Short Story: A Simple Philosophical Miscalculation

Source: Pexels

by LJ Frank

Late morning. Driving. Thinking. Talking to myself. Looking through the windshield at the miles of hot asphalt ahead. My suit coat was laying on the passenger seat. A sealed business envelope with a document inside was lying next to it. There was a pinprick of a blood stain on the outside below the word Executor. 

It was already a humid 90-degress outside. It was about the same temperature in the car. The air-conditioning had ignominiously died with a cough like sound. I rolled the windows down. I turned on the radio. Static. I clicked it off. I felt the warm wind and listened to the tires on the pavement. All was good. It was natural. 

Open fields – dotted with conglomerate affected farms playing a game of monopoly, some broken down machinery in the middle of a pasture, landfills, gravel pits, ranch style property, gas wells, neo -Victorian houses. I spotted maverick cattle eating grass outside a barbed wire fence several yards from the road. 

Awareness! Are you in control? The words were painted like a piece of graffiti art on a billboard over a faded advertisement at the edge of a field. Underneath in small letters were the words “Sponsored by” …some transcendental group.

Where is the excitement in controlling other people? Is control how we measure our tenure on Earth? What is the meaning about the person(s) wanting to control or be controlled – about their own personality/self assessment, attitude towards others, ego, inner security or a desire for larger amounts of legal tender? Doubt and cynicism slip into the mind. 

Miles later I mused about the long, curly red-haired woman I spent the night before last with. Breath taking. It was by chance we met or so I thought. What would it have been like to be married to her or in a long-term relationship? Afterwards she told me she was in relationship but then added, “who isn’t?”

I told her I possessed no one. No expectations except a bit of trust in the moment.  “The situation we find our self in directly affects our behavior.”  

“Intriguing. But do you have a will?”

“To some degree.”

We both wanted each other. Situational? Interactional? Will? Her eyes watered. There was depth in her eyes. We hugged. Our lips met. The partner may or may not approve. People grow physically apart and still remain companions in spirit. And there’s the financial aspect. Life flees before we can take it all in. If we live long enough by the time we die we may be fortunate to have a better understanding if we retain a memory.

As I shifted gears to pass a slower vehicle, I thought about her…immeasurable connections can occur in the mind though not always in actuality…but somehow, we feel something is missing when it doesn’t actually happen and yet…other times there’s no anticipation. What do I want or is it too late? A few hours of wanton needed pleasure and best wishes. Existence is abrupt. Take a deep breath. 

My mind shifted to the event I was heading towards. It was detailed out on a spread sheet to insure nothing was missing by accident. Invitations were meticulously designed, appetizers and meal selections, drinks, requested attire of participants in the ceremony and all those invited to be witness – all was planned ahead with precision. A person might say the only item missing was/is a bridegroom that had yet to arrive. On the other hand, this wasn’t a wedding.  And I wasn’t a bridegroom. Any given expectation can be a burden. 

Finally, I approached the city and my particular destination. The exterior of the building itself was stone and brick and constructed in the late 1920’s. The interior was renovated to meet state of art equipment, furnishings, lighting and green technologies. It possessed an urban industrial ambience and yet offered an intimacy for any kind of affair one would wish to entertain for whatever purpose…the design was suggestive of that end.

Endings of any sort can be provocative. Caregiving and dignity are essential. Choice is an open ended-philosophical question. That is, unless the alternative to “freely choose” is diminished each day and the mind would cease to remember. Time and memory. Isn’t our humanity tied to our memory?

I have discovered that an event, a meeting or exchange with another person can occur by chance and with the result that the direction one was headed in life is invariably changed. We then reach out to experience, taste and immerse our self in the moment. The dark shadings and bright hues we experience are threads in the same colorful cloth. And admittedly there are minutes when no choice appears to exist. And a simple philosophical miscalculation can alter and change the entire direction on which one was/is traveling. The map of one’s life is then redrawn.

And so, I met with the executor, family and friends who welcomed my arrival. I was asked if I had the envelope. I retrieved it from my suit coat pocket and handed it to the executor.

“Do you know what the letter reads?” The executor asked.

“No, I don’t. It remained sealed the entire time…upon receiving…until now.”

“May I ask you a more personal question?”

“Of course.”

“What’s your thoughts about the choices we make?”

“Well, I think our situation influences and modifies our decision. If one is terminally ill, then our decision about our future is affected by the illness. Our situation affects relations with others and our subsequent decisions.”

“Hmm. Thank you for the letter.”

“You’re welcome.”

We nodded to each other. The content of the letter was not revealed to me. The ceremony took place with appropriate solemnity and trust. At one point in the gathering I thought I saw the letter being handed to an outstretched hand but couldn’t see the person receiving the letter. After a glass of wine and much well-wishing I departed. 

I got into my car and started it when there was a knock on the passenger side window. I couldn’t see it who it was. I unlocked the door and a woman climbed in. 

“It’s you.”

“It’s me. I thought we had a thorough introduction the other night.” The woman with long red hair said.

“I thought …?”

“Everything is in place. I have the letter. I’m so glad you made it. I flew here…was hoping I’d get here before you did. I’ll explain once we leave here.”

I starred at her in disbelief. “May I ask what was in the letter?”

“You said it yourself. The situation we find our self in directly affects our behavior. Do you recall seeing the word Awareness!” She smiled.