The Best Revenge Is To Live Well

by dschapman

So I sat there, in my brand new shoes, and lived well. It felt horrible. I was bored to tears. I could not be moved to do anything, except spend money, and acquire nicer things. As nice as things got, it never resulted in any tangible improvements. Except that I was quite comfortable, and my friends were jealous. Their jealousy worried me; I felt I had cause to be careful around them, that they might try to use my material unhappiness against me, as though I were happy. As in, poof – material doesn’t exist. I might as well be a fruit fly, flapping my wings for the whole world to see, if anyone bothered to look at me.

In the kitchen, where I spent my time sitting down in a chair with a radio on, contending with the ghosts and absences and trying to keep my heart beating, I opened a book for the first time in years and I started to read it. Where had this book come from? What was it doing there? I held it as though it were a dangerous artifact, and I were a thief from the temple of knowledge, blissfully unaware of what dangerous power I wielded. I read a few lines and they really jumped out at me. I reached for a pencil to mark them, and fortunately there was a pencil near by. As I touched it, it shocked me, because I did not remember a pencil being there. I dropped the book on the table and stared at the pencil in my hands. “What are you doing here,” I said alone, frustrated and confused. “What the hell are you doing here?”

Someone knocked at the door and I startled. Who was this, at that hour? I was no accustomed to visitors at any hour of the day, let alone this early morning. Another knock, and I thought I should answer it. Just who could it be? Perhaps a beautiful woman, or a very dear friend come to visit me. Perhaps my father with some money, or my sister with a gift. Perhaps a crack fiend needed money, that has happened too. It could be anyone. I was almost excited. I imagined taken them into my home, into my kitchen. I imagined the kitchen from my childhood and all of my family in it, all of the people moving through during the day, bringing things, taking things, leaving their marks in the air as they left to remind us of the constancy of life. This was the kitchen in I saw in the books, when the egoist narrator stumbles drunkenly home to his kitchen, where his wife stands, watching, while the bastard drinks, and abuses her – verbal abuse, very literary and deliberate, very self-sure and sickening… On the stove there once was boiled cabbage, but I have never eaten boiled cabbage. They cooked good food, once – corned beef, pot roasts, and stroganoff – they cooked things I didn’t like, and I did not eat them. Now there cooks nothing; I have not cooked in years. They cut off my gas when I failed to pay the gas bill, and they have never come back here to turn it back on, so I could not boil cabbage if I tried.

That is not true. I have a hotplate, I could boil cabbages.