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0369

 visitors 

 “The moment the power of death disappears, the beauty of the form fades.”

 

The Suicide Pact

He woke up with a needle sticking from his arm like a dart thrown by a Cupid impostor. His head fell heavy to the side and he rolled his eyes upwards in a desperate attempt to wake himself from his self induced coma. He was hoping this would be his last journey with Morpheus, but evidently the smack was of poor quality.

She is standing in the kitchen now, a content creature of routine. She manoeuvres the eggs expertly and keeps an eye on the simmering porridge. Three minutes is all it takes to reach the right consistency. She no longer needs a timer, she can tell by the smell and the movement of the bubbles. They have been married for eight years now and happily so. He enters with a sleepy child in his arms. The child’s blonde hair lies ruffled and shining under the kitchen light, the sun has just risen and he sleepily sucks his thumb with an expression of contentment. He feels safe. They feel safe together. They live in a safe part of a sprawling city where he holds a good position in a large firm. This afforded her the luxury of giving up her part time job as a copywriter to concentrate on her art and her role as a mother and wife completely. This is not what she always imagined: when she was younger she ran with the wolves. She chased the poets, misfits and musicians and lived for the moment. She was an art student then, young, beautiful and carefree. She imagined herself to be some sort of re-incarnation of Freda Coelho, a genuine artist with all the talent, feelings and charisma; but without the tragedy. She shunned the view that tragedy was needed in order to create art. That understanding never entered her protected universe, therefore she never could understand, and accept it. Severe pain and struggle is only thrust upon those who really deserve it. You need a strong constitution to handle the lessons, like a weed tenaciously clinging to the earth and reaching for the sun among a field of flowers.


He knew he failed at just about everything in life: holding a job was poison to him, and he was never any good at being a bum or a criminal. (God knows, he tried.) He spent two years in prison. This made him hard. Then again, life was always hard. He grew up in a small coastal town, the son of a fisherman. He’s mother died young from a heart condition and neither him, nor his father ever recovered from her absence. His father hit the bottle and the glass pipe with the type of vengeance reserved for those who gave up on everything but breathing, his sucking lungs replaced his beating heart as the organ of reverence. It did not take long for his son to follow suit. He tried to follow in his father’s footsteps and become a fisherman, but right from the start he knew it was not for him. He drifted towards the gangster elements that could be found in any fisherman’s village along the west coast not too far from the city. He hated that poverty and mundane routine existence. He started to fall out of love with life all together. Eventually he found his way to the city and became a small time smack dealer, spending his days stoned in filthy dives and his nights making deliveries to his clients. He lacked the courage to move up in the ranks. Once he tried to prove himself by stealing a car, but he failed even in this and the resulting jail time drained him from any misguided ambitions he might have harboured before this. Now he was looking at the welts on his arm and trying to figure out what to do next. He did not attempt suicide because he was depressed or felt sad, or remorse or anything of the sort. His chemically altered brain has given up on emotions a long time ago, all except one: anger. The act of ending his life simply seemed like a logical thing to do; there was nowhere else to go, nothing worth gaining. The path he chose has reached it’s natural and logical conclusion. He has lived too long. He gets up from the chair with heavy reluctance. He has not eaten or bathed for days, but he has grown immune to his own reflection and stench. He opens a drawer and takes out a 9 mm pistol. He cocks the gun and pulls the trigger. The hammer makes a disappointing, empty tick. Like a silent horror film with open mouths but no screams. Black and white the only colours. He hasn’t had any bullets for a while, which rendered the weapon’s potential to kill into a useless object with no specific aesthetic or style. The moment the power of death disappears, the beauty of the form fades. He has thought about this often recently. He picks up an empty whiskey bottle from the floor and turns it upside down. A last drop of the brown liquid slowly makes its way to the opening, and he watches as it lingers and drops to the dirty floor, a lead phoenix heading for retirement. He laughs. It is a deep hollow laugh, a transvestite of meaning, a confused reflex from a hollow vessel. Rigor mortis of the soul. There is a knock at the door, and a voice: “Patrick! Are you in there? I’m dry. Open up please. I’m cramping.” He recognises the voice of a man he despises: a weak junky like himself, a pathetic creature. When he looks at this man he is reminded of his own revolting state and the self loathing that accompanies this is often unbearable. Cruel. Torture. An infliction of the image of the self on the self. A mirror of truth so honest that it does not allow euphemistic perception to soften the blow.

