Fact Is Fiction

SHE SAT AT THE EDGE OF THE CHAIR with her eyes closed. The same words echoed in mind “Do you believe in fate or destiny? You can change your fate… you can change your destiny. Don’t do it… don’t do it.” Her eyes opened and she was again aware of where she was. The moans and the laughter was getting deafening, a tear stopped at her cheek. Mrs. Jacquline Roberts looked at her hand and felt the firearm. She knew it was loaded. She walked up to the room, the door was not locked but she already knew that. A second later the door swung open, there were pleads of sorry and then the firearm was discharged twice. A few seconds later once more….

THE BOOK SHOP SEEMED BUSY BUT it was midday and he knew it was the best time to avoid the rush. He wanted a book for his wife, she had been complaining about him not paying attention to her and he was confident a book would satisfy her boredom for at least a few weeks. That is when he saw her. She was standing across the room and was probably wondering which magazine to buy. He recognized her in an instant. “Stella Smith?” he asked.
“Yes” she looked at him and he instantly knew she remembered him.
“Remember me, Micheal Roberts…”
“Yes, how are you….”
Stella was the newly appointed District Attorney. She had studied with Mike in the same Law academy but they had never shared a class. Memories of the Academy flooded back into their minds.

The first time she met him was through a common friend. She was one of those girls that a boy in high school fell in love with at least twice and a guy at the academy at least once. She was a no bull shit person, did not have many friends and too silent for her genius.

They walked to a nearby café and continued their conversation over coffee. She was Mike’s crush in the academy and he had often felt she liked him too. She did not smile often but would always when he spoke to her. She never started a conversation with him and he could never muster the courage to have a long conversation with her. Things had ended on that note about 10 years ago.

“WHEN IS YOUR NEXT BOOK COMMING”, the man wearing a New York Times tag asked. “Next time I am due a book to the publisher”, chuckled the man standing on his porch. “Mr. Wett… Mr. Wett… is this story influenced by a real life incident.” Joe Wett was giving the press his first interview after his second book became a best seller. He was surprised by the question.
“Why would you say that?”
“Well there is an incident in your story where the boy and his father meet with the unusual accident… It reminded me of a story I wrote about a family, a year ago.”
“No, but how similar was the accident.”
“It was exactly the same.”
In many ways that was the last question he answered to the press that evening. He was on the net that night looking at newspapers from a year ago.

IT WAS HIS THIRD VISIT IN AS MANY DAYS. He hated the smell of disease and death that surrounded a hospital. The past two days were a nightmare for him. He walked up the corridor and stopped at a glass window. His eyes were focused at one point in the room. He had left the same place about a twelve hrs ago and his hand was still in hers. Jack was Mike’s best friend. He could not bear to see the current state of Mike. Two nights ago he woke up to horrifying news, Mike and Jamie had been in an accident. They both were critical. Jamie, Mike and Jacquline’s 3 year old son died overnight and Mike entered into a coma…

HE OPENED HIS EYES, THE BROKEN PAINT on the wall greeted his eyes. He sat up on the bed and looked at her. She was asleep, her head on his chest. He closed his eyes and heard the thoughts screaming inside his head “How could I do it? How could I be unfaithful?” It had started innocently and he now knew that he was in over his head. He reached for his watch, and looked at it. He had 20 minutes to get to the courtroom. He moved her to the side slowly making sure she did not wake up. He walked up to the window and looked outside at the cars speeding past the motel. He got dressed and opened the door to leave. He stopped, looked at her again and walked to the bed. His hand brushed the hair covering her face. He kissed her on the forehead, turned around and walked out…

MIKE HAD CALLED JACK TO THE CAFE. Jack walked in, sat next to Mike and ordered his regular. Just as Jack finished the order Mike added “to go”. Moments later they sat on a park bench. Mike sipped his black coffee and said “Jack I need some advice.” Jack was halfway in his sip and turned towards Mike with the cup still on his lips. He took out the cup and with the remarkable raise of eyebrows said “from me! Boy has your standards deteriorated.” Mike looked the opposite way and added “Stop it Jack it’s not funny. I desperately need your advice; you are the one person that knows me inside out.” Jack and Mike had been friends since 4th grade. “I am scared about what will happen between me and my wife. We have not spoken in over 2 months and I think I love someone else.” Jack turned towards Mike, he looked into Mike’s eyes and in a tone of anger said “Are you nuts? You were right that I am the person that knows you very well but I am also the person that knows you and Jacquline very well. I was there when you met her for the first time. I was the first person to know that you had proposed to her. I was the best man at your wedding. I stood next to you when your son was born…. Take it from me, you are the most perfect couple I know. For a long time I was jealous of you and wondered if I could find someone for me like you found Jacquline.”

Mike looked at an emotional Jack, he had never heard Jack speak the way he had just done. “Jack remember I had told you never to bring up a topic when we speak. Lets talk about that?”
“Its going to make you sad.”
“So tell me Jack, what is your most profound memory of Jamie?”
Jack did not want to reply but Mike was waiting “I don’t think…” Mike touched Jack’s hand and pressed it gently. “It was his 3rd birthday. He had just opened his gifts and he was holding two of them in his hands. I asked him which one he liked more. He replied that he liked me the most.” Jack laughed in sigh and covered his eyes with his hand.
“Do you know why he did that?” Mike enquired
“No” “Because he was scared you would take away either one of the gifts.”
The end of the sentence brought a tear to Jack’s eye. Mike gently pressed the back of the neck and added “Do you know what I remember of Jamie?” Jack looked at him not knowing what to say. Mike smiled and added “Jack you have never had a child…” Jack had just married a few months ago. “The very thought of a part of me walking around. It is hard to explain the emotions involved. I remember every little thing he did. When we look back at what we have achieved all our lives, money, fame…. Just don’t matter.”
He paused “Jamie was my life, he was my achievement, he was everything to me.” He looked down at his feet and added “When a child loses his parents he is called an orphan. When a wife loses her husband she is called a widow. When a husband loses his wife he is called a widower. There is no word to call a parent who has lost a child. Maybe it is because the pain cannot be captured in one word.” There was absolute silence, He had never heard Mike speak the way he did.

