of a Nihilist
William Starr Moake
father was a hypocrite. When I turned eight, he made a big show
of promising never to use physical punishment with me again. He
said I was too old to be spanked like a small child. Two years
later, after I broke some windows in a garage I thought was abandoned,
he kicked me down a flight of stairs. I was so frightened I pissed
my pants. He called me a criminal, but of course he was the one
who had committed the crime of child abuse. From that point on
I despised him.
His name was William, which originally signified "determined protector"
in old England. So much for the meaning of a name and how it is
falsely applied. As one writer asked, who will protect us from
The last time I saw my father was the day Neil Armstrong walked
on the moon. I had gone through a bitter divorce and was just
out of Air Force boot camp when he invited me to visit him and
his new wife, Ruth, whom I had never met. I don't know why I went.
My father had spent World War II taking certain jobs that exempted
him from the draft, but when I balked at the notion of going to
Vietnam, he had refused to help me flee to Canada.
"If you don't want to serve your country," he had told me, "then
you're no son of mine."
I soon realized the visit was a mistake. My father forced me to
wear my uniform and paraded me around town like a proud patriot.
I felt like a fool because I hated the Vietnam war. The night
of the moon walk my father got very drunk after Ruth went to bed
and started harrassing me about my recent divorce.
happened to your marriage?" he asked. "Weren't you man enough
to keep it going?"
had been married five times and he knew very well that I divorced
my wife because she was unfaithful. When he bragged about seducing
a teenage neighbor girl, I couldn't take any more and something
snapped inside me. The next morning before he woke I told Ruth
about his filandering and packed my things to leave. I was backing
my car out of the driveway when my father rushed out of the house
to stop me.
"You stabbed me in the back," he said incredulously.
"You asked for it," I said and drove away.
he got sick a few years later, the old hypocrite wrote to tell
me that he had found religion and intended to become a preacher.
He hadn't seen the inside of a church in fifty years and had spent
his entire life ridiculing religion, but now that he was facing
his own mortality he wanted to believe that he had become a religious
man. He was so deeply self-deluded it was laughable. When he died,
I refused to attend his funeral. Some day I intend to return to
my home town and piss on his grave. I only wish he could see me
My mother was a simple uneducated woman who always seemed on the
verge of hysteria. I loved her as much as a son can love such
a mother. She lived in constant fear of what "respectable" people
thought of her, not realizing they weren't any better than she
was. When she was dying of cancer, she confessed to me that she
had never liked herself. I felt like crying when I heard this
As Nietzsche wrote, what child has not had cause to weep over
its parents? I'm glad that I didn't have any children when I was
married. In fact, I am the end of two family lines -- a curious
outcome that I often think about. In my darker moments I see my
life as the culmination of a failed experiment in human genetics.
But ninety-eight percent of all species that ever lived on earth
are extinct and if we believe the doomsday scenario advanced by
an increasing number of scientists, an asteroid or comet will
likewise extinguish human existence sooner or later. It is only
a matter of time.
Science has replaced religion in explaining reality, but it is
leading mankind down a primrose path. It portrays the universe
as unimaginably violent and essentially meaningless. This is bound
to have social reprecussions. In a film I saw recently a woman
on a crime rampage points a gun at her head when she's trapped
by police. She remarks that the universe began with a big bang
and pulls the trigger. This was fiction, but the same type of
tragedy occurs daily in the real world as the hidden message of
science penetrates the collective unconscious of the human race.
I think I was born a nihilist. Of course, the public image of
a nihilist is a ridiculous stereotype: rebel without a cause,
mad bomber, etc. I am a rebel only in my mind and I have never
purposely injured anyone. In my daily life I lead a quiet existence
and conform to most of the idiotic expectations of my fellow man.
As one sociologist observed, mores develop a life of their own.
Few people actually agree with them, but each person thinks that
everyone else does. Thus, a false perception perpetuates a system
of rules that practically no one believes in. The origin of human
society can be traced to this and other absurdities. Nihilism
is the only tenable philosophy that explains the insanity of the
modern world. Nihilism declares that nothing has meaning because
everything is a lie. This is a message that the average person
does not want to hear. It tends to evoke disturbing emotions like
uncertainty and fear and most are too cowardly to accept such
a radical truth.