“Come in, the door is open.”

A thin man with large eyes and a pockmarked face stumbles in. He sees Patrick standing like a broken cross with an empty bottle in the one hand and a gun in the other.

“And now? Target practice?”

Patrick grins: “Come in, close the door and be saved my son. You are looking for dope; I will be your God.” He makes a catholic benediction with the gun in front of his chest. His tattered, white shirt has brown stains of varying hues all over it.

The man forces a painful smile. “Why the drama? You look like shit.”

Patrick can feel many days of pent up anger flooding his thoughts. This sudden sharp emotion comes out of nowhere like something dangerous and caged that has waited an eternity for the guard at the gate to leave its post. Patrick’s demeanour changes in a flash. He moves forward in a rapid motion, like a pouncing animal, and grabs the pathetic looking man by the throat. He pushes him against the wall and points the muzzle at his temple. His voice is low, intense and harsh. Droplets of spit lashes the man’s face: “You fuck! Do you have no respect? Do you want me to kill you? You are one to talk. When last did you look in the mirror? Where’s your money?”

The man has an expression of terror and he lifts his hands slowly up in the air.

“Hey, okay. Sorry. It was a joke man, I don’t want trouble. I only want to get high. I come to buy allot. Boeta send me. You know Boeta, he spends.”

“Yes, so you are he’s dog now? Maybe I must put you down like a dog. You are a bitch!”

He lowers the gun and shoves the man to the side.

“Show me the money.”

The man takes out a big wad of cash from his back pocket and holds it toward Patrick.

“There, see? It’s allot. Boeta needs it for...”

“...he’s whores, yes I know. He has to keep them loaded. Filthy bitches. And you? You are getting a little cut I suppose? A bone for the mongrel.”

He grabs the money and walks back to the chair where he flops down. The tired chair sags and creeks. He counts the notes and smiles.

“Phew, those whores must be working their saggy tits off hey?”

He lets out a whistle and a chuckle while lifting his arms up in a gesture of surrender.

“I am all out.”

But you just...” the man’s demeanour grows desperate.

“What do you mean ‘all out’? You are never out man. I... we need it. Boeta is going to be kak angry. Please man, look at me. I’m dying over here.”

The man’s sickly, wheezy and begging voice annoys him. He can feel his irritation giving way to another bout of anger.

“Fuck Boeta - and fuck you! I’m out. I used the last bit. See?” He points with the gun to the rubber band and empty syringe. “I’ve been shooting up for a couple of days now. I did not bother to get new supplies for distribution. I don’t give a fuck. I’m finished! FINISHED!”

The thin man looks disappointed: “Ag no man, where must we go now? All the way to Casper. I hate that poes. His gear is kak.”

A dark thought crosses Patrick’s mind: he needs to make a sacrifice to the cruel God that is responsible for his shitty life. A blood sacrifice.

Patrick gives the same hollow laugh as before: “You are going nowhere.”

Patrick points the gun at the man. He has an intense expression on his face. He taps the gun against his head.

“You are a hollow head man. An animal. A beast. You are stealing oxygen and space from more deserving people. What good are you? You are just a bag of bones and meat infused with addiction and chemicals. No wife. No kids. No job. No faith! A balless bitch!”

The man is starting to look worried: “Nowhere?”

“Ja, nowhere. Come closer.” The man hesitates. “Come!”

The man can see the anger in Patrick’s eyes and it scares him, he whimpers submissively: “Hey man, I’m just an errand boy. You know Boeta, he’s kak gevaarlik. If he doesn’t get his money or dope he’s going to come here with his boys and tear this place up. Let’s just leave it. I will go across town. No worries. Just give me the money back.”

Patrick does not speak. He merely beckons with the gun. The man walks closer as if in a trance. When he is close enough Patrick grabs him at the front of his shirt and pulls him closer.

“Open your mouth!”

“Ag no man Pat...”

“Open your mouth!”

