with some fear of disappointment. “Yes” she replied with curiosity. “Well I must be honest Marie I would marry you and follow to the ends of the earth if I could, I would be unconditionally yours, if I could, and you might think how else should I say I love you, but I now realize how much I really believe, it is only with conditions of love that I may love you unconditionally. In other words, only if I have a definite notion of love, can I say that I will love you no matter what, and I will and I can, though I may not marry you unless you are willing to follow me to the ends of the earth . Though I will love you and you will be in my prayers evermore I cannot marry you unconditionally. You see Marie. I must follow my God Jesus of Nazareth to the ends of the earth and it is evident to me that I may only marry if my wife, if you Marie will follow me in my following God.”
Henry was the most skeptical of us all, he read everything from economics to science to every religion, and in his skepticism at the end it appears, when all his hopes were within his grasp, he decided upon the unknown known God of Christianity. He then set out to be consistent with its notions even though he often drug his feet as if wanting to revise some of it. But I admired him. I did not have the yearning for knowledge or the courage to live out a life with consistency and honesty. Such was his manner of speech to Marie. He was saying all of these religious things as if someone were holding a gun to his head, and yet in the end he believed the most basic assertions of it, or he would not have said it.
As he was saying all of these rather dramatic things to Marie, he was not looking at her and then his eyes lifted to hers. “But Marie do not think me the chauvinist, but surely you think could it not be the reverse, truly are you not a creature with your own purpose in relation to your Creator. Certainly, but nonetheless I cannot marry someone with a different purpose of life from mine when mine is so absolute. As to the coherence of Christianity I can explain it if….” Marie interrupted him with a gentle smile and a mild snicker “are you finished or was that merely the introduction to your sermon?” Henry’s face was blank, fearing for the worst, who could understand, or who would accept Christianity as he understood it and yet no matter how hard he tried he could not let it go and now with Marie in front of him He realized he said it with even greater emphasis. “I will follow God alongside of you, but my trust is ultimately in God.”
He stared at her appearing to be confused. As he later explained to me he did not really believe any women would respond as she did to such an extreme question. He said what he had said; not really even believing anything good could come from it. He wanted her more than anything, even, perhaps, the God who he believed he could not truly have her without. I remind you yet again I am recording the events uncensored. You may draw your own conclusion about these friends of mine, as for me well they were my friends and very typical products of American culture in many ways. Perhaps you now picture Henry in church every week in a suit or donating half his salary to the church, but then you would have the wrong idea entirely. Marie on the other hand was in church every week and she dressed modestly, and yet very stylishly, after all she worked as designer consultant.
Henry stood baffled. He thought about himself in the event that had and was taking place on a bench in a park, and it was even for him, now, other worldly fantasy. What had just happened Marie’s response was to him miraculous as it was virtually impossible to his mind. He was in disbelief, perhaps like a writer who knows the event to be recorded next, a historian we will say, who comes to the climatic event to be recorded , and cannot pick up the pen to write it because he cannot believe it or understand it enough to put it into ink as having honestly occurred. Henry eventually accepted the ink of what had just occurred and grabbed Marie’s hand and held it in such a way as if he would never let her literal physical hand go. “I am yours no matter what! I am at your disposal, no matter what! Forever, unless of course you were to marry another man, but I will wait for you and support you until you are ready. Even if my youth were to pass me by in the meantime! But no matter what, I am afraid I will never let you go, no matter what! Marie was a very kind and fun loving girl, and yet she had the capacity for being quite straight faced. She sat there again listen and looking, taking it all in, half in appreciative love, half saying we shall see.
Marie went home that evening in wonderment, in joyful bewilderment, until that is, her phone reminded her that she had yet to break off her previous engagement. Marie meet her fiancé outside her residence to explain to him that she could not marry him. Henry watched from the distance. He the contradictorily tightly demarcated, and utterly boundryless Henry had followed her home suspecting that her previous fiancé would be over that very day, after her being mysteriously absent from him in recent days. Henry could only understand some of the words being spoken. He could, however, see their body language clear enough.
Marie had not yet shed a tear though the fiancé was seemingly having a hard time excepting what he was hearing. He went to pull her close to give her a kiss, as if to say ‘forget this nonsense.’ Marie pulled away. But her ex- fiancé in the making, was relentless. Henry seethed with rage, restraining himself from pouncing on this man with madness. Just as Henry thought he could take no more he saw the man turn and yell “I will be back tomorrow! And we will fix this garbage after you get some sleep” Henry watched him get in his car and drive away. He felt he could not let Marie see him. Henry, observing the stop sign a block down, sprinted to it and jumped out in front of the ex fiancés car. I do not know if I already mentioned it or not but my friend Henry was a strange one, as you are beginning to see, perhaps the strangest even more so then Hans or Tim, and yet processing a great capacity to be socially normal when he wanted to. The young man was six foot two 185 pounds of pure muscle he ate 225 on the bench for breakfast. Usually after he finished working out he would read, on any given day it could be Kant or something like Fitzgerald. Honestly I was often tempted to hate him. For him the whole world was one great possibility his own personal playground. At times he wanted the fame that typically comes to a person like him, but typically he loved to wander about unknown to the world as if a king wandering the streets in a disguise. My hate was usually tempered by the fact that he was always on the verge of being completely miserable.
The startled man rolled down his window “I am the madman you think to be such a joke, and let me tell you I love her and she loves me. She has said it herself, for me that is more than enough forever! I will kill you, forgive me God, I will kill you if you ever speak to her again!” Henry pronounced his words in a pattern like thunder and lightning. No doubt the man was startled if not scared. Let’s be honest, one does not often encounter such a person in life as most people capable of such untamed and glorious passion are in prison or a psych ward, as the line between passion and the demonic is perhaps as fine as the line between genius and madman.
Henry was holding fast to the ex-fiance’s collar with his right hand, and the inside of the car door with his left, “you do not know what love is, but you see me now and you see a sincerity before you that almost convicts you, though you do not know of what of, you do know you do not love her as I, and even though you may mock me latter to your friends as a nut job you fear, and almost revere me now that you see me here before you. I’ll tell you why you have this feeling right now, you see I am a sincere and honest, and pure in my motives….I will kill you” By this point Henry had begun to drift out from the window. With his last word, the “you” in “I will kill you” he dashed off.
Henry did not neglect to realize the sadness this man encountered that day, nor did he fail to sympathize with is position. In fact, if Marie would not have expressed and reaffirmed Henry’s love with her own. That is to say if she said little, but then concluded she would remain with her fiancé, Henry would not have continued to pursue her. No he would have assumed this wonderful woman had found a wonderful man in her fiancé and however painful it may be for him he would in his love for her be happy for her, unless of course he knew that somehow she was duped. And yet I am in danger of painting with monstrously ideal strokes Henry as the saint. He would be happy for Marie if his defeat was certain, and if the quality of the other man was certain. Otherwise he would despise the other man and do God knows what, perhaps even kill. But she loved Henry and he did not think twice about whether or not he would fight for her if he had to. Knowing Henry he would rationalize the desire to fight and kill the competing suitor, as quite commonplace. I remember hearing Henry saying that back in certain points of recent history upstanding gentleman were encourage to settle disputes with a duel as a matter of honor. And as to whether or not Henry would win such a fight or duel, in his mind there was no question, it would be one of the most certain things he ever considered.
The other young man, did I mention his name? Anyway the other guys pride was wounded, by his somewhat scared and silent reaction to Henry. He thought of challenging Henry so as to uphold his pride as a man. In the end it seems that he knew Henry was right in that he did not love her as much as the crazy man who jumped in front of his car and threaten to kill him. So the “other young man” went his own way recovering rather quickly. This ex fiancé had the ability to be a funny man and keep women he met at ease, as far as I know he had another girl within two weeks time.
Upon waking up the following morning, Henry found within himself a renewed enthusiasm and happiness as well as a greater sense of meaning and importance to his life. He felt as he had not felt since he was about fifteen, he was happy and the despair of life that had loomed over him for so long was gone. He loved, and was loved in return by the one whom he loved. As soon as he could he called Marie. He met her at her house, “How was your day today Marie” Henry said her name with a noticeably great pleasure. “It was good,” started Marie, she stopped perceiving he was hoping for something…. anticipating something. “You know,” continued Marie “that my ex fiancé came by last night.”
“Oh” replied Henry.
“I told him of my love for you, and well, he said he would not give up and that he would be by again in the morning.”
“Really, and did he come by this morning?” returned Henry with unguarded interest.
“No he did not, and I am glad, but I am afraid he is simply delaying and will not let go. Really I thought for certain he would be by again.”
“Do you think this will be very painful for him?” asked Henry.
“I do not think so, at first it was very hard for me, because I did not want him to be hurt, but I have this odd notion about the whole relationship as if, as if it had never occurred.”
Henry was listening attentively. “You know that night what you said, about how I came about being with him, it made me so angry, and yet it was true, and it haunted me all night and all of the following day.”
“Well I could not afford to be gentle I had waited a long time for that opportunity, and I was quite certain it would never come, and then there I was, there you were. You know I was at the end my rope, and so very alone in the world my closest friends having died and the other one all over the place in every possible sense.Well, I’m hungry lets go for dinner, what are you in the mood for?”
“Haha, she began to chuckle, and with an accent never before heard by Henry she said,
“ I’m in the mood for that trash I used to eat when I was a little girl,”
Henry was completely confused, he thought she was quoting a line from a movie or something. He stood there ready to react, though he did not know how, because he really did not understand. “Henry,” she smiled again, her eyes directed toward Henry but not focused on anything, “it has just struck me, you do not know me do you?” This statement to was said with an accent, and Henry was in limbo. For the first time in their recent meetings he had no words to speak. Henry stood by the door to her apartment wearing a half forced smiling, half scared face. Marie spoke again, this time in a different language “бідний хлопчик, ти врятував мене від дурня, але ви мене не знаєте, як ви думаєте, і якщо ви зробили, і вам не доведеться тримати в узді тих голодних чисті очі, ви втратите ваш апетит на весь я. Ваша чиста душа буде destoyed від мін. “
And again Henry stood with his eyes and mouth open. This time he noticed Marie had looked him in the eye with each syllable she uttered. It was as if she was reading his response to the words he did not understand. Henry who was the type who had to try and force a laugh at most jokes, decided this was some kind of joke he obviously missed. “What? was that Russian ?” he said with a forced smile. “What’s this from?” It’s not from anything replied Marie. “You do not know me, you think you love me but you do not know me, all I have told you, and all you know of me is who I wish I was, who I try to be!” her eyes were growing moist. She covered her eyes and turned her head to hide.
My friend Henry, who was about as practiced at sensitivity as a robot, stood there not knowing what to do. He had at last let his passion flow out of his heart through his mouth, and he at last lived out his assertion that he did not care what anyone thought, but he could not break the habit of years and years of rigid austerity when it came to the physical touch. Habits such as those are hard to break even if a soul like Henry’s was truly always in option, wiping away tears with his hand, giving a gentle and comforting hug, going out of his way to hold open a door or help a person struggling with some task. His mind and soul were always in it, always ready to reach out, and yet he decided against for one reason or another. He did not act simply so as to not appear a certain way. He feared to appear as if he were trying to do such and such a helpful thing only to achieve something, or appear as something in opposition to his intention. Or worse yet, and this is truly the crux of it, my dear friend Henry did not want people to think or see that he was as good as he was. Yes this was the reason, I remember, I once figured it out and told him; oh I remember his reaction well. To put it simply he was pissed, disagreeing that he was afraid of what people thought and that he was good, or that he was good. He disagreed with everything mainly because he disagreed with anyone other than him being able to look penetratingly at a person, reading the mind and the soul and the interplay of it all. People often say “people do not change.” Religious people often say “only God could change that person.” And I cannot believe I am going to say this, but I must. Henry had already begun to change since being reunited with Marie. It must be a terribly risky and frightful endeavor, but dare I say it, perhaps a woman may change a man, but then again perhaps horses can speak French, and world peace is on its way.
Henry stood there like an absolute boob, he tried to ignore his great deficiency that the moment was so obviously begging for, in doing so he noticed the old hard wood floors on which he stood, the twin apartment across the street, in which a group of young men sat smoking cigars and cigarettes, and drinking, singing and laughing. His mind wandered back to the nights he would sit in despair at having let Marie slip away as his friends had a capital time. He began to notice the style of the apartment it was so very unyouthful, the table, the chairs, the pictures…… it was all that of a 40 year old married women with children and a husband who worked at a factory. He stood there in his place….. he did not want to go forward in time, again he looked at the nice dark hard wood floors, “Who are you? What do you mean I do not know you?” stated Henry calmly still standing in the same spot…..the spot he had stood in since he was 15 and he became conscious of his standing.
Pushing away the tears Marie turned around to face him. “I thought you knew! I thought everyone knew! That’s why I never mentioned all of this that day three years ago. I am a disaster child from the Ukraine. I was an orphan, I was abused, I was virtually a prostitute by the age of thirteen and I hate it all! but even what you hate can haunt you, even as if… even as if…..it doesn’t matter. Just leave me be! You have saved me from that fool, but I am not for you.” As Marie turned away, Henry came to life “ even as if you desire it, even as if a part of you desires it!” He finished his tone emphasizing that he knew he had understood her and that he loved her still. A similar feeling to the one that came over her in the parking lot enclosed itself around her from within her. She said nothing and Henry said nothing. Again he looked over at the window of young men across the street. “It must be a bachelor party or a birthday,” he thought to himself out loud. And then amidst her sniffling she answered, “ there was a time when I would have hated you for understanding me as you do! But even so I could never trust myself with a man as good as you. I would abuse the ‘savior type’ whether I wanted to or not, and besides who says you want to save me or have anything to do with me now that you know everything about me,” Marie’s entire tone and manner was a fluctuating mixture of fury and despondency, flames would encircle her blue eyes and then a deep obis of sorrow. At times she had a hate in her voice that had murdered hundreds, at times she had the brokenness of a child obliterated by the world, and who with the “great separator of time’ realized the depth of her devastation more and more with each year toward adulthood.
Henry’s face light up with an uncontrollable and utterly impulsive smile, his eyes where glowing, he let out a breathy chuckle that began deep in his gut. Marie was confused shocked by this reaction from him. “Why are you laughing?” Henry’s smile was given new life with the question. He could not reply immediately he had to wait until his face decided to stop smiling, or rather his heart decided. “Me save you?” the remnants of the humor he found remained on his face. “Me save you!” he said yet again. “Marie, you are the one who is doing the saving!” Again he laughed as if finding comfort “A large part of me is cold and boring, perhaps it has something to do with my dutifulness, and perhaps I am even a very moral man, even a good, an honest Christian who has none of the common attributes of a Christian such as arrogance, hypocrisy of heart, and spinelessness all wrapped into one. But Marie! Even in all of this I am always on the verge of the irresolutely demonic madness, not defeat! Not resignation! Not even courageous active resignation of my friend Tim, nor even the slightly grey resignation of my friend Hans, but rather forceful rebellious utter selfish despicableness, and yet in me is the possibility of a more complete and better man, that now, and perhaps always only you have the key to…. only you Marie!” His voice began to quiver even as whole body began to tremble as if he were undergoing a small tremor, “ and I need you, you do not need me!” Marie’s face had begun to dry as she listened and saw all he said he meant with severity.
Whatever, Marie had intended and had hoped to result from her revelation, I do not know! The female reader of this stories guess is superior to mine. In any case, Henry had finished saying all he had to say, and so did Marie. They both stood there, Henry waiting for a response from Marie, Marie waiting to see if he would say more. After the short silence Marie spoke, “So what now?” She asked
“Now we go to dinner, to the nice restaurant on Z street that has outdoor seating” Henry had seemed to break the cosmic like force field of physical separation he actively sought to maintain, in relation to Marie’s hand alone. He sought it out and laid hold of her hand like a man on fire dives and rolls for water.
The general structure of the area in which they lived was undeniably disgusting, especially in comparison to architecture in Europe, and many other older parts of the world. But it was a summer evening, and nature has a way of imposing her beauty upon man’s shitty and lazy designs, brushing them to the side as it were as if saying I can be so glorious I will even make you forget you have built such shitty shit for yourself. This particular street was nice, as was the restaurant. Henry had on khaki shorts to the middle of his knee cap, a plain blue polo shirt, and stringless leather shoes. Henry looked his best in the summer, he had a well built body…calves even, and even his green eyes and blonde hair became more distinctive in the summer. Marie was absolutely suffocating. She had on a one piece grey dress with a bluish belt that had a silver buckle, and bluish open toed heeled sandals.
Indeed perhaps I am a better detective than the fabled greats of Baker Street and a better historian than the stylizing Homer. Marie’s eyes were such a beautiful bluish grey. This night her hair was to the side and in a pony tail down the back. It was all a rather magnificent scene to Henry and Marie. My friend Henry was the type who would appreciate a certain watch I might where, even after he saw it on me a thousand times. Now consider this man who was locked away in a room for years, a type of aesthetic monk if you will, now consider him sitting before this natural, young, beauty.. dear God! It is possible ladies that you thought all men grow tired of the same thing, and in reality that seems to be the case. As for this my queer duck I am pleased to have known, my…. the poor fellow loved most anything the more he saw it even at times the older it grew. And now can you imagine this young lady Marie, sitting in front of him, in the summer yet, with trees softly pattering about in the wind, a car occasionally whisking bye on this quiet evening. Every now and then we might see a baseball player who truly loves to play baseball, the type of character who would play for free rather then not play at all, and who plays every second of each game as if it were his first or his last. Or we see a poor fellow who said if he ever had money he would change the world and live modestly, and he does, and he loves doing it. Such things we see from time to time, if we watch closely enough, and it is hardly the norm in reality. It is hardly the norm! I am talking about the type who, in terms of baseball would play with childish enthusiasm, and die if he had nothing left for the game. And here this handsome devil is truly fitting the very general description of what all women want as if kept apart from women all his life by those mischievous Greek gods.
