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Twisting all the bad things into good

Nov 27, 2011

The Nitty Gritty, Part 21: Patron Saint of...Whatever

 I'll admit that suffering, or rather, the dramatic interest of being One Who Suffered, appealed to me. I could see myself tragic and tortured, wasted by some suitably novel madness or malaise that would leave me wanly luminous, a brave inspiration to friends and family gathered about my bedside.
Caroline Kettlewell, Skin Game


            I thought about the U.S.S. Indianapolis.
            During World War II, the Navy ship was torpedoed by the Japanese. After it sunk, almost 900 men were left in Pacific Ocean. Some were in the few lifeboats, some floated in their lifejackets. 316 survived the 4 days it took to be rescued. Many were killed by sharks. All were severely dehydrated. Some decided to drink the salt water which caused them to become delirious. I didn't want that to happen.
            I was already delirious.
            I was also completely dehydrated. Being dehydrated in reality, was causing me to desperately crave water in my hallucinations. If I was back in my bedroom at this time, I was so far from reality that I did not have the sense to walk to my bathroom sink and get a drink.

            When I fought for my life on the I.P.O.D.S boat in my last delusion, I was actually acting it out on a neighbor's boat. That was where I caused the damage to my knee and my IPOD player.
            I may have been floating in the intracoastal outside my apartment. That would be my best guess. I would say that made the most sense, except nothing made sense anymore.
            Physically, I could only imagine where I was. In my imagination, I was in the Atlantic Ocean. Somewhere between Philadelphia and Ft. Lauderdale, I was waiting for the sharks.

            Despite the blood in the water, the sharks never came.
            Instead, Johan did.
            I recognized my old friend's voice as soon as I heard him call my name. I stopped gazing at the full moon and looked towards his voice to see him paddling towards me in a kayak. I had not seen or spoken to him in 5 years, but there he was.  Couldn't have picked a better time.  How could he possibly find me in the middle of the ocean in the dark?
            At first, I thought I had lost my mind and was seeing things. I was. But in my version of reality, he was there.
            Finally, my mind was giving me a break. I don't know why. Maybe there is only so much fear that the mind can take. I know now that there is only so much stress and lack of sleep that the mind can take before it loses touch with reality. I don't know what happens to the mind when it experiences more fear than it can possibly handle. Maybe it would not be a temporary psychosis. Maybe it would be permanent.
            He pulled me into the kayak. I just kept thanking him. I wanted to know where the hell I was and how he knew I was out there? He explained that we were not far from the Boca Raton Inlet.

            Once again, the laws of physics were no match for me.
            Einstein? Newton? Hawking? Morons. Jimmy Mac? Genius. I had made a habit of refuting their concepts of time and space over the last 5 days. I had created my own theory concerning the time-space continuum.
            Not a theory, a law.
            The Law of Whatever.
            A person can not float roughly 1,000 miles in a few hours, if not minutes?
            A car leaving South Florida after dark can't make it to Kansas City Airport before midnight, even with the 1 hour time difference?
            Kids can't knock on your apartment door and be out of sight in 3/10's of a second?
            People can't show up at a beach memorial for a man they didn't know who died 20 minutes earlier?   
            What. The. Fuck. Ever.
            Someday this Law of Whatever will be studied in schools.
            It may be perfect for the current generation. Of course they would add "slang" to this old man's law.
            The Law of Whatevz.
            Someday, this brain of mine will be studied by neuroscientists.
            It may not be because I was considered a genius though.

            This "genius" was treading water in the right latitude and the right longitude at the right time. Apparently Johan was paddling out here because a few of my friends had discovered the approximate location of treasure that sunk to the ocean bottom in a famous shipwreck. You probably never heard of it. The name escapes me right now, but trust me, it was very famous. I knew enough about it to know the treasure was priceless and now I would get a cut since...since it was my delusion, I guess?

            As nice as it was to hear some good news after the events of the last few days, I knew I could not survive much longer without water. Johan did not have any. Being surrounded by an ocean of water while dying of thirst was torture.
            Johan paddled until we spotted my friend, Mark. I never knew it, but Mark was a world class scuba diver. In my world, at least. Johan paddled along Mark's kayak. I had to get in with Mark because Johan had to paddle back to tell the other guys that we would be coming back soon. They had to prepare, um, whatever it is their individual assignments were. I told Johan I had to go with him because I was severely dehydrated and I would not make it much longer without water. Johan said I had to stay because someone had to help Mark. Apparently when they divvied up jobs, they forgot this vital one. Someone had to keep Mark's kayak from drifting away while he was marking the treasure as ours. I told Johan I was too weak to assume such an important task. He told me if that was the case, then I would never have the strength to paddle to wherever the other guys were. They both made it clear that if any of us did not do our respective job, we would lose our chance at a fortune beyond our wildest dreams. After hundreds of years of being undiscovered, another group was right behind us in search of the treasure.

            I had no choice. I could not let my best friends down or they would never forgive me.
            That is what I told myself.
            That is also what they told myself.
            I said I would not let them down. Even if I died. I would stay alive long enough for Mark to bury the flag and get back to the kayak. In typical drama queen fashion, I said something lame like,"Even if I wasted my life, I will not waste my death".

            The only thing I asked was that they let my friends know that I loved them and that I died so that they could enjoy lives that most men could only dream of.
            And that once in a while, they take just a moment out of their lives of luxury and leisure to remember me and my selfless sacrifice.
            And also, if they would erect a statue of me.
            Life size, preferably.
            Before I could ask them to name their first born after me or have me canonized as Patron Saint of Temporary Insanity, Johan said he had to hurry. He told me that live or die, my life was not a waste because I had been a good friend. He said if I didn't make it, he would personally see that all my final wishes would be followed, no matter how much the statue would cost.
             I watch Johan paddling as fast as he could. I think about how I may never see my oldest friend again and that I forgot to tell him something. I shout out his name, but he is too far away. I would tell Mark to pass my message, but I did not want to distract him while he hurried to get his equipment ready for his dive. Now Johan would never know what I wanted to tell him. I wanted to let him know that I would like the inscription at the base of my 6'1 statue to read:

         JIMMY MAC
10/28/1975 - 9/6/2010 


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