But the truth is all around us if we only take the time to look
honestly. We live in the bloodiest era of human history and yet
people still speak of progress as if they were amnesiacs. I once
knew a man who had been a bombadeer in World War II. I liked him
because he was intelligent, possessed a lively sense of humor
and appeared to be compassionate. Recalling his war experiences,
he made a startling confession to me. One day his bomber was returning
to base with a full bomb load since the target had been obscured
by overcast cloud conditions. Landing with bombs still aboard
represented an unncessary risk and this would also tell the commanding
officer that they had failed in their mission. Usually in such
a circumstance, they waited until they were over open ocean to
discard the bombs. But on this particular day they were flying
over one of the Solomon islands when the pilot gave orders to
drop the bombs on a native village. The villagers were allies
who had helped Americans drive Japanese troops off of the island.
Scores of Melanesian people were presumably killed when the bombs
destroyed the village.
did you do it?" I asked my friend.
"I don't know," he said. "I guess I was a little crazy."
I think he was wrong in his self-assessment. I'm convinced that
any psychiatrist would diagnose him as a well-adjusted individual
and therein lies the horror of our situation. In the modern world
we have reached the point where a perfectly normal man can commit
an unthinkable atrocity. Contrary to popular myth, war is not
a special set of circumstances that alters behavior. The idea
of normality is misleading since it excludes the dark side of
human nature. All modern people are potential monsters precisely
because they live in a condition of denial unknown in the simpler
societies of the past.
I think it is necessary to lose your mind in order to grasp the
truth about reality. As more than one writer has noted, modern
man lives in constant fear of a future catastrophe, oblivious
to the fact that the worst has already happened. We fear an unconscious
memory of the fall of man. We have lost our humanity, but also
the knowledge of this loss. As a result, we live like mad termites
blindly consuming the environment that makes our existence possible.
In a fugue state author Philip K. Dick gained the insight that
the Roman Empire never ended. It merely shifted locations in space
and time and is now called America.
symptom of our insanity can be found in our attitudes about sexuality.
In the modern world sex masquerades as everything except what
it really is -- a natural function of the human body like eating
and excretion. Sex has become a mishmash of romantic delusion,
religious prohibition that begs to be violated, stereotyped role
playing and the basis of a war between men and women. The typical
person is secretly terrified of sex and at the same time compulsively
drawn to it for all the wrong reasons. Think of having such feelings
about urination and you will see how absurdly far we have strayed
from our roots in the animal kingdom.
Sexuality is also a mystery that once served as the foundation
of a nature religion. Modern science attempts to explain away
the mystery in terms of survival of the species or the glue that
holds society together, but this is utter nonsense. No man ever
engaged in sex with posterity on his mind. In sexual matters modern
people are children groping in the dark and making crude jokes
to conceal their ignorance. Only a few writers of the last two
centuries have shed light upon the mystery, as if it were not
worthy of exploration. D. H. Lawrence understood sexuality as
a bridge between people that went far beyond the scope of the
conscious mind. His best novel was banned as pornography for portraying
sexual relations with an innocent honesty.
For a nihilist like me overcoming boredom is the supreme challenge.
Suicide is always a temptation and I invent both mental and physical
games to keep myself occupied. One cerebral game I often play
is called "What If?" For instance, what if reincarnation is real
but karma is not? This is an interesting question because it fits
nihilist philosophy and has some rather brazen implications. The
inventors of the idea of reincarnation, ancient Hindu and Buddhist
thinkers, were careful to saddle it with the notion of karma:
behavior had a consequence in future lives. The founders of the
Judeo-Christian and Muslim religions had the same motive in creating
heaven and hell.
But what if rebirth was a random process that had nothing to do
with our actions? What if we could live an exemplary life and
still be reborn as a cockroach? Or practice every sort of evil
and enjoy a privileged human existence in our next incarnation?
Even worse, what if we were doomed to endlessly return as every
form of life from a virus to a human? Nietzsche envisioned such
a possibility in his theory of eternal recurrence, which holds
that everything that can happen has already happened an infinite
number of times and will continue repeating forever.
One might wonder what kind of human society could be built on
the principle of random reincarnation. Would chaos and anarchy
result when people saw no future reward or punishment for actions
in their present lives? Oddly enough, we inhabit such a society.
Despite a widespread pretense of religious belief, the vast majority
of people usually behave as if they had no concern for karma,
heaven or hell. They only worry about punishment in this life
since we have the police to deal with blatant acts. If it is not
a prison offense, they will cheat, lie and swindle their fellow
man with no regard for consequences in a future incarnation or
afterlife. This is a common practice in business as well as personal
relationships. In my entire life I have known only a few people
who possessed the courage and intelligence to create their own
morality independent of religious dogma.
I count myself among them.