Yes there he was in front of a woman who was not only beautiful and kind, but one who could tolerate and understand him; perhaps even in spite of the fact he was good looking. Such happiness, such proportionate reward, is rare in reality! Even for passionate people. And yet cannot a factory worker do his same monotonous job every day for forty years, and in a small quiet burning passion be an excellent employee, spouse and parent. And in reality can they not love their life deeply, even the grinding of the belts on the machines….love it deeply in reality, even, dare I say it, as that very famous performer who performs each and every show as if it were the first one or the last one ever. But I am beginning to ramble.
Marie and Henry sat out, in the world, at the restaurant, immersed in and adding to the beauty of a beautiful happening in life, in a world of many very simultaneous non beautiful happenings. The street the restaurant was on was and old American street with some cobblestone, and rather young old buildings of about 300 years. It was a nice block surrounded by miles and miles of plastic siding houses, and cement slabbed businesses. The typical American town slapped together with no concern of architectural splendor, rather concerned only of space and efficiency, in other words, a town constructed with the typical American short sighted understanding of value. To find beauty in such a place one either has to find that one block Henry and Marie went to this particular evening, or drive and drive until one finds farm land unadulterated by pathetic displays of human workmanship.
They ate very little food, they drank very little wine, they were consumed in conversation, or in silent glances back and forth. In a sense, it seemed to them both that they had stepped back from their passionate confessions of love and the desire for immediate and irrevocable holy matrimony. “You know Marie I believe we have talked about everything there is to talk about. Seriously think about all we said three years ago in those three hours, and I remember everything that you said even your favorite flower, but then also all I said the other night and then all you said , and all that was said earlier tonight.” Marie smiled that fully bodied smile that was so natural to her, “oh no! we have sprinted when we should have walked.”
“Have you ever seen one of those old couples sitting across from one another at a restaurant, I’ve seen many old couples just sit across from one another for an entire hour, wait for their food, smile at the waitress, eat their food and all the while just sit and not say a word to one another. I used to eat with my grandparents often when I was younger, and at 4 o’clock in the afternoon I would always find at least one pair of 80 year old just sit across from one another and say absolutely nothing.”
“One of those old couples? You make them sound like, like, I don’t know.. some sort of antique bicycle or something.” Marie began to giggle, “ but yes I have seen them why?”
“Just a few moments ago when we were sitting there saying nothing I thought to myself , how much I love sitting here with you , and you know I often sat there as a skinny little boy and thought to myself, I bet they don’t talk because they already know what the other would say, and you know maybe that’s true, maybe they really know one another as much as they know themselves, and yet I imagine now that if they sat alone, and could wish for anyone in the world to sit across from them, it would be her, it would be him. That old patchy white haired wrinkle with big ears, who no doubt she thinks is a distinguished looking old man.”
“Well I doubt I would ever grow board sitting across from you Henry, you go from having nothing on your mind to entire philosophical treatises.” She said this in a very matter of fact face one which Henry could not help but adore and began to smile at. “What, what, why are you looking at me like that?”
“You are too much!” replied Henry with a raised eyebrow and quiet twinkle in his eye. Marie began to look down with a deeply convincing face of modesty, as if she could not stand the attention. And she could not, attention like the kind Henry gave her she had never received before, or perhaps he would turn out to be like flattering monsters from years past. They chatted awhile longer about this and that, Marie did most of the talking Henry added a bit here and there, even quite often managing to make Marie laugh, and having a laugh himself. No doubt even that little bit of wine helped as I cannot comprehend anyone thinking Henry funny or him laughing light heartedly. He was always such a serious character, even during those good years we all had together he would laugh and joke, and yet anyone would describe him as being very serious. Serious about what you might ask? And I suppose I would have to wager the answer is life, he was serious about it. Marie too one might see as the “serious” type, and of course she had every good reason to take life seriously, and yet as is often the case as I have seen in my travels, the same reasons to be anything but serious about life.
“Let’s walk back”
“Walk back? It’s at least a mile?” replied Henry not so much being against the idea as unsure whether Marie was serious or not. “Oh but your car we can’t.”
“I’ll get my car tomorrow.” Henry like a vulture eyed and snatched up her hand. “A beautiful evening with a beautiful girl, this is probably one of the most wonderful moments in my life!…….. I told you about my friend Hans from college?”
“Yes.” replied the perfect young women as her open heels clicked against the old streets. “He once told me that even though that girl he loved broke his heart, he would never trade the experience, including its miserable ending for missing out on walking with her to class those few days.”
“Your friend was quite the romantic; I can see why the world was so hard for him to live in.” Marie glanced over to see if what she said was received by Henry as insensitive. He simply agreed shortening his face together and raising his thickish eyebrows. Henry no doubt, being Henry was thinking of everything at that moment, her background, all that had occurred that night, his love for her, and whether she could ever love him, and how he should act in relation to all these factors. Henry had long ago resolved and told me of his resolve to be an exemplary man, and never move beyond a kiss or holding hands until after marriage. And do not underestimate this fellow, as I told you before if you saw him in the street you would pin him as your typical manly man craving sports and food and women flesh. And Henry did love to play sports, and he did love food, and if his passion for the first too is any indication, and it was, because in my insecurity I thought I sensed that my wife sensed a deep and mysterious passion in him, and that she sensed that, I did not like…. well then yes! He was a man of course. He also knew of the social norms, and he also knew that he would be excepted to act in a good degree of unison with them, and that if he did not the women would begin to question, and he would be at a disadvantage to other men who acted in accord with what was expected, it being expected of course, because that was how men acted. Yes he was and knew all of this, and yet he was going to live out his beliefs, blah blah blah, love a women on every level, blah blah blah, build a solid foundation for a relationship, blah blah blah. Yes it is quite sickening to say, but this fellow was quite the white knight except he was not exceptionally rich, though he certainly was far from poor as well. In any case it was all decided especially now that he knew the extreme way Marie had experienced the selfish lusts of men, although of course this made his outdated ways even more dangerous to the continuing of the relationship.
“This is a long walk my feet are beginning to hurt, and its taking away from the whole idea of walking” said Marie with a laugh.
“I told you it was a long walk. And these old streets are uneven from one stone to the next,” stated Henry in a fatherly way. Henry stopped to tie his shoe which was not untied. He could not let her walk in misery, and if he had any hesitation to do what he was about to no doubt the view of her magnificent figure in that dress would provide ample persuasion. Kneeling down to tie his shoe he point out the moons orange and full hue, as Marie looked away he swooped up and scooped her up with him. Marie was startled, and then somewhat embarrassed, but Henry just looked down into her eyes with that serious and reassuring face of his ‘you cannot keep walking like this you will twist your ankle, besides I am enjoying myself so you should too.’
“You can’t carry me the entire rest of the way home it’s nearly a half mile or more” stated Marie very adamantly.”
Henry just smiled. “well now that u put it like that I am going to, even if I pass out at the end!”
At last they arrived at her apartment. Henry set her down, having noticeable perspiration around his face and neck. It was nothing to carry her, despite her being a solid built young women. Henry lost any thought of the effort of carrying a person so far, as he became lost in her soft and firm body in his hands and against his, and those beautiful eyes lit up only by the moon on some of the poorly lit streets looking into his. He did not want to let go of her. He knew he loved her, he knew he would decide to always be loyal to her no matter what, he knew he would get the paper work signed, why should he not seize the day and take hold of a complete and full relationship between his beloved. And yet, as if to overcompensate he kissed her hand, then looking at her with such a painful and sad look as he slowly let go, and said “ I love you Marie Chardin.”.
He felt like throwing up at the thought of what he just did. It was even to his very religiously steeped mind in a certain sense very wrong and in this case against the good in nature, for he truly loved her. Marie felt a multitude of feelings, of all that had occurred and all that hadn’t occurred. Feelings that were very conflicting, thoughts that were very troubling, and yet thoughts that were very hopeful. The magnificent young women did not just wake up and stroll about in the world on her parent’s penny; she did not find trouble with the world because her mind was a tad bit overactive. No! She lived in a terrible world, though perhaps it is overall better than other times in history and even good some days. Do I not rightly say, she lived in a terrible world? And all that had occurred did not just evaporate into nonexistence because she placed her hope and trust and faith in a man from the 1st century who claimed to be God or because she had a very pleasant life after she was adopted. What is more, although my writing is a bit rusty and thus maybe I have not done justice to the character that was my friend Henry, but he was a very hard to pin down fellow. He was on the one hand completely open and honest and yet not always the most secure or comforting person to trust, though he was very secure. In all truth Henry was the most loyal of us four friends, once he was trusted that is……but that is just the point Marie was fast approaching that very horizon.
But perhaps my odd way of recounting a story is too limited perhaps you need more characters. Maybe you find it odd that all that is mentioned is these two young ones and love. Indeed to Marie there was more to life, she loved and found great purpose in caring for the sick at the hospital and seeking to share her hope with them. But as for Henry she was his life or his death! I might note that before the end of all this; I will introduce two more persons pertinent to all these rather commonplace possibilities and yet extraordinary events.
Henry continued to do his unskilled labor job, which paying well was becoming increasingly scarce. After all what does one do with a degree in humanities? The important thing is he went to sleep each night so very happy thinking of Marie Chardin, and woke up and went to work so very happy thinking of Marie Chardin. My friend Henry did not want anything complex, rather he wanted a beloved and then a family, and means to provide for them, that was his dream, that was his great aspiration in life, to be a passionate husband and father. The other three of us four musketeers were aesthetes struggling against a society of ugly money, and on a more personal level struggling against the ethical within ourselves. Henry on the other hand was an ethicist through and through struggling against an unethical society, and on a personal level struggling against compounding flair for the aesthetic. However, that is all slightly beside the point. As I was saying whereas Henry did not back peddle on his passionate declaration; Marie, though she had no intention of going back to her former fiancé, much more cautiously affirmed her previously declared love for Henry.
So they continued to date as Henry promised, and what did they do on these dates. Why lay in the grass of course, arm in arm…. holding hands… talking of nothing…… staring into the sky, into one another eyes and then back at the sky. Often times in movies women awwwee and sigh at such scenes, and yet I have no doubt Henry loved lying in the grass on those cooling summer evenings as much as Marie. They watched movies, tons of movies, ate tons of ice cream, learned to dance. When fall came around Henry wanted to take walks and enjoy the painting in progress that was the forest each fall.
Although they had already revealed all of their deepest feelings, through this time together they grew more comfortable, and yet Henry would not have any sloppiness on his part. I can hear the ever confident young fellow now “When I am in a relationship, precisely at the point when we become comfortable, I will make the extra effort to form habits of love, most importantly in regard to speech and tone, and patience.” Yes and we all rolled our eyes at the inexperienced and young idealist. The thing is, is that he decided how he would live his life each and every day; he always affirmed his decision, his responsibility in every matter on a daily basis. Oh how he would rant “there is always a way out! Always a way out of every temptation, no matter how forceful the force you remain guilty if you do not take the way, or in your case my dear artiiists if you paint it over in your mind to be a botched attempt at beauty.” Naturally a vehement debate ensued. Yes in those days we lived to debate… to think, so as to live. Oh we had other friends outside the four of us, even a great seducer of women, in all reality a modern day Casanova, an angry atheist, a calm agnostic, a magnificent card player, a solid musician, an aspiring politician, yes we created our own little society with all the essential players and parts….. Not of posers, oh no! Not in the least! So many went on to be recognized and of course paid, and that is after all the determination of greatness or failure…. getting paid. Ah but again I am lost in reminiscing, I forgot I introduced them briefly in the beginning.
Then came winter, and again Marie and Henry could be found bundle up, wandering about the streets on a Friday night or off to a larger city for the Saturday, perhaps to see a play in the evening. Even on a week night the young couple might meet and walk about arm in arm in the still and silent dead of winter. Even then, in the dead of winter, when everyone else was locked away in their houses at 6:30 they would stroll about, at times silent and listening to the silence, at times talking of this or that, that happened at the hospital, or their future plans. They disagreed, even argued and became angry with one another at climatic moments. Then Henry would tell her how he loved to argue, and especially with her and she would roll her eyes and then begin cheerfully talking of something within a minute or too, as if she was trying to be upset and then forgot about her aim. Henry worried that in his attempt to show the vastness of his love, he would lose her, maybe become an in-disposable friend but not a lover. He took many deep breaths when with her over the course of that year, and went home to his house at night on the verge of madness.
As for Marie, she began to understand him, and that is the beauty of it, she saw right through this fellow, which not even his own and equally absurd friends could do. Henry began to wait for the end, for the demise, and yet he could not bring himself to develop the relationship sexually without marriage, nor could he rush into marriage simply because of that, he thought he had to prove something to her, and yet he was certain that in doing it he would lose her. He told me as much the one evening I came to visit him. We sat there in his apartment. I pulled up to his place in the bold and exquisite Audi I owned at the time. As I expected his apartment was bricked on the outside…….. of course or Henry would not be living there. There was a wooden banister following the stair well up to his apartment. Naturally, I was invited into a room with hard wood floors and two leather chairs and a wooden table. He got himself a beer and gave me some vodka on ice. The windows were open; he always had the window open. The instant I was done telling of my travels and business affairs, he pounced on me with his great happiness. And just as quickly he told me that it would all end at any moment because she would not feel a deep enough connection to him, and yet he had to show her he loved her apart from sexual gratification.
“All women should know they are loved apart from their sexual allure alone, or else to hell with companionship, to hell with a beloved to hell with romance to hell with purpose and meaning let the world go up in flames, when they reach me I even spare some the alcohol in my hand to increase the speed. Seriously! and Marie most of all considering how she has been ravaged by pigs filthy sweating pigs in nice suits driving nice cars with a 100 + $ hair cut even.” He looked at me as he always had in the past, eyebrows raised on the edge of his seat, waiting for my affirmation of a statement he thought unquestionable. I simply and calmly agreed and took a large gulp of my vodka. I kept my opinion that his extreme virtue in regard to this relationship had so very much to do with things apart from himself. In short she gave him strength and vigor that was virtually dead in him that odd night he left the coffee shop. In my opinion he never really understood the concreteness of just how close he was to becoming me…in many ways the very swine he condemned… He would not have killed himself that night.. Oh no! I do not think so, on the contrary he would have delved into what he called the ugliness in the world in his despair, and found himself loving it, and thriving like a prince.
I kept this thought to myself which agitated me further….. I wanted a cigarette, but I had just got in and had not seen him for quite some time. He saw my attempt to cover my agitation and at once pulled out the kind of cigarettes I smoked from a wooden box on his book shelf. “I hate smoking in my house… as you know, and I think it causes hair loss but well…. this is a special occasion, so I picked these up for us. Just like old days!” I lit up and then he continued. I by now knew well enough he would not truly consider any advice I might have, and so I simply listened, or tried to provoke him a bit. I kept it simple moving back and forth between these two roles only, that of Mr. open ears and the antithesis. But even as the antithesis I knew my role was only to develop his thesis. At any rate he went on, entirely convinced it would all be shot to shit by his own convictions, and her lack of understanding of men.
So as I was saying, on one of the fall evenings he kissed her on the cheek and continued to do so for the rest of fall. That was his new good bye, and if others were watching no doubt the kiss on the cheek would have become the new great thing. Oh he made the most it, and she knowing it was coming began to as well. In the winter he mixed in a few forehead kisses. He was always close to her when he kissed her but yet always leaning in, and when arm in arm or lying in the grass always to her side. He had not been against her since the night he carried her through the warm summer streets. To his mind he had waited quite some time and if it was of value to her whether or not she said it, he would endure the long engagement, and his extreme and foreign morality. But all this while Marie understood not only herself, but him also, and though at times she longed for more, overall she loved him all the more for it, because she understood his aim in all of it. However I should note that it seems they never really discussed these internal thoughts and feelings.
The spring came, and one day while passing a soccer ball back and forth he could endure her lips no longer. The truth is, there is no possible way he had any idea of how to kiss a woman. Apparently he kicked the soccer ball as hard as he could far away from her, and then walked up to her, cushioned the back of her head with his hand and put his upper lip beneath her lower, and her lower beneath and above his lower, and then just stood there savoring the taste of her lips. It was as if his whole body was refreshed from years of a disease, as if his healing were complete.
That night he stopped by unexpectedly, she was getting ready to go to bed. “Is something wrong, I thought we were meeting tomorrow after work?”
“No nothing is wrong, I just needed to see you, I am not coming in I just wanted to say hello.” The entirely sincere smile that arose deep from within Marie overwhelmed her beautiful face “Just to say hello?” Henry pulled her close took a deep breath as he held her close against him, and rested his head against her. They just stood like that for a solid five minutes. Henry stepped back “you have off tomorrow night right?”
“Yep” she replied
“Could you endure an hour of star gazing tonight out on your porch?”
“Yes” she replied as if something was on her mind. They spread out some cushions and laid out on the warm spring evening, backs to the ground side by side hand in hand. They did not have any intense or emotional conversation, actually they barley said anything at all since the time he unexpectedly arrived. The lack of conversation did not seem to matter as they were ready to be in paradise sharing the monotonies of life together. Marie who was already tired rolled over to her side and closed her eyes all the while holding Henry’s hand and thus moving closer to him.
Henry let go of her hand. He released her hand which was against her hip his hand slid across her body as he rolled over and pulled himself against her, eventually resting his right hand on her left shoulder and his left hand behind her head alongside and on top of the length of her arm. His head and his cheek were resting comfortable on top of hers as her head was now resting on his large shoulders. Together they took deep breaths, her back against his chest, all the while saying nothing and eventually falling asleep until the warm morning sun melted their faces together. “Did you sleep well?”
“Yes I slept better than I have in years I think.”
“You know I never let you go the entire night.”
“I realized that when I woke up, it was as if we did not move since I rolled over.”
“We didn’t, and I never will you know”
“You never will what?” she looked at him with a smiling yet questioning face? “I will never let you go” She smiled at him.
