The View Before The Fall

It was through a strangely detached perspective that he viewed the scene before him. In the west, a brilliant setting sun was setting the horizon alight in a rush of fiery color. Below him, some ten stories away, a crowd had gathered. More of a feeling than something he could hear, their mumblings and energy rose up to meet him. Nervous anticipation was building in the crowd, and he suddenly felt as the train-wreck would.

From his left rear quarter, he could distinguish a steady, calm voice with just a hint of pleading. “You don’t have to do this” the voice implored. He laughed softly to himself; of course I don’t, but I want to. It was more through a feeling of building confidence and a strengthening sense of purpose that he had walked the stairs today. His doubt and emotion had resolved itself over the previous weeks, a dramatic prelude to a familiar plot device. As with many, once his decision was made, the steps leading to it were no longer strong in memory. They had shrunk to irrelevance; they had a role no more important than the throng spread out beneath him.

Some weeks back, how many was no longer important, he had experienced a last perfect day. Like many perfect days before, it had been a Friday. Somewhere beyond conscious memory, he knew that he had finished his daily paperwork. It had been another solid week; contracts were being executed, payments were being made, employees and customers alike were happy. A modest contractor, he was a good employer, well-liked an deserving of the loyalty his employees gave him. His customers could depend on the timely and professional service his happy employees delivered; his community could depend on the timely involvement and donations he delivered. A diligent and detail-oriented man, he had little in the way of debt, and remained as committed in adulthood to saving, as he had been as a boy. The piggy-bank was more icon than simple childhood token.

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More a feeling than memory, he was aware that his return harm was marked by a pleasant Friday meal with his wife, son, and daughter. His bride and he had raised the two children into the teenage years without much of the drama he knew existed in other households. His offspring were as diligent in their studies as he was in his business. They were modest in their ways, involved in the church, and fastidious in their personal habits. His feelings recalled a satisfied pride as he surveyed his last, perfect, Friday meal.

He and his beloved were soul-mates and committed partners. They had grown past the passion of their youth into a moral union based, in his feelings, on solid traditional values. He and his bride may have been reserved but, he smiled to himself, they were not prudes. A few times every month they allowed themselves a window into the passion of their early years. This last perfect Friday was an affirmation of his marriage; a quiet and respectable union in the marital bed, after which he rose and completed his weekly books. An excellent ending to a productive week.

Looking out from his feelings he saw the Sun continue its fall to Earth. The din from below had grown louder, and was now serenaded by the sounds of sirens, helicopters, and the rapid clicking of cameras. Back in the Friday that was today, he found himself wondering whether any of the restless mob beneath him had work or family to attend to. Always above the sensational extravagance of news and television, he found his current view an obnoxious intrusion on his contemplation. Those people down there were the shiftless masses, easily entertained and bereft of moral compass.

The sight of the gathering throng pushed him deeper into his feelings and, once more, he allowed his mind to wander back to that final perfect day. Or perhaps the days following. Rising early to begin his weekend, he could now vaguely recollect his morning constitutional. A glorious walk followed by a simple breakfast and the short drive to the club formed a familiar Saturday pattern. On a day such as that one, 36 holes were certainly called for. And so he and his regular foursome played golf, discussed business, ruminated on politics, and compared notes on their wives.

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His return home was marked by familiar occurrences, save one. His wife informed him she was having the carpets cleaned. As a result of that plan, she had movers on hand loading their furniture into a truck. Far from taken aback, his feelings recalled another moment of pride; his dutiful wife was both attentive to the family home, and industrious. As was her pattern, she could accomplish all of her duties without his intervention. The children were off to friend’s homes for the weekend, and he would be able to enjoy his Sunday rituals without interference.

Presently he was distracted by the insistent mutterings of the calm voice from his left rear quarter. “You are a good man, there are always other options” the voice intoned. Of course he was a good man, he knew that much. And as for other ways, did these people, these low people, believe that he had not considered all of the alternatives? It was then that he had his first clear realization of where he was. Across the street from the modest office tower he was atop, lay the church that he and his soul-mate were married in. The notion brought a smile to an otherwise impassive face; he had, even in his reverie, planned every last detail.

The Monday after the last perfect day had begun in the traditional manner; meetings, reviews, and lunch with a valued client. Then, his feelings reminded him, came the strange call from his attorney. He had just played golf with the man on Saturday, and now it sounded like the lawyer’s world was collapsing. As his heart rate accelerated, his feelings began to bring forth his carefully filed memories at a faster rate. There was the indictment by the district attorney for fraud and bribery. Hadn’t his accountant assured him that all of those transactions were completely above board? There was the angry confrontation with his trusted administrative assistant; didn’t she understand that his investment of the firm’s retirement firms with the hedge fund boasted of a great return?

Then, unbelievably and despite his great effort, he began to remember in great detail the conclusion to the Monday after the last perfect day. He thought the process server bore another missive from the D.A. He was wrong. His beloved soul-mate had filed for divorce; his children would choose to live with their Mother; his house, he remembered with a rising sense of bitter regret, was devoid of furniture. Hadn’t she made the same commitment to his life as he had? Where did their carefully crafted, morally executed life go wrong? What was this cold unfeeling manner she labeled him with?

As he surveyed the crowd beneath and the Sun abreast, he smiled in the satisfaction of knowing to which she referred. He was, in his mind, now and always, cold and detached. Hadn’t this always been his hallmark? Wasn’t this the capacity in himself that he truly valued? If his beloved could not appreciate his strengths, could not accept the benefits to the family that they had provided, then what else could he do. He smiled as he acknowledged how little he felt. He felt the rush of expectation from the mob beneath him. He understood the urgency in the formally calm voice coming from his left rear quarter. The master, once more, of everything he surveyed. He was once again in power. Men of power are, he observed, men of action;

And so he jumped…

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Animated Balls: Election 2012

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