For the past three months I have been fascinated by a particular
woman who was a stranger the first time I saw her. She was sitting
at a bus stop I used only occasionally and I found myself staring
at her. It was a windy day and her auburn hair seemed to dance
around her lovely face. Although she was young and attractive,
she was far from the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. And
yet there something special about her that intrigued me at once
-- an exquisite but indefinable quality that I had encountered
before. I experienced the mysterious force of attraction that
a man feels towards only a very few of the women he sees. It was
not lust -- she was rather flat-chested and a little too thin
to inspire sexual fantasy. I was reminded of the time I saw an
advertisement for jeans on television. My eyes were riveted on
one of the several female models who happened to be the least
sexy or beautiful of the group.
Why is a man instinctively drawn to a woman whose physical appearance
is much less than perfect? Many joke about "sexual chemistry"
as if men and women reacted to each other like laboratory rats.
But I am convinced there is a kind of irresistable beauty deeper
than the skin but detectable at first glance.
I decided to play one of my games using the woman at the bus stop
as my unwitting subject. In my mind I named her Miss X after noticing
that she wore no wedding ring. While we waited for the bus, I
examined her in brief glimpses so I wouldn't appear to be gawking.
She had brown hair and blue eyes and looked to be in her mid to
late twenties. She wore a dark blue skirt and white blouse and
carried a leather handbag. Her makeup was minimal and she had
long slender fingers with neatly-trimmed, unpolished nails. She
nervously moved her feet around inside the pumps she wore as if
they didn't fit comfortably. She licked her lips and smiled at
the older woman sitting next to her on the bench.
her bus arrived, I got on and took a seat beside her, curious
to learn where she was going. I detected the faint odor of a delightful
perfume. As we rode in silence, her arm brushed against mine and
I felt something akin to a mild electric shock. A moment later
I closed my eyes and tried to picture her face. The swaying movement
of the bus must have caused me to drift off for I was suddenly
awakened by her voice.
"Excuse me, this is my stop."
had a remarkably deep voice for a young woman. I stood up and
"Mine too," I said.
I followed her into a mall and lagged behind to see her enter
a shoe store. I walked to a patio restaurant that had a clear
view of the shoe store and ordered a cup of coffee. From the table
where I sat sipping the coffee I could see Miss X talking to an
older bald man who wore glasses. In the next few minutes I found
out what I wanted to know. Miss X was not a customer at the store.
She worked there as a sales clerk in the ladies shoes department.
was the beginning of my game with Miss X. As I mentioned before,
I need such games to keep myself occupied. Otherwise, my mind
seems to implode and I sink into despair and thoughts of suicide.
I have never actually tried to kill myself, but the possibility
is always lurking in the background. If I ever abandoned my games,
I think I might lose control. I have a recurring nightmare about
tornados. In the nightmare I am standing at the window of a house
looking out over flat terrain. I see a funnel cloud form and drop
to the ground, hurling trees and other debris in all directions.
It starts to move in the direction of the house and I experience
stark panic. I run to the bathroom and crouch in a fetal position
just as the tornado crashes into the house with a defeaning sound.
Walls fly outward and I am airborn. I wake up with a gasp, my
heart pounding like a hammer in my chest.
afternoon I followed Miss X to her apartment when she walked home
from the bus stop, careful to not let her notice me. The apartment
building was four storeys tall and located in a pleasant neighborhood
surrounded by tree-lined parks and schools. I discovered later
that she lived alone in a one-bedroom apartment on the third floor.
While I was playing detective, I could have learned her name but
I chose not to. I thought the game would be more fun if she remained
the anonymous Miss X in my mind. I found a park bench that had
a good view of her apartment windows and some evenings I sat there
watching her whenever I could catch a glimpse. She seemed to follow
a fairly strict routine after work. She cooked her own supper
and ate at the kitchen table. Then she watched television for
a couple hours. After that she read books or magazines while listening
to music. When she went to bed, generally around eleven, I walked
to my apartment instead of taking the bus. It was a long walk,
but I always felt exhilarated and I enjoyed the exercise.
I gradually realized that Miss X lived a lonely existence similar
to my own and I began to feel a certain kinship with her. Only
once did I see her go out on a date from her apartment. The fellow
showed no class, picking her up in front of the apartment building
in an ugly old car. I wondered why she didn't date more often.
Perhaps she was divorced like me or had suffered some other romantic
disappointment. Curiously, she didn't seem to have any close girlfriends,
which I surmised from the fact that she seldom used her home phone.