“Tonight, call off work today tonight we will get married? I have made all the arrangements your parents are on call, your mother has a church and her dress for you, the restaurant will be available, all in a phone call it will be ready!” She rolled over to face him, she looked into his eyes with a straight face as if reading him, and then with a volcanically contagious smile said “I do”
Of Fears and Dreams
Her smile was so honest, so trusting, he had made it through the night. She was so happy that she had fond or been given the man who she would not have to convince herself she was happy with. Yes, she thought to herself “in spite of my lack of faith and my fear, here he is in my arm.” It was the early summer, nearly the 1st anniversary of that mad night on the curb outside the coffeehouse where they were reunited. They were at the jewelers since they were getting married that evening and Henry had just proposed.
“Is that the kind you want?” Henry asked pointing down to a particular diamond in the case. “Yes that’s the kind I had in mind, I didn’t get to pick my last one” she said with a laugh. Henry flagged down a man who just came out from the back. “Sir that one there, that’s the one. We will just need to try and size it on the spot, and then we have wedding to get to” The jeweler pulled out a very enormous diamond with a silver band. Marie gasped “Henry that looks like the ring of a millionaire’s wife, you are not a millionaire, nor do I intend to be a millionaires wife, no dear I would have the more modest diamond with the same cut and band.” The Jeweler just stood there wondering what game was being played. Henry just stared at her and he again experienced one of those moments where he could not comprehend the reality of what had and was occurring. “Who is this women he thought to himself,” as he gazed at her as if on the verge of a mental breakdown. She smiled nervously at his staring and the generally peculiar look about him at that moment. “Well Henry …. I mean…. it would be unfair to the millionaires wife if I had as nice a ring as hers and a better man, no let her at least be proud of his millions” and with that he began to smile, his patented closed mouth smile, along with his stare. Marie again looked at him with a gentle and wondering glance. “What are you!” burst out of Henrys mouth. Marie looked up at him with a poised yet inquisitive face trying to figure out what he mean by all this. She shrugged her shoulder “I am your fiancé of course”. At that moment Henry ceased to be amazed, and in disbelief his mind turned back to his deep seated fear of losing her that had lingered behind his every thought since the very beginning.
In fact the more he entertained the fear that ever pressed to be on the fore of his mind, he became certain he would lose her someway, somehow. No he did not believe an ounce of it from the very start, every world he spoke was spoken from radical and absurd hope against himself. In fact every word he spoke to Marie from the beginning was spoken in hope not only against himself, but against his God. “God would not allow such happiness in life … such Eden like wonder where a man has himself in great order, and then also finds a beloved who has it all together. No God would not have it. Precisely because God does exist it cannot come about. If there was no God and only moral notions revered, well then who would stand in my way, who would have stood in Tim of Han’s way. Perhaps Tim and Hans and I, were and are, merely haunted by our own created God of idea. Perhaps we find opposition from the cosmos and the current spirit of culture only because we are the ones opposed to it…. Hahah but then there are a great deal of other implications in light of such an idea…..” he was standing still with his eyes glazed over in thought, it all ran by him in a second as he had laid in bed rolling back and forth many a night before… tossed about in a little boat on the sea, if you will. “………… the hidden God of revelation…. hahah. And naturally, that other one, of course he is given a beloved because he is incapable of loving her. He loves only himself and does not have great moral fortitude, nor is he as gifted in every other respect. Would not have Hans or Tim traded in his good looks and complete ease of access to everything in life, for their beloved? Absolutely! but no God will not let a man who understands how things work behind the curtain be truly happy in this life. Other men do not know it, they are too afraid to face themselves, and so they think they are happy from time to time, but the great depth of joy or sorrow in life, no that they do not have access to, and so of course they may have it all, since they do not understand how to appreciate. But supposing there was once a perfect world of Creator and creature , and love, no that can never be allowed since the freedom from the world is to be used for the world for those who has not yet realized their freedom, no one cannot take his freedom and build his own little paradise, God will not allow it!” It went something like that, that is how he ranted on after Tim’s death and then Hans’ right there in the funeral parlor, in earshot of their bewildered families, and myself his rather conspicuous “other”. And at this moment, and the many nights since he had been reunited with Marie the maddening fear had uncloaked itself again.
To wake up one morning and today to consider life and death……. to go to a hospital and see a baby born, and then go to a funeral and see an old man buried on the same day…..it is a dangerous thing. To wake up one morning and open your front door and take one step outside… too ask questions is a dangerous thing…. Who knows where you will find yourself… Who knows if you will like the answers you find or you do not find. But alas … alas I suppose I speak of my friends precisely because they did not assume they understood it all, and they did dare to think over a lifetime in a minute. I once saw a farmer and his wife sitting on their porch. I stopped by to buy some fresh peaches. Both the old man and women had much to say, and I found myself sitting on the porch, hearing of a life lived in the same town from birth until their pending death, of a happy marriage with many kids, and not as many dollars, of their unquestioned faith, and their humble and simplistic openness to many people who had crossed their farm on the way to a globalized and progressive city. It was clear to me the man and the women never asked a question in their life………..they never considered what marriage will be like or what having children will be like or how to prepare for this or that, they had simply lived believing everything they had believed from the start, and emphatically holding on to those things experience seemed to confirm to them, and letting the rest grow a bit more distant. They were happy… they were alive, that was for certain, though they looked to be nearly dead….I thought to myself how I could dare to wonder? What if the purposes and the plans and the truths they lived were all wrong… and I found that I could not dare to wonder it though I will never believe the absurd weed laced notion that all things are equally true, not even while surrounded by weed could I believe it. What if things did not work out to make them so happy… or was it that they worked out things in happiness living a day at a time not letting their mind run through the entire world in an hour so that all that has been experienced by others was latched onto their minds . In any case I brushed it all aside in a moment when I returned to my car and had a message waiting for me about development models for the growing Asian market. But then across the seas, a rather embarrassing and despicable affair lead me to the country side of a certain nation, and there again I found a farmer and his wife, other than being human there was not much of a resemblance of appearance to the first couple I had meet or the circumstances of my meeting them… their daughter knew English and translated the confident and mischievously grinning fathers questions. His life was much like the life of the other farmers, except not nearly as prosperous on the whole and yet he was just as happy. He too had all the answers, laced with gracious and merciful replies of “hmm I see.” He too never asked many question. He took what came his way and then made whatever little remaining decisions were open to him…. as far as I could see, and based off the two old famers demeanors, and agreement of their wives, both men were moral and patient. I did not know what to think of this very odd experience of meeting these dying couples in worlds apart.. but I did think about it. If what I saw is accurate well then I am baffled, but then again I only saw snapshots of these two couples whereas in my friends case I had an entire photo album.
“You my darling, my Marie. You are too good…… to be perfect to be true!” Marie simply just rolled her eyes. In the depths of Marie’s being their remained the remnants of a very experientially grounded disbelief of the reality of the man she perceived. Or rather a distrust of men in general, and more fundamentally she had a distrust of God as good, by humans terms at least, though of course what other terms are there? She had always believed in God, but even in her new and devoutly personal belief she did have not have a whole hearted hope in God to allow a good life for her now. After death, yes! That seemed more likely. For some reason though, and she did not know why, but now even after all the terrible things she experienced, she still was quite skeptical. But these deep-seated fears did not work to pull Henry and Marie apart from one another. No rather they clutched on to one another even more fiercely. Clutched can you here the flesh in it, but it was not a matter of mere physical proximity, for them both all the daily first singulars turned into the first person plural …..each others experiences became their own.
And so that very night they were married. A large audience of his family and hers arrived, on time, even despite the late notice. I even managed to fly in on time to hold the ring and give a speech. It was so classic, so simple. I have been to many extravagant weddings, and this one was so distinguished even that rather small ring stuck me as beautiful. It was all impossibly splendor full, one of those events that make your mind drift, and then you think the thought why cannot every day be like this, and then of course you realize you should stop thinking and enjoy the moment, the pure and immediate moment is always to be enjoyed, even and especially by relatively despicable people like myself. I sat off in the distance, and watched the two young lovers, the marriage vows were not enough, oh they trusted one another, but the entire evening they would not leave one another’s side. A flippant women was commenting to me how cute and inseparable they appeared, “yes I said even for a wedding it is exceptional.” I of course knew they had trust for one another. They would not leave the others side, for fear that God Himself the one they had prayed to, and in Henry’s case read of every day, it was He they feared. He was their hope for the world, and yet not for their own lives here and now. It’s all rather mad to me, but nonetheless they lived life with great passion, and great virtue. I have become in my old age a stickler for details on things. I find pertinent and thus I cannot let you assume how the wedding night ended. Oh no! I have done my research; I have done all the interviews to right a precise reality, searching all the deep recesses, investigating all the possibilities of reality.
They returned to Marie’s apartment that evening, not having enough time to schedule work off, and the honey moon. They went to bed that night as they were exhausted. And the next morning, early the next morning, they slowly consumed one another and became one entity. This was only natural; since they had already devoured the mind and soul of one another for every second of a year, yes they finished off the rest quite well.
Even as my brilliant friend knew and faced the thought-actuality of the trials, and monotonies of life, when facing them in actuality he still loved it all, even as he had decided to long ago when it was all merely a thought actuality, that is to say a possibility of reality. He was so joyful he began to forget his fear of his impossible-to-understand God. Thus is was that they lived happily ever after, so happy in fact, that were not consumed with themselves, but in their own stability did great and loving deeds for others who had not been given the happy lot in life they achieved by having the courage and hope to love and trust one another. Henry even became a pillar in my life, as it inevitably fell to complete and utter ruin. Complete and utter what simple and yet fully embodying words!
There we sat, the three of us together, talking of life and all that had occurred in the last ten years since their wedding, and it was clear to me that they had been in fact each other’s saviors. They had love, that fierce selfless the love, which is the only kind of love there really is. The longer one lives one begins to realize how complex one is at being selfish even in attempts at being lovingly selfless. This is what I have come to appreciate about the faith these two people, whom I long to hate, have so often spoken of, not in order to convert me………..hahahahaaa, but rather because they were always themselves no matter the setting. That supposed God of theirs that Jesus fellow apparently told the world they were in sin, they were self deceived, and that is perhaps one of the most truthful things I have ever come to realize about myself……….how shrewdly I deceived and continually deceive beginning always and methodically with my own self deception. “Yes you two are each other’s saviors, how rare a couple of lives you two are” said the expensively dressed man, which was I, in a very disengaged and axiomatic tone. Marie responded by looking over to Henry with what seemed to be an undying feeling of adoration in her eyes, and said “Yes he is my gift from God !” Henry, who was sitting next to her on the couch, ferociously grabbed her hand. “No my dear, my dear you are my savior, I am nothing without you! nothing!”
Henry’s eyes began to moisten. How often I had seen him as a young man affirm his love or feeling for another person, as if trying to convince himself of it and being ashamed of not feeling a congruency for the appreciation he knew he should have for the person. But at this moment, it was clear he had no such problem, she had altered him entirely, not even his rebellious, skeptical, mind could deny how he should and how he did feel about her, and so his eyes teared up, exactly as they should have. I take note of this because how rare it is in life that what should happen actually does happen at the appropriate time….. really how rare it is !I am aware of religious responses to such a statement as the last, but it is really beside the point since it is quite delusional.
Marie responded to Henry’s confession like announcement as she finished crossing herself, “so then we are each other saviors, and I guess that is right since God is both our saviors.” My reader you must understand she meant what she said, this was not religious sentimentally, she meant “our Savior” it in the most literal sense. As in here and now, suicide and prostitution, and adultery or pure love with eternity in view………. an eternal purpose in temporal life. . Indeed what a potent opiate, what an untouchable ecstasy, though without the concreteness of them choosing one another, the opiate would be much more akin to torture. Their love for one another saved their lives, both the giving of their love, but also, very much in the receiving sense. They experienced no problems of evil nor did they experience a relentless pain of life in the world. No! Though in a sense they lived a life very foreign to this world , they were very much at home in it.
A Liar in Waiting
My friends, my friends! That is where my reality, or rather my thought reality, that is……. really a mere possibility, that is where it ends; a thought reality, that is for the esthete, perhaps more precious than reality itself, and perhaps for good reason. That is all to say that is where my story of Henry ends. A reality of my mind which is escapable or seemingly so, and this is where the story of my harsh reality, a seemingly inescapable reality, begins!! Please do not feel deceived, for you wanted to be deceived as did I. Yes I was a tad tricky with my wording, but do not fear all we be explained. And you will hear the reality that you may consider a harsh one. But was not the story of Henry truly possible in reality, were not his absurd and courageous actions of love possible. Was the story not harsh, and utterly realistic, and yet in seeking to show how the simple and everyday life can be magnanimous, maybe I have shown just the opposite. But, we shall see! We shall see, for the story……the story that is to say the reality in actuality continues. Whereas the first half might rightly be called fiction, although the way I termed it as a reality of mind is quite correct, even so the latter half can in no way be considered a fiction. I will reveal all to you as it all happened. Yes I might tweak the location a bit, the names of course, but do not be mistaken this is not a story based on a true story it is a true story. It is my story, but who am I. Though of course who be Henry if not of me and who be Marie if not a figment of my imagination which is grounded in reality, as is the happy story of Henry. But even figments of imagination take place in an imagination within reality, and what we imagine consciously and at times quietly becomes our reality of actuality if it is so willed.
Here I sit my dear reader my rare friend in this dark 21st century, where there is little light to sit and read such a book. Here I sit, alone with my vodka, and amaretto, what a telling combination. And what of Tim and Hans well they are me also, but me with courage, possibilities of what I often nearly did and became. Perhaps you think literature has already had far too many romantic egoists, and that is ok, because this is not the work of a romantic egoist. But maybe you have expected as much about these characters, for I have rushed to get here. Like an attention starved child ready to wow with his great secret. Yes I have rushed over so many details so many conversations essential to you. Though of course, my dear reader you cannot guess why. Because..well for now, the reason is because, as usual! So yes I continue our reality of “A Harsh Reality” having finished the story; although that is not quite exact as my continuation is also a story, though a reality in a different sense then the beginning portion of the story. Now you see my loophole, my mincing of words, and thus your confidence in my account was not misplaced for such is the complexity of pain and happiness in reality. Such is the complexity of that very important aspect of reality the reality of one’s mind within reality or actuality if you will. But do not be deceived, it is true I have revealed much more to you just now, and yet this is not the end. In the end perhaps I will reveal still more, and thus though all of what I say is true only after the final revelation, which is also known as the end, will you truly begin to understand.
So it is true Hans and Tim are possibilities of what could have become of me, and I like them experienced disappointed hopes of love. But who doesn’t. And yet in reality, in the present which does not have the convenience of retrospect such disappointments are life altering, and quite possibly can even be seen as such in retrospect. However, in retrospect it may be life altering in the positive in that the hopeful lover in the present could never conceive of the events in such a way, even though in a future present one may have a retrospective sigh of relief. Henry is also a possibility of what I could have been, namely, happy and married and not writing these words. But do you see the crux? For I could have been this, or at least it seems, and yet as Hans and Tim I could not have been this no matter how hard I tried. The autobiographical or the Harsh Reality is, is that I like Hans and Tim was in love, an eventual unrequited love, all the while the possibility to have the happiness of Henry presented itself. But that is what we do. We reject this person as we are also rejected, and the two rejecters are both ruined, but maybe even a third person is also rejected by someone too. Thus it is that it only takes ones asshole to ruin a great number of good possibilities. But there is a solution to this problem, do not be the rare man, the extreme, honest, and passionate lovers that were Hans, Tim, Henry and Marie. As I was saying do not be the rare man and pursue as if she is the only women in the world, no no no! That is all wrong. Rather say one thing to catch her but let your actions show the opposite, be nice but do not care too much always remembering there are so many others, and that by being rather disinterested she will find you the most interesting.
Do not be passionate, do not know what it is you want and then leap for joy, no you must be cool and calm and take your time as if you will live to be 100. Or better yet forget the whole notion of till death do us part. Love, and love “passionately” until you no longer feel passion, and then love another. Haha yes how brilliant is that. Yes it is high time we do away with this notion of soul mates and lifelong companions we are animals! Jen’s husband cheated on her; my God she should bake the poor fellow a cake for trying to make him stay faithful to only her. It is un evolutionary, it is unscientific, we can work out a grand system in which there is society and productivity, and a more realistic notion of how we are to live as intelligent animals. And no doubt both those esteemed representatives from those fields could argue, “ah but yes monogamy is better because”, but that is because they have no love of courage to face the vastness of what their conclusions may lead to… but it is not about consequences per se and yet we speak of living, besides they may take my challenge and say open marriage is the medium. Perhaps you find the idea that we have systematically and retrospectively come from nothing and then from monkeys…… an adorable and utterly intellectual notion. As for me I find it as repulsive as the idea that a good Creator bathes each day in a cosmos of evil so as to bring more glory to Himself. But I am getting off track yet again!
But as I was saying experience shows that by being the average and typical man who accidently finds himself somewhat in love, and then ruins it, yes such a one is much more likely to win the girl. In all reality to be the rare man is to put oneself in a long line of hero’s who exist and find happiness only in fiction literature. My dear women before I get to the second half of the story I must beg you to admit that whereas Henry is quite daring and dashing and courageous and lovable, if you were to meet him in life you would be petrified you would be distrustful to the tenth degree, even of course if you realized he was not really scary in a psychotic kind of way.
Obviously the entire book is part of the harsh reality. The actual case however, the actual case of Henrik Vetterer is this. Is, a very typical tale, and nothing more! Though of course, to Henrik Vetterer it is more………. there is real blood in his hopes his dreams his pains whether they be dashed or dawning. And in all truth, at the time of the writing of this story Henrik Vetterer was one who could not speak of having experienced any real pain. He had never lost a Mother or a Father, a brother, or a sister. He had never missed a meal or went hungry. He had never had to do hard labor in a factory so as to barely survive. No he had never been abused by a person of trust in his life. I am sorry, and I must delay once again as I have not explained Marie or Miss Howell. You may wonder of their status, and whether or not they are merely thought realities as our Hans, Tim and Henry. I suppose the answer is yes, they have some rooting in reality, Marie especially. In the end they are overwhelmingly nothing more than alternate possibilities of reality, and thus mostly realities of my mind alone. But they were important so very important as Marie and the three fellows all play a part in the development of two later characters.
