I have never been fearful of his visitations. At the start, and ever since, these come unbidden. I have yet to expend the effort to even ask why, to try to gain any understanding of the reason or reasons for his appearance. It is not that I am an incurious person, quite the contrary; rather it is that I possess the humility of knowing that there are those things which our friends the Scots tell us are “beyond our ken”. As the sun and moon shall traverse the heavens, as surely as seasons shall pass, this too is of their category.
These have occurred mostly at night, in those restless hours shared by madmen and vigil keepers, devout insomniacs and those of a lupine nature. It is perhaps coincidence only, for though I may at any given day inhabit any or all of these categories, I can not say with certainty that my friend Fritz belongs to any. I endure these visits without superstition, yet with each occurrence I am vaguely haunted by the echoes of a pale horse’s hooves, off away in the night. This brush of death, real or imagined, is more subtle in daylight hours.
On one of those first warm, pleasant days in the spring I had occasion to visit a remote and somber place. It is a place at once familiar to me in both it’s physicality and it’s history. A place inextricable from my history. I absorbed the mid afternoon sun in that quiet solace, the very stillness of the place in it’s constancy. Towering some forty-five feet above was a lone oak leaf, completely brown and desiccated, which had clung stubbornly all winter long until that day. I heard a faint snap as the stem fell away and the leaf remained gracefully suspended beneath an updraft. It hovered there in mid air, wagging side to side as if debating which way to fall before starting it’s slow spiral earthward. I watched spellbound as it circled downward, spinning gently until coming to rest upon the ground just more than an arm’s reach from my seat.
It is a splendid day, is it not Thomas?
It is indeed Fritz.
And yet you are troubled, nicht wahr?
Why else should you be here?
His silence here served as an affirmation. Thus I am to conclude that my demons plague me most at night. And that my worst plague me at all hours.
It has been forty years now, my friend. You should have let this go by now. It has consumed you.
His words were true. I could not deny it.
Forty years seems like a good marker, don’t you think? Just end it here, I was thinking.
What changed your mind?
Who said I changed my mind?
Because if you had not, my friend, I would not be here.
It is your purpose to stop me?
It is only my purpose to be here. Just as it is yours.
What did this mean? Before I could ask he was gone. I fear it may be some time before I see Fritz again.