Mike looked across the park, at a man in a brown coat. He knew that the man had been following him. The man realized he was being watched and walked across the street. In his long career with the law, Mike had been followed many times and was used to it. He could tell if he was in any danger and this time he was sure the man would do nothing. He had other things to worry about…

JOE CHECKED INTO THE MOTEL just outside town. He knew the room he wanted. He sat on his bed and looked into his book. He read a paragraph and walked out. A minute later he came back in threw the book into the trash and crashed onto the bed. He knew he had only 2 days. He closed his eyes and went back to the day he first heard of the myth….

2 years ago

Joe walked into a beautifully furnished auditorium. He was a little late but the lecture had not yet begun. He crawled into his seat almost sure he was going to be bored. He looked around and saw that next to him was an elderly man with a beard that looked as dead as the man would probably be in a few days. He glanced around the room if he could find any beautiful girl to sit next to. Before he could decide on which one to sit next to the elderly gentleman said the magic sentence “Hello, how are you?” He knew that the magic sentence always lead to a conversation. He had used it often to grab attention. The conversation was not very entertaining to him but it had him glued to his seat and the lecture had begun. “How many books have you written?” “One” The gentleman almost jumped out of his seat, he was now looking straight at Joe. He slowly added “It was a bestseller. The movie will be out this fall.”

The lecture was uneventful even though some of the best writers of our time were present there. The conversation with the elderly gentleman was at best distracting. Every thing changed when the man said “…So tell me… You are a new kid in the block, have you heard of the Myth.” “What?”
“The Myth…”
“There is a belief among most of the writers are not always frictional”
“What do you mean?”
“They believe that we write fate. Fate of people we don’t know. Everything we write happens to someone, maybe their names are different and the places the different but most other details are immaculate.”
He continued to a puzzled looking Wett “Many cultures believe that fate was written by God. The myth contradicts it by saying that a force such supreme could not think like a human and hence let the humans to write their fate.”
“Are you kidding me?”
“I wish. But there is some disagreement between the believers of the myth. Some say that the entire fate is written by one man, whereas the other believe that it is a work of many men i.e., as a story formed from different parts of many stories.”
“It seems a bit farfetched.”
“Is it? Think about it, when was the last time you related to a story. People believe in miracles, miracles that happen to deceive science. This is one explanation that fits the pieces of the puzzle.”
“What about science friction?”
“Hey all I said was that it’s a myth….”

He opened his eyes and suddenly remembered where he was. He was now a believer, the accident in description was immaculate. Their names were different and it had happened almost 8 months ago. Still he felt uneasy, he had just come to verify and leave but slowly the fear creeping inside him.

IT HAD BEEN QUIET FOR SOMETIME now. Jack and Mike were still on the bench. “I have not spoken a word to her in over 2 months. She reminds me of Jamie too much. I can hardly look at her without questioning why I survived.” Jack was speechless. “I can’t live like this. You have no idea how many times I have thought of killing myself. That was until I met her.” Jack looked at Mike but he continued to look forward. “She makes me forget everything. She makes me feel alive” Mike turned towards Jack “When was the last time you felt alive Jack? When was the last time you felt good to be who you are? When was the last time smiled genuinely? She is all that and more.”

SHE OPENED THE DOOR NOT sure who would come at this time of the day. Joe stood nervously in front of the door not knowing what he would say. After the door opened he introduced himself and asked for a minute of her time. She reluctantly asked why. He gave her a few pages of paper and waited patiently. She looked thru the papers for a few minutes. After she was done she gave the papers back looked at him and said “I don’t know who you are but don’t ever come to me again. I would prefer if I would never ever see you again.”

HE HAD READ THE BOOK AGAIN, concentrating on the chapters leading to the climax. He looked outside again, there were a few people walking around the diner. A drunk had just picked up a fight with the lady that owned the diner. She was pointing to his pick up and ordering him to leave. A car came to a stop a few feet from the motel opposite the diner. He stood up, he had not anticipated her to here so early. He had forgotten to mention the time in the book. He heard the sirens, they were a good 3 minutes away and he knew that was not enough time. He rushed out and pushed the Diner lady aside on his way out. She uttered a curse or two but he did not care. He looked at her she sat down on the chair just outside the door. He stepped on the road and heard a loud horn. Before he could look to his left he felt the cold metal crash into his body… He opened his eyes and saw her entering into the room oblivious of what had transpired a few feet away…. He opened his eyes and saw the police screaming for the ambulance, he pointed to the door but nobody seemed to listen. He heard 3 shots almost one after the other, the cop lifting him turned towards the door…

HE BREATHED IN FROM THE TUBE, a deep breath followed by a shorter one. The taste of the oxygen was nothing to write home about. He looked out thru the window, it was a beautiful spring morning. It had been 2 months and he still remembered the moment clearly. The doctors had told him he was stuck in the bed for the rest of his life. He closed his eyes and remembered the last few words he had said to her “Do you believe in fate or destiny? You can change your fate… you can change your destiny. Don’t do it… don’t do it.” He opened his eyes and the thought that had been haunting him came back “Is my life a bestseller or did it end up collecting dust.” The thought this time made him smile… He remembered the last sentence the old man had told him 2 years ago “Fact is not stranger than fiction my boy, Fact is Fiction”.