The man complies submissively. A strange numbness is flooding his body like a river of apathy. Patrick puts the barrel inside he’s stinking, fleshy cavity where a few last pathetic words escape from like bats after dark: “Please… please…”

The man is standing right next to Patrick now.

“Kneel.”

“Ag no man, just leave…” He mumbles, tasting the steel.

“KNEEL!”

The man obeys the command. He has no energy left to resist. He is thinking of getting loaded one more time and he will do whatever it takes. If only he can survive this bizarre scene.

Patrick utters the following words slowly and deliberately: “Open your mouth wider, doggie.”

The man hesitantly opens his mouth.

Patrick throws down the gun and gives him a hard slap with the money: “Here are your thoughts. This is your tongue. Swallow, little doggie!”

Psychosis bears its primal fangs, the man becomes an animal. Patrick experiences his actions as something foreign to him. He feels trapped in a predetermined chain of events that is drawing him unwillingly into this tragic plot. His voice is not his own. He becomes the passenger of a visitor that was lurking in the shadows until this moment. He pushes the wad of cash in the man’s mouth and wraps his arm around his neck and put’s one hand over his mouth while grabbing his nose with the other. The man tries to free himself but he only manages to struggle feebly, he is weak from withdrawal, and overwhelmed by Patrick’s aggression. He’s tired body instinctively makes an effort to resist, but it is feeble compared to the animal state in which Patrick finds himself. After a while he goes limp and lifeless. Patrick lowers his head onto his lap and gives it a pat.

“Good dog. Good dog.”


It is a beautiful afternoon and she is happy. She is riding on her bicycle down Ocean Drive. She just had an intense Yoga session and she feels relaxed and invigorated. She is looking forward to being reunited with her child whom is being taken care of by a highly recommended and expensive caretaker. It is a small price to pay for the sake of their family bliss, both the nannies’ fee, and the luxury she has of spending some hours daily in a separate reality. She needs this to stay sane. Being a mother and a partner is a demanding job. At times she misses the excitement of her pre-marital life: living in the moment without planning, the parties, and the carefree and uncomplicated sex. She loves her husband, but if she has to be completely honest to herself she will have to admit that his predictability and overprotective, controlling patriarchal demeanour can be very annoying at times. She bears this in silence and never complains. She knows by now that the argument that will ensue, motivated by his fragile male ego will not be worth the honesty. He cannot change. His universe is build around the image of himself as a responsible family man. They have a fairly good social life. Friends and family come by regularly for dinner and they both love the theatre, but on a certain level it did not compare with her previous life. When she looks in the mirror she can still see the young, vibrant women that danced until the sun came up. The secret longing for these times is her closely guarded secret.

 

He takes the wad of cash from the dead man’s mouth. “This money will speak your last words my, bru.”

He looks around at the mess and laughs. He looks for clean clothes but fail to find any. He counts the cash. It’s a good score. He puts it in his pocket and walks out the door which he leaves slightly ajar, just enough so that a passerby in the hallway would be able to see a dead man lying on the floor. As he walks he makes a call to the police and informs them that there is a murdered man in Bella Vita number 33. He makes a stop at the local barber for a haircut and a shave. Then he goes to the public swimming pool where he takes a long, hot shower. Afterwards he crosses town and visits a well known men’s fashion shop where he buys a shirt, shoes and a suit. He put’s this on and throws away the rags into a dustbin. He put’s he’s gun in the side pocket and he is aware of its subtle motion as he walks. Today he will be gangster number one for a change, top of the food chain, A Holy God of his imagination.

The sun is almost under and the dusk is setting in. He is walking towards the ocean.


She decides to go to a little alcove along the beach to watch the sun set. It is a quiet place that not many people visit. It is a place which she goes to from time to time to get away from people and to meditate and centre herself. She locks her bike to a lamp pole on the curb before she walks down towards the water where some large boulders create a natural shelter. She enters the enclosed space and goes to sit cross legged, facing the ocean. She looks at the sea for a while before closing here eyes while concentrating on the sound of the crashing waves. She breathes slowly and deeply. She feels calm and relaxed and her only thoughts are about contentment and joy. She concentrates on the warmth of the last sun-rays on her skin. She detaches and observes her thoughts like a movie in her mind: a smiling child, a green field, an embrace...

