Thursday, June 2, 2011

Yesterday did I get here? How did it suddenly become months later? Where did the time go? (It ran away.)

   I'm not sure how to say this. I think I'm not well. I've been living on the street for the past...I don't know how long. I think I've been living on the street. I don't remember very well. Remember.

   I thought I saw Voss and Wolfcatcher last week. They were smoking cigarettes outside a 7-11, the neon glow illuminating their vicious faces. I blinked and it turned out it wasn't them at all, just some school kids. I don't know how I could have made that mistake. I know what they look like. Voss is the skinny one and Wolfcatcher is the fat one. Or is it the other way around?

  What's happening? What's going on?

  Yesterday, I decided I was done running. I went home. I went back home.

  It was for sale. The bank had put it up for sale. I tried my keys, but they didn't work. A rock through the window did. I walked through the broken glass and remembered when this was home. A home for my wife and my son. I remembered those stairs, how he played with his toy cars on them. Accidentally stepping on action figures. Kissing my wife in the kitchen.

  How long has it been? Since they went to the City? It felt like yesterday.

  "Ronald?" A voice. An impossible voice. "Ronnie?" I turned around and there she was. Carol. My wife.

  "This isn't real," I said.

  "Of course it isn't," she said as she came closer. I could almost smell her. "I'm just a hallucination. You know that. You've known all along."

  "Known what?" I asked.

  "The answers," she said. "You just never wanted to ask the questions."

  "What are you talking about? I don't...I miss you."

  She raised her hand up and touched my cheek. "Of course you do. That's why you did it. That's why you made it up." At that, I jerked away from her touch.


  "You made it all up, Ronnie," she said. "The conspiracy. All those Doors you saw. Voss and Wolfcatcher. Even the name of the group was a joke. Even GOD was against you, Ronnie. Don't you get it?"

  "This...this is some sort of trick. I saw you and John. I saw you and John walk into the City."

  "That part was real," she said. "They did go into the City. They are probably dead now. You know this, but you couldn't admit it to yourself. It was such a fundamental break from reality that you couldn't admit anything. So you made up a story. You renamed yourself after an author who lost his own son. And you peppered your stories with references to that author."

  "But my hand-"

  "Sometimes your real memories were too much. Sometimes they broke through. You would hurt yourself, Ronnie. And then the pain would allow you to pretend again. You made it all up."

  "I don't...I don't believe you."

  "Yes, you do. You believe me because I am you. I'm sorry, Ronnie. I'm so sorry." And with those words, she faded away.

  That was yesterday. Today is today. I've stopped running. I called my old friends and acquaintances to see what they thought had happened to me. They all thought I died.

  Maybe they are right. Maybe I died when Carol and John went to the City. Maybe I died and just refused to admit it.

  I just looked up the stairs and saw it. The Door. The same one that had taken Carol and John. It's come back. Is it another hallucination? I don't think so.

  I know they are dead. I'm going to open the Door and walk through. I'm not going to meet them in the City. I might not even meet them afterwards, when my body dies in the ever-shifting labyrinth. But I'm going anyway. I want to see what they saw. I want to walk the same steps they did, run down the same streets they ran. That's probably impossible - you can't step in the same river twice, they say - but I'm going to try anyway.

  So. Last words before I go. Not really good at last words. Not really sure anyone is still reading this.

  Our favorite comedies were the Marx Brothers. We always loved it when Groucho sang. Especially in Animal Crackers. We used to sing along. We even taught our son the song.

  Hello, I must be going, 
  I cannot stay, I came to say, I must be going.
  I'm glad I came, but just the same I must be going.