The decision to act falls under some clause in destiny versus responsibility. Then there is a plank we walk when we decide why we are acting. Are we acting in order to pursue some personal goal or gain? Are we considering the impact our actions with have on others? Are we asking too many questions?
Martin and I had been best friends for years. We were closer than brothers. We had shared in most of each other's lives, gone to the same places, hung out with the same friends, enjoyed similar interests and similar views. At times it was a monster of a friendship, especially where women in our lives were concerned. At times we were secretly jealous of each other when one was in a particularly rewarding relationship with someone. More to the point, our girlfriends tended to be jealous of our friendship. They were mystified and frustrated by how close Martin and I were and jealous because they could not attain the same kind of intimacy in a short period of time.
Martin and I had been best friends since the seventh grade and soon became inseparable. We had no luck with girls in high school and compared notes on our failures. Not long after high school, we began to find ourselves dating, and when one had a girlfriend the other felt left out. At one point I became involved with a beautiful and intelligent older woman. Martin secretly lusted after her and they fell into bed together. Sometimes I knew and sometimes I didn't.
Towards the end of my life, I was engaged to a young woman named Justine. Martin found himself involved with her best friend, Josephine. It was almost perfect, but Justine cut out soon after we got engaged and Martin grew disenchanted with Josephine. He tried to break things off with her, but she didn't want it to end. She was willing to do anything to "keep him." She would stop at nothing.
Josephine felt she had a certain kinship with me. Since Justine had left me and Martin had left her, and we both wanted to get back together with our mates, she spoke of plotting to "win them back." I was frustrated, depressed and suicidal, so I barely listened. Still, I would not turn her away, so she often came by to talk. I enjoyed her friendship and her support, but she never listened to anything but her own dogma. Martin and her were meant to be, in her version of life's truth, and she would not hear any dissent. I was the only one that never gave her any.
Martin was weak and agreed from time to time to try to rekindle the romance. Mostly he did it because he wanted to get laid, but she never saw that. She never believed it. No matter how many times he agreed to see her one night and then broke it off again the next morning.
"He is starting to give in to his heart."
It was a cold night, with the temperature below zero. I had a strange apartment with two rooms. One was a living room with a huge cathedral ceiling. The other was a small bedroom. During the winter months it was impossible to heat the big room without going broke, so I spent those months in the bedroom. When Josephine arrived, she was wearing a miniskirt and heels with white stockings. This was strange, considering the weather, but I wasn't about to complain. We talked for a while and she said she just wanted to watch television. The only place to sit was on the bed, so we sat next to each other watching television and drinking rum and coke. At one point she went to the bathroom and did not return for fifteen minutes. When she did, she took a last sip of her drink, and then ran from my apartment in tears.
The events were strange, but I thought nothing of it. I was dead to the world and to emotions. It was only a few months before I would take my own life after finally running out of gas to support my depression. She twisted the events to ignite Martin's white knight complex. In her version of events, I had spiked her drink and had been looking lustily at her all night. She told him she was afraid I would try to rape her. He laughed.
The card had worked before, so she would use it again. A month after my death, Martin broke things off with her hard core. He never wanted to see her again. There was someone else in his life. She was to go away and never bother him again. He called her a parasite. She came to the house I shared with Martin. She was crying. Knowing she would come there, he fled the scene. That left me there with her alone. She cried in my arms and tried to kiss me. She stretched her bare legs across my lap and asked me if I thought she was beautiful. I finally kissed her. That prompted her to run from the house in a scene similar to the one in January.
This time I saw it all unfolding before it actually happened. She was running to Martin. She knew where to find him. This time she would accuse me of attempted rape. She would tell him that I tried to pin her down and force myself on her but that she struggled free. She would break down his resolve with her tears. People are capable of incredible evil when they are obsessed with their goals. He came home later and didn't say a word to me.
"What did she say?"
He didn't want to answer. He was used to me being the silent whipping boy. I never used to say much in the days before my death and I would apologize for things I had not done. Martin could sense I was different, and as I stood outside his door demanding that he tell me that he believed my version of the story was the truth, he snapped. He could not take sides. It was his great weakness, and one that was a foundation of our friendship. I never asked that of him. I always gave in. On this, I would not give in. I demanded that my friend believe me and dismiss the claims of his sometimes girlfriend. He would not. Later he would move out, stating he could no longer live with me.
My next roommate would betray me in much more brutal fashion, but the end of my friendship with Martin would be a more difficult loss to take. I knew that he believed me and did not believe Josephine, but he could not bring himself to saying so. His brother would come by months later and tell me as much in an attempt to close the gap in our friendship. He asked me to forgive Martin, and I told him that I did. I forgive everyone. It is my nature, but I cannot surrender truth in the name of diplomacy. I told him that Martin would have to come to me. He said that would never happen. Two years later it would.
My third roommate in the house of the ghost was a co-worker named Kevin. His father owned a bar in town and Kevin often worked there at night as a bartender. One night Kevin called me from the bar. He told me there was someone there who wanted to see me. Kevin wouldn't tell me who it was, but I knew. Martin had required a number of drinks before asking Kevin to call me. He had gone there a number of times in the past with the intention of doing so, but had always told Kevin to tell me nothing of his presence there. When I arrived, I saw Martin at the bar staring into his beer. He looked up and smiled.
"Sixteen years of friendship shouldn't end over shit like this."
I bought him another drink and told him I wasn't upset with him. I told him I never had been. We never talked about the particulars of our parting. We only talked about the good times, and there had been so many. There were several times after that. The friendship never really resumed, but we stopped avoiding each other. It could never be the same, and the truth was that the reasons behind it were rooted far more in the nature of my death than in Josephine's accusations and Martin's reaction to them. It no longer worked, but Martin saw another root cause in our separation. It went back to the long history we had with each other's girlfriends.
"Maybe we should just fuck each other and get it over with."
In many ways he was right. Sometimes we just look for ways to fuck each other without actually doing it. Sometimes we fuck each other without knowing it and sometimes we don't know who we just fucked. In the end there is only forgiveness and the road ahead. Life changes so quickly, even when it seems to be moving so slowly. Martin and I had run our course. It was meant to be this way. Neither of us could grow in the garden of the other and we were too deeply rooted there. Josephine helped us to realize that. I thank her for that.
Everything has its context.
Where were you when I was burned and broken
While the days slipped by from my window watching
Where were you when I was hurt and I was helpless
Because the things you say and the things you do surround me
While you were hanging yourself on someone else's words
Dying to believe in what you heard
I was staring straight into the shining sun
Lost in thought and lost in time
While the seeds of life and the seeds of change were planted
Outside the rain fell dark and slow
While I pondered on this dangerous but irresistable pastime
I took a heavenly ride through our silence
I knew the moment had arrived
For killing the past and coming back to life
I took a heavenly ride through our silence
I knew the waiting had begun
And headed straight... into the shining sun
Lyrics by David Gilmour
As recorded by Pink Floyd
"Coming Back to Life" from 1994's The Division Bell
Used without permission
I have resumed a journey I paused from nearly three years ago. I tried to write a novel about the experience. I realized I could not, because the journey is far from complete. My life is the novel. Life from death is a world with no escape, but it is a light existence in which even the harshest lessons can make you smile.