The vice around her neck that chokes the air from her is so unexpected that she gets lost in a wave of confusion. She can feel the man’s body pressing closely against her as he picks her upwards. As he relieves the chokehold slightly, he presses her mouth firmly shut with his other hand. The realization of what is happening makes her numb with shock. Her confused mind struggles to comprehend the situation.

“Don’t struggle! I’m not going to hurt you.”

The man’s voice sounds distant and cold to her. Her body is limp with fear and she can feel his warm breath on her neck. He turns her around to face him. His intense stare holds her for a few seconds before he speaks again:

“Try to be calm. I’m sorry...”

Her mind emerges from the tumble and slows down enough for her to form an impression of the man: he must be in his early 40’s, but he has evidently had a hard life. His face is worn out with gaunt features and dark eyes and she suspects that he might look quite a bit older than what he really is. There is a tattoo of a tear on his left cheek. She runs through some options in her terrified mind and decides that the best thing now would be to try to calm herself and assess the situation. She perceives that the man is not inherently evil or dangerous; there is something gentle about him, hidden far, far away behind his hard mask. His gaze has tragedy and a soft edge despite the intensity. This makes her relax somewhat. She has learnt to trust her own instincts. It has saved her many times before.

“I am a desperate man, but I do not intend to harm you if it is not called for. There is no time, so I will be blunt. I will be dead soon. I need to talk to somebody.I only want you to have dinner and a walk with me. That’s all. Then I will let you go. I would prefer it that you would do it as a favour. I would prefer not to force you, but I will if I have to, do you understand? Will you do me this favour? Think quickly. I am going to take my hand from your mouth now. If you scream, I will take it that you do not want to do me this favour, and I will have to rethink my strategy. This will involve some pain for you.”

His words spirals through her confused mind like a puzzle and she grabs at the clues. Her instincts instruct her to obey his request. He removes his hand from her mouth slowly while maintaining vice like grip around her wrist with his other hand. She can feel her lower lip quiver slightly with shock and fear and she tries to stop this, she does not want to look weak, like a victim. She cannot think of anything to do or say, she merely stands in front of him with a blank and surprised expression. He looks back at her in silence for a while before loosening his grip slightly.

“Let’s go.”

He takes her by the hand and they start to walk down the shoreline. She follows reluctantly, almost to the point of him having to drag her along. A feeling of absurd surrealism surrounds them like a cloud. She decides to simply go through the motions, like a marionette with no mind of her own.

He stops and turns to her: “Stop resisting, you are drawing attention. Just walk next to me. Act normal. You are putting me on edge. You don’t want that, trust me!”

They continue. She obeys his command. She has given herself over to the situation. She realizes that she has become a victim now, a passenger on this vehicle she has no control over. All she can do is to try and minimize the potential damage, and perhaps; wait for a chance to escape. She looks around for possible help, but as luck would have it this part of the beach is deserted. After a short interval he speaks again. This time the tone of his voice is calm and tender:

“I know this is strange, but I saw you when you arrived. Something attracted me to you. A strange feeling. I can’t explain it. I have hurt people before, killed once... today, but this is not my nature. You must understand this. I just need someone to see me for who I am before I go. Do you understand?”

She nods her head. He lets her hand go and they walk in silence for a while. When she feels calmer and more in control of herself, she speaks for the first time:

“So what do you want to talk about?”

He shrugs: “I’m not sure, it’s not like I prepared a speech, you know? Let’s just walk a little longer.”

They walk for a while, listening to the ocean, adjusting to this strange situation. Three people are approaching from the other side and she considers running towards them and shouting for help, but she doesn’t do it. They pass in silence. She finds his presence magnetic and perplexing. She is intrigued. She wants to know things. A strange curiosity she has not felt for a while is taking hold of her. The danger excites her. Her adrenaline rush passed its peak and now she is following in its wake.

“So why do you say you will not live much longer? Are you sick? You look healthy to me. A bit tired maybe.”

He laughs: “It’s amazing what a shave and a suit can do.” He pauses, turns and looks at her.

“Suicide. I decided to end my life. Don’t bother to try and change my mind. It’s final. I just want one last conversation and that conversation will be with you.”

