Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Man's Inhumanity to Man

Ah, the Lalaurie mansion. Stately French Quarter masonry which 150 years ago hid a grim secret the echos of which can be felt to this day. We mark places rife with great suffering and torment, venerate them, vilify them. In truth, we are fascinated by such evil. What does it take for a doctor and a debutante, pinnacles of the community, to go so horribly wrong? Is it circumstance or an inborn defect to cause such a blackening of the soul? Would we be capable of such atrocities? It may sound nihilistic, but I believe except for select few pure souls, everyone has within them the propensity for good and evil. For most, even percieved altruism isn't what it appears. Often it is only undertaken if it profits the person more than selfish inaction. We exist in a world of gray, treading an incredibly thin line between order and chaos, most going through life blissfully unaware they are standing mere steps away from the abyss.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

The Majesty of Simplicity

The invention of the personal listening device has to be one of the greatest achievements of the last fifty years. Besides allowing me to translate my mood into notes and lyrics at the push of a button, it keeps me endlessly entertained no matter where I am. While I am never without a pen and notebook, there are times when even I don't want to read or write. This afternoon was one of them. Instead of lunch I sat on a bench under the shade of a tree, turned on the ipod, and watched the world. Humans are on the whole a lively bunch. For those of you expecting me to relate a bizarre or macabre happenstance, sorry to disappoint. It was a fairly average day with quirky behavior, odd fashion choices and even odder choices in traveling companions. Usually I maintain a stable pessimism, but days like this remind me to have a little faith in humanity as I observe life unfolding to the soundtrack of my choosing. Perfection in simplicity, beauty in chaos, and felicity in quiet moments on a busy afternoon.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Gone But Not Forgotten

If you have never had a reason to hang around a hospital after hours, I highly recommend the experience, especially if there is an abandoned hospital wing. Wheelchairs and gurneys discarded haphazardly in shadowy hallways. Hospital debris scattered about as rooms which once housed the sick and wounded stand dormant, husks of their former selves. Paper-cluttered nursing stations stoically waiting for humans to return, yearning for usefulness. And above it all are the noises, creaks and echoes slicing the deafening silence broken by the oppressive subtle hum as if so many souls experiencing the greatest joy or desperate tragedy left remnants behind long after the last orderly turned out the lights. I tarry a few extra minutes before responding to my incessant pager. Like so many of the forlorn and forgotten, perhaps all these shades roaming these halls are waiting for is someone to take the time to listen.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

Evidence of Things Not Seen

I make it a point never to engage in arguments with drunks or fools, but I got suckered in the other day in spite of my better judgment. I'll admit, sometimes my belief that there is things in this world I can't see, touch, or otherwise quantify seems a little out there to certain people. Then again, given the prevalence of paranormal themed TV shows, many of which are reality shows, indicates I am far from alone in my views. I have witnessed some things I simply cannot explain, but I never expect others to acknowledge these as reality. Sometimes senses fail and perception isn't always truth. Instead of arguing the metaphysical, let me do what I love and tell a story.

There was once a young man, Tony, who grew up idolizing his older brother, Louis. Louis was two years older, handsome, witty and charming. His freshman year of high school he made varsity track able to run sprints with such speed he left the school's next nearest record holder in the dust. To Tony's young eyes, his brother was superman. He would follow him around like an adoring shadow and unlike some older brothers, Louis would let Tony tag along with his friends letting him go with them past curfew, sneaking him into the newest R-rated horror movie. Life was ideal for the brothers until one day Louis started to develop a cough. It was easy to overlook, easy to ignore, but as the days went by the cough got worse. Louis stopped going out with his friends, could not longer run on the track team the way once could. He started to seem paler, listless until one night he collapsed after dinner. Fearing the worse, his parents rushed him to the hospital. Tony stayed home with an aunt who lived down the block assuming it was just a bad case of the flu. The next morning his parents returned home, their eyes bloodshot and faces tear-stained. There was no sign of Louis. Tony kept asking and finally his father summoned the courage to sit his remaining son down and tell him the terrible news. Louis was sicker than anyone knew. The doctors did what they could, but he died shortly after arriving at the hospital. Tony was grief stricken. He merely felt numb, going through the motions as the relatives came and went trying to comfort the family. Arrangements were quickly made and Louis was laid to rest two days later. The afternoon of the funeral was stormy, wind howling through the trees and lightning crackling across the sky. The family gathered at the aunt's home after visiting the cemetery when someone noticed they forgot an apple cobbler in the refrigerator at Tony's house. Wanting a few minutes of solitude, Tony offered to run home and get it. The house was dark and empty save for the occasional burst of lightning and rumble of thunder as he walked down the front hall towards the kitchen. As the thunder retreated he could faintly make out a sound just above him on the second floor hallway. At first he dismissed it as the patter of the rain, but the thumps steadily grew stronger and louder until he could no longer ignore it. Swallowing his fear he cautiously climbed the front staircase, more certain than ever what he was hearing. There was someone running up and down the second floor hallway. As he reached the top of the stairs, his eyes strained in the dark, trying to make out a figure to explain what he was hearing. He saw nothing, but the sounds continued as the phantom sprinted up and down the floorboards. Without warning, a cold blast of air rushed past him, the footsteps abruptly racing down the stairs and towards the front door. When they reached the door, the finally disappeared, leaving Tony dumbfounded. He didn't wait, racing out into the storm and back to his aunt's house. It was decades before he told anyone what he experienced. At first he wasn't sure how to describe it and, later, he worried about what people would think. Tony grew up to be a strong young man, playing on his high school football team and joining the army, serving his country with distinction. However he never forgot the night he heard Louis running sprints around the house one final time. He keeps a picture of his brother with him to this days. He never heard the footsteps again.