The black cat walked by the patio again today. He won’t stop and engage no matter how hard I try to talk to him. Some cats are haughty and this one clearly isn’t deaf. Some say it is feral, but it’s too well groomed for that. More likely it has spent too much time with people. The sort of arrogance it shows has only one source and, though we hate to admit it, we know that source all too well.
We marched for hours, going nowhere really, but nowhere was the point of the marching so we achieved the goal the Air Force set. We didn’t even think it odd that they made us shave our heads, so we’d all look like fools, there was a war on and we were in the military, so we had already proven that point. We were the smarter ones, as it turned out, enlistees who’d spend our time on bases getting the pilots ready to fly into the danger we knew we had so carefully avoided, and for us the greatest risk appeared daily in the mess hall.
Hell is a place where what you least desire becomes eternally yours, or so we were told as children, well not us, not the Jewish kids, for us Hell was our mothers’ finding that copy of Playboy we stole from our father’s stash our mother didn’t know about, and which he would deny, throwing us under the bus or any large vehicle she found
If we buy into Hell, and given that ours is an aging population, many of whom have landed in Florida and Arizona to avoid the winters that are hell on the ubiquitous arthritis, and all those who have joyously consumed the evangelical Kool-Aid, when the final bell rings, they may be surprised to discover there is far, far more of a chance of a snowball in Hell.
One of these days soon the sun will again get angry, will blow off steam and all manner of signals will get the message loud if not clearly. The sun can get away with it and we accept it, if not willingly but begrudgingly. When we blow off such steam cities melt, and the angry one is condemned for crimes against humanity or avoiding greater loss. In the final analysis, however, it is probably better to simply be a star where fits of pique are expected and tolerated.
Like most you believe that if it is worth remembering you will, that memory is keyed to some measure of value and if you forget that value had diminished without your noticing. You accept this as a sort of gospel truth for you cannot recall that you once rejected this argument out of hand, for that has slipped way from memory and lies valueless and withering on the synaptic scrap heap. You are certain you had a childhood but just as certain you were thoughtless until age three when life came rushing in remarkable fits and starts bridged by chasms of nothing though you fear that some memories may be slipping into the abyss even as you deny that possibility.
You read the obituaries every day not only for the affirmation that you are not listed among them The key five words there are not only for the affirmation, particularly upon hearing the gentle man you liked, that you valued as a friend and craftsman is gone, but you didn’t say goodbye, that you thought “better him than me,” that you hated that thought, that you hated yourself for thinking it, that nonetheless you are glad it wasn’t you, was someone else just not him, just not someone you knew. You weren’t in the obituaries today and when you are gone, you won’t be here to read it anyway, and you won’t think “better him than me,” and you promise you will forgive those that think it.