Henrik Vetter was not a trust fund child, though he lived comfortably enough. He had much life experience by his 21st birthday including having worked in factories, and expensive restaurants, also having accomplished a great deal at the university. The first pain Henrik experienced in life was the loss of a talent like Hans; or rather should I say the loss of the ability to live out the talent. Boo hoo boo hoo! Do not countless others have such a complaint, or at least think they do and really their thinking they do is enough. For who is to say I did not merely think I had such a sorrow , when in reality the talent was not so great. Henrik’s second sorrow was the rejection of first love, which in all truth, it turned out he was spared from. However retrospect came a long time after the transition from a boy to a man along with the eye opening awakening from the coma of love drunkenness of the most pure and innocent and thus the most potent and deadly kind. And after all, retrospect while comforting is highly theoretical. After and within his recovery from first love, Henrik suffered rejection again and again the odd stories of which word be a book in itself. But Henrik having accomplished so much in such a short time was tired of the company of mere friends and lonely and idle, and thus very vulnerable to pretty and sweet speaking girls. His biggest regret was not one of his rejections, oh no! NO! it was the one he rejected, while immersed in sincere, yet utterly stupid first love. It was a promising life of happiness he strangled in the cradle, in the womb even. Yes first love be damned! What a spoiler it was for Henrik. Young women are so much shrewder and crueler than innocent young men. Though the irony of the world is that the same pure, and innocent in her own right, young women……… who is but a girl, she has meet her match with non innocent and deceitful young men. Sadly but truly she will receive a far more unforgiving hurt. And the cycle of this is self nourishing, and it only stops when the wise one sees and has the courage and faith to face the great possibility of the life giving gift of love in the very midst of the deadly exchanges of poison. What a risky business seizing at greatness is, and all the while not being cautious enough not to get burned to the point where one no longer has the strength to reach out and take hold of the wonder in front of them. Or perhaps being scorched to the point where one even loses the strength to bear and look at it much less the idea of it.
Also, of course, Henrik Vetterer was haunted with questions about life, and what is the purpose of it all, if there is any. So to sum it up, the combination of a lost life hope in the untimely loss of his talent, the rejection of first love and his own regrets of rejecting a magnificent young women, and also endless bouts of rejection all under the heavy and constant questions of life uncontrollably pounding through his head in unison with each pump of his heart, all of this made up for a suicidal, depressed and mildly rebellious Henrik Vetterer. He was even rebellious to the point of becoming a pig in training, and like most penis controlled men who have no notion of much of anything valuable except for a sentimental moment once a year when their ego is slighted; he was becoming about as self aware and honest to himself as a cow might be. Cow’s seemingly only being concerned about grass, and whether or not it will rain.
This was the life of Henrik, but he lived on finding hope in his writing off with life and his beliefs. Creating a reality he could appreciate. He was ready to go off to his final year of medical school, and again hopeful of finding love from out of the nearly 20,000 young women who went to universities in the surrounding area. And you might ask why was love so important to him? and he would not have an answer. Possibility he indentified it with all that could be good in a very ugly world, possibly he identified it with all that he considered to be good in relation to his very own life. But this is life, this is human, as that old British philosopher Hume once noted, a man may have all and yet not the one thing that he really wants and this serves to make life intolerable.
Henrik would have had his own apartment, an allowance from the school on top of free education, all of which he earned through his previous academic performance. Yes he was less than nine months away from graduation. A few weeks before returning to his University he went with his family to an amusement park. As was typical, Henrik, even in light of the unknown of his upcoming year of university, was aggravated with life, restless, bored, and above all lonely. He was a “romantic” that is to say of course he believed he had a soul and hoped for the beautiful and good in this life, here and now! He went on a particular ride with his mother to appease her. His mother was the typical domineering yet loving mother of the age, always preaching though as shady as they come. Why would anyone, even consider true love, when the world is full of shady and ill contented Fathers and Mothers. She was constantly kicking him in the ribs, his already bleeding ribs, “Henrik what is wrong with you, you have been away at school all those years with all those young women in the area, and nothing not even once have I heard you had a girlfriend . What is wrong with you?” Henrik had no intention of answering or even listening to the speech he had heard for so many years. In the meantime something, someone caught her ever searching eye. “ Henrik, look look! Look at that pretty girl, I would guess she is at least twenty. Henrik talk to her, get her number,” barked the short attention crazed women. “No! What is wrong with you? Leave me alone I am going to school in a week where there are thousands of girls!”
Henrik’s younger brother insisted on going on the ride again, and thus his mother’s bombardment would continue. There was the pretty girl, where else would she be, but at the same ride she was operating minutes ago. The domineering woman who was Henrik’s mother, whom he had always distrusted as the very epitome of dishonesty and injustice, renewed the onslaught, as she simply did not care to have any manners. She was a member of that elite group of the new 21st century women who managed to use a man more than a man uses a woman, which is rather exceptional even in the 21st century where the world remains, beneath the meticulously placed pieces of shattered glass, very much a man’s world. Prohibition may have made it illegal to drink, but that only serves to make the underworld all the larger. What was I saying, ah yes! the domineering women had no manners nor a healthy respect of how to conduct oneself in public, “Get her number Henrik, get her number!” Henrik tried to stay his distance, though he didn’t get much room too, his younger brother wanted him to ride with him. The family left the ride, by now Henrik’s sister and her husband who were only a few years older, joined in on the ‘encouragement’. “You don’t think she is attractive Henrik?” begged his sister. Yes she is attractive he replied matter of factly. “Well then what could it hurt? Yes you are back to your university in a week, but who knows!”
Henrik did not know why, but he listened to his sister, and approached the young women, who appeared to be at least a few years younger than him. “Excuse me” emphasized Henrik. The young women turned around raising her eyes as she did not know what he wanted. “Excuse me, I couldn’t help but notice you, and was wondering if I could get your number, maybe we could meet for cliché coffee or something.” She just looked at him as if she did not understand him. Henry began again to say “your number” when everything he previously said became clear to her. Her eyes became huge “my number” she said. She began to blush, and then she paused as if thinking about it. “One second,…. two minutes, two minutes and I will give you my number, but I am working,…. two minutes.. I promise!” So Henrik waited until she shut down the ride to let the people off. His family had managed to mosey down toward another ride, though he could see them looking at him from the distance. All the while he was thinking that what he was doing was mad, and how he did not care if he would get her number or not, and how he could not wait to get back to his own apartment at his university. The girl returned “I am afraid I disappoint you, I leave for home in three weeks.” Ohhh replied Henrik as if saying, ‘ yes you are right what is the point thank goodness you told me!’ Henrik recognized that if her accent was any indication home was far away, and he himself had to return to school in a week. “So where are you from?” asked Henry. “From Ukraine she said.” Henrik already knew where she was from as he heard a child ask her that same question as he left the ride the second time. “Maybe you will be back next summer?”
“Yes maybe.” she said rather emphatically. She was very engaging from the very first when she walked up to Henrik after the two minutes was up. “Well ok,” said Henrik, “maybe our paths will cross, who knows.” They exchanged smiles and said, “have a nice day.” With that they parted. Henry walked away from her strangly disappointed. He could not understand his feeling at all. In truth he agreed with his sister that anything was possible. And the young woman was so colorful…. so very full of personality. Normally he would brush off such a happening, after all he did not even want to talk to her in the first place.
The rest of the day as he wandered about the park, mainly spending time with his little brother, his imagination and the little he knew of the girl began to run rampant. Henrik, oddly enough, always found himself drawn to foreign women. Perhaps because he imagined they were so unlike his superstitiously religious mother…. perhaps because they carried themselves with a certain flair for life. Even the typical American girl dreamed of dating the football star in high school, she was not dreaming of dating Henrik when he was in high school. He hated trucks he loved baseball and ice hockey, and he typically refused to wear jeans. He liked the idea of dressing with a classic style, and underneath, his outdated look be packing a well oiled athletic machine of muscle, waiting for some loud mouth and ignorant fool, who had the idea a man was supposed to stupid and disrespectful, to say something. Or he would like to roll up his sleeves show his biceps, and crash the self acclaimed intellectual, the future fortune five hundred men, “next chess game I have winner boys.”
Growing up his hero’s were always those exception men in the middle, who were well rounded. As a child he took history and made champions of whom he would emulate, not some chug on the tv everyone else tries to ‘dress like’. All of that too say, if the girls Henrik grew up with carried on their ideal notion of man from high school to adult hood, well then, it seems he carried on his notion of a beautiful woman with a cigarette sporting stylish cloths not jeans. The truth is Henrik only saw this girl in a work uniform, but she stood there and talked with style, with a sense of something so unmanly, and yet strong. The fact that she maturely told him she was leaving, in spite of her being flattered struck Henrik as admirable and unique in comparison to women he had crossed paths with in the past. Oh! How he went on and on and on thinking of her, or his impression of her, analyzing the few minutes with her over and over again. He was repeatedly enraptured by her “I am afraid I disappoint you”. He could not help thinking he blew it by not getting her number, nonetheless. His friends he told the story to had no sympathy for him, affirming the one should get the number no matter what if a girl says she is willing to give it. He was sitting around preparing to travel back to school, and growing more and more engulfed in his mind, and the mystery of that women, who so easily grabbed his attention. How she managed to capture his mind like she did is hard to figure out. He was so resolved on remaining a bachelor until; circumstance had led him into a close friendship that, on its own, grew into more. He was completely jaded to the notion of love, or even women in general, having his fare share of disappointment during his undergrad days. Henrik wanted to see her again. He resolved to do so, his mind was in absolute torment, and he could not figure why his mind was so punishing, this obviously only adding to and further fueling the punishment. He decided he could not go back to the theme park as a guest since “that would, no doubt, scare her.” He paced back and forth lying still on the cool hard wood floor tossing and turning in his head and then he found a resolution.
He called his old boss from years earlier when he was an undergrad student. He arranged to help fill in a few shifts providing information and security to guests throughout the park. He was able to grab a shift two days before he would leave for school. Since he wandered around the park with the basic tasks of a security guard, he had free range of the park. He searched the section of the park she was working in when he meet her over and over again to no avail. She was nowhere to be found, he was disappointed as he knew he would never see her again, and his mind once again began to fill itself with water two relentless drips at a time ambiguity and its twin sister possibility…..” who knows who she was or what could have been!” Ever since Henrik realized his great fault in brushing off a very sweet girl who liked him very much, he could not tolerate any unrealized effort on his part if an opportunity was before him that he knew he should have let unfold. Let this be clear, Henrik could meet 100girsl in a week and not think twice about a single one of them, but every once in a green sky thinking twice showed itself to be a self compounding momentum.
Suddenly Henrik observed all the attendant switching stations, it was 5:30 and he thought this might be his break. He hoped to himself “Yes maybe I will see her go to the change over station.” He waited and waited……and waited, as if standing guard of the station itself, but she was nowhere to be found. Finally the very last one to arrive was the women. She walked right past him, seemingly not noticing him. His heart dropped into his stomach. What would he do! She was ten feet from never being within his reach again. He began to jog towards her with the resolution from every past failed action now having its purpose. “Excuse me, Excuse me!” he did not even know her name. “Hi how are you?” asked Henrik.
“Oh it’s you, you work here?” she replied in surprise. “Sometimes,” replied Henrik not wanting to get into a lengthy explanation. “I work here all the time” returned the young women putting emphasis on “all the time”.
“Oh really” replied Henrik, “I used to work here a lot, but not recently,” and he smiled as the conversation moved on from small talk toward what the point of his chasing her down was, with a comma……a rolling pause.
“Well, I am glad I saw you walk by since I saw you the other day I could not help but regret not getting your number. I know your leaving soon and I leave for med school soon, but….”
“Unfortunately my cell phone really does not work right now.”
“Ok well do you have a ‘Skype’ address?” Her face lit up as if she should have thought of that. Yes she said. He pulled out a pen to write it down. He looked at her as if to say go ahead. She leaned in toward him taking the pen out of his hand and putting his hand in her other hand writing it down on his hand and his very own skin as she held it in hers. He sounded out what she had written, “and that’s a two” she said as she again grabbed his hand and pointed to the two with an excited smile. “But really I must go, I am already late” she said with feeling as if to assure him she really did have to go. “I must.. really!” she said” again. “Ok, ok…… what is your name, I do not know your name,” said Henrik as if in a hurry and suddenly struck by the fact he did not know her name. “Catherine. My name is Catherine” She blushed and then about ten feet away from Henrik she began to skip or something as she walked away, and then stopped whatever odd and entranced thing she was doing as if catching herself acting ridiculous. Henrik proceeded to write the address on about four different pieces of paper so as to safe guard losing contact, essentially her ….contact with her, in other words.
Before leaving for home that night Henrik went and bought a cotton candy, to drop off at the ride she said she would be at. Her coworkers told him she had already left. The ideal that had captured his mind to drive him to work a day at a job he had not worked at in nearly three years, simply to run into her, only grew with their most recent interaction. This much more eventful meeting with her served to add gasoline for his mind to continue to burn him with. She was an ideal to start with, her very appearance, and her start forward and engaging disposition, the way she took his hand and blushed again and begin to skip almost. Henrik, was a good looking fellow and he knew it, but the spontaneous and natural reaction he got from her, who was so beautiful, he had a hard time comprehending. Henrik did not realize just how captured he was, this having much to do with the reality that she had no intention of capturing him.
She was his matured and open eyed ideal. Oh he had ideals when he was younger, but he was no longer such a wide eyed kid looking in wonder at the world, he was a seasoned and jaded bystander who had resolved to brave the fierce world on his own, to shake it up a bit and live with that passion he at times let loose in small doses, even in spite of the odd looks and questions he would get to his actions or ideas. But she was his ideal even in light of his knowledge of the un ideality of life! For whatever reason Henrik warded off the strong desire to go to the park and see her the last day before he would have to return for his last year of med school. In the meantime he found her online address, and waited for her response “but she is so practical, he thought to himself, and so she will not answer since she is so practical.” So he packed up his suit case and drove the 300 plus miles back to his apartment at his university. At dinner that night Henrik could barely eat anything. Before the night was over this big muscular man broke into tears three times. Henrik had not cried since his injury that ended his goal of using his talent, his practice joy in life, professionally. In fact he had not cried since the event of his “crushed piano hand.” Really then, he had not cried since he was a young teen who realized his very life as he knew it was taken away. Though he was a teen when it all had occurred, and perhaps was somewhat dramatic, in a sense, something of his life was taken away that day he was injured. He made it through the night, unpacked his things the next day, and then went to hang out with some friends in the evening before the first day of classes.He and his friends sat around drinking and catching up on all that had occurred since they had last seen each other nearly two months earlier. He then went back to his apartment, stayed up all night thinking about his future and then at 6.00 am in the morning of his first day he had to report for school he packed up his belongings and drove the 300 miles back to his home town. He nearly died multiple times on the way home. He nearly fell asleep driving 85 mph, and woke up in the opposite lane, one of the times! This obviously was the latter half of the drive after the adrenaline of making a radical and life changing decision wore off , and fell prey to a body that had barely sleep three hours in the last forty eight. In the particular program he was in he had more schooling to go too after completing the year he was in, and so he reasoned to himself that he wanted to “pursue a different and simpler path in life.” But the next morning when he awoke at his parent’s home his stomach was sick at what he had done in leaving the university, and seemingly ruining his future career.
Ah, but did I fail to mention that upon arriving home that very day, after nearly dying in a sleep deprived car crash upon car crash, he went to work his old summer job that very night at the amusement park. It could not be that she was the reason for this irrational decision; Henrik after all was in practice a very rational man. Despite all his musings about passion and risk taking, and his great love of living life to live as opposed to living not to die, despite it all he had for the most part lived out these very lively ideas haft heartedly, which is of course pathetic. He assured himself that that she could not be the reason as to why he made his life changing decision, after all it is not as if he could reenroll after telling his professors, and the scholarship department that he was having personal problems, that he was going to spit in their face at the last minute, pass up the scholarship they so generously selected him for. “Yes I simply do not know what I want to do with my life, I am tired of school, and I need to think things over” repeatedly he assured himself. But the sick feeling that started in his stomach and surged throughout his entire being, his body did not seem convinced about him leaving school, nor was it happy to be at the university when he had arrived. His mind was racing, in a survival mode trying to chart out a plan to save himself from a future destroyed by madness. Later that morning before reporting back to his old job post, which he had filled in the summers as a teenager, he saw Catherine had answered his ‘Skype’ request, and she even mentioned she had managed to read what he wrote in the message. Henrik was elated his pain and sickness were gone; his seemingly undying yearning to cry like a blubbering baby for no good reason was gone. His desire to accomplish and seize the world by the horns once again grew up inside of him. At that moment he knew, though he truly did not recognize it or perhaps admit it to himself before, at that moment he knew she was the reason for all his madness.
