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Jester's Folly

 

 

The ship was his sanity, and it was slowly sinking. 

            He sat upon its darkened deck, looking out over the gentle sea which was rushing up to meet him, flooding the deck with its icy cold relief, or maybe it wasnít relief the fear-black waters offered.  John Clark wasnít certain, and he no longer cared.

            Across the flat expanse of dark crystal, the last crimson embers of the dying sun of his imagination were sinking for the last time beneath the distant horizon of his soon to be ending reality, in tandem with the vessel on which he now awaited the inevitable plunge which lay in the not too distant future.  He knew it was coming, but he was no longer afraid.

            It had begun suddenly, much like the hole in the dam which the boy had filled with his finger.  John, fortunately, had not attempted to plug a finger in the whole.  The hole was just to big for that.  There was no point in attempting to deceive himself.

            Not to say he hadnít resisted.  At first he had fought back with all he had, trying every tactic he could think of to resist the relentless flow, to calm the savage raging of the insanity that was rapidly slipping up on him. 

            The beginning had come when she had walked into the living room one evening and promptly informed him that it was over.  She was leaving, going to her mothers, and worst of all, she was taking the kids with her.  God, he had lived for those kids.  He would have died for them.   And with a few words, not even giving a reason, she was taking them away from him. 

            The cracks had spread from there.  She had finally confessed a reason to him when he had called her his mother-in-lawís house.  It was another man.  Not just any man.  His best friend.  It had been going on right under his nose, heíd had no idea, for almost two years now.  She had finally decided that she couldnít take deceiving him any more, or so she said. 

            Throughout it all, he had fallen back on his job.  The firm for which he worked had cases galore that he could take up, and take them up he had.  John started working four and five cases at once, working late into the night, attempting to find just the right truth to tell the court.  His mind had turned inward on itself throughout the weeks that followed her leaving. 

            The voices came next.  At first, they were just the normal voices of conscience, small, whispering inside his head, telling him that it was his fault.  They had all agreed with each other, and so he had just dismissed them as regret, or doubt, or some other feeling.  He hadn't wanted feelings to get in the way, so he hadnít paid attention, and in the end, that was his undoing.

            Then the voices had begun to argue.  Not just about her, or about his part in her leaving, but about everything.  Every move that he made, at least one of them doubted his decisions, and often it would plague him for days.  And they had gotten louder.  More insistent.  Growing from a whisper, to soft words, to the disgusted, angry words of a parent, and finally to the screaming raves of a madman.

            Their constant chatter, their screaming broke him.  The end of the rest of his so called normal life had come one afternoon.  The Johnson case.  It had been going so well.  Then the screaming had started during the middle of cross-examination of the girl.  The only witness to the crime the boy hadnít committed, or so he said.  He had been trying to intimidate the girl.  And one of the voices had taken offense at his actions.  It had begun its ludicrous raving right in the middle of his fifth question.  Or had it been his fifteenth?  He was no longer sure. 

            The screaming had gotten to him, and quickly.  The strain of trying to ignore it, trying to go on as if it werenít there, as if it didnít matter, had finally broken him.  He had broken down screaming.  Right there in the middle of that court room.  He had snapped.  In front of every partner in the firm.  The case had been huge, so they had all shown up, and they had all seen him break down raving in the middle of the court room floor, and had seen him lie down and curl into a fetal position, tears running down his flushed cheeks.

            His screaming had subsided then to mere mutterings as he had slipped into unconsciousness.  From that court room floor, he had been transported through the magical carpet of dreams to this ship.  And as soon as he had looked around at the deck of the ship, and had seen the waters slowly rising along it, he had known that he was standing on what little remained of his sanity. 

            Upon arriving, John had been terrified.  He had attempted  to find a way out of the nightmare he had embarked upon.  Quickly he had realized that there was no way out, that he was trapped on the decks of this sinking ship.  So he had begun to bail water.  He had found the nearest bucket, and had begun valiantly, if stupidly, to fling buckets full of water from ship back out into the ocean. 

            After a time, he had finally realized that this action was getting him no where, fast, he had given up.  His spirit had finally broken.  He sat upon the deck.  For a time, he cried.  Then even the tears had passed away, and he was left with a calm the likes of which he had never felt before.

            This calm allowed him to think of the things that had driven him this far.  The actions that he had taken which had driven his wife from him.  The little problems one-by-one as they had come marching out of reality and into his life.  He pondered them, wondering why they had happened.   Then even curiosity ended.  He no longer cared.

            When he had sat upon the deck, he had picked the most forward part of the bow.  Now he leaned over the side, and read the name of the ship his subconscious had dreamed up.  Jesterís Folly.  And that was how, as the sun was sinking on his reality, John Clark had come to be sitting upon the decks of his sanity, waiting for it to sink.

            The sun sank,  and with itís final brilliant light, so did the Jesterís Folly and John Clark.  He never woke from his catatonic state, until the very end of his life, many years later.  His final words issued from his mouth, just seconds before he expired.  No one heard them, and even if they had, none would have understood.

            In the final moments of John Clark, his eyes gained the look of cognizant thought, and his breathing actually calmed.  He opened his mouth, and in an ancient, unused voice, whispered: "Jesterís Folly".  And then he died.

 

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