She frowns. She is not interested in changing his mind. She gave up on that type of sentimentality. If people want to off themselves, it’s their choice as far as she is concerned. She does not claim to understand it, but she does not discourage or judge it either. She likes her life just fine, but she has enough insight and understanding that life is different for different people. Some people’s lives must be unbearable. The television is full of horror and human nightmares.

She folds her arms in front of her chest: “Any specific reason? I won’t try to change your mind, just interested, that’s all. You must do what you think is right, I’m not here to judge you.”

He touches her shoulder and stops. They both stand facing each other.

“Why didn’t you shout for help when those people passed us?”

She shrugs: “I’m not sure. Curious I guess. Maybe I’m being naive, but for some reason I trust you. I think this is exactly what should be happening right now. Have you ever heard about the timelines theory? That everything is happening at once but in different... time streams, I suppose.”

He laughs. “Let’s go, it’s getting dark. I promised you dinner. Just so that you know...” He lifts up his jacket to show her the gun. “...I have this.”


He arrived home as the text message came through: “I met and old friend. Got some catching up to do. Please pay Charmaine and tell her I’m sorry for not being back earlier. I will be back a.s.a.p. Take care of our baby. :-)”

This did not seem strange to him. Her sense of freedom is one the thing that attracted him the most from the start. He was never that brave. For the most part she is a good mother and wife, but he has grown to understand that he must allow for her intermittent careless indulgences if he wants to keep her happy. He allows her a certain amount of freedom with the knowledge that she will always return to the security of her family and home. She is a woman and mother after all. Her happiness and the integrity of his family is his primary concern. This is one thing he feels confident about. Ultimately, he is in control.

 

“I never had a real girlfriend, a beautiful women like you. You’re husband is a lucky man, truly lucky.”

They are sitting in a restaurant, drinking wine and waiting for the food to arrive.

“Thank you. I find it hard to believe that you never had a girlfriend. Have you never been in love?”

“Ag yes, off course; silly puppy love. I have a heart, but nothing real. My lifestyle never allowed for it. I’m an addict you know. I’ve been to prison. That’s where I got this.” He points to the tear drop beneath his eye.

“How do they say? I’m a lone wolf. Always roaming, always looking.”

“Always running?”

For a moment his demeanour becomes stern again. She knows that she touched a nerve and she suddenly feels regret for saying it. The man’s desperation makes him volatile. She tries to avert his attention with another question:

“How old are you?”

He smirks: “Not that old in years, 37, but I feel much older. I had too much of life, I am old and tired. We are all running. Running towards nothing. Like lemmings. Crazy.”

“Surely there is always hope? Do you think this life is all there is?”

This time he laughs out loud in a mocking fashion just before taking a large swig of the wine: “Hope, ag no, I gave up hope on hope. It’s a fallacy where I come from, and heaven is for children and adults blinded by fear, scared of reality. Scared of hell. Who knows? Nobody knows. There are many pretenders, preachers with more confidence than logic. It’s bullshit. Bullshit! Hope ties you down. Free yourself of this sentimentality.”

“If you are so free, why do you want to end your existence? Why not enjoy this freedom?”

He laughs again and tries to make light of this conversation that is starting make him feel uneasy. He realizes that she is pushing him towards ideas and feelings that he has muted in his heart for many years. He does not want to revisit them. It’s too late for that now, too late for him. The wine and atmosphere of the restaurant have lulled them into an unreal sense of security.

“Hell? I know hell. It’s a real place man. I’m not scared any longer. Bring it on.”

“You can still laugh.”

“Yes, off course; it’s all that’s left. No point in being sentimental. Life is hard, I am hard, but yes; I can still laugh. It’s not always a good laugh, you know?”

She hesitates: “I think so.” Her words are a betrayal. She does not understand this at all. Maybe with her logic, but not with her heart. Not where it counts.

He lifts his glass: “Cheers! To life.”

We winks at her. Their glasses and their eyes touch. She imagines that she can see his sadness, his tremendous loneliness and pain, but she cannot comprehend it. It goes too deep. The food arrives and they eat in silence. They have another bottle of wine. At one point a police car speeds by the window at great speed, the sirens ripping through the street. He becomes stone faced for a moment before continuing with his meal. They are both getting drunk by now and he seems to loosen up more.