My beloved reader I assure you I tell you no mere reality of the mind, I tell you reality as it is and was. I tell you a historical factual story of a man existing here in this 21st century. A man who tested out of 2 years of a four year degree while working forty hours a week in a factory with 40 year and 50 year old lifers. He wrote the best masters thesis while benching 300 lbs in the evenings. Even old Hemmingway would like this lad ,who is rather psychological in the Russian tradition. I tell you all of these praising things about Henrik, not so that you think I am in love with him, in worship of him, thinking him to be the greatest man alive. Oh no! I tell you only to show you I do not write of some day dreamer, a poet, who is more of a poser than anything. Oh no! He was no detached lunatic hidden in the underground, popping his head out from time to time to harass poor young women. He was in the world; he was in society, and thriving! He ended his last semester the spring before attending three back to back parties in a row during finals week. Oh and I might add he did maintain his 4.0 gpa that spring. But let me continue, our hero Henrik, even denied the advances of two very relaxed but very attractive young women at the party. And I do mean advanced advances!! Truly Henrik Vetterer could not only fit in, but thrive even though he had not gone to a party all year, he could, and did, walk into these parties, full of people he barely knew, grab some beer and proceed to talk to everyone in the room, even make them laugh, and especially talk to every female he found attractive. Yes at times he could do and did exactly what he wanted to do when he wanted to, and so it was the case here. Although he was hidden away in a room studying and reading for most of his years at the university, he came out when he had the itch, and thrived. But all of this was only allowed by him being able to overcome all the endless objections to his mind, details of possible insecurities, others responses, social standards, ect. All these things came at him for consideration every second. This trait was not so unique to him; it was rather, most likely a common denominator of the age, an age in which centuries of thought had been broken down into their essence for everyone to think with every other consideration every instant of a day, naturally, of course, of course naturally a certain superficiality resonated in the depths of it all. Beer did not help so much except as to give him the calorie power to have the energy to overcome his ever thoughtful eyes. In spite of all this he absolutely loved to live, To breath! And to socialize! Though he also absolutely loved to sit alone from time to time and organize his thoughts. For Henrik, acquaintances were in the plenty, in every type of social group, but who could stand to be close to such a person.
The Undeniable Truth
All this while I have been rushing, for I want to write of her golden eyes, a light pure healthy yellow. My God! who has ever seen such eyes? But Henrik had that day, and was it not all worth it. Yes yes, every novel and every patronizing husband mumbles about a women’s eyes and there uniqueness, but does the fact that men have gone into battle hand against hand for centuries take away from the feeling of a soldier on the eve of his first combat, or the angst and emotion a women has on the day of her first wedding. And will not the truly immersed man argue to his death about her eyes being among the best in the history of all mankind, and especially a man of great confidence being very certain in the fundamentals of who he is as a man, then seeing something outside himself that shakes the very foundation of his foundations, yes beautiful golden eyes, and in his confidence he kneels before them in adoration.
But I am sorry, let me continue in a more orderly fashion. He went into work that same day she had replied with a short message. It all became clear to him, as soon as he entered the park. The only reason he was working at the park was to see her. The only reason he was not at school finishing his future, was to see this girl he did not know, except for her blush, and emphatic way of caring herself with kindness, and of course, of course her golden eyes. As soon as he entered the park, he had one aim, in fact, he had one aim before entering the park, the only reason he was working at the park was to see her. He had a much better job he left before college, and it was still available. He was still tired from not sleeping for days, and the park was closing, he just saw her leaving about 15 feet in front of him, he thought about it, and for whatever reason, he let her go. His deep stomach pain returned. At that time point he no longer questioned all that had happened in the last few days, the tears, the stomach pain, the crisis like desire to analyze his entire future the night before classes started, it was because of her. But even in this madness, he was not as stupid or crazy as I had once thought. It really all made sense, he wanted love and a beloved more than anything else in the world, and he happened to stumble across this wondrous young woman, who he could not forget when typically he could not do anything but forget. He began to dream to see it all in light of his crazy ideas about life….. ideas that no one else around him would seem to endorse since they lived in light of the moral imperative of “ what will people think, or what about maximizing your wealth.”
“People pursue a career, like a kamikazes pilot, why not pursue a person, a relationship that is infinitely more valuable, with all you heart… all your resources… all of your undivided attention. The prestige you carry with you in the board room will be shot to hell 2 months after your dead. In the grand scheme of history the Patriots winning the super bowl won’t mean shit, in fact shit always means more since it still is used as fertilizer for crops to grow and feed the living. I know, I know, we have movies and books, echoing the same theme over and over again, but people are so ball-less, maybe ruthless and corrupt governments that you look to participate in, in order to save the world will succeed, and your legacy will last, after all if evolution is possible social evolution only gets closer and closer every millennium. But it is all the more probable you personally helping an abused child or secretly sending money to a third world family will have much more value in the end.” This is Henrik facing the truth of why he made his decision, and then in an San Diego second he began to defend himself and justify himself from all the objections he might hear if he confessed it to others. “Perhaps there are more reasonable ways to try and pursue this girl, but then again perhaps there is a more moderate way for a pianist to practice and become the best without getting blisters on his fingers. The truth is, he probably sleeps better with fingers on his blisters, because he has done all his mind demands of him, and thus he is not left to its severe torture and disgust for half assed living.”
I apologize for the vulgarity, but I need some way to emphasize the undertone of passion, and even anger Henrik felt about society and how he often yielded to its stupidity. The next day Henrik saw her “Hi, I am back, I am going to finish classes around here.” “Oh, well that sounds boring,” stated Catherine. “Well I have already been at school for years, and have had the whole college experience so I don’t mind.” She was on her way to somewhere when Henirk had stopped her. She acknowledge Henrik’s reasoning, not really knowing what to make of this guy “ I have to go now” she said. Henrik responded in a rush “what about that date? When do you have off?” She fumbled around, looking down at the ground “Well I am busy, next week maybe, but I have your number so I can contact you when I know my schedule.” Ok he said in complete belief.
Over the next two weeks Henrik saw her nearly every day, and they began to get to know one another. They talked for stretches of forty minutes at a time. Really any time she was a line attendant, she was virtually free to sit or stand and talk to Henrik, the security guard, who had one aim and that was to talk to Catherine. Henrik, naturally decided, that she, being in a foreign country, would have to know him better before she would go out on a date with him, so he found her the very next day. “ So tell me about yourself,” he said “Are you in college?”
“Yes” replied Catherine, “I study economics, and I do like to study, I like college. I know most people hate both, but ….not me”
“So what do you do for fun?”
“Well…” she said as if thinking, “I read and I read and I read.” Either this girl could read Henrik like a book and was toying with him, and that is unlikely since his short hair cut and peculating muscles would suggest that she should answer otherwise than what she did, that is if she were trying to impress him, or she was simply naturally a girl who he dreamed of. “So do you like Dostoevsky or Tolstoy?” Henrik thought that she would have to like them since she was from Ukraine and they were Russian, what great American logic. “Well”.. she replied again as if really making up her mind, “Tolstoy is ok, Dostoevsky not so much. I like Fitzgerald…. you know the Great Gatsby.”
“Oh really, I’ve never read Fitzgerald though I have his books on my shelf in the line to be read!”
They went on to talk about her college and his and her studies, economics and psychology. As they talked they were constantly interrupted by park guests asking her how long the line was. “One hour!” she said over and over again. Her repeated response of “one hour!” with an equal and accompanying raise of the eyebrows and emphasis each time made Henrik smile, and his smile made her blush. “ So do you have any siblings ?” asked Henrik. Catherine replied by saying that she wanted three children plus she wanted to adopt one from foster care. He immediately replied with the same question of “do you have any siblings?” Even though what she was saying greatly interested him, he wanted to appear like he thought what she was saying about children was a bit odd. Even though Henrik had the courage to live against social rules on the macro level, he did not, it seems, yet have the courage to live out his deep seated convictions on the micro scale. “ No,” she said prosaically, “only me” Henrik realized he should have left her talk about what she wanted to , so he reopened the other topic. “So why is it you want to adopt one child, after having three of your own?” She explained that there are so many orphaned children in her country. Somehow the conversation moved onto relationships. The conversation was really flowing so effortlessly. Henrik ventured to ask is she had a boyfriend. She replied with an unconcerned “no,” “oh and why not?” pried Henrik. “Because…” at this point she became very emotional and tried to overcome it , “ because people do shit and then you regret doing shit and its just pointless! I want to be on my own and have freedom. When you are in a relationship it is like the guy owns you or something. You always have to be making him happy, blah blah blah.” Henrik just listen, and was not sure what to think of it all, but she was single and this made him very happy.
Catherine really began to open up and they talked of jobs and futures, money, and children and freedom, and it all happened so effortlessly…. so openly, so naturally. The air was anything but thick with tension, it was about as thin and easy breathing as possible. They talked as friends who had known each other for years. “I don’t need to be rich I don’t need a castle and two BMW’s in the drive way. I don’t know!” Catherine shrugged her shoulders as she looked down at the ground and dragged her toe back and forth. “ I just want to be able to make sure my kids can go to an amusement park like this, and I can buy them a treat, you know what I mean?” I affirmed her point as I knew exactly what she meant; she had said it all so abstractly and yet so clearly. The imperfect picture portrayed her larger meaning so clearly. But yet again they were interrupted after nearly an hour which passed by like five minutes, and she had to leave since she had to go work on the interior of the ride. Henrik followed her as far as he could, unconsciously acting as if he might never see her again, as if he could not be separated from her. “The date,” Henrik said, “I will not try and do shit we will just talk as we did now and enjoy one another’s company…..” from nowhere a smile came over his face “ at the most I might try and kiss you.” Marie began to blush, “you should not say things like that!” Calmly Henrik replied with the same erupting smile “I am just trying to be honest and realistic.”
“Yes Yes, I really must go now!” And with that she was gone restraining her smiling eyes.
He found her again the next day at the same locale, it was to become there meeting place. Immediately, after the hello how are you’s were exchanged, they were interrupted by a child with questions. As she reached over to see what he was pointing at on the map Henrik noticed a tattoo showing underneath her uniform. Like a curious child he shot out a “Is that a real tattoo?”
“Yes, I have three” replied Catherine. “So what do they mean?” Catherine became somewhat embarrassed, but answered nonetheless in a quiet and quick way. I know I keep describing Catherine as being embarrassed or blushing but Henrik probably was the one who should have been embarrassed by his conduct, though he wasn’t.
One tattoo was about pain, one was about the death of her mother, and his thoughts were so fixed on those two that he missed her saying what the third was. “My mother is always on my heart is what it says”
“Oh,” Henrik paused…. “did your mother die?” he asked very softly and slowly.
“Yes.” said Catherine, as she winced to try and hold back the tears in her eyes, “she died when I was fourteen.” I could not comprehend her grief, but I was growing so…..so….. What shall I say? But in love! I was growing so in love with her I could not help but be sad as I clearly saw she was so very much still in pain, and so I replied with the greatest sincerity and feeling “ I am sorry to hear that Catherine” Any human in our society would feel for her, and I no doubt would normally acknowledge the sorrow and realize I should feel sorry, but because I was growing in love with her, I somehow came to more than acknowledge it in its relation to her.
Catherine went on to talk about her parents, her parent’s bad marriage and how they blamed their unhappiness on her. She explained how marriage is such an important commitment and yet in the United States it seems acceptable for everyone to divorce. “Yes” I replied “but Catherine it is not acceptable to me. I understand that it can be hard but that is where duty and commitment and hard work come in! After all it is true that, no doubt, that the very best things in life require perseverance.”
“Well, I do not trust myself. I would mess up…. I am not such a good person.” So they went back and forth, at first talking in general and then talking to one another, though not as if they were actually considering it between one another of course, because that would be ridiculous considering they had only just meet. “ Well Catherine, if someone loved you ,” his voiced shivered, no I did not say cracked, it shivered as he talked in a slow deep rough as if digging its nails into his throat trying to stay within his heart where it was safe his voice shivered, “if somebody loved you they might forgive you.”
“ But I could not forgive myself, my conscience never lets me go!” Again she fought back her own inner and overwhelming emotions, all the while talking of her conscious in a tone that suggested she was stupid for being so in tune to it.
This is history, this is reality, and be it the expanding universe that arose from nothing, or the ever existing God, it all came about in such a way that she had to go to another location, as she was already late, and with that she was on her way. The interesting thing is she could have stayed, but who would have seen it like that then and there, certainly not I. No, rather she had to go! As if by force! As if we were interrupting the normal course of events. Then again, perhaps she was glad to go.
A ride operator is late, the one she is replacing is distracted looking for her then there crashes too trains the man in the front is injured and killed from internal bleeding, his son on the path to being the congressman that ushers American into its golden age, becomes a minorly famous guitarist, known in small circles for his innovative way of doing cocaine.
That night Henrik wrote her a long letter, hitting upon things they talked about and never really were able to finish. It perhaps seems like a very romantic thing to do, but Henrik wrote because he could not contain himself. He literally did not have the self control to keep to himself. He let out things that a patient and wiser man would have let develop in time’s good old time. Until he wrote, he found himself amidst a crushing madness made of fear or impatience, anxiousness in all likely hood, maybe even a little well thought out rationale for living and seizing what is here and gone. Really life is, when it comes to its greatest things, a grasping at the fog. How could Catherine, understand what this all to serious lad was about. I do not have the concentration to continue I write with that very blood still flowing in my veins. I wish to spill it all out all over the page so that it may again live.
So then, the next time Henrik saw her they went through the routine of hello’s and how are you’s . Maybe she was not in any hurry, but Henrik certainly was. She never responded to all he spilled all over the letter to her. There had been a looming humidity that molested and hovered over and under the invigorating heat of the august sun. This particular morning the summer heat was sighing relief, the air was warm and crisp, the amusement park itself was rather empty. A truly picturesque clean and mature little park with angry and lonely young trees slapping at the wind, and teasing with their shade. Henrik glided along the well broken in asphalt, as he strolled gingerly down the hill, strolling gingerly to try and dilute his inner angst. He saw the row of mother like trees in front of him, giving off a generous and protective shade, and to his left he saw, a young women tall and thinish, with rather dry brown black hair, cutting black eyebrows offsetting and possibility consciously drawing attention to themselves so as to keep the finely nuanced and ever morphing windows to her soul safe in the open air. Green eyes, yellowish eyes, golden eyes vivacious eyes, Catherine’s eyes. Oh, and though Henrik boldly went right for her eyes, there was more to this girl, her shirt tucked in to her longish and loose shorts which she wore high around the hips, long thin yet strong arms, effeminate large hands with elegant fingers, long legs in all likely hood an unquestionable hybrid of athletic tone and feminine idleness, they were in themselves magnanimous. She was tall and thin and yet with a power to her with luxurious thighs and backbone. Full lips, did I mention the full lips? The type that mankind tries to duplicate on the operating table. On this girls legs, this girl who was sitting across from the other type of trees in the park, the easy trees, poised in embodiment of the relaxed summer air, young fresh beautiful elegant and strong, on her legs were flat white sneakers . Somehow this girl manage to were a work uniform in such a way she would look at home milling about the Avenue Montaigne in Paris, all the while sporting shoes that stated with a yawn she was not stuffy and very glad to be young.
The hilarious thing about her is she is the type of women that many men would over look time and time again. Put her on a billboard, on a television, ah yes then no doubt she would be the beautiful women in the world for 3 months. Put her in an amusement park or a library, haha and the poor chaps are trying to find silicon Shirleys to gawk at all the while overlooking her.
The young man strolling down the path had a surly type of disposition; though when cleaned up from head to toe it was clear he could stand toe to toe with any charmers of holly wood. America is so standardized when it comes to what they call a good looking man. He had a work uniform on not unbecoming to his well toned upper body and even his lower half and calve muscles. He wandered near her in his convincingly nonchalant way, and upon seeing him she sat back in an equally convincing at ease manner. However the rigid nonchalant-ness of them both was a foreshadow of the overtly energetic “hello how are you”. After the exchanged greeting, and each of them affirming that they “were good or not bad.” or something like that. Henrik immediately asked her if “did you get what I wrote you?”
“No” replied Catherine. The young man stood as his face grew pale full of thought and pressure as if deciding the fate of the world in four seconds. “I think you are so beautiful…..,” his voice was flooded by the drowning sensation of his whole being, as if a wave were to crash out at the end of his sentence. A low and slow sound wave came out that rumbled with the blood still pumping through it saying not only the words but this sincere kids acknowledgement of death and life while speaking his words. “Beautiful… your eyes are.. well…” he paused looking on her eyes honestly trying to decide what color they were, “what color are they?” he continued. Catherine looked up at him almost un-awaringly opening her eyes wider so as to show him so that he may continue to admire “they are green” she said. Henrik was not finished. He wanted to make sure to say to her face all the many things he had said in the letter which he was most afraid to say to her face. “They are pure yellow, a gold…..they are so rare, you are just simply beautiful, all of you, you have such an honest disposition, such a kind heart..”
She reacted in the greatest sincerity, she was so humbled, so very appreciative of what he had said, her face glowed it, her voice sounded it. “I don’t know if I am red?” Catherine hid her face in her hands; she did this all so innocently. The epitome of nondramatic, her reaction was so simple so untainted by arrogance or great self confidence, so good-naturedly appreciative! Henrik saw her as a stark contrast to the many beautiful women he had meet who, to no fault of their own, received compliments with skeptical irritation or boredom from having heard it so often. Henrik saw this contrast so well since he in blind and spoiled arrogance unknowingly had much in common with these beautiful women he found so irritating. All of this was taking place over a large chunk of time; Henrik began to sense that time would again be up sooner rather than later. “I am afraid I will never again meet a girl like you!” She sat and he stood but 3 inches beside her, this is how it always was. He would stand right beside her for fifteen minutes to an hour an half, sometimes leaning on a pole or something with his arm but three inches behind her, with her elbow in a triangle and her glorious head above it but three inches from his chest. As was the case this day, one could hear the heart beat in their words, and though it was sometimes said with hesitation, as if the external world would vaporize it into nothingness it was a said with ease. What was said was said with blood and spirit, and yet it could not get out soon enough. Blood, life and death, a sense of the effect the body has on the mind and soul, and the mind and soul on the body. That all elusive aspect of humanity that the synapses shooters in the lab I wager will never pin down.
