My friend Fritz, Opus 5

You were a stranger to yourself for most of your life Thomas. What say you now?


 

I have returned to my somber place.  It holds the solace of constancy.  I no longer live here in the physical sense, yet I have lived here all of my life. This life. Here I am Jack Torrance in the Overlook Hotel. You have always been the caretaker here, Mr. Torrance…

 

What say you now, Thomas?

I think I died here Fritz.

Yet you live and breath here now. That can not be.

And why not? You are dead, and yet here you are.

I am not here, Thomas. I am only in your head.

 

This was true. I had not admitted this to myself before, but in that moment grasped the truth of it.

 

My former self then.

Ahh, I see. You believe this, do you? Is this the reason you insist on returning to this place?

I am not certain what I believe Fritz. I suspect that you know, but will not say.

Not will not. Can not.

What is it that prohibits you from saying?

Because I do not have this answer, my friend. Only you do.

 

What say you now, Thomas? It occurred to me that as I am yet confined to the living it is only I who sense the immediacy of the question. Fritz is dead, so he may wait an eternity for my answer. It is only when I find the answer that our timelines may agree.

 

I have been a stranger to myself for most of my life and now I say that I am still a stranger.

I think you believe this.

I do. But…. it is not true, is it? And that is why I return to this place.

Are you asking?

Maybe.

We do not deal in maybes, you and I.

 

A hot wind stirs the trees today, the leaves sigh in that timeless symphony.  The waters of Darby Creek flow still and everything else moves in this place where time remains still. I decided I should sidestep the question.

 

When I was a boy, Fritz, lightning struck in the same spot up on that hill. On the 4th of July. Once, and then again in the very same spot, a year to the day later.

Yes, Thomas. I recall it. I was here.

 

This surprised me. I don’t suppose that it should have, but it did. I had been there, but was then unaware of his presence.

 

Are you God?

I am God as you are God.

But….God is dead.

He is indeed, for we have killed him.

No, Fritz. Not we. I have killed him.

You have answered the question then, Thomas. You are no longer a stranger to yourself.

But what does that mean?

 

He was gone again and I had only the sighing trees to answer me.

Asylum

The clean white sands of distant beach

A coveted shoreline

bathed in optimism

The hope that anything could be better

Or the sterile blandness

that only institutional grade paint can capture

Antiseptic perfume masks

the urine soaked safety

of supervised narcotic therapy

Poisons more palatable to state sanction

No more white sands await

No stadium could contain your madness

Asylum like an ocean

and no water to drink

 

Treacle

You are not essential

Salute the heroes

It’s all for them

or it’s for the children

Targets unassailable by design

I am Eric Cartman, hear me roar

Respect my authority!

We’re all in this together

We’ll get through this

These trying

These difficult

These challenging

These unprecedented

Times

When this bottle is empty

suck your thumb

Go back to sleep

When you wake

they will change your diapers too

 

My friend Fritz, Opus 3

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.

Schiller Park, March ’82

SchillerPark

End of hibernation

Begin year three after

the long nights anguish

for a direction

March demands action

absent malice aforethought

With all else uncharted

only geography to explore

Somewhere better than this

Veil of cloud

and damp ever present

The Poet’s visage not like today

Grey statuary forgotten

Eyes blank, imitate the dead

No counsel or inspiration

Only realization

Despite all efforts

my feet not set in stone

Someone better than this

No monument can follow

where my steps lead away

Sentries in stone keep their place

Only watch as you leave

for somewhere better than this