“I have done a terrible thing today. I told you, remember?”

She nods: “It is difficult for me to imagine it. I cannot believe it. You do not seem the type.”

“I’m not. It just happened, an animal impulse. Something came over me. All the anger boiled over. I just couldn’t hold it in any longer.”

He stares out into the street for a while before he speaks again with some conviction.

“By the way, the gun is not loaded, and the man whose life I took earlier, he deserved it. He was a gangster and a junky like me, but also a child rapist. I never liked him. I don’t feel bad about it. Like him I should also die. Society can do without the likes of us.”

He is suddenly vulnerable. He puts his head in his hands. He becomes afraid of the tears welling up inside him. They are very close to the surface and are threatening to break through, to become real. It comes as a surprise to him. He has not felt this emotional since he was a boy. He does not like it. She touches his hand.

“You are not that hard. You can still change things around. You can be a lesson to society, a worthy lesson.””

His demeanour changes suddenly. He becomes abrupt and stark. He brushes her hand off and stares at her with hard, cold eyes.

“You are wrong. There is no going back. I will never go back to prison. Never! There is nothing left for me here except to choose my own death. It’s the last bit of power I have. The funny thing is that I actually felt good after I... after I killed that guy. It felt like I was unburdened from something I’ve been carrying around with me like a ball and chain for a very long time. Now can you see? How terribly dysfunctional I am? I crossed a boundary that can never be re-crossed. I have come to know the animal in me, and I liked it. Do you understand? There is only one way out. It’s for the best”

She knows that he is right and suddenly they have nothing left to say to each other. A strange type of finality intruded their sanctuary. They finish the meal and the wine. He pays the bill and they go outside.

“You are almost free. I need one last favour. Walk with me to the bridge. Please. It is the last thing I will ask of you.”

He takes out the rest of the cash and holds it towards her: “Here, take it. I won’t need it anymore. For your time and inconvenience. Take it!”

“No, I can’t do that. It will make me an accomplice.”

He grows angry: “You are being selfish! I need you to take it, don’t you understand? This will be my last act?”

She looks dumbfounded at him and something inside her wants to retort and tell him that he is being the selfish one, not manning up to life by taking his own life. Being a victim. A fugitive of his demons. Then she manages to see beyond her own emotions, and she understands. She takes the money and puts it in her purse.

“I don’t want to see it, please. Don’t make me watch.”

He’s demeanour is suddenly soft again: “Fine. Just walk with me to the bridge. You can go before I do it.”


They walk in silence next to the wide river that connects to the ocean towards the bridge that is lit up with hundreds of flickering bulbs. It is a perfect night. There is no wind and it is balmy. It is a Friday night and there is a festive spirit igniting the atmosphere around them, it feeds on the abundant electricity exuded by hundreds of revellers. Street musicians are entertaining the summer crowds and small bars and restaurants fill up with boisterous youths intent on having a good night. Amongst all this life the idea of imminent death seems absurd to her. She tries to think of a way to delay him, thinking that with another drink or two he might change his mind, find enough pleasure in the moment to let it go.

“One last drink? It’s a beautiful night...”, but he merely keeps on walking with a stern face. He’s mind is evidently made up, and nothing will change it.

As they approach the bridge they can see the Ferris wheel on the other side of the river. The revolving lights reflect off the dark water beside it. The summer carnival is in full swing. She is reminded about the times when she and Wayne were still dating. It used to be one of their favourite seasonal activities: taking a ride on the Ferris wheel on perfect summer nights.

They reach the bridge and she stops: “I don’t want to go further.”

He looks at her with an empty gaze. “Please.”

He takes her by the hand and starts to drag her along. She considers starting screaming for help, but the she relents despite the feeling of dread that wells up within her. The bridge is full of crossing pedestrians, but nobody seems to notice her distress. She thinks about how most people are too wrapped up in their own worlds, their own life experiences instead of being fully aware of the objective reality around them. This is her first truly cynic notion, and it scares her a little. She suddenly feels vulnerable and alone among a sea of wanderers and seekers of self. They pass a couple drinking champagne and looking across the wide expanse of water. When they reach the middle he stops. He keeps a tight hold of her hand as they look down towards the blackness of the river. Tourist boats adorned with merry lights and filled with happy people passes underneath them in a constant stream of merriment. He let’s go of her hand and climbs over the protective barrier. He goes to stand on the metal edge, holding the barrier with one hand. He stands like this for a while before he speaks: “Well, I suppose this is goodbye then. You should go.”

