“Let me not then die ingloriously and without a struggle, but let me first do some great thing that shall be told among men hereafter.”
― Homer, The Iliad
“We men are wretched things.”
― Homer, The Iliad
September 20, 1979
My Dearest Sam,
Now you feel sadness. But do not worry, it will not be there long, and in its place, something stronger, and against me will find you. This writing is the first step towards that end. The second, lies within the hope that I can restrain myself and my companion from destroying the evidence of this ambition.
While I still have you, let me hold you. While you still smile when my face appears in the deepest and most loving places in your memory, let me see you one last time as I always have. Let me embrace you as I did the last time–when I knew it would be the last. Until my final moment here, it was that sweet embrace of my boy that I remembered. Let us stay here, where you were never more loving, and where we will never be again.
I first met him before you were born. It was before your mother and I loved each other, and before you blossomed that love we had into something altogether new and better. At first, I thought he was necessary–a balance to the extreme that my mind was pushing me towards. And in doing that, he comforted me. He comforted me in a way that natural love could not. It is like when you were a small boy and we would play hide and seek and you would find yourself in the closet, even though you were very afraid of the dark. But in the midst of that, you held onto your stuffed animal, and everything in the dark was perfect and fine. He was my friend in the dark.
And through the years, and as what he was to me became more honest, I worked very hard for one thing: that you two would never meet. Except keeping him from you, I could not find enough strength to subdue him in anything. When he was in charge, I was asleep. And with me, my love for your mother and you, and my reasoning towards all that was good and bad, was asleep as well.
I hope my honesty now in this end, will convince you that what I write you, is wholly true and complete. You never saw him-know this. Who I was, and who embraced you every night in the dark on your bed, was only me, the man who loved you from the beginning. My mistake was holding onto him too tightly in the beginning. My mistake was listening to the promises he made me–promises that to any reasonable man, appeared fair and good at the time. I traded fleeting relief, for what is now with me in my final and complete end.
And for that weakness, I am truly and wholly sorry, Sam.
What he did for me, can never be forgiven by anyone. What he thought needed to be done to save us, is my greatest shame. And when you came, I tried to tell him how things were then. I tried to tell him that the motive for all things was different because of you. But he was too strong and I was too late. And as one, we continued on, and the line that drew the difference in us, blurred and broke. But I hang on to it now, through this one act of love—to keep him from you.
I do not expect you to forgive me, but in time, if you can find your way back to when I was with you, and you afford me the mercy to stay there again, I will be there, away from him.
With the rest and all of my love,
9:24 PM – September 22, 1979
He read the letter aloud. Hearing it silently in his head was not enough for him to believe what he was reading. His knuckles, and nearly his entire hand was white, holding on to the crumpled parts of the letter. He was right about it being against him now. But how could he do this to him? After taking care of him so well these last years–when no one else could.
He threw the box he found the letter in and it caved into itself as it crashed against the wall of the shed. Along with it, the letter went flying, softly as the air kept it safe until it found its place on the sawdust against the ground. The silence that first left the room upon reading the letter, was now kept out by something else more violent and terrible. What had been his fourteenth subject, now lay still and lifeless, as the sole audience to the betrayal he felt. The carefully severed arteries and the soulless eyes that stared back in fear and in awe of this man, gave him the energy of an encore and bravissimo. And to his audience he played well and perfectly. The new and needless cuts now in number fourteen were not the same meticulous and meaningful incisions that they had always been, but rather were created like brush strokes on an angry painter’s canvas.
“How could you do this to me?!” he screamed. “I always told you we were the same. It was only that I had the strength to do what we needed to do to keep us alive. It was always them or you. I chose you. I chose us! We are the same! You said there were mountains and valleys between us, but you were wrong. And you are more wrong now. We are the same, you and I. And nowhere shall we be, that is without the other.”
Bright and very blue lights began to bounce around the room, chasing and mimicking the shouts within.
“Your boy…your Sam. I let you have him. I did what you asked and stayed away from him. Why would you betray him…why would you betray us now when we are just beginning to find our stride and our strength? Know thyself! And we do! You have been sick for so long, you have forgotten what keeps you well. Know thyself and live!”
For him it went black. A quick series of cracks and pops caused the pressure in the room to implode and the silence was sucked back in for a short and vital moment. The drips of blood from the man, number fourteen, became as loud as the violence that led to it. And below the drip–below number fourteen, on the ground was drawn a smooth and silky new strain of red that led from his now lying chest, to the edges of the floor. And at John’s feet, for it was now John again—the John that loved Sam, was the letter.
9:08 PM – September 22, 1979
Sam was asleep—-as beautiful as the day he was born. He breathed deeply, just on the edge of a young and immature snore. John held him tightly and for longer, and kissed him a last time. This darkness was the good one. The one that broke enough for the moonlight to outline Sam’s face. While the room was dark, the edges of things shown clearly–the edges of Sam’s eyes and dimples, as he found comfort in his sleep.
As John walked out of Sam’s room and down the creaky and brittle stairs, he picked up the phone for a moment, and walked out to the shed, towards his friend waiting for him in the dark.