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Syntax Issue 10
Denver Syntax
{escape hatch}
  frisco macae edwards


If there is an escape hatch anywhere I havenít found it. This thing is going down, and whatís worse, is that Iím not afraid like I thought I would be. At one point this was my biggest fear, now itís just a Tuesday. I donít know how to get out of here but it almost feels like I donít even want to look. Iíll be treading water in no time. I wonít last an hour before Iím exhausted. Four hours and Iíll be sleeping with the fishes, see. Of course thatís all moot anyway, the water will freeze me on contact. When it's this cold outside, construction workers will tell you to take your lunch inside, or not at all. At 40 below zero all the blood rushes to your stomach to aid digestion while the rest of your body freezes. Even the little bit thatís soaked into my shoes feels like pain, if I could still feel. I donít know what got me here, maybe it was her. Maybe this whole thing is a giant fucking metaphor for everything thatís wrong with my life. Then again, maybe this little boat really is sinking. Maybe Iím really out in the middle of the Bering, Christ knows how far from any land. I canít tell whatís real anymore. After awhile everything gets so numb from the cold that you canít feel, the 4th shot after you start to slur your speech, thatís what this numbness is like. Itís not particularly friendly, and itís definitely not warm, but itíll do. The waterís splashing around on the deck now. Maybe Iíll wake up in a few minutes back home before that night four months ago. Wake up like this was all some kind of nightmare, and sheíd be there to kiss everything better. Back home where itís warm, in Kansas. Back where I (donít) belong. But if I want to be honest with myself if I belong anywhere itís right here, but goddamnit you should be here with me. You should be going down with me. I donít even think youíd freeze to death; youíd just kind of wait it out. Float on my corpse until it washed up somewhere. Start anew. Thatís what I wanted to do, thatís why I moved up to this cold fucking place. But no matter how cold it gets itís never as cold as that night in the rain. Of course you wouldnít know that I stood outside and waited. I waited for your headlights to shine down in the corner, and flash the way they will, so that anyone coming up the other side will know youíre there, know youíre coming. So fucking considerate. I leaned against the side of my building and waited for you to come back like they do in all the movies. In the rain. In the cold. I must have stood outside for two hours, waiting. But you never came. After that nothing seems cold. Nothing seems.

I guess thatís how I got here. Itís never surprising; you hear the same story over and over. A book on tape narrated by different voices. Hereís the pre-made template, all you have to do is fill in the blanks. All these men and women that thought they knew what was going to happen. They thought that they would do _____, and______, and have_____, live in sunny______ ,and be with ______ forever. But something went wrong, _____ changed his/her mind and now we had to figure everything out all over again. It was the downfall of everything: believing in something. The downfall of believing in someone other than yourself. And they end up here, like me, running away from every problem God ever threw at us, and some how missing the punch-line. Thinking everyone at home was going:

Hey, whereís Walter?

Well they werenít, and______, oh well sheís now the happiest sheís ever been with that new fuck, the guy that stole your life. The guy that took everything you were supposed to have, and now youíre freezing your ass off. ______ never asks for you. She never wonders what happened. For all she/he knows youíre still living in the same fucking place doing the same fucking thing with the same fucking people, every fucking day. All the little things that remind you of_____, in the place that you ran away to, where you thought you could escape all of that but you canít, yeah, she/he isnít thinking of you, so cut it the fuck out. I know you never thought youíd end up here, but thatís the way it works sometimes. You rolled a 2 on the D20 and got fucked. Godís endless punch-line. Youíre the chosen one.

When I told people what I was going to do they told me I was crazy. They told me I was making the biggest mistake of my life, well they were wrong. Let me tell you a secret: if you really want to do something crazy, do it. Donít talk about it. Donít tell all those people you trust, in fact, you shouldnít trust them, but thatís another story. Everyone will tell you not to do it, all those people that are supposed to support your decisions, theyíll tell you youíre fucking loony toons. The kids that you ask, theyíll say donít do it because their scared and they wish they could do it, theyíre jealous that they canít do it themselves. The old people, theyíre jealous because they wish they had, theyíre those kids grown up, grown up with regrets. Even though Iím about to die, I know this was the best decision I ever made. Because I made it for me. Dependencies are not positive. Donít let anyone tell you that you canít do something. Theyíre lying. They hadnít thought of it yet and now, damnÖit sounds like a pretty good idea to them.