I also guessed that her family either did not live in the city
or else she maintained no close ties with them. Miss X appeared
to be adrift and alone and I couldn't help but think she was unhappy.
Eventually, I decided to risk direct contact with Miss X. I went
to the shoe store one afternoon and pretended I wanted to buy
a pair of shoes for my sister. I was relieved when Miss X didn't
seem to recognize me.
a birthday gift," I told her.
"What sort of shoes are you looking for?" she asked.
Although I had never seen her smoke a cigarette, she had the husky
voice of a smoker.
"I know nothing about women's shoes," I admitted. "Dress shoes
"What size does your sister wear?"
I looked down at her feet. "The same size as you," I said.
The corners of her mouth turned up in a faint smile. "Are you
I suddenly felt very nervous. "My sister can always exchange them
if they're the wrong size, can't she?"
"Yes, of course."
"Then show me something you would like in your size," I said,
recovering my composure.
She left the display room and returned a minute later with a pair
of dark blue high-heels.
"These are a little expensive, but I think they are very attractive,"
"I'll take them," I said.
This time she smiled broadly, showing perfect white teeth. "I
wish I had more customers like you," she said.
"Can you gift wrap them?"
"I'm sorry, we don't do gift wrapping here. But I'll show you
where you can have it done."
will be fine," I said. I was grateful to be able to spend a little
more time with her.
I paid for the shoes, Miss X led me out of the store. She placed
one hand on my shoulder (which startled me) and pointed with the
index finger of her other hand.
see the red sign at the end of the walkway? That store will gift
wrap your package for a small charge."
"Thank you," I said, staring into her eyes. "You've been very
"You're welcome," she said, lifting her hand off my shoulder to
brush her hair back.
As I walked away, I could hardly feel my feet touch the floor
because I knew she was watching me. For a moment it seemed as
if the game had been reversed: she was the observer and I was
Mister X. When I turned at the red sign, I looked back to see
her still standing outside the shoe store. I waved and she went
inside. I had the box of shoes gift wrapped and took them to my
I wished I could give her the pair of shoes as a gift, but I knew
that would spoil the game. As much as I was fascinated by Miss
X, I had no intention of becoming her suitor. Chasing a woman
until she caught me wasn't my kind of game. I preferred to live
alone and observe the absurdities of life from a safe distance.
One Sunday afternoon I followed Miss X from her apartment to a
large discount store downtown. I sat in the rear of the bus, hoping
she wouldn't notice me during the ride. At the store I trailed
behind until she got into an elevator and then I had to run to
make it inside before the doors closed. Two other people got off
on the second floor and we were suddenly alone in the elevator.
Miss X cocked her head to take a close look at me.
"I remember you," she said.
warning, she punched the button to stop the elevator.
"What are you doing?" I asked, startled.
"Have you been following me?"
felt dizzy when I spoke. "Yes."
She looked puzzled, not angry or frightened.
curious about you," I said honestly.
To my surprise, I detected the hint of a smile on her face.
do you want to know?"
"Are you unhappy?"
"What makes you think I'm unhappy?"
"You live alone and you don't date much."
The words tumbled out of my mouth before I could think.
"You seem to know a lot about me," she remarked calmly, leaning
back against the wall.
"I've been studying you for quite some time."
"Because you're curious about me."
"Am I supposed to be flattered by all this attention?"
"I don't believe in flattery," I said. "The truth is you struck
me as an interesting woman the first time I saw you."
"I don't know exactly why. I haven't figured it out yet."
touched her tongue to her upper lip. "I'm not looking for a boyfriend
if that's what this is about."
"I'm not either."
She grinned at my joke and pushed the button for her floor. "This
has been a very strange conversation," she said. "What's your
"I don't know your name," I said.
"It's not important to me."
The door opened and we both left the elevator. She walked a few
steps, stopped and turned around.
"You're not going to follow me, are you?"
hadn't moved since we left the elevator. "No, I'm going straight
"Where do you live?"
"Six-fifteen Robinson Avenue, apartment two-one-two. It's my real
address in case you want to write it down."
should I do that?" She had a puzzled look on her face again.
"Aren't you a little afraid of me?"
she said softly.
As I watched Miss X turn and walk away, I smiled because I was
impressed by her cool composure in a situation that would have
rattled most women. Of course, I knew she had nothing to worry
about from me, but I wondered how she had managed to convince
herself that I was no threat. She must have trusted her intuition,
which was a rare quality in itself.
I decided to continue the game in spite of her knowing about me.
