Saturday, October 11, 2008
A break and then the fall.
Yesterday, my boss told me he was going to take a swim in the Allegheny. His last swim, he said. He confessed this all to me in short, emphysemic breaths over a half-eaten raspberry Crème brûlée, the other half still aflame in his guts. Meeting his still, unyielding stare, it was plain to see he was not bluffing. As a man, he'd by no means lived a full, passionate life. He hadn't given it his all and lost. He made no futile attempts at reconciliation or return. He was not resigning after a long, arduous battle against which he no longer had the strength to fight. He left no legacy; no mark on this world. He was born feet-first and clinging desperately to his umbilical cord. He wasn't aware of the deterioration of society. He knew nothing of the cesspool in which he floated, prostrate and blowing bloody, phlegmy water from his rectum. He had not given up, as he'd always been down. He had no clear motive for his decision. He simply found himself buckling beneath the weight of this world. Most who knew him would say he had never borne more than one could usually bear, but in a few weeks, he said, he'd tie it all around his ankle and, holding it close to his chest, he'd test God's faith in him. He looked at me with grave disconsolation and had another spoonful of the dessert. I asked him if he'd set a specific date yet and he told me he had: November 3rd, this year. When I inquired if that date held any kind of significance he said no, he just wanted to do it after the weekend. Mondays suck, he said. I told him he only had a few more to worry about and he laughed capriciously, sending specks of creamy, white spit flying into the air between us. They lingered, with balletic defiance, like the first eager snowflakes of a colder-than-usual early November and, finally, fell with precocity and self-assurance. But the moment they hit the ground they disappeared and it wasn't long before they were forgotten entirely.