Wednesday, April 22, 2009

22/30: The man who could rewind time.

The first thing he did
was win a whole bunch of money.
They boys at the track thought he just
"had a knack," a "good picker."
He made sure to lose at the poker tables
just often enough.

The money (it was a surprise
even though he'd heard it
a million times before) did not
buy happiness. So he met a girl.
Learned her habits well enough to rewind
and win her over. Made her love him.
It was easier than picking the
trifecta, the daily double, he knew
everything about her before they'd even met
(for the eighteenth time) and they married,
raised a family, and he did it all
just exactly right. Handled every situation
perfectly (by the eighth or ninth try),
was a model father, a perfect husband and at the end
of it all, as he lay on his deathbed,
he found himself too afraid to die.

So he went back.
Became a bank robber. An astronaut.
A famous country singer. President.
Learned kung fu, calculus, French.
Read all the books he meant to,
He still wasn't happy.

He began inventing favorite ways to die.
Driving off bridges was a fun one,
rewinding just as the front of the car
kissed the water hello. He'd play with time,
see just how far he could push it - how much
carbon monoxide he could breathe and still
go back.

Eventually he started getting confused;
surely you can imagine. When you've lived
a thousand lifetimes it must be hard to tell
which one you're living now.
It wasn't until she saw the girl he'd married
in the grocery, walking alongside another man
(one who'd won her fair and square)
with the same exact two babies they'd borne
that the real, heavy-hitting questions about life
and meaning and the nature of reality wore him down.
He ran up to her, crying, but of course
she did not know him. When he demanded
that the babies were his own, she called for the police.
When he snatched at them, tried to run,
they knocked him down. The report later said
he'd reached into his pocket and they'd thought
he had a gun, so they fired and he clean
There was nothing else to say.

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