1. Preparing for the shopping trip
It was established that we desired not to die but to kill certain portions of ourself that were so bound up with our totalities that the death of these portions could not be effected without destroying the rest of us. We were therefore compelled to burn every bit of ourself away and to float eerily about as a disembodied (& therefore feelingless & idealess) ghost for a year, a day, a shopping afternoon or some other reasonable stretch of time before rebuilding ourself.
Following this determination, we had a final meal of oatmeal, walnuts, cranberries, blueberries, banana, grass-fed yogurt, and oil-roasted sesame seeds, served with a blend of peppermint and licorice tea and a side of 1/2 grapefruit with the wedges pre-perforated and cinnamon on top. Listening to a Spotify mix of Christmas music by Mozart and Bach — which our training and experience allow us to enjoy in the original German –, and drew our last breath. The daydreamed flames of eternal indifference melted our flesh and then charred it and then winnowed through it, flaking it off in black charcoal chunks that burned even as they fell within the larger surrounding flame. In time even our bones were reduced to a powdery dust, and by the time the fire had burned out, the chair we’d inhabited held — in a poetic but yet in a meaningful way still actual sense — nothing but a small pile of salt n’ pepper ash.
Thusly removed from our physicality, our immortal soul lost all feelings, emotions, and ideas, and melted into the One Light, where — as both a particular soul and one with the seamless whole — we gazed at all timespaces and the physical, emotional, and mental activities therein from the vantage of eternity, wherein all that ever has been or will be hang as one infinite moment within the mind of God. And our soul reposed within God’s infinite kindly-uplifting giggle while our body — now from a poetic point of view an empty avatar on auto-pilot — cooked, cleaned, had a small lunch, and set out to an afternoon of Christmas shopping.
Why such desperate measures? The Hurt clung too fiercely to our every feeling/emotion/thought. The Hurt was killing us like a knife wound that is constantly reopened with new knife slashes hacking across our chest and gut, grabbing us by the shoulders and flinging us down as some cruel spike-adnorned knee slams our body and face. And our guns had been torn asunder and our teeth worn down from too many decades of gnashing of teeth (wailing would’ve been wiser!). So all in all we thought it best to just die for a little while and then see about rebuilding ourself.
2. The Hardened Private Dick
Up again with his coffee and cigarettes. No one cares how late you stay up on the scotch so long as you’re in the office at 6AM. He’s had three hours sleep, a shower, a shave, two cups of coffee and five cigarettes.
“Look’in a little pie eyed there Dick — hard night?”, says Sleepy McGrue, beat cop, pool shark, and — having flipped a few years back for the precinct’s secretary — dedicated family man.
“What’cha do’in here so bright and early, Sleepy?” Dick swings his shiny black dress shoes off the dinged-up walnut desk and onto the hardwood floor where they land with an energetic slap.
Sleepy shrugs his big, bearlike shoulders and then pats his belly, which — though more bearlike than plain old fat — always exerts a little undue strain and stress upon the brass buttons of his uniform. “Jes thought I’d come ’round and see if you wanted to grab a doughnut and talk a little shop.
Dick Desmond, whose long since learned to overcome physical and mental fatigue with emotional single-mindedness, stands swiftly up, folds the paper and tosses it onto the center of his desk. “Thought you’d never ask!”
I love going to Frank’s! A classic diner with blue-vinyl bench seats along the windows, faded and bowed woodplank flooring, a white with silver specks linoleum countertop bound around the edge by a three-inch wide strip of metal with three undulated creases spread half an inch apart running through its center. The countertop chairs are shiny chrome poles topped with glossy red vinyl cylinders that swivel this way and that for the loud, cheery breakfast crew. I don’t know if I can feel safe anywhere else. With Frank emerging in and out of the enclosed kitchen-end, grease and ketchup stains on his white apron and dark blue collared uniform shirt that his wife proudly irons each morning (he has half a dozen of these shirts), lovingly circling around the oval “Frank” patch. With Deloris in her yellow collared uniform skirt/shirt, her rich dark hair pulled back into a hair net (Frank, as he likes to point out, is “lucky”, since he’s not had to worry about hair for decades now), pouring me my coffee and filling me in on her kids’ exploits. Here I feel OK. I feel like I can understand life — that life, though doubtless as infinite and unfathomable as the Great God beneath and through it all — is willing to present itself to me in a homely, manageable, friendly manner; is willing to hand me itself with a handle that I can handle. In the diner I think I am just a man but that is OK — is wonderful even. Because here I am not alone.
Dick Desmond and Bernard “Sleepy” McGrue are here for there usual 6:10AMish to 7:05AMish breakfast. When Sleepy says to Dick that they should go for a doughnut, what he really means is that they should walk down the street from Dick’s little PI office to Frank’s Diner on the corner of Pine Ave and Main Street, find two open spots at the counter (if need be, other customers will cheerily hop up and rearrange themselves so the old pals can sit together — glad for the chance to exchange pleasantries with a couple local heroes), and Sleepy — who’s already had eggs and toast with his beautiful bride Rachel — will have two or maybe three doughnuts and his second and perhaps second and a half or maybe even third cup of coffee of the day, and Dick will have one piece of white toast sprinkled (here Frank makes an exception in his otherwise unbending breakfast menu) with a little olive oil (I think it is more like a blend of canola and olive oils) and served with one egg overeasy and (again, this detail is neither offered nor granted to anyone else) a few quickly-grilled slices of tomato (tomato of course is otherwise available only uncooked on a lunch burger or sandwich). Dick will indiscriminately sip black coffee as if his stomach were made of cast iron and the two men — a gentle grizzly bear next to a lean and famously fast-fisted childhood chum.
A lot of people think — God bless their innocence and forgive their incompetence! — is a happy one. After all, he never loses a fight, he always gets the girl, and he always solves all the riddles and captures all the crooks. No one will dispute — who could? — that’s not all wondrous grand. But his days and almost all his nights are largely lonesome, heart-eroding affairs. If he didn’t have Bernard and this diner where he can feel the gentle, matter-of-fact nearness of Frank, Deloris, and Sleepy, he would’ve never reached this, his 37th year. And as it stands, the Fates — who invariably collaborate with and acquiesce to Necessity more than they let on — have him slated for death by heart-attack just shy of his fifty-fourth birthday. Bernard finds him, slumped a little forward, legs still up on the desk, paper neatly folded on his lap.
The shock of discovery is three-fold: First to discover his friend since earliest boyhood permanently and fully inanimate; Second to see the way that, his unflappable cool and iron will having left along with his soul, Dick’s body is suddenly that of a man much much older than his fifty-three years; Third to realize that he’s always known that Dick was hurt beyond the repair of the tools at his disposal, and that he — Bernard “Sleepy” McGrue — was sad to lose his friend, but glad that Dick could finally move on to a peaceful place and relieved that this revelation came too late for him to try to help, since within this flash of insight Sleepy saw also his own inadequacy in the face of Dick’s demons.
Authors: Vaguely Sketched and Evolving, like the story
Editors: Bartleby & Amble (Willard & Whistletown)
Copyright: Andy (Watson)