“ There are many beautiful and nice girls.” Catherine said this in way that un-eased Henrik, as if she were talking to a child. He thought it may have sounded like she was talking to a child, but he was not sure so he continued. “ Yes, there are many attractive girls, but you are a natural beauty, seriously.” He looked right into those eye, that were Catherine’s, and her eyes it seemed could not take the power of his glance in concert with the severity of his voice, and the emphasis and echo of thoughtful honesty behind his every word. Back and forth it went her words seized him, and then after a pause his took a hold on her. Could she not feel that he meant what he said? Surely those same eyes seemed to say so! “Seriously, and though there are attractive girls few have natural beauty, and also your kind heart.” She did not know how to respond to his apparent lack of naivety. Nor was she detached and amused by what he was saying. She knew such words have been so often mocked by entertainment venues and writer’s who cannot stand the idea that some are so sincere, or perhaps that they were once were themselves capable of such words in honesty, and now are no longer, or worse yet they have never uttered such words and find them weak and pathetic, or dishonest… or naïve and dreamy….and not made of the hard shit that reality is made out of. Hahaha such is their reality within reality! Quite a solipsistic reality since a firm subjective view always reaches out toward the other.
She did not see it as cheesy or pathetic, at that moment, she lived too much of life and had not yet been defeated by it to think such a thing, rather she was thinking of something else. Thinking of what? Then she responded her eyes unfocused as if still in thought looking back into herself “I am not so good.” “No I am not saying you are perfect, who is perfect? But you have a kind heart!” Once again she had to go and so they were interrupted by the final interruption that was the finalizing to the constant inquiries she received from guests, sporadically interrupted the conversation I have just recounted to you. My! what if there were not such random interruptions from minute to minute and form hour to hour and from day to day during Henrik and Catherine’s meetings. Generally speaking what if one did not go to sleep at night, would we all not be different people? Perhaps much better.. or worse, but to the tenth degree as compared to what we are with the leveling out of sleep.
But now she had to move to another job and another location and so their time had come to an end. But Henrik followed her in body even as his heart never let go of the thought of her for a second when they were apart. On this occasion she took her time. “Seriously I will never meet a girl like you, and I would wait three years for you if you told me too, he paused, but you will not even go on a date with me.” “Ok Ok …..I have to go.” Henrik’s face showed the pain and severity of his sincere love for her, and he sighed heavily to Catherine’s notice. “ I know I know, but I have to go” responded Catherine. Her tone on the one hand rolled its eyes at his dramatics as if having a sarcastic bite, and on the other had mixed within it a affirmation of her own recognition and desire to avoid the naturally arises feeling within her. In short she sounded unfeeling and yet he could feel her own sigh beneath her strong and rational disposition. Again she was gone, and he was left to himself to wander about the park digesting it all slowly.
That very evening Henrik again wrote her a dissertation, which she did not receive until much later. Each time she vanished it was wholly questionable whether or not he would ever see her again. It was all so odd, she was there with him, she even welcomed his coming, and then if he did not go back to the park to find her, it seemed likely he would never hear from her again. But as fate would have it they were to see each other again, and this day was the day Henrik had won Catherine’s heart or at least it was clear she was in love with him as he was with her. Only later did I realize how this day was in actuality the decisive turning point of it all, and it was all decided by its ending.
The setting was very much the same, it was a slow motion summer morning with remnants of the relieving cool night easing its way toward a full burning late August oven. The young man took his deep breaths and calculatedly moseyed toward the spot he knew she would be, only to find the same paradoxically vivacious and comfortingly calm young women sitting, this time with sunglasses on. Many people find themselves in such settings, such hours and days that should never end, and the strange thing is so few people realize, so few soak it in with each step, with each breath, and say to themselves “ I am not guaranteed another dream like this.” That confident old German had the imagination to fill in the gaps and guess a picture at his place in history, giving a particular day its rightful nostalgia while still within that very day. Ah, ah, yes…. but maybe, just maybe this is all too normal for you. Would it not be much more interesting if it all came about that I was a rich trust fund child, and she an aspiring actress on the brink of stardom, all of this taking place in some swank city gilded with gleam and glamour? No doubt you would like it better if it happened in a place like that with people of those means. Is this not all to normal, all to run of the mill, too much like your own life. Thus rather than being transfigured to a world apart from your own, and yet within it…. you’re bored, your imagination is starved. Have I not deprived you of the moving feast that is fiction, and only fiction can bring you? Yes perhaps it is all too normal and all to possible for your own life. Yes perhaps ? Though, isn’t that half the point? Could it be the Copernican revolution of literature asserting, and opening affirming itself within history seeing the nostalgia of the present hour.
A Prince & a Princess un awakened
“Listen she said, you are very nice. You look very nice, I like talking to you, you are like a prince from a fairytale…but…” and with that she shrugged her feminine yet strong shoulders as she drew out the “butt…” Henrik responded in an instant “But what? I am too good to be true? I am not for real; you think I am a fraud?” “No,” she stated reassuringly, “but I do not know.” “What good does that do me, so what if I am like a prince from a fairly tale, so what if I can impress all these girls!”Henrik pointed to the crowds walking in the distance. “What good does that do me, when I want you? It does me no good!” Henrik did not take a breath he was choking the moment for all it was worth not leaving a possibility unturned, a word unsaid “How do I win your heart?” Again his voice became calm and gentle as he asked this last question. Once again she had to go to another posting, and Henrik persisted and walked beside her all the way, as usual until the point he could no longer go with her. “What are you looking for? What must I do?” Finally Catherine interrupted his raging search for an answer “Listen, I like you! I have to go goodbye.” She said her goodbye with a little bit of irritation at his persistence, and yet ending it with a sweet sound and look seeping through her hard practical and commonsensical poise. After all lest one forget, she was not some young dreamy southern girl who lived her life within her rich father’s castle, no no no, she had experienced pain and suffering, and a life where one must scratch by to maintain it! Just as she was walking away she turned, “oh, I will be at x ride at 4 pm, good bye.” Just to be exacting I should add that before this intense and passionate conversation, they talked of television shows and roommates and drinks, food ect; which to them was nearly as interesting as the part I recounted. A girl named Gloria once responded to a boy named Anthony and his confessions of love with, “thank you.” Catherine, had known this, and Henrik should have known Catherine knew this since she told him, about the books she liked….and she said “I like you.”
Henrik was on his way to the place where Catherine said she would be, when suddenly Catherine walked up beside him on her way to the same destination. This particular day she had become so soft, gentle, vulnerable, and brimmed with energy, floating about as if herself realizing the splendor of these moments in her life and quietly swimming it, like in a secret lake surrounded by trees on a masterfully composed day floating about after hearing wonderful news ….. and life for a few hours is perfect and shows a forecast that, from then and there, looks to be perfect. As they walked they constantly exchanged soft calm smiles back and forth talking of this and that. At one point she sprinted away from Henrik and ran up to a chubby coworker, who was a pitiful looking person, she launched into a karate type attach position and put a complete mock frontal assault on the sad young man who was very glad to be noticed by someone. She came back over to Henrik, “You see I do know karate”, she raised her sharp eyebrows to emphasize her assurance of the fact, all the while exposing her brilliant green-golden eyes. As they walked it dawned upon Henrik that she in fact had come to have a hopeful love for him, as he had in her.
Upon reaching her new job station, they continued to talk, but by this time the park was in full swing and thus they were constantly interrupted, as she had to do her job, unlike him whose sole purpose in being there, was her. To be more exacting and looking at it from the outside, in light of his trashing his years of university work, it seems his whole purpose everywhere was her! They began to talk again, still not picking up where they left off from earlier that morning, but rather beginning with this and that. She mentioned she smoked, he mentioned he smoked cigars from time to time, Although he purposely failed to mention he also smoked a pipe. He did remember to tell her smoking was bad for her, and this irked her a bit. He was just making conversation, since he rather liked the idea that she smoked. A glorious young women like her should always smoke for a few years, as it is good for humanity, making ugly places in the world that much more beautiful. He never actually saw her smoke, but he could see her long arms gaily holding up a cigarette in between two pretty fingers, all the while displaying those luscious lips and hiding behind the smoke, and then revealing those golden green eyes that were Catherine’s.
Henrik looked up at Catherine enjoying her sweet face, he felt he must say something, ran then continually stand there smiling like an ever so happy fool, and yet he did not desire to get into a lengthy conversation about smoking. “Smoking is bad for you” stated the ever profound young man. Catherine was annoyed by this comment “I know it’s bad for you” in a tone that suggested the plausibility of his being completely stupid. She relaxed her defensive poise a bit as she continued “ I have been smoking for five years, I do not do it to be mature or cool, I just do it..” “No no! fair enough you enjoy smoking fair enough!” “Yes I know it’s bad for me, I know” she nodded her head with a slightly embarrassed face and very soft zest to it. “Ok. I was only teasing, I know you know!” smirked Henirk. “Well it looks like we won’t be able to talk at this spot, but what about that date?” Catherine again began to mumble and fumble around. “I should be free in two days, I’ll let you know,” came from the suddenly disconcerted young lady as she slowly walked away to do her work. Henrik continued pressing her on the issue loudly so even her coworkers and some of the tourists could hear. “What do you want? I will bring a police escort! I will bring my sister and her husband.” Catherine was embarrassed, her coworkers were all wide eared and instantaneously shooting back and forth their breathlessness with this strong good looking man that was Henrik Vetterer. Her coworkers at this particular place were unlikely to receive such attention themselves, and so they stood staring excitedly wide eyed at Catherine. Catherine simply smiled and began to blush from all of the attention, but she said nothing, as her spirit was much more resolved then her modest disposition and flush shown face.
On the way out of the park, after Henrik’s shift, and the opportunity to talk to Catherine had expired, he stopped to see Catherine one more time. “I am going home, besides I have run out things to talk about, and now you will become bored with me like a boring book. Remember Catherine, you said you end relationships just because it is boring and worthless! Oh yes I listen I pay attention,” stated Henrik as he nodded his smiling eyes for emphasis.” “I know you do, but no no, I am not bored.” She emphasized her reply with an upward shrug of her entire body, as if to tone down the import of the words. “Well I enjoy being around you Catherine, even if we have nothing to say I enjoy being with you!” Sincerity dripped from his tongue with each word. Catherine said nothing , and they found themselves staring at each other. “What!” Rang out in a higher pitch, from the typically strong low contemplative voice of Catherine. It seems his gaze which took him adrift, found her concretely, and moved her. “Will you talk to me when you get back to your country?” at this moment Henrik’s whole disposition was lathered in the look of the sickness of love, as if his face was being pulled down to the ground by a heightened gravity. “Yes,” assured Catherine with her eyes and a tone finding harmony with Henrik’s own.
At that moment my mind was not anxious with a thousand and a half considerations, rather in unison my entire being screamed, and found myself slowly drifting to kiss her, that sweet girl, so beautiful, so kind, so good natured, so authentic, but in an instant my own self flashed a warning to myself disturbing the slow movement of myself toward a kiss. I, as if against my will, was forced to reflect upon what she had said earlier about her trust being crushed often in life, about relationships in which she “did shit” and later was left hurt and alone. “No I must show her I do not want her merely because she is so attractive to me, because I am merely pursing sex and she is the means to that end.” I held out my hand, good Lord was it not against even nature as it was intended. I held out my hand and in a semi handshake we touched, and all the while I felt disgusted with myself or perhaps annoyed, maybe it showed on my face, who knows? I believe I nearly shrugged my shoulders as if to say, do you understand this? What else am I to do, you won’t meet me outside of this park so you do not seem to trust me, trust me I had you ready to be pulled close to me and kissed with all the passion of the days of our open hearted talk smoldering within it, and I put out my hand! Do you see! As I turned and began to walk away I heard Catherine voice, “Goodbye Henrik” the emphasis of her voice made what little left of my heart she had not captured melt like shaded snow to an abruptly exposed radiant and powerful sun.
Truly I would have married her then and there and never looked at another woman. Damn you wise and haughty bastards who laugh at my supposed naiveté you can go straight to hell! No I would not even look in the direction of an attractive peripheral view, even ten and twenty years later. But you my dear bastardly men who read and mock you have never loved as I have, no you like all men have toyed with yourselves and thus your head was full of other stimuli and other self protective barriers. No, I do not wish to present Henrik as a knight in shining armor as pure as the Christ of the Christian faith, because he was not , but in comparison to the sexed up men around him, who find it cheaper to hit a button on his phone than frequent a brothel, Henrik was an exception. Henrik was not an exception in shining armor, but naked with no diverse or distracting or daily lusts to protect him from the young women. Yes his soul was wiser then schools first love, as he was a man, but he was just as vulnerable, indeed all the more vulnerable and the defenses that remained were crushed, and were no more!
And I must stop you again my dear reader, and say is it not crystal clear the “troubled girl who had endured hardships and lived a bit more than Henrik, she was not the one who needed a rescuer. Rather it was he. In a sense he may have turned out to be a type of rescuer, but only in a sense, and she! She was to be all the more his rescuer, his reformer, his life line! His savior!
Honestly I do not care to continue to describe the story to you as the events unfolded. I simply wish to sum it all up, and say “there it is …What do you think about it all? How does that grab you!”
The Assumption of Arrogance
Well anyway this mutal meeting in the park continued. Though in the following days she did not seem to have the same dreaminess and takeness with Henrik as she had that day when the cosmos seemed to move in their favor drawing him to her lips. Nonetheless Catherine always told Henrik where she would be so they could see each other. Henrik felt handcuffed, essentially he felt like he wanted and needed to kiss her but had to shake her hand “what could I do to progress the relationship if she will not go out with me outside of that increasingly accursed park! And though she says she will go out on a real date with me, I know she won’t” And why won’t she? This question drove me mad. The question I ranted to acquaintance, and anyone with ears. I came up with a solution to the question, it was this: She liked me a lot, as she said, and was afraid of her feelings for me, knowing she had to go back to her country so far away! “Yes that is certainly the reason” Henrik noted with a convincing tone to his friends, though no doubt he was mainly seeking to convince himself. All the while Henrik kept writing her at night, after he had seen her during the day. Due to her pathetic phone service she was not getting any of the intense messages that flooded the pages with confessions of his love and exacting arguments as if conquering every and any possible obstacle in the world arsenal. As to Catherine, she worked nearly all day and all night, though she did have off during the time she knew Henrik, and yet she was not with him on her days off.
Henirk began to get irritated as he thought of her continual rejection or delay, in spite of her obvious feelings, as if she set out to defeat herself! All her talk of her not being good, and her underlying desire to hurt herself what was one to make of it. Henrik decided to not go out of his way to talk to her anymore, and he was successful for an entire day. The next day, after his short lived success, he saw her again, he looked down before she could see that he saw her, and then he waited to see what she would do if anything at all. Catherine stopped and knelt down about three feet in front of him; in the very path he was walking on, and began to tie her shoe lace that was already satisfactorily tied. Henrik, was but a foot from her and nearly past her, and she had still not said anything. “Hello,” he said. Catherine responded with a smile and an enegetic greeting, it was clear she was glad to talk to him.. my memory grows fuzzy. Later that day, or even it could have been a few days later, Henrik again found Catherine at that one particular spot that they had and could talk the longest without perpetual interruptions. Upon finding her at their spot they talked and talked. Henrik was mildly standoffish since he felt the relationship had hit a wall, that only she could open a passage through. After all he felt he had done as much as he could respectfully do. Henrik constantly pondered the question to himself as to “How much more could it grow if she will not trust me enough to go outside of the park on a date with me! How will she trust me and how will our relationship mean anything when she leaves for her country if we do not first let things unfold. ” Oddly enough this particular day they reached the topic Henrik, had sought to avoid, but then again it was probably the only meaningful topic they had left entirely unearthed.
Catherine began in her very emphatically matter of fact way “I was baptized as a child, and I did not have a choice, and that I did not like,” she finished with a sigh of sorts. “Ah so you are orthodox?” “Yes, but I was a child and that is not something that can be decided for someone.” She continued in her manner, a manner that spoke every word with a flare of some kind that Henrik had never witnessed before “I am agnostic.”
“That is a very fair position,” began Henrik. “ So many people are so dogmatic and they say, ‘ you are not a Christian! How stupid! How irrational you are, Christianity is the surest thing of all!’ or they say ‘you believe in God! You reject evolution! How stupid how irrational you are!’But they are all simply dishonest, I think what I believe has evidence and is a rationally communicable view, but ultimately I have faith, and faith is only possible because of a limitation of knowledge. And I agree with you Catherine, that if God does exist certainly it would not make sense that a relationship with him for one individual can be arranged or decided by another mere human.”
“Yes exactly,” responded Catherine in that calm foreign way of paradoxically mild and utterly confident agreement. Henrik, with half mischievous and half entirely serious motivations, wanted to gently nudge her to question things. “So what do you base your morals on?” Catherine, after a slight hesitation, began to answer no less confident or genuine in her reply. “I believe in good,…..I would do anything for my little cousin or my grandparents. For example, when I get extra money and I want and need new shoes, but my cousin needs a book, I buy his book, because that is important.” She seemed somewhat ashamed of what she had just said as if it were a weakness or something. “Naturally I try to be kind, but sometimes I am too harsh! People often think I am mean, and sometimes I do not try to be, I am just not paying attention.” She was so divine, she was a veteran of life at such a young age, and all the while there was this great childishness about her, this sincerity and confidence that one might find in a precious child free from the world, she was something impossible, from fiction, though there she stood in front of me.
If I do say so myself what a beautiful story to recount. My being fills up with the same great passion she evoked in me then, a passion that envelops the whole of a man and slowly builds within him the fiber to love a women not merely for 5 years or twenty, nor even a life time would be enough no! In his heart he changes the vows and says damn to death do us part, forever, some need food to exist I need a little, but most of all I need Catherine. That great story that describes how the first women was taken out of her husband and created, how in fact she is a part of him and he her, what a beautiful story, one that some, perhaps all to serious people, find experientially convincing. Certainly in a life time one finds oneself having a hard time living with their beloved, though clearly what is even more certain is one often has a hard time living with oneself. I have had heard of a married couple that lived from the ages of twenty to ninety faithfully to one another. They defeated those despicable aspects of this world that sought to discontent them that sought to destroy their happiness. The one died and within a week the other died, this man who had forgot nothing for ninety years began, it seems, to forget to take his heart medicine, everyday for a week since the death of that old wrinkled up smile that had become his wife. I tell you the truth, not fiction………rather exceptional people, I have known them for a very long time. Maybe, you are skeptical of my claim that they were faithful, haha, so was I, but once one has pressed all one’s resources and not a hint of undermining can be found, well what I should do! He was somewhat of a flirt and she was a gossip, but they lived out their vows.