I wasn't prepared to call it quits yet. The rules would have to
be adjusted, but I could imagine certain new twists that would
keep the game amusing. My first move was to buy a pair of binoculars
so I could watch Miss X more closely in her apartment. I didn't
intend to spy on her while she was undressing or taking a shower
since my interest was strictly non-sexual. I only wanted to know
more about this fascinating young woman and perhaps form a Platonic
relationship if possible.
Oscar Wilde observed that the only thing worse than not getting
what you want is getting what you want. One evening as I sat on
the park bench, watching Miss X with the binoculars, I noticed
her peer out of the apartment window in my direction. A few minutes
later she emerged from the front door of the building and crossed
the street to the park. She was dressed in cutoff jeans and a
loose-fitting blouse and I hid the binoculars in my pocket before
she took a seat at the far end of the bench.
hot tonight, isn't it?" she said, trying to appear casual.
"You have air conditioning in your apartment," I pointed out.
"I forgot, you know everything about me."
"Do you come here often?"
"It's a nice park, especially at night."
"Aren't there any parks in your neighborhood?"
like this one," I said.
"I assume those shoes you bought weren't really for your sister."
"I don't have a sister."
"Were they for your girlfriend?"
I turned to face her. "As a matter of fact, I was thinking of
giving them to you as a gift."
leaned forward and stared at the ground. "I can't accept a gift
from you," she said.
looked up at me. "I don't even know your name."
don't matter," I said. "You could think of me as Mister X, your
anonymous shoe benefactor."
She smiled for the first time. "You're a very strange man."
know I am."
"I'm not sure what to make of you. Can you give me a little help?"
I told you where I was born, what high school I attended, how
I got along with my parents and so forth -- would that make you
feel more comfortable?"
"Yes, I think it would."
it's all very boring," I said. "You'll have to take my word for
"Don't you think your past is important?"
past is an illusion and the future is a dream. Here and now is
the only reality."
"I wish I could believe that," she said wistfully.
I slid closer to her on the park bench. "What happened to you?"
The question obviously disturbed her. "I don't know what you mean."
does an attractive, intelligent young woman live alone, work at
a dead-end job and date crass men when she dates at all?"
She leaned back and folded her arms. "You want me to explain my
life when you won't tell me anything about yourself? That doesn't
it's easier to talk to a stranger," I argued.
She looked at me and hesistated for a moment before she spoke.
"You might be right, come to think of it."
"Let me guess. Your husband divorced you for another woman and
now you hate all men." I was being smug on purpose.
"I'm divorced, but that's not the problem."
"Then what is it?"
"I have terminal cancer," she blurted out.
"The doctors say I have less than a year left."
see." It was a feeble acknowledgement, but I couldn't think of
anything else to say.
She brushed a tear away. "I wish I had the courage to kill myself,"
wanted to tell her that nothing ever dies, that we all come back
to life in one form or another, but I couldn't speak. I felt paralyzed
as a strange fear crept over me.
Miss X noticed the look on my face. "This isn't what you expected
to hear, is it?"
"I don't know what I expected," I muttered.
"Let me ask you one question. Are you in love with me?"
"Yes." I couldn't bear to tell her the truth.
"I thought so," she said. "It looks like you chose the wrong girl."
She stood up and excused herself to leave.
you want to talk awhile longer?"
I'm sleepy. The only time I can forget is when I sleep."
"I wish there was something I could say."
looked at me and smiled sadly. "You don't have to say anything."
I watched her walk to the apartment building and go inside. A
few minutes later the lights in her apartment went out.
On the long walk home I was lost in thought. I laughed bitterly
at myself when I recognized the quality in Miss X that had fascinated
me on an unconscious level. It was the looming presence of death,
my old nemesis. Fate had played a cruel joke on both of us and
I realized the game was over.
A week or so later I was shocked when Miss X showed up at my apartment.
I had been staying away from her deliberately, unable to deal
with her tragic revelation.
"How did you find me?" I asked.
"You gave me your address," she said. "Don't you remember?"
felt like an animal trapped in its lair, but I forced myself to
be polite. "How are you?"
wanted to see where you lived," she said, looking around my apartment.
"You're very neat for a man."
"It's a bad habit," I said.
"You haven't been following me lately, have you?"
"Why? Were you put off by what I told you?"
thought you wanted to be left alone," I offered as an excuse.
She gave me a keen look. "Actually, it was kind of reassuring
to know you were watching me. Does that seem ridiculous to you?"
"I suppose not."
