Sunday, February 19, 2012

Breath or Die

Hank sat down and started typing : A report on my current status.

The rest of the page was blank. Hank realized that he had no status, or perhaps a bit closer to the truth was that he was just at a loss to say what that status was. Everyone has a status, everyone is somewhere, doing something, is in some definable situation. Hank knew that. Hank knew.

What was he to say if he determined status in the present, which was the question posed – current status. He could weave a decent tale about his future status, it would be mostly rosy and productive, calm and clear minded. That had always been the answer and for the most part people believed him.

Hank was, after all, neither a gay or glum man. He carried out the affair of getting through life with what a lot of folks called charm. It was the charm of a great potential. Since he was a very young boy everyone had agreed on that. Hank was full of potential. Good and interesting things would happen around him.

For Hank charm had been a survival tool. It still was, though now in his late fifty’s when Hank looked into his survival tool bag, he realized that he hadn’t invested in many others. He had been aware for some time that charm was something that dissipated with time, and for that he had become expert in future status reports. It gave hope. To everyone.

But staring at the page before him Hank had a gnawing realization that he had wondered himself into a route sans issue. That would perhaps be the nearest to the truth that he would allow himself to tell. If he was describing it like a traffic report, the current status would be bumper to bumper traffic. Hank wasn’t in Chicago on Lake Shore Drive at 11 :30 p.m. on a Tuesday night in the middle of fall with cars moving quickly and fluidly around graceful curves on the dry smooth concrete road. No, if Hank was sticking with the metaphor, he would have to say his current status was more like the pot-holed Kennedy expressway at 2 p.m. on the wendesday before thanksgiving. There was freezing rain falling and an accident at the junction ahead. Everyone is stuck, sitting behind an idling machine periodically plodding inches ahead. No one is moving anywhere.

Hank realized his current status could only be reported as ‘on hold’. He was waiting, waiting for something to happen. He had a plan and he was waiting for it to begin so that it could arrive at it’s expiration and another could take it’s place. Everything changes. Nothing had changed. Hank resisted change, pretended he could live without it.

And then… The call came. Normally he wouldn’t even have picked up the phone at that moment. That day he did. It was Her. She said she wanted to talk. He said he had to talk to her too, but he was lying, he had nothing to say. The only thing he could say to her would be to repeat that he was blocked in traffic and that she should go ahead without him.

It had been that, more or less, that she had called to say. It wasn’t that she didn’t want to wait for him, it was just that she couldn’t anymore. More or less she had said it was a question of time. If everything worked out they could meet up at an agreed upon destination point, but for the meantime, she just couldn’t wait anymore, she was going on ahead without him. Forward was the last word Hank remembered hearing, and then nothing.

Hank dropped the phone and leaned hard on the horn.

-Where the Fuck are You going ? He cursed out loud as a truck squeezed just in front of him.

The driver of the truck didn’t hear him, and neither had She. She had hung up the phone and was probably already on her way out the door. Hank meanwhile had moved nowhere. It was just at that moment that Hank saw his future. It was scrawled in the soot on the back of the dirty white truck that had just cut in front of him.

‘Breath or Die’.

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