I even knew of a woman whose husband of forty years died in his sixtieth year after retirement, she had grandchildren and child, all of which were in a very literal sense a part of her. But that was of no importance, she took no medication for anything, she ate a horrible diet, and refused to ever visit a doctor, and each year she lived on, and did not endeavor upon the hope of being united with her beloved she became bitter and bitterer, if only she believed it was ok to simply fall asleep in the garage with the car running if only it was ok with God, haha my friends and you, somehow, you have been deceived into thinking only young Juliet’s are capable of such passion! Perhaps I bore you, perhaps you would rather watch discontented housewives, fantasize of fucking like dogs with Ups drivers. I suppose such ambitions are fulfilling in their own way, possibly even exciting, but to use the word passionate to describe such excitement is to misunderstand everything.
Henrik wearing his notoriously mischievous smile upon his face was on the verge of asking her “but what makes those things you said good, and the other things bad, is it all relative, is it all madness we try and agree upon from time to time, from society to society?” However, as usual she had to go and Henrik kept his vindictive nature under control a little longer. As Catherine was leaving Henrik walked alongside her as had become the tradition, and he asked her “Would you ever marry a religious man?” In all sincerity she thought over the question as she walked and then she answered “Well, I do not know.” “People always try to change people and it does not work!”
“I agree Catherine, people must decide things for themselves, they always do anyway. How else could it be?”
She really did have to go, and as is happened again and again at the climax of the conversation she was gone. This was not exactly by her doing since Henrik always seemed to wait until he had no time left to talk about things really pressing upon his mind. The actual event was much better than my meager description and so I will describe it more by saying that such extraordinary moments of passion and depth of reality, in thought in action, such moments are a blur sometimes, and in place of an exacting memory is a moving sense of it all. I do not try and speak in riddles, but some things are so penetrating they wander into places where our words demonstrate our lack of power to understand the totality of the complexity of this cosmos or even the simplicity of love!
Another evening mixed with happy hopefulness, and strong confusion passed. Another summer sun rose, growing more tired by the day, increasingly easing into fall. Both Catherine and Henrik were drawn into confusion by the meeting of one another, whether they both embraced it or resisted it I cannot say for sure. Yet again Henrik strolled down the mild hill, with the motherly shade trees sitting at ease in front of him, and the younger ones to the right, and there to his approaching left sat that rare young lady Catherine, her legs were crossed as usual, she was slightly leaning back, staring off into the distance bouncing her left ankle and white shoed foot methodically. I do not recall how the conversation began. At some point she pulled out her pocketbook, for some reason something caught my eye as she was closing it. I suppose Catherine, who I was looking at, moved in such a way that my attention was drawn to it. That type of unspoken telepathy, when her mind becomes startled at something and the other person nearby immediately thinks the thought that was not to be seen since it was a thought warning one to bury it within the mind. I noticed something about the pocket book, as if unwillingly my eyes were magnetized to a double take of the black pocket book. And then my eyes were captured, the pocket book was closed but what captured my eyes remained before them.
“ You have dog tags?” queried Henrik with a forced laugh.
“What?” replied Catherine, apparently not hearing him “Dogtags,” Henrik’s mind flashed “They said…”
“Who is …, Why do you have, Cain Mills dogtags” In a second Henrik answered his own question as he began to think out loud while seeing all the answers on Catherine’s face. “Ah, he is your friend in x town that you hung out with this weekend….when you could not see me!”
“Yes” replied Catherine. Henrik’s mind raged for a moment to himself, “Cain Mills, an army guy, tall strong, perhaps even taller and stronger than me, maybe even better looking, he has a little money from being overseas, a nice car no doubt, and found some summer fun with a foreign girl who will be gone soon enough for his tastes.”
“Who is Cain Mills” Henrik’s voice grew louder laced with a touch of wrath and despair. “Is that why you won’t go out with me?”
“You like this, Cain Mills, guy?” His voice began to drop as he shot question after question with the constant chorus of Cain Mills uttered with the greatest disgust in between. “You like this him better than me, that is why you won’t go out with me.”
“I like Cain, but…” Henrik’s heart crashed down to his feet at the way she said his name, the way her face looked when she said his name. I wanted to kill him then and there.
I saw him in my mind, a tall strong solider. For insecurities sake he was even taller than me, even stronger than me, even better looking than me, a superman fresh out of the military with a new career, tearing about with confidence. Possibly he was even a successful quiet and courageous man, a rarity in our day, and yet I hated him nonetheless, and perhaps this hate was on my face when Catherine spoke again. “I am sorry, I am sorrrry.” Her voice was deeper than usual; her eyes wide open as she shook her head and drew out with great emphasis the sorry in her final “No I am sorrrrry Henrik!”
“Why should you be sorry” stated Henrik overcompensating with gusto to hide the tears in his voice. “You have done nothing wrong, you have never promised me anything!” He thought to himself, and he really could not find any blatant wrong in her actions, he was simply deceived by his own assumptions. Henrik unraveled and it is painful to recount. “What is he stronger? He is more attractive? You like talking to him better?” Catherine would not answer. And Henrik continued in his destructiveness “You find him more attractive?” I know what it is, you cannot sense my attraction to you within me, it does not draw you too me because I suppress it so as to try and be respectful and honoring of marriage.”
And I am still like a child and so I must say, though Henrik later realized the stupidity of his extreme suppression; he would not at that time have another young man laugh in his face about it. He found the notion of turning the other cheek to nominally raised religious men a much harder thing to live out then even sexual purity. Perhaps you are beginning to see the peculiar character that was Henrik.
It is doubtful as to whether or not Catherine understood the last part of his rant, but at any rate she once again apologized. “I am sorry, you are pissed?”
“No no no you did nothing wrong you like him more, but I must go.” Catherine had a hurt and worried look on her face “You are not going to talk to me anymore?”
“No Catherine I just do not want to keep doing this, as it is clear it is not good for me.” Henrik turned and walked away. But in 10 minutes he was back, and Catherine did not look the least concerned he entire disposition had changed. “ I am sorry I acted so angry, but it is not good for me to talk to you when I like you so much and you like this other guy.” Catherine sat their looking at Henrik as if she did not know him, as if he were dead to her, as if she did not have the least concern in the world whether or not she ever heard from him again. On His way home that night, as the sun was nearly finished with its work day, Henrik found Catherine at the same place he introduced himself some weeks earlier, “Listen I do not care about Cain Mills my offer still stands.” Henrik may have muttered something about a date, but he was referring to his love. Despite his childish reaction, what still stood was his love, although that is not what he said regardless of whether or not he tried to imply it.
But I have skipped over an interesting day that had actually occurred before the day of the dog tags. At this time Henrik was persisting with his idea of his need to gain her trust, and thus go out on an actual date. Once again Catherine gave him the same answer about her busy schedule and how she will have off soon. Henrik was baffled about how this girl shared so much or herself with him, listened and accepted the extreme things he had said to her, and yet continued to act so odd about a simple date. “We have spent hours upon weeks together… just the two of us amidst the masses of people being amused in the park! This is ridiculous,” he thought to himself. After hearing her same response he began to walk away. Catherine was startled at his leaving, “where are you going!” she said this as if she were devastated he was not going to stay and talk. Henrik’s with an air of abruptness shot back in confused irritation “home, I am going home!” His eyes flashed for emphasis on the syllable of home. His tone and entire disposition should have screamed his thought that “it is ridiculous how she wants to talk and acts as if she is in love and then cannot see me unless I comes to the park.”
Again he wondered if she merely went home on the nights she left work early. “Where did she go?” Henrik stormed out of the park, as the day and the sun had played themselves out. He had a little daylight left to take care of his grandmother’s yard work. As Henrik worked in his grandmother’s yard he found his heart was trapped. His rationality weighed the world, including the consequences of it all just as he had when he viewed every consideration before leaving the university. So Henrik weighed it all out and found himself a fool for leaving the park and not talking with her. Immediately, he got onto his motorcycle and rode back to the park. He did not have his entrance pass so in the fury of his fear of ruining everything with his impatience and temper, he simply snuck pass the security guards. Henrik found her working as always, though she was in a control tower inaccessible to him within a restricted operating area. He waved from the distance so as to try and get her attention, whether she ignored him or did not see him he could not tell, though he guessed that she was ignoring him.
Henrik’s heart pounded with indecision, he had to talk to her. So he began to cut through the long line “excuse me excuse me, thank you excuse me.” People turned and stared, annoyed and bewildered after a long day by this person who was forcing his way to the front of the line. Henrik had made it to the front of the line, and felt the heat of all the eyes on his back. He shouted up to the operators tower“ Catherine, Catherine do you get a break anytime soon?”
“No I do not get a break, I just had my break.”
“Well I cannot stay here,” shouted Henrik. Catherine, had stopped operating the ride and focused her attention on him, she was not surprised by his abrupt and absurd actions nor was she embarrassed in the least. Who could have understood this girl? Henrik paused; he had heavy words on the brink of release. Instead, all he said was “I am sorry for being rude earlier tonight.”
“Sorry, why should I be sorry?”
Catherine’s face was transformed full of zeal as she was previously leaning down over the side of the wooden tower in a very relaxed fashion, she made time stand still as she sculptured the seemingly empty space around her into her own. “No no! I am sorry! for being rude earlier tonight.” “Oh” she showed a flicker of embarrassment, and quickly overcame it with her words. “You’re good you’re nice you’re nice.” Even the words she spoke she formed as her own laying thick the nice in “you’re nice”. All the while there was an appalled lady who made her way to the side of Henrik. The lady leaned back, her hands were on her hips, she looked at Henrik, then Catherine, and then back to Henrik. Apparently she had been acting like that from the beginning since Henrik only noticed her at the end. The lady was making gasping sounds, and saying “on my god this is ridiculous someone should report these people!” Henrik, who from time to time was accused of looking angry when he was in the most cheerful of moods, turned and stared at the lady, He looked at every detail in an instant, her dyed brown her, her silicon breasts, her fake tan, her expensive brand of sunglasses and shoes, the jewelry on her hand. She was rich very rich, Henrik upon the initial turn to look at her un-purposely looked at her with a face that is worthy of a jail sentence. After his instantaneous and all encompassing glance was finished, and he in fact saw through her, indeed her entire life; he just gave a half smile and blew air out his nose in that knowing laugh type way. The women agreed that he had seen through her, she immediately disappeared inside herself. But this was all before the dreadful day of deceitful dog tags, the revelation that was Cain Mills.
All of this began to come together as Henrik walked from the park to his black crotch rocket that shocking evening he found out about Cain Mills. Upon arriving at his favorite hangout he sat outside and called his friend who was from the same x town as this Cain character. James was a loyal friend since childhood, the type that would answer his phone, even after not hearing from the person calling for months. James was not a particularly tall man, with blonde hair and brownish eyes. He was very well built not stocky but muscular and chiseled. James was in truth a trained elite military killer, who enjoyed spending every second of his free time playing the moonlight sonata on his piano. The type of fellow who was constantly told what to do by others, and who in the end smiled, agreed, took two steps in the direction of those seeking to advise him, and before they knew it he was gone doing what he wanted. One of those innocent young boys raised in a sea of ideals, that upon becoming a man, he found to be important only after realizing he was nose deep in a world of deceitful illusion, indeed just a deceitful as the illusion that suffocated and accompanied the ideals of his upbringing. In short a sober minded man who saw unhappiness in either this or that, and who moved about in-between with glazed eyes.
Henrik and James would always just pick up where they had left off, as if all the time in between their seeing one another was all leading up to when they would be walking up to one another with a firm handshake and a one armed hug. Henrik had an unquestionable feeling that James would know this Cain. Henrik’s call went right to the point. “James, James do you know a Cain Mills, from x town, around your age?”
“Blubs, you mean Blubs, the only Cain Mills I know who is also in the military and from x-town is named Blubs.”
“ This guy is apparently with that girl I mentioned to you.” James gave a long growl into the phone, “Ahhhh, man relax you’ve got nothing to worry about the guys short and fat and a small time dealer.”
“What?” “I don’t know if we are talking about the same guy, but that’s the only Cain Mills I know.”
“There is no way, I mean that has to be the guy there are no other Cain Mills in x –town, there 5 people in that town to start with.” James continued with a slight hesitancy, “I don’t know…. that’s all I can say about him, I don’t know him that well.”
“I have no idea what to think. I cannot figure this girl out!”
“Girls are mad my friend they don’t know what they want that’s why you can’t read them, because they make it up as they go and they don’t know why and then they regret it.” Henrik’s anger and excitement became distraught, “Well ok, thanks, James, and by the way I really like this girl….she’s great!”
“Alright, talk to you later.”
In the following days, Henrik continued to work at the park so as to be with her. Although, in his arrogance he was disgusted at this Cain Mills, who was also know as Blubs. To Henrik, it seemed the only logical explanation was there might have been something sinister in it, perhaps in relation to drugs, or quite possibly somehow she failed to see this Cain for the miniscule town big shot he was. Catherine was her usual sweet self, as if nothing had changed, and in fact nothing really did change for her. Henrik, picked up where he left off with his destructive focuses, as if he would win her heart by belittling Cain and thus her as well on the indirect. “You had off last night, what did you do last night?”
“I was with Cain”
“Is his nickname Blubs?”
“Yes,” replied Catherine with a look of curiosity on her face. “I know who he is! My friend knows him plus some old acquaintances I know of used to hang out with him,” Henrik’s voice was full of indignation and disgust. “Well, I have to go,” and with that Henrik walked away.
Henrik did in fact know that some very infamous girls he knew of use to hang out with Cain for coke, James told him so on the phone. Henrik was constantly thinking of Catherine, though it seemed she did everything she could to pretend he did not exist, except for a few hours each day at the park. While walking about the park burning with rage and sorrow, and despair Henrik regained a firm resolve that he would not give up on her. Later on in the day, or perhaps the next day, it is all more and more of a blur, he took that hopeful path with the mothering willows in front of him in the distance, and the young sassy one’s to his right and the prosaic Catherine Vaska to his approaching left.
As usual they had around an hour or so to themselves at this spot, obviously with minor interruption here and there, since they still were amidst a great crowd of people. Eventually, in spite of Henrik’s consciously trying his best to avoid the subject of Cain Mills, it came up. Catherine began, “I admit he is an asshole.” At that very instant Henrik’s eyes lit up like Thomas upon putting his hand in Christ’s side. Certainly Catherine, saw his reaction, she retracted her statement, “He is an asshole to everyone else, but not to me.” Henrik smiled his somewhat arrogant and knowing smile, the smile that says “yes thank you for verbalizing what I have long known about you!”
“His family is so nice! His mother and grandmother and sister are so great!” It was clear she liked his family as much or more than Mr Blubs himself. “But what do you know about him that makes you go Cain Mills with such disgust in the way you say it?”
“Nothing!” “ I know nothing you do not already know about him,” and with that he stared into Catherine’s eyes, eyes that were permanently covered with sunglasses so as to protect her, not from the penetrating heat of the sun , but rather the probing and passionate spirit of Henrik Vetterer. In actuality Catherine herself admitted as much as to why she now always wore her sunglasses when they were together. Precisely! And Catherine wore sunglasses because her spirit was just as passionate, and full of emotion and powerful hopes, and nonetheless the deceitful and hypocritical rationale of being rational was apparently conquering he, or was it Henrik’s indirect indictment of Catherine in his disgust for Cain.
The almighty dichotomatic rationality of man; let us spit upon its fraudulent guarantees and promises. It one must be rational let him first be honest about rationality. Let us spit upon the notion that what is normative, is what is most rationally sound, and is in fact the correct way to do things. But he tried to stare past her sunglasses, not to see those rare eyes, but to assure himself she in fact knew all about Cain Mills. Henrik also added that “my friend was surprised to hear Cain was with you, that is after he heard my description of you!” Catherine’s face was soaked in offense “why?”
“Well, because you’re wonderful and he is a loser!” I did not say it exactly like that, but that is the short version of the two step dance I did to soften the blow. In any case Henrik was baffled that it was not obvious to her why people would be surprised to find her with such a greasy and slimy character. Henirk ended up putting together the many puzzles that were Catherine Vaska, that evening as they found out more information of one another through face book, or something very akin to such a social networking.
Do you remember how this began as fiction passed of as reality, which it surely was in a sense, though of course not the sense you thought; and likewise now you see the transition to reality which could be seemingly passed off as fiction. Well, my shrewd reader, tell me this, is this fellow I am about to present to you real or, merely a reality of the imagination.
The young man stood outside of the restaurant, he was on his last break before the eternally anticipated closedown stage of the evening. The young man stood alone looking at a completely exposed moon, he was considering many things, perhaps love, perhaps his future, perhaps the fact that he only had an hour left until he had a few hours of freedom, before the night was completely burned. So there he stood leaning against a brick wall head tilted skyward and out trudges a middle aged man. The middle age man was wearing Jeans and a tee shirt, a wardrobe that was in total disagreement with the restaurant he just paced out of. The grey eyed man’s clothing and wholative appearance was not in vogue with the posh pub or the royal city that he found himself in. Fsssp! The young worker on break saw a cigarette light up the grey eyes with traces of red on the outside. Fuuuooo the smoke weaved its way through the man’s ragged white beard as he systematically exhaled a small fortune of smoke through his nose endlessly.
Again the working university man glanced over underneath the shield of smoke he saw the disheveled man was sweating profusely. Halfway through his pack, the same disheveled man wanders his way toward the moon watcher, who was now completely distracted in trying not to be. Along with the man’s preparatory exhale for his next drag came out a “So you are a university student like all the rest of the workers around here?” Seeing the man was a customer of the establishment, he immediately gave the man the undivided attention his well paying and respected employer required. “So what do you study?” “I am studying international business.”
