I always ignored Henry's irreverent greetings as I had no wish to quarrel. He was a widower with years of richness, unhappiness and loss buried deep inside him. I silently sat in a low-backed, wooden chair taking care to sidestep his intense gaze. As he lost himself in his layered memories I often permitted my mind to wander in search of a different existence. Nothing too extravagant, but something more than memorable, something entirely unforgettable.
I imagine a completely perfect man in the company of a completely perfect woman. This calms me. It gives me time to forget what most preoccupies me. The woman and I are both high in spirit and wander in a place where sweet flowers grow. Uncertainty, anxiety, painful surprises and evil cannot creep up on us and destroy our exquisite nature. We candidly grapple with existential questions: "Why does a species such as ours not possess a well-shaped head similar to that of a camel?" - "Where are we going?" and perhaps, the most taxing question of all, "How much will it cost?"
However, the woman and I are not fools. We speak of the complexity and stupidity of many things including the question of human love, of fate, of creation, of renewal, of desire. Our walk from the garden leads to the edge of the sea. The world seems captured in the slight, silent waves and our pool of thought. These moments of contentment only last a few minutes, but are worth hanging onto while they last, for they bring me a bolt of happiness.
"You're an odd one! Why can't you make a clean sweep of things? Two children by two different woman and you're still not married! Such behavior is reprehensible." Henry's vitriolic voice jolts me from thought; I sigh, acquiesce, and turn my eyes towards his gaunt face. "I'm senile, worn out and have savage dreams," Henry exclaims. "There's nothing left for me to discover in this world. Nothing!" I like Henry: his intense thinking; his distaste for human ignorance; his mood that can toss like a leave in spring; his contempt for pity, his acceptance of growing old.
Henry remained active until his demise; sometimes taking a bus into town and a taxi home: the downside being that he stole the vehicles and picked up passengers on route for no charge. I usually had to post bail and collect Henry from a police station. At times, he lamented: "Why is my hair snowy-white?! I don't even like Christmas?!" And while I was driving, "A fine boat you've got here. Goes at a good pace. In this mist it's hard to tell where the shore starts or ends. How can you see?!"
"Hello Doktor Faustus."
"Don't forget to take the tablets as I told you."
"But, I'm only here?"
"You're obviously suffering from "misconception of the direction of time" syndrome. The belief that time travels only in one direction. Why, yesterday I saw a stockbroker walking down Street Wall."
"Surely you mean Wall Street?"
"No. He was walking backwards."
"I think my life is going in reverse?"
"Hello, and what can I do for you?"
I reversed my car into town, parked at a restaurant, and paid for a meal I had still to order.