Already Dead

“Now you know.”

“I know what, Keith? That everything comes from nothing? I wrote about that in 1970 – earlier actually, I did a paper on it when I was a physics major. I published a poetic explanation of quantum fluctuation of virtual particles in the RipOff Review…”

“Just shut up for once, Art!”

Regaining composure, he utters seven words.

“Now you know…you are already dead.”

The instant I hear him say it, my mind goes quiet. I am a blank tablet, an empty vessel. I want to listen to what he is trying to tell me. I feel like a student who seeks a clear and simple explanation for something mysterious and complex.

“…so…when…did I die?”

“Only you know that. It could have been the first trip we took.”

“When we drove to New York a few days after we met?”

“Yeah. What was in that smoke anyway?”

“Nothing but grass. Why?”

“There was something else in that joint, Art. I completely blacked out. I can’t remember anything after we stopped the car on the side of the road.”

“No Keith, I draw a blank on that too. I’ve been trying to reconstruct those memories for almost 30 years. But we didn’t die. That’s absurd.”

“I didn’t die. We both know exactly when I died. But it’s obvious you don’t know you’re dead, man.”

“Keith, I admit, I’m totally sweating, look at my hands…I can’t stop them from shaking. I feel as weird, right now, as ever. But I have been straight…for a long time. What’s going on?”

“You died a long time ago, Art. That’s what’s going on. And you are freaking people out on both sides. You’ve been pursuing me…and I’ve been waiting to say this. Problem is, you talk more than you listen.”

The couch is cool to my touch. Through the vents, I hear the air conditioner shudder to a dead stop. My heart is beating hard. I want to speak, to call out – to scream the word, “NO!” but my jaw feels like it is welded shut. I know now why I am in this place. I know why we are here. It is time for me…to listen…to hear him…

(to be continued…)

*

 

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