“Ah,” he pulled his cigarette to the side of his body. His eyes were bordered in a flaring red. “I am sure that is interesting” he continued again taking another lung full. The young man nodded politely. “Quite an excellent restaurant isn’t it?”
“Oh!” the man gave a nervous chuckle, “ I just meet my daughters here for dinner, I really don’t fit in here.” The man paused as if preparing to focus on the young man’s reaction, though the young man did not sense this until he was finished with his natural reply. “Nah” he replied with a kind close mouthed reassuring smile, the very type of smile that has the feeling and knowing behind it to strip a president down to the simple man he is , and in an instant.
The beleaguered man seemed to have found a reply he wanted within his strained focused eyes. “I don’t get to see my daughters much. The one works at a correctional center for children.” All the while he continued to smoke and sweat and with only half a second pause he spoke on. “But they don’t help those kids there, you know. They can’t talk to them or show any emotion to them.” His already rampant smoking increased its pace as drops of sweat rolled off his face. “It’s terrible really those kids need emotion! They need to see kindness and love, sure they did wrong, but only love and true interest in them will.. reaffirm them, that is why they ended up there in the first place. They grew up in a sewer without hoping and hoping for all the wrong things, and they don’t even know it. Don’t you think its terrible and sad they don’t show them any emotion? Just so sad!” The moon-watcher who had been forced from his post nodded and gave an “ I agree” but his mind was seemingly very much fixed on the same thoughts the bright moon was shedding light on. It appeared that the young man did not know what to say. In his youthful zest for knowledge and arguments the attention he gave to the man was looking for some angle or some political argument the man was trying to pass off. In his self centeredness he was more concerned to think of the great many questions that plagued his unfolding life. Whether the man sensed he had no true audience or whether he simply did not have another pack of cigarettes, he turned and headed back into the extravagant house of expertly prepared food and drink. The young man gave out a “have a good night sir!” A rather insignificant phrase since it was customary for him to respond to all customers in that fashion. But in this particular “have a good night sir,” was a “sir” that was said with an emphasis, so as to say “though you feel ill respected and out of place, you are respected as a human nonetheless, even if that is the only reason to show you any respect.” The young man finished his shift and went home, he did not see any more of the blue jean wearing sweaty chimney with grey eyes.
The disheveled middle aged man, with the white beard returned to find his daughters had left. He remained and continued to order drinks, as the restaurant began to empty and the evening, his evening, was nearly expired he asked his tight skinned young waitress for some company after her shift. He offered her two thousand dollars in exchange for her body for the rest of the night. The man was refused by the waitress, and reported and embarrassed by the arrival of security at his table. He talked his way around things, and made it a point that he was leaving on his on terms. He stumbled to a taxi, and went up to his hotel a few blocks over from the restaurant. The next morning the maids found a rotund stomached white bearded man with grey eyes lying dead.
Upon reaching his room he found himself haunted by a legion of thoughts. He thought he had fully burned and drowned. He pulled out a small pistol he had bought a month earlier put pillows over his face and pulled the trigger. The next evening, the young man was at the restaurant and found himself greeted by two women who were trying to find out what credit card their Father used to pay the bill the night before. The woman was straight faced and somewhat irritated, “Our father meet us here for dinner last night. He was wearing blue jeans and a tee shirt, he had a white beard? Well after dinner he killed himself in a hotel down the road, apparently he ran up my sister’s credit card at the hotel the day before, and we need to find out if he left the credit card here, because it wasn’t at the hotel.” The young man was astonished, making sure not to say anything of his conversation with the man he simply directed the women to the manager.
A Final Outburst
Is that merely an imaginative reality of the mind, or is that story nonfiction, a fact about a grey eyed man who was once alive and now dead, a reality not only real to one body but other bodies as well. But I will not tell you that. But I will tell you such is life. Such is life! Such is life to those who think it is all a monotonous machine like joke. To those I say your own life has the wonder and the absurdity and the great feeling that does the stories of novels. Perhaps the great sorrow is you fail to see it, or to live it, as life deserves to be lived. That is as it demands to be lived, in light of death! Dare I say in light of eternity. Yes I dare say since I am Henrik, who was once something very much akin to Henry. And such is life to you, the bloke who has felt so much in life, who has done much of what some barely dream can occurs in novels or movies or deep within a city at dark. Such is life to you, who thinks life is no more than gross self love, and hate and brief pain amidst the flashes of ecstasy. End the joke, and take off the silly and worthless life vest, and….and swim. Perhaps the youth of the day think they are hardcore livers since they can get smashed and hook up, but though it can be deadly it’s a mere gilded hiding, an opiate from greater, more severe.. and hopeful…riskier potencies of life.
Henrik sat in an empty apartment, in a city full of universities, in an apartment complex that was filled with families, and not university students. His paced around the office of his empty apartment, it was three in the morning. He looked at his class and work schedule laying on his large 1950’s wooden desk. To the right a book shelf, a disorderly combination of well worn paper backs and hardbacks. The calories from his brews burning brightly, full of energy he thought back to those nights the apartment was packed full with friends of many flavors. He thought back to how he would rant his untried philosophies of life, and he thought of that girl, and meaning in life, and he began to decide it all as the old hard wood floor creaked. “ If only I had the courage to see life as life, and not some confused orderly notion of disorderly social norms! If only I had the imagination to realize I live in a novel, an important character for it is my novel. An important responsibility, with daily decisions of life and death, hope and despair, good and evil. If only I had known I was a man amongst men, and thus I live in a complex and important world as a character. The type of world that even the best fictions are limited reproductions of. If only I knew the harsh reality of my ignorance of my past confusion of fiction and non. If only I could sit back for an instance and shutter at the thought of it all! And I have for so long. Then maybe I could begin to live as I was intended, even in the face of everywhere present dreariness of mediocrity and business building schemers, who have no time to do the important things of life with equal devotion. Yes in the face of everywhere present ignorance. Precisely in front of it unless I live in a perverted reality that does not see the ignorance and thus does not see the reality, however harsh, and the way back to the fantasy as reality, and not the fantasy as a fantasy of a reality no longer possible due to ignorance of ignorance.”
Henrik, stopped for a moment, if there was anybody to watch him they might have supposed he was in some sort of state of delirium. A smile came over his face inspite of the unified rejection of the rest of his body which was so well conditioned to accept only the mediocre idea, and vomit out the extravagant, the arrogant, the risky. He slowly glanced at the world history books on the bottom right hand of his oak book shelf, and then saw to their left the American history book. His mind raced through civilization, he remembered those nervy, wild and downright obnoxious countrymen who captured his imagination as a child. He thought of how the civilizations had grown old, had grown to look for security had become dishonest about their dishonesty, and his smile held strong. “Is that not a glorious and hopeful reality, even though it certainly is a harsh reality and perhaps it is so harsh because of the ignorance, and all that is done in one’s own selfish fantasy of ignorance. But when someone breaks in from the other, from the outside and then the ignorance is revealed and the fantasy is over, and the harsh reality is seen, and it is a hopeful harsh reality, my God that is better than ignorant fantasy of mediocre bouts of happiness!”
Henrik had come to face the harsh reality that is life, that is… raw existence. And upon finding it he was scared. He found himself facing the question, would he bask in the glory of the light he saw with his opened eyes to the great freedom, and severe weight of life, or would the light burn him alive, and the weight of freedom crush him! It was six am, and though he had made up his mind, a great deal of him including his mind sought to crush the hope of love. “Would it not be better to let life come to me, and continue my course dreaming of fiction in reality? But that is just it! I would be responsible for that decision, and of course there is no guarantee that life will come to me, whatever that means, and I am responsible, for my decision, and my opportunities. The world can be cruel and it can be beautiful and I must decide what I value most.” He packed his bags, and as I said before, irresponsibly drove nearly to his death in a state of madness, as if he could not stop for fear that he would lose his resolve.
Henrik’s mind was punishingly poring over his risky 6 am that brought him to where he currently was, slowly walking toward where he hoped Catherine would be. He knew their days were at an end, and with each step he thought of how he ended up walking down that hill in the mild heat of the lazy sunset of a September evening. He thought of the rarity of this woman, this women that may very well reject this prince of society, for a comparably pathetic man on all accounts, even his military career ended as a failure. “But if she would decide on him, it would be because she loved him in spite of my seemingly out doing him in every category society judges upon. Though she loves his family, and this is troubling.” Henrik had finally ran out of asphalt to continue thinking, as lo and behold, Henrik found Catherine.
Catherine was sitting at their place surrounded by the motherly trees glistening in the moonlight which was beginning to peak out in more potency then the fading sun. The place where time stood still, where the world became an entire universe of two human beings, and strangely enough the very place where time flew by. And this is seemingly a contradiction and yet you know just what I mean, as this very phenomenon and life itself is very rationally understood as a great contradiction. Do we not move closer to death with each day of life?
“How are you ?” began Catherine who was sitting seemingly calmly as always, her perfect femininely firm legs crossed, her gait relaxed, and yet forcibly so. “I am good,” replied a blank faced Henrik with rapidity. “So today is your last day?” Catherine was making conversation she knew it was his last day as they had already talked about it only two days ago, and yet one could see in Henrik’s face that he appreciated her renewed receptiveness. “So I see you had a fun time this summer,”
“I was looking at your photo’s and it seems you were very active when you weren’t working, to say the least.” Henrik said this consciously trying to take his angry and accusatory edge off his tone. “ Ah yes, but you know partying gets so old … you drink and then you need to drink more and more……and so I just stopped .” Knowing what she did of Henrik, this no doubt was the exact type of thing she thought he might appreciate, and how did he reply? “Yep, that’s good.” No exclamation point for he barely uttered those three words. He made a point to be cruel, to refrain from encouraging her in a decision she was proud of herself for. It may have been the idea she was proud of. Henrik’s response was like the Fathers, who upon catching the tale of his child’s working weeks to impress him, pats his daughter on the head and walks away with other business.
The rest of the conversation is a blur, but true enough the sun began to peter out entirely leaving the moon solitary. I asked “will he come to Ukraine with you? Will he marry you?”
“No,” with this question her face lit up with a smile. Predictably Henrik perceived it to mean she loved the idea of Cain marring her and moving to Ukraine. Naturally her inexplicable glow Henrik understood to mean she really did love this Blubs specimen. Henrik had asked the question with a noticeable scent of desperation, of anger even.
Anger, Jealousy, impatience, characteristics of vigorous people? Undisputedly! Characteristics of a truly passionate person? Questionable! Characteristics of the great interest of the great western world, and its pragmatically indisputable genius? That great interest of the west that was a native of the east, though claiming other nearly unintelligibly foreign stomping grounds. That great interest of Henry’s! That, at times, seemingly dark and at times very light idea that lingered in the background or many westerners thoughts from time to decade. Possibly a rather outdated idea that is merely a name shouted as a curse in this modern era. After all who has time to consider such trifles in such an advanced century.
The sun was un-redeemingly dead at this moment. Catherine had to leave to another inaccessible work station as what I was able to recount in five lines occurred in a period of 30 plus minutes. And even so there is something to that incongruency that embodies something very definite. She had to leave, but I knew she would be able to come back down in an hour or less. As always Henrik followed her to the point he could not cross. “So what am I to do ? I can’t wait for you when you have this other guy! What am I to do, I can’t not date other girls when we have not even gone on a real date……” ‘Regardless of the fact that at moments we have left our selves open to each other in ways not even married couples have’ he thought to himself, or did he? He was too lost in his spoken words to think anything to himself rather it was as if assumed he had said it, it was the most mutually understood thing out of anything he had said, though he did not say it. Catherine’s face flared red, “date other girls I don’t care! What do you want from me!” And with that she was gone, and with that the sun neither sets nor rises, the sun was never to rise over the two of them standing side by side, never again!
I had no intention or the meesliest little inclination of a desire to date other girls, and yet I thought something would come from it, as if I were making myself more interesting, and regaining property I had already laid at her feet, as if I were pulling just the right amount of my heart back from her hand. Imploringly I make note to you that everything the young Henrik did after he had found out of Blubs he thought in some way would help gain her confidence, and regain her love that was one moment in time nearly given.
Does it bother you how I slip into the first person, oh but I can’t help it! And doesn’t it betray me, and the radical, and also radically transparent subjectivity we all suffer from, and that is..that is reality! Harsh, though it be…. that is reality.
For whatever reason Catherine was enraged, most likely by the slow underhanded anger that had been under the surface of every word Henrik has spoken for the days since the revelation of Cain. Catherine did not come back down to talk that night. In fact she arranged the rotation with her coworkers so she would not have to. Henrik stood below, and waited and waited……. alone with his thoughts. Thoughts the type of friend that in moments like these have every possible thing to say with a relentlessness that is in itself a parasitic self sourced energy.
His memory drifted to that one mystical day in which he knew she could love him as much as he did her. Playful and childish was her voice, gentle were her bright eyes, her hair pulled back in a ponytail. “Look I am not wearing my sunglasses!” This was only a few days after he had let out in spoken words his unquenchable love of her, and his happiness he found in her eyes. Henrik gave her a smile, and then took a long savoring sprint into her eyes. The modesty, the strong humility, and gratefulness, as if no one had ever told her the truth about her before. Though it is possible no one ever said those words to her, and meant them with equally sincere desperation.
It is rare to see a rainbow during a sunset without a cloud in sight. His memory of the first day he talked to her again, after leaving college, drifted to the fore of his mind bring a quiet peace over his already inexplicably calm disposition. The type of calm that one feels after knowing one had come so close, and then lost it all. The way Napoleon had felt after nearly restoring a unified rule over Europe, only to lose it all. But Catherine’s soul was not a thing to be conquered. Maybe just maybe if he was patient in time she would simply offer it to him. Henrik was many things but a voluntarily patient man was not one of them. The ironic thing is patients and passion are inseparable, and true passion will force one to be patient, even as one grinds against it in impatience. But it is quite possible a women who had been let down as often as Catherine, it is quite possible one had to conquer her defenses to free up that impossibly good heart kept safe away from humanity. The type of women who could be married for an entire lifetime and yet never leave her soul free for the one she shared a bed with, though in the end it might be that she finds she really did love him, though she did not acknowledge it in her heart of hearts.
Have you ever heard the story of the Danish women, who loved a man, who was seduced by a man, who would not marry her though in truth he too loved her. She was virtually forced to marry, and then after it was all said and done she arranged to have herself buried beside the man she loved who loved her who would not marry her because he loved her. It is a true one! Story that is, a true story…. I believe her name began with an R?
Anyway, Henrik’s mind went back to that day early in their Olympian sprint of a relationship, “what do you like to do with your time?” Catherine gave a thoughtful look, “well I like to read, and I read, and I read! For instance my favorite philosopher to read is Sigmund Freud, my favorite novel is The Great Gatsby,” Henrik smiled, “Freud the American psychologists!” Catherine, looked at him like he just turned the shade of vomit, “Freud was not American, he was German, a German Jew!” Henrik, paused as if really thinking over whether or not he was right or she, knowing of course that she was right. A glitter of a mischievous smile peaked out of his eyes for a quarter second, “I wonder why I thought he was American ?” Henrik shrugged his shoulders as they continued to walk to her next post.
A Happy Ending of A Harsh Reality
Henrik gazed at her, and then did not take his eyes off of her for unbroken five minute allotments. She would not blink, not even meet his gaze. The written recounting of this is of no help, but it seems to this memory that once, just once, his gaze meet hers, and in it was something profound, something powerfully important, and yet Henrik had no idea what it was. Henrik stood near the gate since he had to be one of the last to leave. All the employees hurried out with the dauntlessness of youth that is only energized after a long day of work in the heat. Chuckles, and smiles and waves faded off into the distance. Catherine eventually came out and saw Henrik’s dropped face, she left the gates without even a wave, as if resolved to avoid him, maybe even moving in such a way suggesting as if she were now afraid of him, as if only to punish him and reassure herself.
That was it, the very last time they ever spoke syllables to one another. There they stood inches apart sunset after sunset, sunrise after sunrise, in the mild moving nostalgic summer air. The earth slowed its rotation those few days in the summer. They stood inches apart perhaps inches from deciding to spend all of life together as one. Just as slowly as that still carefree summer air she was gone, they were separated by the great Atlantic, and apparently so much more! So I will ask you is that a harsh reality? Oh! But reality is so superior to fiction, fiction being only a slither of the robust cake that is life. But even as Henry turned into Henrik, and a wonderful fiction turned into a harsh reality could not Henrik turn into Henry, into wonderful reality. But what of Catherine, and yet, and yet, and yet, and yet, the harshness is what means there is hope. Oh surely she sees the harshness, but will she dare the hope? Indeed for her there must be another Prince charming from a different fairy tale with more integrity and honesty than old Henrik. That is one of the patient passionate hopes that grow out of this harsh reality we call life.
Whether I am old or I am young whether it all took place in the twenty century or the twenty first. Whether I am in fact on my way in, or on my way out, you will not know! You will not know either way of course! For if I am old and you know me ,I am no doubt wise enough to write so that you do not know me. And if I am old and you do not know me. Well I remain unknown perhaps with much more to say of what I have waited a long time to say. And if I am young, well then, perhaps you try to find me, but then again perhaps this is only being published because I am neither young nor old, but dead! Because I have died, and a loving family member has seen fit to publish it. And perhaps either way there is more to come, but really this is all beside the point. The point is that when the event occurred I was a nobody from nowhere, I was a liver of life who like a character in a story did the type of thing one would never do, and Catherine was a liver of life, a nobody from nowhere, who looked at this odd boy and found him quite possible. So leave this madness, to the enjoyment of ready fantasy, but why leave it? For you are reading fantasy, and it is a historical reality. Such is the power of that inconsistent freedom and responsibility, and the patient passionate hope to live this monstrosity called life.
 poor boy, you have saved me from that fool, but you do not know me as you think, and if you did, well you would not have to keep in check those hungry pure eyes, you would lose your appetite for all of me. Your pure soul would be destroyed by mine.”