How I Came to be

I was getting older. I was getting infirm. Had to make some decisions. Decided to move to the city, get an apartment, be closer to the market, the doctor. My mind was getting like swiss cheese...snippets of love, horror, joy, pain....these were all I knew.

Once I got there, I sat in my apartment, trying to adjust to the noise, the grime, the generally depressing nature of too much humanity crowded into too little space and a bunch of boxes. Ventured out only to go to market, or get pricked by the medical people. I sat in my apartment, not knowing anyone, not reaching out, for I had reached before, but like the greek, the sun had ruined my feathers. My once shiny, well ordered plumage, patterned as a mosaic of the gods, were now ripped, dull and grey, just like this city.

We met after I moved to the city. This fella was gregarious, and I saw him nearly every time I limped to the market. One such time, he said 'You are struggling. Can I help you?'

In my scraps of pride, I tried to say 'no', but somehow, I said 'Yes. Please, if you could carry one bag, it would be very kind.'

From there, A's apartment was only one block from mine. Slowly, we found we had difficult conversations that became easier, then seemed natural. The things we liked and did not like were similar. The 'not liked' became 'not much'. We laughed, we talked politics, religion, sex, the people we loved or had loved, the people who were rude, the people who were cruel. We talked philosophy-I could not remember them all, but we passed by, over and around 'Godot'. Again, laughing at the joke and our perceptions of it....”What fool would sit through such a play?” “What fool would ACT in it?! Except for one so desperate to be on stage, they would give anything, even their soul to be called 'actor'!” And we laughed at our brilliance and understanding and practicality. We became good friends, like unto brothers.

I had an old, almost worn out Honda motorcycle. I brought it with me to the city, thinking 'perhaps, I may wish to leave this place from time to time.'. A had no vehicle. Since he had no car, no subway fare, and it was too far too walk, I lent him the motorcycle. Eventually, we both came to view it as more his than mine. A used it to visit the love of his life, and came to love the wind in his hair as much as her. Finally, I said “Park it at your apartment in the lot. Lock it to something solid, or it will disappear. I have no need of it, and am at the point where I dare not ride it at my age, especially in the city. Should have sold it. You use it as you need.” and he did.

Time passed. One day, A said, “I must travel to Chicago. My Mother is ill, and has no one to care for her. I hope this will work out, but I don't know how long she will need me. Will you look after my house plants and send on my bills? I wish to come back, as I prefer to live here.” I replied, “Who would not do so for a friend?”

Since much of A's family lived in my city, and I knew some of his friends, they became my social circle. Not as lively as A, but all loyal to a fault. Good people, with callouses on their hands and warmth in their eyes. We got on well; I was content.

As any other day, I limped to A's building. At the entrance, a police car stood, with lights flashing. A detective in a tan open coat and a gray suit was posted near the entrance. “Did you know the resident in 13D? How long had you known him?” Questions-those simple questions that don't seem to have much meaning, but lead to infinite change in lives. Like a robot, I stood near and said, “I know the resident of 13D. He is my friend.” The eyes turned to me. I must have shrank by a foot. “How long had you known him? Where is your identity card?”

After a torrent of questions, I was led to 13D. “Touch nothing, although I am sure your fingerprints are everywhere. You may wish that they are not the only ones.” the detective put forth. The destruction and chaos were a tornado's path. Plants, furniture, dishes strewn or broken. Jagged holes in the walls. Napkins thrown about. Pepper, salt, opened canned goods, catsup and salad dressing splattered on the walls. Windows broken. I could not conceive of the sense of such destruction.

“We cannot find this man.” said the detective. “Come and see this.” We walked down to the parking area. The old Honda lay there in a pool of gasoline, oil and broken parts, fully as riven as the apartment. “Is this yours?” the detective asked. “Well, of course, you know that it is.” I replied. “Are you asking questions in this manner because you suspect my involvement in this matter?”

“We suspect everyone of everything.” the detective said. “All are guilty until found dead.”

I shuddered. A cold gray hand closed on my mind. What could have happened here? Where is my good friend? But, the police had no answers. His neighbors had none. They claimed to have heard nothing, seen nothing. Only questions, questions so oblique as to be meaningless and stultifying. The police became bored with me, and I certainly with them. I slunk away to my little box, which had heretofore seemed like home. Now it had the air of a cell.

A restless night, a new ugly day in my city. I went to see A's cousin and his wife. They were home. The wife was sitting on the stoop with hair askew, wild eyes and rumpled clothes.

“What has happened to you, dear?” I queried.

“We have been vandalized! Our house defiled by evil demons!” she cried.

I tried to comfort her, but she would have none of it. I saw more broken windows, that the door was barely hanging on broken hinges. The cousin came out, looking worse for wear than his wife. They showed me their once neat as a pin home, ransacked. The flooring was torn up, the possessions flung like popcorn at a juvenile movie theater, their clothes shredded by knives or scissors. Nothing had been untouched by the busy claws of chaos. Again, I felt adrift. I had the sense to leave before these people were visited by the gray detective. I knew they surely must be on his list for the day.

I had not gotten nearly back to my little matchbox, when a hand shot from a cubby and snatched at my sleeve. I grasped my cane tightly, and prepared to lay the attacker flat. It was A's aunt. Red, puffy eyes, Medusa hair, scraggly mustache and torn hose. Another bit player in this odd drama had arrived.

“Have you seen what has befallen my family!?!” she spat.

“Yes. Do you imagine who would do these things? Is there a long held grudge unleashed, or is it chance?”

“I do not know, but I am afraid and confused. I don't know what to do. I am terrified in my own home!”

Again, I tried to comfort the woman. She was inconsolable. It became clear I could not distract her from her grief and fear. Disengaging myself, I returned to my own refuge in disarray. I would ponder these matters, but knew I would not understand. Distraction does not slip easily into the grasp of an emotionally engaged witness. I found two bottles of sangria in my cabinet, and they fit my hand better than my own throat would have for the moment.

In my chair, I finally slept a drunken slumber. I dreamed a drunken dream. Walking in fields of red poppies, the flowers turned into drops of blood. I saw A lying amongst them, drops staining his clothes and face. I stumbled forward until I stood over his body. His eyes sprang open. A laughed, a strange kind of gurgling laugh fell from his lips. He rolled to his hands and knees, lept up and began to run through the blood drop poppies. In between gales of laughter, I heard him shout, “Godot! You are Godot!” The dream was so real, I knelt from shock. I could feel the stems under my knees. As I watched A run over the horizon, I thought, “Then he was waiting? Who was waiting?”

I awoke in my chair in a cold sweat. Stiff and confused, I thought my pounding head would split open. With every thumping pulse, I heard A's voice, “Godot! Godot!”. It hangs on me still.


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