This wasnít what you planned for, and maybe thatís what makes it so good. I found a tiny house for lease and I took it immediately. All that money that I had been saving for next yearís tuition, it paid me up for 12 months. All I wanted to do was get away, so I found myself a piece of shit boat, checked out a couple of books from the library. Honestly steering a boat isnít that difficult. And up here no one really cares if youíve passed your tests or not, itís not the same here. Everyone has that look; they know where youíre coming from. Everyone has something theyíre running away from. Someone. Everyone has no one. I work at, well I suppose I should say up until Iím dying, I worked at this restaurant, just taking orders. So many people come through here on vacation; they all want you to take their pictures. Thereís the bastard. The guy that took your life, and heís living it, look at him smiling. Smiling with your fucking life, like it belongs to him. A fisherman at a bar that I tend to frequent after work when Iím not in my boat told me a story. He told me that one time he was in this bar and that bastard really did walk through the door. Of course the bastard didnít recognize him, neither did_____ for that matter, not with this full beard of course. He said there was a moment when he looked into her eyes and he thought she knew, but if she did she simply ignored it. Here was everything he had run away from, thrown right back into his face like a blizzard in the middle of a Texas summer. This wasnít supposed to happen. And he told me that he wasnít even bothered. Of course when he saw her all that love came back, but that love had turned into pain long ago, and if you get hurt enough you start to callus. He just bit down on his lips and told them how to get to the hotel, and that their daughter was beautiful. The daughter he should have had. He told me that was the first time he had cried since he moved up here. Itís the way people always treat things that look broken like shit.

The first time I took my boat out I rammed it into something out in the middle of the sea. Donít ask me what it was, I donít know, all I know is that it cracked some of the wood, I had to come back and get it fixed, it wasnít anything drastic. But itís funny because I only got the wood fixed. The little metal lining the wood on top stayed bent. Kind of a reminder. And now it means something even more. Have you ever gotten in a car accident, your door was dented to hell and you have to wait for the insurance company to run you through twenty circles? You come out from work one day, and you can swear that itís worse than it was originally. Three days later and you have to take a picture because you know itís worse. The dent definitely wasnít that big to begin with. Like someone is walking by and just kicking the shit out of it. Why not? Only this happens over and over, everyone walking past. Like people say, hey, this thing is already fucked, why not do some more damage, the poor-bastard-owner probably wonít even notice.

Well I do.

The first time the dent seemed bigger I thought it was just my imagination. A couple of days later and it was far worse, little black sketch marks on it, the black rubber warn off from someoneís shoe. Thatís when I kind of figured out what was going on. Now every day I never know when itís going to be worse, but every night I go out. At night you never know whatís going to happen. Little tufts of ice will float by on either side of you and you hope that thereís none in front. Sometimes Iíll turn off all the lights and hope that someone wonít see me. The water now splashing around my ankles, maybe this is what I always wanted. Everything is nothing out here. Dark is darker, and silence is quieter. And the best thing about it is, no one will ever know I was here. No one will ever know who I was. All those people back at home not asking whereís Walter. None of them will ever know. I have no remaining legacy, no story. I didnít contribute anything. The only thing Iíll contribute is some debris that might make someone elseís dream come true. If I was living the plan I still wouldnít have contributed anything, nothing but memories to my own head, the kind that you canít take with you into the water. Mankindís greatest fear: not being remembered. But weíll spend so much time ensuring our legacy that by the time weíre remembered we never got a chance to live. We were too busy planning everything, and setting everything up that we didnít look around. We spent all of our time making sure everything would be in order, so that we could get the most out of our existence, finding our wife at 19, picking our future occupation at 17, naming our unborn children at 22. This was the life we were supposed to have. One without debt, one without problems, and one with tons of things.

We were so busy preparing for death, that we missed out on life.

I tried so hard to hold on to everything that my hands got full and I lost it all. This wasnít even greed, this was just stupidity. This was naivety that you donít grow out of, the kind of thing that was bred into you. You were born here, you have no say. The same book-on-tape told in a thousand different voices. A live by numbers. Just put the money where all the 2s are. The fun life experiences, those are all your 3s. Sexual conquest: 5. But occasionally something terrible happens and weíre allowed to escape. All those things that werenít supposed to happen, well they do.

And there's the escape hatch. Thatís when I wasnít afraid. Thatís when I sprayed life experience all over my 2s. And all those bastards and _____s well they can keep playing by the rules. Let them have their numbers.

This boatís going down, and I donít regret a thing. Yeah, maybe I overreacted. Maybe this was the worst decision I ever made. But maybe this was the only decision I ever made. Youíll never be able to truly run away because there is no away when all of your problems are tattooed into your hippocampus. But if you throw everything you know out and start asking who really wants you to live this way then maybe you can.

Iím looking over the side of the boat and the water is dark. The little dent, itís no longer a dent. Someone must have come by with a sledge hammer and destroyed it, after all, I probably wouldnít notice. One of those little tufts of ice that are always floating by, thatís all it took. Snapped the metal and now water is coming in. The water is everywhere. Iíve turned off all my lights and my GPS, maybe someone wonít see me. That numbness has left and Iím wide awake, I feel everything. Kneeling down into the water I know that this is right. The icy water, soaking into my long-johns beneath my jeans, beneath my snow pants. This wasnít the way things were supposed to work out. I was supposed to start anew. Meet me some hot Eskimo chick and have little spear throwing babies, but it didnít turn out that way. And thatís just what I needed.

Now Iím thinking the best decision I ever had was selling my life rafts so that I could buy a GPS, who needs a life raft when you always know where you are. I know exactly where I am, I just don't know where Iím going. And as I open the hatch and step down into the freezing water I smile because I know this isnít the way things are supposed to be.