Monday, August 17, 2009

Enno ~ Part 2


Every story begins with a seed, since only God can create ex nihilo. This story was written at a time when I was taken up with the idea of being the next Hemingway or Fitzgerald, the seed being Fitzgerald's The Crack Up. My guess is that I have been a much happier man having not achieved such fame. Hemingway's life ended in an intimate experience with a shotgun, and the author of the Great Gatsby drank himself to death. Being celebrated does not necessarily correlate to happiness. Nevertheless, having written this during a period when I believed serious literature had to be grim to be serious, I adopted the coin of the land.

Part 2

Life is essentially tragic, he was fond of saying. I did not accept this thesis at the time, that is, in the beginning, but events persuaded me and in the end I was forced to bow to his undeniable conclusion. "What took you so long?" he asked me when I finally came around. The forked query found its mark and perforated the cloak which served as my last refuge from myself. For you see, it was from myself that I was fleeing. And in Enno, the mirror would not go away. How strange the progression as I was drawn in, at first magnetized, then bewildered and, at the end, humiliated and shamed. It's funny how we never understand the real meaning of our lives until it is too late to do us any good.

When things are going well with us we forget how tenuous is the strand that holds us above the abyss.

While I was having the nervous breakdown I learned how helpless helplessness really is. Enno visited me in the hospital then.

"How long will you stay?" he asked.

"This is really the end for me. I don't see how I can face anyone after this."

"You made your bed."

"Yes, I made my bed."

"What are the doctors saying?"

"They are trying to sort out all the lies I have been telling myself. I sound very convincing. The worst is certain to come out," I said. "I don't think I can handle it."

"You can't run away now. You have a family to take care of."

I had no strength to reply.

The reservoirs were full, but the dams high and strong. The dry valley waits in vain for the rains of spring.

I can no longer understand why I feel so stonehearted. My heart is not a shell capable of being cracked open, but rather a steel bearing, solid throughout, and inanimate. Not a living organ, but rather granite, basalt, and lead.

Enno's third visit to the hospital (his second visit found me inaccessible) was the first in which we discussed the story I had written about him for Modern Maturity.

"You have created a fiction and called it fact. These are lies," he shouted. "Now what are you going to do about it."

"Show me which part is not true."

He made no effort to answer.

"Show me," I said. "I really want to know. Your name is spelled right, correct? And you are from Poland. These stories, these atrocities you experienced... not true?"

He stood tight-lipped, leaning against the table, his chin thrust forward mercilessly.

"Is it the treatment you don't like?"

"The treatment, the treatment. Dammit, you make me out to be a hero. I am no hero, godammit." He threw out his hand as if violently pushing curtains away from his face and said something in German.

I half wondered why he ever told me these stories. He told me himself that people always said his experiences should be recorded in a book. I had recorded them. Was he going to hate me for this?

"I'm not seeking immortality. Maybe you are, but I'm not. Leave me out of your damn books."

But he knew I wouldn't and I knew he really liked the idea of it.


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