Fundamental Decisions

Sometimes plates of rock under the earth collide and push up mountains. On top of some high mountains you can see in every direction. But what would it be like to stand on the spot they collide when the mountain forms? I want to tell you.

You've just got to know when you're most consistent daily activity is snorting coke at the local karaoke bar well into morning shortly after release from a seven month mental health facility. It wasn't always like that. I mean, I was an honors student in high school and played a decent first base, and was polite to grandmothers. But I didn't yet know, even after I'd gotten tossed for bad behavior out of the lowlife half way to which I had been banished.

Mercifully, I was taken in by the people whom I'd convinced in earlier days that I might be the kind of grown up who, when younger, was an honors kid and was polite to grandmothers. And the need for mercy drove up the truth again. It's just a matter of finding the right medication, I told them and me (which we kind of believed).

It wasn't like I'd become completely incompetent. While at the half way house I'd enrolled in some classes at the junior college. British Lit and Creative Writing were about all I could handle, what with my condition and all.

I couldn't stop the excellent progress at school just because I'd moved back home. To advance my rehabilitation, mom and dad bought me a car to make that twenty mile ride to the college. They'd graciously overlooked the fact that I'd wrecked my last car in a drunken stupor two months after I'd bought it.

I'd managed to swing a car, an education (the girl), and hot meals. And, as luck would have it, I wouldn't have to compromise my excellent lifestyle. Curiously, the same karaoke bars and cocaine are in every town.

Mountains rise slowly and imperceptibly, from what I gather. The himalayas weren't built in a day. But I began to sense it shortly after crawling back home.

The girl in the corner of the English Lit classroom had a name. And it was Marlene. She sounded like a Marlene, but didn't look like one. Her mother, I learned, was born in the Himilayas, but Marlene was born here. But, frankly, I didn't care what her name was. I just cared to live and look forward.

We'd made a date to discuss and critique Creative Writing assignments. I'd showed her the story about the gambling woman who kills her dog by mistakenly leaving him in the car while she's in the casino with the windows rolled up, and the dog's experience of God as a sanctimonious windbag in the afterlife. She showed me hers about the convenience store robber who's killed and chats with the devil in hell. I saw her and left, connected.

Instead of intoxicating myself to sleep that evening, I'd scribbled out an entire notebook in my sloppy hand to and for her. It wasn't much more articulate than "I want her, I want her, I want her." But I meant more than just her cunt, and she could read it.

And the moment came the next day. I gave the scribble to her, and was honest that it was for her. She'd said she'd like for me to write books, and asked to be in them. I saw the possibilities for miles in all directions. Death tomorrow, or life for fifty years. A life worth living, and death worth having. A life with joy, responsibility, and uncertainty, and a death probably with peace.

We had a terrible relationship for too long. After not hearing from her in years, she placed a crank call to me this last Christmas. I took down her information, and promptly delivered to her a bag of homegrown oranges.

This is why, and this is what I wanted to tell you. Without her crashing into all the death, I'd never have had the chance to appreciate and answer the most fundamental of questions. So I'll always take, without hesitation, crank calls from the bitch I met in the English Lit class.

The End