“It feels like the words are waking her up from a surreal trancelike state. On an impulse she also climbs over the railing and goes to stand next to him.

“What are you doing?” He sounds concerned.

“I don’t know. I don’t believe you are going to do this. This is not you. Stay. Live.”

He looks at her intently. After a while he holds out his hand just before staring back down into the abyss. She can feel a great relief sweeping over her. He is not going to jump after all. She managed to convince him to stay alive without trying too hard. She never intended to try anyway, it just happened. All he needed was a human connection. The opportunity presented itself and she did something good. Of course she was just instrumental in the chain of events that lead up to this point, her ego has nothing to do with it. She reaches out towards him. He is still looking at the river intently. Their fingers touch, she hesitates for a moment, but then she commits fully. Their hands clasp firmly. Then he looks up at her and she sees the determined look in his eyes. She goes cold and her heart fills with sudden dread.

 

He puts his palm across the child’s face and it is hard for him to imagine that he was once in the reverse position of this exact situation. He holds the child up in the air and extends his arms upwards. The child wriggles and laughs ecstatically. He smiles back at his biological reflection. He looks deep into the child’s eyes and imagines the possibility of recognizing her unique identity in their mutual creation. He realizes that this is impossible and that they are theoretically intertwined for eternity in a genetic embrace through the linage of their offspring. This epiphany touches him in an unfathomable deep place. A piece of the evolutionary puzzle and the understanding of this perplexing thing called life fall into place. He understands that he is bound to them like a solitary ship in and eternal ocean, constantly seeking for an elusive harbor that every living thing has a memory of, but that can never be found in this reality, because finding it will mean to disembark and entering a foreign land for which no map exists. He throws the child up towards the light and catches it again. The child giggles with delight and feels complete and secure in the warm presence of its God.

 

Their fragile bodies rip through the canvas of a riverboat (which happened to pass underneath) on which the wedding of two martyrs are taking place. They land with a thump among the screaming guests. She shouts: “You murderous freak!”, and tries to push him away, but he clings to her dry body as if his life depended on it. He forces her to roll along with him to the edge of the vessel. She desperately tries to scrape and cling at blurry uncommitted things that pass her by in a flurry of angst, but all rewards she receives for her efforts are broken nails and the shocked gasps of the dumbfounded audience. They tumble over the edge; a rolling sacrificial beast with four arms and two backs that is devouring its own conspirital tail. They plunge into the warm summer water and start a gentle spiral downwards, towards the mysterious darkness of the river belly. Time stops. The twin images of her husband and son appear in her mind’s eye. After a while this picture fades as her body starts to revolt against the act of non-breathing. She now also experiences the animal within taking over, and it is terrifying. Her last rational thought is that everybody carries this animal with them where-ever they go in life. After a few seconds her lungs are pleading with her, shouting for help and release. Her mind is an unbalanced dynamo that spins out of control. She gives him one last look of desperation; she tries to penetrate his mind with a watery stare that pleads for mercy. He remains a stone faced icon of revolt. And then, suddenly she can feel a strange calm enveloping her whole being as she begins her journey to sweet unconscious dreaming. At that moment, right on the edge of darkness, he releases her, and with great conscious effort she ejects herself from the deathly dream and start to swim upwards. The last thing she remembers is the gentle smile on his face at the moment he broke their embrace.

 

The funeral was a sombre spectacle of wives, mothers and children clinging to paper doves choking with snot and tears. Despite the heavy atmosphere she was happy. She has never felt as alive as she did since her ordeal. It is as if she has fallen in love with life all over again. She was enjoying the bliss of married life completely now. Her longing for previous times has evaporated. She lived in the beauty of the moment, and the moment was good enough.

She touched the open coffin lovingly and laid a single red rose on his chest. Her white dress swayed like a spinnaker in the breeze.