Archives for category: Fiction

A son cannot judge his father, – least of all such a father who, like you, has never dampened my liberty in anything.

For those who want a respite from the ‘getting and spending’ this Father’s Day and wouldn’t mind a take on fatherhood – particularly the relationship between father and son – that goes a little deeper than the celebratory, Hallmark variety, I’d recommend reading at least a few chapters of this Ivan Turgenev classic: a modern, realistic meditation on Wordsworth’s freighted truism: ‘The child is father of the man.’

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His vision of the future—in all of its promise and ambition, robust in confidence, vain, blind to failure—had not foreseen this.  Last night, as he lay in bed beside a woman who wasn’t his wife, he’d played today’s scenario out dozens of times.  Everything looked a lot less unyielding in his mind; less material; less threatening during the mental rehearsals.  But the emasculating fear still cuts with a force that he hadn’t anticipated, making a mockery of his preparations.  If he had simply fallen asleep, instead of making pretences at mastery, he probably would’ve been better off to face the day.  Another failed plan, he thinks.  It’s a tragic, teary thought.  But he doesn’t cry.  He’s staring at a catatonic line of two-way traffic somewhat obscured by an earth toned haziness; heads the size of the flattened tops of nails moving in the shadows of buildings; flesh and metal fused by indifference.  He has never before lived life as he’s living it now: in this state, on this precipice.  He’s poised to do it, but he can’t move.

Here’s the thing: He was rich once.  He is broke now.  And he wants to die.  But inside of this brokenness is a kind of glory he hadn’t anticipated.  It’s the most liberating thing he’s ever felt in his adult life and he doesn’t want it to end.  He wants to patent it and bottle it up and sell it to every suicidal manic depressive in every city in the world.  It would be the next great thing: the new penicillin.  Sales would grow, tip, and boom into the biggest IPO Wall Street’s ever seen (but in his mind, he doesn’t articulate it quite like this…this is just what his brain activity—the neurons + the synapses + the myelin sheaths + the this + the that, etc. etc.—would say if it could speak for itself).

He’s leaning on a wrought-iron gate, three-quarters of his body cleared for the fall.  This morning it rained, so the gate is slippery and his footing is unsteady.  A sudden jerk of his upper body or lurch forward and he’s headfirst into the wind.  Which is the idea, really.  If he jumped now, he’d risk taking some unlucky soul with him, his body colliding, like a rocket of debris, with another.  Or he could fall headlong into the traffic, potentially killing a cabbie or a chauffer or some sonofabitch with enough money to drive into the city every day in his uber-man sports car, the top down, the magic of the Rogaine parading in the breeze (in which case he wouldn’t be as remorseful in the afterlife).

If only he could let go of the gate, fall forward.  At this point, he really has no other choice.  Turning back would be his demise.  But Oh the Glory.  He wonders how long this feeling can linger before it becomes mere procrastination—cowardliness, unmanliness.  And he was never one to procrastinate.  And he is nothing if not—even at this petroleum slick point between being proud and being as animate as concrete—a man.  A Man.  A Man’s man.  Or is this feeling itself simply another kind of fear disguised as glory?  Life’s brilliant, gaudy, trite, pitiful justification flashed before him like a hedge fund manager’s engagement ring (for his third wife, the youngest one).  Bracing himself for the end of it all, he whispers: ‘Control is failure…control is failure…control is failure…

control…’