Thursday, May 26, 2011

A Desert of One

He looked over the top of the wall that I had helped him build, glanced out at the dust cloud on the horizon, and said "They are coming for us, you know?" Well of course I know that I can see just as well as he can, and besides, I am the pessimist in the group. I know 'they' are coming for us. However, those thoughts I keep to myself, and I content myself with a simple "Yes, I know, but I wonder who 'they' are this time." He smirks at me (he does a great bit of smirking), and replies "Does it really matter? There is always going to be a 'they', and 'they' are always going to come for us, and try to batter down our walls."  He is right, and it sticks in my craw that he is, no matter how much I wish it weren't true, his assessment of the situation is spot on, and I turn back to the desert outside our walls, and pose another stupid question. "How many do you think there are this time?" It is a stupid question, because the answer I know that is coming duly arrives loaded down with the sarcasm he does so well. "Does that matter either? Five, fifty, or five hundred. It's all the same to us isn't it?"

One of the sadder parts of our situation is that we are in a desert, an sandy outpost in the middle of nowhere. A place of no particular interest to anybody else in the world. A place that time should have scrubbed off the map ages ago. A place that you wouldn't claim to be from if you had any sense, and a place chosen by us for that exact reason.  Picked out with exactitude, and built by ourselves, for ourselves, in order to keep ourselves walled in, or maybe the world walled out, either way, it was chosen for the isolation it provided. And it was that blissful, hard-fought isolation that we wanted, that we prized above all else. To be far, far from the maddening crowd was our goal, and for an, all too brief, time it worked like a charm. However, the world sometimes just doesn't let you cash in your chips, and withdraw from the game quite so easily, and we were finding that out again, and to our cost.

We built the walls as strong as we were (at the time) able, and while we were fairly good at building walls, they are, by no means, impregnable.  This wasn't the first group to try to batter down those wall, and we didn't figure them to be the last. "This would have never have happened if you weren't so damn stubborn you know?" I had to say that to him, because it was the same thing I always said to him, when the enemy was at the gates, and he gave his usual reply of "why don't you go tell THEM that, and while you at it go fuck yourself."  It was our usual banter just to ease the pressure of waiting for the storm to break over us, and it was the same refrain every time. I doubt either of us even really paid attention to it anymore, but somehow without it, things just wouldn't have been the same.

Of course, in theory, I could have walked away and left him behind those walls by himself. There was no contract between us, nothing in writing anyway, and I am sure that he would not have been to surprised if I were to just pull up stakes, and head for 'higher ground' (as he would call it).  However, I was in his thrall, and both he and I knew that.  I could no sooner leave him than I could cut my own throat. Sometimes it seemed to be a beautiful idea, and on more than one occasion I tried it, but each time, he was there to stop me, and he didn't really have to try to hard to do it. It was one of the most infuriating things about him. He knew that it was impossible for me to leave him, and to his credit he never held it against me, or even acted like he knew. He is the most imperfectly perfect men that I have ever met, and that is high praise. Even his flaws, of which he was quick to own, were perfect. They just made him flawed enough to be even more perfect.

"We could just let them in, you know?" I said, hopeful that he would finally relent in another ongoing argument that flared between us on occasion. "And, IF I were to do that, do you think that would stop more of them from coming?" "Do you really think the hordes would stop with just letting in one lucky group?" I sigh (for the thousandth time) and reply "Of course, not you're right as usual, if we let in a few scouts then battalions are sure to follow." "But, do you think they will ever stop?"  He looks over at me with real determination in his corn-flower blue eyes, and says "no they won't stop, you know they won't fucking stop, you knew they wouldn't fucking stop when you signed up for this, and you also know that I am not going to fucking stop either." "So why are you asking such a silly question?" I am not shocked by the venom in his reply, and my feelings, though slightly wounded, will recover from his display of anger, but I still mutter "because I figure that you would, one day, some day, give me the answer I want to hear."

That's the sad thing about us humans we always have an answer that we want to hear, not that we get to hear it, or that we would believe it even if we did, but we still long to hear it.And when we don't hear the answer we want, we tend to get peckish.  But peckish or not ,  I have to turn to the walls that I helped to build, and try to repel 'them' those nameless ones that are battering at the gates. Whomever 'they' are,  the people that won't be happy until they shatter the peace that we have found here in the middle of nowhere. The peace that we foolishly try to preserve, knowing that 'they' will not stop coming. Knowing that 'they' have no other purpose, whether they are fully aware of it or not, but to destroy our desert of one.

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