512 Words

Fool the Wind Cried

M. Stanley Bubien

I stood upon the precipice for memory. Totally artificial this, the top of a twenty-one story building, constructed of iron and cement, and offering no resistance, no protrusion for all two hundred feet of descent. Which is why I chose this place.

"Useless" I had mumbled beside my best friend, Jeffe, during our morning commute.

"What?" he responded.

"My life. Useless."

He rolled the passenger window down halfway and spat out onto the freeway. "Yeah right. With your wife, kids, job. Uh huh, your life is useless. Tell me another."

"Don't scoff at me!" I retorted, accidentally jerking the wheel in my fervor.

Jeffe grabbed the door handle. "Whoa, take it easy!"

"Why? I'm telling you my life has no point, no purpose. Why should I take it easy?"

"Because," Jeffe directed a finger at me, eyes wide, "you're going to kill us if you don't."

"Yeah, so? I might," I said. "And then what? We're both dead and gone. Nothing will matter after that---our friends, families, jobs---all blown away like dust in the wind."

"Hey look," Jeffe huffed. "At least you've got family; someone to remember you."

"Sure, but what's that worth?"

"You know, you're kinda pissin' me off!" Jeffe stated, his gaze fixed firmly ahead as if he were steering the car to avert an accident, "Here's what: Today, you love your wife, you raise your kids. You try to make their lives better by doin' whatever you're doin' right now. It ain't no Declaration of Independence or anything, but there it is."

Next to me, I saw Jeffe's knuckles become flat and white upon the handle as I breathed my response, "With nothing beyond the now, that's totally artificial."

Which is why I chose this place.

As I stood upon the ledge, the wind howled over me, whipped into a frenzy as it surged between the skyscrapers, and I leaned into it, and it held me up. This, they said, was a foolish thing to do, for you never knew when the gusts would suddenly stop and you'd plummet forward from your perch, free-falling to destruction twenty-one stories below.

A fierce gust pushed me nearly erect, howling into my ears what sounded like a judgement, "Fooooolll..."

I smiled and my cheeks seemed to flap against the moving air. Maybe I was the fool. But, as I had said to Jeffe earlier, so what? Nothing I do right now matters because the people I affect will ultimately be dead and gone, and then I'll be forgotten.

Except for this. No "Declaration of Independence," but it was more than I'd done all my life. Newspapers, TV, maybe even a magazine article here or there. It'd be something.

I leaned deeper into the gusting, my arms outstretched to form a human-sized "Y" silhouetted against the clouds. Still, into my ears, "Fool," the wind cried.

"Useless!" I retorted as I would to Jeffe, and arching further, I waited for it to slacken so I could become remembered. A man blown away like---what was it? gusts? yes!---gusts in the wind.

Copyright ©1998 M. Stanley Bubien. All Rights Reserved.

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April, 1998
Issue #24

512 Words