Archive for October, 2008

Titus Mansfield

Titus MansfieldBe careful, because
you never know where your nemesis
will come from. And it
won’t be the person who hates you, but
the friend who says, while
arguing with you, that thing that will
reverberate in
your head forever. After college
I traveled the world.
I saw the great and awful sights of
a planet rife with
many ways of living. I came back
to America
determined to better my home, to
help fulfill our
destiny as the greatest nation
in the world. But it
was over a beer one night, that my
old school friend Simon
Goldhamer asked me, “how do you know
that change won’t make it
worse?” That question plagued me always. And
everything I tried
to do, every campaign I worked for,
every candidate
I worked for, every choice I made, I
heard Simon’s voice and
hesitated. And hesitation
can kill. My life was
unalterably changed, and not for
the better, because
of a stray comment over a beer.

Julio Verne

Julio VerneI loved gadgets. I
had to always have
the newest, latest.
But they started to
come out faster and
faster, and I’d move
on to the next one
before I even
finished with the last.
At the end of my
life, I found myself
circled with machines
that had been barely
used, discarded too
soon, capable of
doing so much more.

Von Tice

Von TiceI raced cars
and my life went
the same way.
I started out
strong, flashy,
with great promise
and heady
expectations.
But somewhere
in the middle
I lost it, drifted off course,
and flamed out well
before the
finish. The one
time I felt
I was about
to push through
and finally
win a race,
I lost control
completely
and was crushed to
death in the
crash. My races
all ended
way too early.

Frederick Waldo

Frederick WaldoI made a bid for Governor,
and I ran on a
platform of change. And I denounced
my opponent in
the primary as a tool of
corporate interests.
I inspired the young, who flocked
to my campaign like
never before, and they carried
me very near to
victory. But I lost in the
primary, and then
the party leaned on me. So I
convinced all my young
followers that our erstwhile
that used to be our
demonic oppressor was now
our only hope
for real change. And they listened to
me, sweeping him to
the Governor’s mansion. In the
deal, I was given
a plush post in the Comptroller’s
office. The people
who followed got nothing but
a bitter lesson.

Cameron Dick

Cameron DickBefore the repertory
movie house was
shut down, I would go every
week. People thought
all those old films were cheesy.
But at some point,
we all see we live in a
melodrama.
Who hasn’t been swept off their
feet, or gotten
deliriously crazy
in love; gutted
by betrayal, or sworn to
get revenge? By
the end of my life, movies
had become too
real, pedestrian, mundane.
As if simple
reportage was closer to
truth. There is a
more profound reality
in artifice.

Ryan Bernhard

Ryan BernhardI could care less
about what is written on the
stone above me.
My true epitaph is in the
minds and hearts of
the people I touched while alive.
Their thoughts of me,
their remembrances, are what’s real.

Denzel Butler

Denzel ButlerYou know the saying “youth
is wasted on the young?”
Well, I say that life is
wasted on the living.
Say yes to everything.
Regret nothing. Never
apologize. Just live.
Any agony is
infinitely better
than the cold blandness of
the void. I know you don’t
believe me. But you will.

Lawrence Viola

Lawrence ViolaThere’s always a crossroads where “might-
have-been” and “was” will
intersect. Mine was when I was
twenty-five. I had
a business plan. A fiancée.
But no money, and
few ways to get enough. But I
did have a rich Aunt
Rochelle. She kept teasing me with
“maybe” and “perhaps”
when I asked for an investment.
But she never said
“Yes.” She spent her time moving her
money back and forth,
plotting to make a quarter–cent
here, a half-cent there,
and losing money on fees. All
while lecturing me
about Ayn Rand, and how I should
make my own success.
So I picked one direction at
my crossroads, and I
poisoned Aunt Rochelle. It was not
hard. The coroner
said it was a heart attack. I
got her money. I
married Penny. My business was
a wild success.
Nobody ever caught me and
I never looked back.

Archibald Carlin

Archibald CarlinI thought I didn’t have a prayer with
a jury that had Dutch
Wallis as its foreman. What happened
was, we lived next door to
the Bandlers. And Dick Bandler and I
frequently had disputes
about our property lines, and how
one of my trees over-
hung his property. And Sheila and
Lila Bandler didn’t
get along either after some row
over where the school bus
should stop. But one day I decided
that we needed to make
a better attempt at neighborly
friendship. I went over
to compromise and try for a fresh
start. Lila answered the
door and invited me in. We were
in the kitchen, when she
started screaming “Rape!” Dick ran in with
a gun pointed at me,
and I fled. Sheriff Reade was at my
door an hour later.

Throughout the ordeal – the press and the
trials and being kept
apart – Sheila always believed my
version of the story
over their lies. Thankfully, the State
Appellate court did too.

Felix Amaris

Felix AmarisI may not have been
a lawyer, like Matty
O’Meara, Kyle
Kerns or Lafayette Jones.
But I know how they
must have felt. I was a
professional card
player, blackjack mostly.
Blackjack, like the law,
is said to be governed
by rules, but y’all know
that the house always wins.
No matter what name
that house goes by. In both
worlds, elaborate
mythologies direct
behavior: luck, hot
streaks, equanimity,
fair play. These are the
justifications to
stay at the table.
Once you see through the veil,
you have two choices.
Stick in the game and do
your best, or bail out
and curse the deception.
But to see the truth,
not accept it, and keep
playing is the sure
route to a broken heart.

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