Afterlife

Daniel T. Pryor

Soon I shall give testimony against a former friend and business associate. As the day draws near, I feel much like Sydney Carton must have felt as he marched to the guillotine. Of his sacrifice, for his sweet Lucy, at least Mr. Carton was certain there would be a proper outcome. My actions of long ago have begat repercussions far beyond what was intended or conceived. What will be sacrificed today, for that hopeful and damnable act years past, remains uncertain. What I sense in my dreams, and what I feel in my waking moments, is the nearness of a peaceful life that portends a wicked end to this one. I fear my fate shall soon be given to the treachery of men who demanded loyalty and honor. No day with which I am familiar could bring either knowledge or practice of these traits to them. But who am I to speak of such things? Of honor, I have found little. Of treachery, I have, myself, given in copious measure. I wonder whether I may truly be familiar with loyalty. Alas! Sydney and I speak with the same shameful tongues! Each of us is possessed of our morose and self-absorbed cries. They are but one of the many traits we share, up to and including the befriending of beverages that deprive one of a sound mind. These have been our lovers, have they not, Sydney? These were considered before your Lucy and I, too, have been so lonely. My dear friend, Drink. How many times did we escape together to the song of tyranny, and indulging bellicose tramps across nights and days and hopes and dashed dreams we pursued more of the same! We were the lovers of escape, concubines of insanity. In the end, sadly, Reality did more than taunt and haunt us; it gave us her bounty. Our friends were the liars and the thieves and the cheaters and the predators who preyed upon us, the liars and thieves and cheaters of life, itself. We were of human condition naught. What we demanded was more escape, and demanding brought us to the company of these ignominious men, men who may now seal our fates, for our efforts to escape from them. My last-gasp effort at life, without my old friend, my darling, seems to have brought upon me the real possibility of an ill fortune! It is a malicious hope of another former friend, who needed me to love my precious Drink. This ironic circumstance is such a lovely display of the bloated and constipated condition of my former life, a life which breathes its last even in this day. For all of the change that has come, no thing shall ever clean the past. Ignorance of it, alone, could conceal it. But as I embarked upon this new life, no witness to my present station is so blind. We live in an age of digital preservation and propagation. Even

those who never knew me can claim a special intimacy with me. Perhaps that is best, as I wonder at the wisdom of erasing the memory of that day. Almost without regret I declare the memory must be preserved, lest I be tempted to refine my present approach to life by devolving to what was. Very well. I shall persist. I shall continue to risk the truth and what little valiance I have found in sharing it. I shall disclose all that I am and was and hope to be, even as those who make haste to crush my spirit bring forth all their resources and derisions and vitriol. And they shall not suppress me. I shall let truth be its own force, even as they continue to use truth for their deceptions. I am familiar with such tactics, for I have been so sinister. Whatever fears controlled me then, whilst persisting, I find them wanting for governance this day. That is why I write. And with all the flowery prose I can muster, I adopt the more civilized pen of former generations. May it bring appropriate and cautious testimony to you, that you shan't live my days and nights. May it add light to my heart, even if the darkness claims my sight.