I am a dead man walking. That’s not a metaphor, not a promise of a future event the way you usually think of it. I really am dead — and have been for some time now.
I walk the streets of this city. I pass by people on the sidewalk, and they instinctively shy away from me. They see me, they know I’m there, but they always pretend they don’t. I guess I can’t blame them for that. I wouldn’t, either, were I in their shoes.
I’ve walked for what seems like ages. You’d think after a while I’d stumble across a recognizable face, someone from my past. I haven’t. Every face is that of a stranger. Every encounter is new. And cold. So very cold. The people around me shrug me off, like they would an unwanted hand on their shoulder.
I don’t think this is the afterlife. Everyone I meet is clearly still alive. And warm. So this must be something else. But no one seems to know what. Believe me. I’ve asked. There are no answers here. There are no answers anywhere, it seems.
And so I walk. Alone. A dead man walking still.
I can tell the Wellbutrin is doing its job. This is the third individual item I’ve written in as many days, which I think may very well be more than I’ve written in the last year. I also have story ideas spilling out my ears, which is also something that hasn’t happened in a good, long while. That said, I do want to put a disclaimer right up front of this story — and a trigger warning — given the content of my last couple of updates. The story below is not in any way a reflection of my current state of mind. It is just a partial answer to a “What if…?” question that popped into my head a couple of days ago. Like most of my stories here, this is a Ficlatte piece and so is inherently limited in its length. It’s a vignette, if you will, of what could someday be a much longer story.
Death, Unstay Thy Hand
I have taken my own life more times than I can count. I have slashed open my wrists, bleeding out in minutes. I have fired bullets into my brain. I have poisoned myself. Stood in front of moving vehicles. Jumped from high towers. Drowned.
And yet, my body resolutely refuses to remain dead.
No matter how many times I die, no matter how many different ways, I always return. Sometimes in a matter of minutes. Sometimes within hours. Or weeks. The longest death I have experienced was eight months, and even then I returned. It is as though Death itself has evaluated me — and somehow found me wanting.
I have given up all hope. Life has become unbearable, and I can find no respite, no solace in it. What peace I had hoped to find has eluded me. There is no rest to be found even in those brief periods between life because, for me, they pass in an instant.
Death has stayed its hand, and so I live in everlasting torment.
It was a small memorial, only two to witness the laying of the casket into the ground.
“So long, Jack. We hardly knew you,” one said.
The other quirked up an eyebrow. “That’s it?” he asked. There was a note of amused incredulity in his voice.
“What’d you expect?” A ghost of a smile. “This is, what, the eighth time we’ve buried you now?”
A nod. “At least.”
“Does it ever get old?”
Jack shrugged and pushed his hands down into his pockets. “Hasn’t yet. I’m good for at least another half dozen deaths, I think. There hasn’t been any detectable signal degradation yet.”
“Well, that’s debatable.” The first man sounded sullen now.
“Oh, c’mon, Charles. This project was as much your idea as mine. You don’t get the right to be grumpy about it.”
“I’m not. I just—” Charles broke off, leaving the thought unfinished. A pause. “Do you remember what it feels like each time? Y’know, after?”
Jack grimaced. “Every bloody detail. I’m thinking I’ll go for something less violent next time.”
“Fine. I’ll arrange it.”
[Originally posted on Ficly.]
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.
13 Let no one say when he is tempted, “I am being tempted by God”; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone.
14 But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.
15 Then when lust has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and when sin is accomplished, it brings forth death.
Sin brings death. Initial thought is that of the garden, Adam and Eve, their sin and the death resultant from that. Their death was immediate spiritual and eventual physical–and it is the pattern for today. Some sins, by their very comission, end in physical death for one person, or
several. But there is not only physical death. Then often emotional death, where people become hard and cold and unfeeling. There is spiritual death, when an individual strays away from God. When the sin is rationalized away, mental death occurs. There is also relational death, when social relationships are damaged or destroyed. The solution?
21 Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word implanted, which is able to save your souls.
22 But prove yourselves doers of the word, and not merely hearers who delude themselves.
Live by the Word and die by the Word.
I am of the opinion that the Gospel is the single most misunderstood topic in the history of mankind (even among Christians themselves). It has incited Crusades of death and persecution and yet has inspired millions to give their lives to Christ.
The most current example of this misunderstanding is the criticism of the release of The Passion of the Christ. One news periodical criticizes the movie harshly, saying, “The Reporter also says that the movie’s violence is so intense and more important than character development that audiences may have trouble with that.” I’ve not yet seen the movie (though I hope to this weekend), but the point of this particular movie is NOT to provide quality character development or shield us from the violence of that moment in history. Quite the opposite in fact. It is to show us the very graphic nature of what Christ went through to atone for our sins. And quite frankly, if you want character development, take some time to read through the Gospels for the complete view of Christ and his earthly ministry.
A local talkshow host advocated the movie during his broadcast last night, pointing out that many of the critics of this movie have yet to see it. His advice to said critics was to go see the movie and then form an opinion. And while he advocated the movie and was so close to being correct, he was also soFAR from being correct. He made the statement that Gibson’s goal in producing this movie was marketing and that local churches also are using it as marketing to get people into the pews. This is both correct and not correct (and here is a facet of the misunderstanding). On one hand, it is marketing insofar as it is intended to draw people. But that is NOT the primary goal. The primary goal is to share the Gospel, using a clear depiction of what Christ went through in His final hours to drive home the weight of that moment that has forever impacted and changed history. This is the thing that the unsaved world simply cannot understand. It is not marketing that we care about — it is souls. We desire to bring others to Christ so that they, too, may be spared from eternal damnation, as we have been. And the ONLY reason this movie has been so criticized so harshly even before its official release is because it is a religious movie, and a Christian religious movie at that. No one complains about the intense violence and lack of character development in a Jean Claude Van Damme movie (or any other movie or television show, for that matter).
..edit.. This website is a prime example of the Christian contribution to the misunderstanding of the Gospel. While I respect this organization’s attempt to exhort and correct a perceived wrong, it is Christian ‘wackos’like these who inspire hate and disgust of all those who bear the name of Christ while at the same time taking the Scriptures out of context in order to suit their own purposes and interpretations of the Bible. And it is exactly this kind of ‘Christian’ that makes me want to distance myself from everyone who claims to be a follower of Christ so as to avoid tainting my own ministry to others and to cleanse this bitter taste from my mouth.