"I have a strong feeling that you understand my situation better
She was dancing around the subject, attempting to put me at ease,
but I was well aware of what she meant. I had begun to dread the
possibility of this conversation the moment she told me she had
"You shouldn't lose hope," I said. "You might have a spontaneous
"I was in remission, but it didn't last very long."
could find a cure any time."
shook her head. "I don't believe in miracles. And I don't want
doctors will give you something for pain."
"Morphine stops working after awhile," she said. "I could be in
agony for months before I died."
I didn't want to prolong the suspense any further. "I'm sorry,
I can't help you," I said bluntly.
"I was raised a Catholic," she said. "I can't do it myself."
sorry," I repeated.
She took my hand and caressed it. "Please think about it," she
"You'll have to ask someone else."
looked away and I suppressed an impulse to kiss her.
"I thought you might be willing to help since you ..." Her words
trailed off and she stared vacantly ahead. "I'm so tired of going
around in circles."
I offered her a soft drink.
"No, thank you," she said. "I have an appointment downtown. I'm
sorry I bothered you."
I told her it was no bother, but in truth I was glad to see her
The following Saturday I took the gift-wrapped shoes to Miss X's
apartment. It wanted to give them to her as a peace offering and
I hoped that she would accept them in the spirit of friendship.
I felt guilty about refusing her plea and this irritated me because
I considered guilt a pointless sentiment.
I knocked on Miss X's apartment door several times and received
no response. I assumed she had gone out and I propped the package
against the door. As I was leaving, a middle-aged woman wearing
hair curlers opened the door across the hall. She looked at the
package and brought her hand to her mouth.
"You can't leave that here," she said.
"Excuse me?" I said.
"The girl who lived in the apartment is dead." Hearing those words
produced the strangest floating sensation in my stomach. "What
did you say?"
found her Thursday morning," the woman recalled. "She tried to
hang herself from a light fixture with a long piece of electric
cord. But the fall from the chair didn't break her neck. She choked
to death slowly."
stared at the hallway floor. I could see a distorted image of
myself reflected in the polished tile squares.
"Did you know her well?" the woman asked.
looked up at her. "Not really."
I leaned over and picked up the gift package.
"She was seriously ill, poor thing."
one deserves to die like she did," the woman remarked.
In the lobby of the apartment building I dropped the box of shoes
into a trash can on my way to the street. It was a cloudy day,
but I decided to risk getting wet and walk home since I was in
no mood for a bus ride. For some reason I began to think of the
death penalty issue. I used to be an opponent of the death penalty
because I considered it a barbaric form of punishment. But eventually
I realized that it was more barbaric to keep a man in prison for
the rest of his life. Compared to the hellish conditions of prison,
execution is a humane sentence. Whether reincarnation is random
or shaped by one's karma, it is best for the murderer to be sent
to his next life when his present existence becomes a horror.
Even if reincarnation is a myth and there is no afterlife, he
is better off turned into dust as quickly as possible. Unlike
most death penalty advocates, I don't feel vindictive in the slightest.
Capital crime is a fact of modern life as unavoidable as air pollution
or traffic jams.
Although I supported the idea of putting murderers out of their
misery, I had paradoxically condemned the innocent Miss X to a
fate worse than merely dying. Suicide is a curse upon life itself,
casting a gloomy pall over everything that lives and dies naturally.
Miss X didn't want to leave such a curse as her legacy and she
begged me to take the responsibility out of her hands. But I refused
to help her and later I cringed with shame when I recognized my
true motives -- squeamishness and fear of the law, bourgeois attitudes
that I held in contempt. As it was, she died alone believing that
she had stained her soul. On sleepless nights I am haunted by
a vision of her dangling by an unbroken neck, eyes bulging with
terror as she chokes and her face turns blue.
I try to console myself with the fickle thought that perhaps I
loved her after all. In my heart I know it is a wretched lie,
but there are times when it seems quite plausible and even necessary
-- like believing in a merciful God despite overwhelming evidence
to the contrary. To occupy my time I read books and watch television
and take long walks. When all else fails, I invent a new game
and play it as though my life depended upon the outcome.
grew up in Michigan and worked as a journalist for several years
in South Florida. After majoring in anthropology in college, he
traveled extensively, freelancing as a travel writer/photographer.
Moake is the author of two published books of fiction, a novel
and a short story collection. His second novel, Terpsichore's
Children, was published in October. When he is not writing,
Moake works as a freelance web designer and software programmer
from his home in Hawaii, where he has lived since 1972. Website:
William Starr Moake
of a Nihilist
© 2003 by William