Andre Mark

Andre MarkI was at the Y
one day. This was
uncommon. I was
there with a friend,
using his guest pass.
There was a fat,
old man – he looked old
to me then, with
my unseasoned eyes.
And he said, with
no provocation,
that he had learned
the meaning of life,
and would we like
to hear it? My friend
was in a rush,
trying to keep to
a schedule,
so he did not stay
to listen. But
something about the
wrinkles in his
forehead kept me there.
“So then, what is
your secret?” I asked.
“There are these two
apartments,” he said,
“across the hall
from each other. And
you can only
live in one of them.
In one, you can
have all that you could
ever want in
a lifetime. In the
other, you get
to be right. The trick
is, knowing which
apartment is which.”
With that, the old
man waddled away.
I never saw
him again, but not
a month went by
after, that I did
not think on what
he said. I think that
is why, even
with a life full of
tragedies and
loss and hardship, I
didn’t succumb
to bitterness like
Llew Underwood.
And after a life
far from honest,
how I avoided
being eaten
from the inside by
my secrets like
Clarence Brusso? I
was not the most
peaceful man, but I
never let rage
take over my life,
like Sheriff Reade.
And I used all kinds
of drugs, but I
never lost myself
to them like so
many, many of
my neighbors. I
could have been any
of them, I think,
if I’d never heard
(what I later
told to my kids as)
The Parable
Of The Apartments.
I wonder who
I’d have been, if I’d
never heard it?

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