Triptych

by Mel Waldman


The Turning Point, the Kingdom

When you reach the turning point, it is not easy to decide. Weary from rotten dreams, you hear nothing. Waiting for a sign, you whisper to the dead sun, and fall asleep below the cold sky. Traveling through empty tombs, you seek the sound of seagulls and crave to touch the splendid dance of female waves, moving out to endless blues. Yet they disappear, leaving you behind with a dry taste that nothing much is yet to come.

Your thirst and sweat are chilled by frozen dreams. Dead dreams. Obeying the fierce, compelling movements of choice, however, you move for centuries, condensed into a few seconds of agony. After, time passes away.

I

The 80-year-old man lies in his hospital bed and daydreams about tomorrow, a turning point, when he will go into surgery. He needs a triple bypass and his cardiologist warned him that without immediate surgery, he would be dead in a matter of days or weeks. Okay, he believes the surgeon whom he has known for the past 10 years. He accepts his fate, whatever it is. Yet he also accepts the self-destructive and self-defeating behaviors and patterns of his life occurring again and again. The antediluvian Freud called this phenomenon repetition compulsion.

The old man loosens the guard rails, slithers out of bed, and searches for the brown paper bag his buddy Joe left him last night. He finds the bag perched on a small black leather chair near the bed, picks it up, and carries it into the bathroom.

He removes it from the bag. It is his unholy grail. With much passion, he opens the pack, seizes one sleek beauty which he places inside his mouth and between his thick lips, two fleshy centurions guarding the forbidden prize. He thrusts it deeper into his mouth and lights up.

Impulsively, he takes a few quick puffs and exhales rapidly. His heart starts to flutter. Smiling sardonically, he looks at himself in the mirror. He studies the scar on his right cheek. For a moment, he sucks on his mentholated King Size Kool without inhaling. Already, he feels woozy, dizzy, and high. Yet he’s not finished. He needs his adrenalin rush, even if it kills him.

Slowly and repetitively he inhales, embracing his familiar poisons again and again. Soon, he will cough violently and gag. But he will not stop smoking. He’s on a dark journey on this long endless night and tomorrow... Tomorrow may never come.

The Turning Point, the Kingdom

Touching rock, which laughs at you relentlessly, you defy it. Yet as you move forward, it screams and commands you to return to the place of origin. You must return to make the choice real and honest. You listen to the master. You heed the voice of authority and follow the ugly path.

II

Yesterday is forever. After the war, he had flashbacks for years. Every day he experienced terror and rage and a lot of confusing emotions. His brain was a dark landscape of chaos and trauma. He chain-smoked King Size Kools and dreamed of death. He needed to forget. And if dying was the only way out well... so be it. Unfortunately, he would live a long anguished life, constantly remembering and reliving and re-experiencing... the endless war. For this vet, Hell was right here on earth.

The Turning Point, the Kingdom

Returning, you seek a victim, and sitting on the first moment, when choice was empty thought, you slowly rise and, standing firm, confront sneering faces left behind at the turning point.

III

The young soldier was scared shitless but tried to keep his terror hidden and private. Most of the time, no one noticed, it seemed. But sometimes, his hands and body shook. Now, he and his buddies lay in these mine-filled labyrinthine fields waiting for the enemy to come. It was the middle of the night and the pitch-black miasma surrounded the innocent soldiers. And at dawn, the enemy would arrive.

It would be a turning point for them, a massacre. Only a few would survive, including the frightened soldier with thick lips and a scar across his right cheek. He would witness unspeakable evil and would never forget. Always, he would wonder why he survived and not the others. For years, he would contemplate suicide every day of his guilt-ridden life. Yet he would live and suffer and surreptitiously destroy himself.

The Turning Point, the Kingdom

You point your wrinkled face at them, although they do not understand. Ready to pull the cool trigger of your lips, ready to annihilate the last remnants of the sign, you face them head on.

With trembling anger, you meet their eyes. Yes, you feel faint, and in the impotent silence, you crumble to earth. Crawling, kneeling, tongue-tied, pointing sallow face at brutal masks, you let the tears flow. Potently, they gush out and move violently as they seek the grotesque faces at the point. The faces look away from the stream of truth, which conveys your first real moment. You have said nothing, yet you have spoken, back at the point you almost left behind, the dark place where ghosts wander forever.


Copyright © 2008 by Mel Waldman

Home Page