Back To Part Four: Testing the waters

"A Dead Guy Walks Into A Bar"
Noder's Digest Condensed Version

Part Five: I Look in the Mirror
Based on a true story

"My ex-husband was a weirdo."

"So am I. What made him a weirdo?"

"For our anniversary he bought me this t-shirt.
It had the word Gorgeous printed across the front.

"Sounds like he thought highly of you."

"Yeah, but the SOB forced me to wear it
everytime I went out and then he had this
cattle prod a friend gave him and he
used it constantly, sticking me in the ass
with it and saying Yee Haw!
all the time."

"I think I need to go now."

The man needed to move. This whole mass dating experience was turning into more work than he ever imagined. He could not believe that he thought he was missing out on something by spending years outside the dating scene because of his inhibiting shyness. He also could not believe that he thought he was ever more disturbed, depressed or confused than the rest of the world. The world had turned into a revolving door of madness. Night after night he listened to stories that made no sense of the context of the lives that lived them. Cattle prod? What was this woman talking about?

"She sure is a hot little number."

The last thing the man needed at that point was to have a hard core salesman type, drinking whiskey and wearing a really bad tie, offering him insights into his life and the people in it. The man watched as the salesman made offensive gestures with his tongue, and pursed his lips like he had just devoured hot jalapeno salsa and was enjoying the burning sensation. Shaking his head, the man moved over to the bar and ordered himself a drink.

"If this is the future, then now is the time to reclaim the past."

They had gone nearly three years without contact. The woman he considered the great love of his life, the woman who inspired him, his muse, his goddess for whom he never considered himself good enough. In the light of his new life he could not explain his past trepidation. They had known each other for almost ten years and everytime they crossed paths it seemed something terrible had happened in one of their lives. Now he had to figure out how to find her and how to explain, at least to himself, all that time they wasted talking about the weather and speaking in cliches along the lines of "good seeing you again." Not knowing where to reach her, he sent a Christmas card to her parents' house hoping they would forward it on to her.

The past is no longer obtainable.
There is only death here.

He studied himself in the bathroom. In the six months since his death he allowed his hair to grow and stopped shaving. The face he saw was familiar. He took a razor and shaved his neck and cheeks. Then he let his long hair cascade over his face. It finally came to him. The man he had seen in death, sitting ever so calmly on that metal folding chair in the desert of his soul was himself, the new self he had become. Having taken on a look he more preferred, long hair and contact lenses coupled with a new wardrobe, he began to understand what had been offered to him in death. To evolve and become who he really was, rather than chain himself to the demands and directives of others, he would get closer to solving the puzzle handed to him.

You were not granted a second chance
in order to make the same mistakes.

"That is why I will make no mistakes
this time."

It took a mere three days before a message from his muse appeared on his answering machine. She had actually moved back in with her parents, which meant the Christmas card had fallen directly into her hands. Her voice rained on his soul from across the distance as it asked simple questions through the machine. "I was wondering what happened to you" and "I want to know what's happening with you, call me soon." It seemed too simple. Perhaps the past could be reconciled, even as much as doing so was the same kind of wishful thinking as "if I could go back to high school with what I know now..."

Ego can only carry you so far.
Your beliefs can merely influence
the beliefs of another.
If even that.

Her life's course had taken as many, if not more, tragic turns as his own. Being a muse, and his compliment, she was defiant rather than suicidal. As soul mates, what drew them together was their ability to bring peace to each other's souls, even if it was just a temporary peace. What he was to learn was a lesson of a different kind. Her growing defiance of the world and its evils had grown in leaps and bounds since their last meeting. She had reached the point where she could no longer let anyone in without feeling the overwhelming urge to hurt and destroy them. She had become the black widow, only able to atone for past traumas by exacting a tithe in the form of the pain of another who trusted and loved her. The duality of their combined nature was about to become more pronounced, as he would realize the opposite was true of himself. He could only reconcile the past by helping and caring about those who crossed his path. The journey of his soul and the path of his new life would not allow any other path. To go off course was to find yourself tangled in the weeds.

"Jesus, what the hell happened to you?"

It was an interesting opening comment from the woman he loved and had not seen in years. He had to giggle at the way her jaw dropped and her eyes leaped towards him before her face could catch up. He smiled and told her nothing. The story of his death he needed to keep a secret. It was time to be as normal as possible. She remembered him as a shy geek who fawned over her. He wasn't very interested in injecting any further evidence that he was weird. Denial, like all forms of lying, would come back to haunt him.

"I've had to make some changes."

She shook her head and padded off into the living room to address her father. The man heard her father respond with a simple "uh-huh" when she informed him that her old friend "has long hair now and dresses like a pirate." She came back looking disappointed at her father's reaction. The man looked off into the mirror in the hallway and stopped. While he felt his beloved admiring him out of the corner of his eye he studied the face in the mirror. Death had offered him two paths, and his guide had been himself, who could not have existed unless he took the path he was now on. He looked back at the woman he loved and took a deep breath. This wasn't going to be that hard. Even after all his doubts, maybe there was a happily ever after and a big warm bucket of gold at the end of the rainbow.

You have promises to keep
and she has miles to go
before she sleeps.

Once they were out in his car she told him to wait before turning the key in the ignition. She looked deeply in his eyes, past the surface and deeply into his soul. She could tell there was something different about him but she could not figure out what it was.

"Have your eyes always been so blue?"

To be continued...
...the junction happens here...

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