Tales by Will Mayo

Nihilistic? Or is there some indistinctness about that?

      And then they asked me what I wanted to be. “To be?” I snorted. “But I already am being. And one day I will be nonbeing. Can one ask for anything better than that?”
    They walked away shaking their heads in doubt and wonder. It is as I have said. And then we all are no more.


     “Are you high?” they asked.
     “No,” he said. “I’m just tripping off of this particular reality. It is, of course, one of an infinite variety.”
     They looked at him, smiled, and walked away.


     Death, where is your bite? As the years go by I fear you less and less. There is more the dying in daily living to be feared than death itself. Death is no sad goodbye but merely an end to countless sorrows. Come, then, let us celebrate the living in life as never before, for the day shall come when we shall be no more. It is worth it.


     I met a young woman named Shiva many years ago while working at a bookstore and it struck me as such a curious name that I asked her about it. “Is not Shiva the Hindu god of death?” I asked.

     “Just so,” she said.

     “Why ever would your parents name you after death?” I asked.     “Because death is as natural as birth,” she said. “As easily as winter follows summer’s bounty. And then all comes round again in the spring.”

     It took me many years, many long years to see that she was right. That while we long for eternal life the earth longs to receive us as easily as she gave birth to us. Like a lover. Like a newborn child. Like an elderly man. It all comes round again. Birth and death. Two sides of the same coin.


     The Good Lord created heaven and earth and the trees and bushes and animals of the field and the birds of the sky and the fish of the sea and man and his wives to tend them. And then he rested. And he got bored. So he created death. Just to even the score, to make things interesting. And then things got interesting and man wanted his attention so he went below.

      “What’s wrong?” God asked.

     “Why, we’re all dying. Can’t you give us eternal life?”

     “I gave you death. Can’t you see that’s a gift in itself?”

     “No, I want life. And I want it now.”

     So God gave the planet life all over again. And pretty soon things got interesting this way too. Man kept warring and killing over eternal life. And God just couldn’t figure it out.

     “What’s wrong?” he asked. “I gave you all eternal life. Yet you kept choosing death. Why is that?”

     “It’s the way, the truth, the light,” man said.

     “Very well,” God said.

     He can plainly see that this man prefers death over life. There’s no use arguing over it now. So he sits back and enjoys the show. Still waiting on that carry out. Any day now.


     I’m not the same man I was before. Nor are you. Nor is anyone. This atom has been replaced by that plant over yonder. That molecule by one in you over there. These protons come from Greece, Rome, Beijing. All my matter that has encompassed me has spread elsewhere across the planet to be replaced by the shifting ebbs of time. It had been bled out, breathed out. That man is now gone.

     Is there then some energy which makes up the me that you know as the author of this piece, which has remained? No, that too has changed. The electrons have been replaced and whatever electromagnetic field there may be has ebbed and flowed with the world’s energy and has also been replaced.

     And what memories which compose me are then but second, third, fifth, sixteenth hand memories of all that came before, passed on by lifeforms in the dark, from one to another, one phantom thought after another.

     So you come up to me saying, “Hello, Bill, haven’t seen you in a long time.”

     “No,” I say. “This is Will. Bill’s gone now.”

     “Why, hello, Will,” you say.

     “Hold on,” I say, “I hear Phil coming around the corner.”

     And off we go, none of us ever the same.


     “Who are you? What are you?"
     “I’m Mel, your neighbor.”
     “And yesterday?”
     “Yesterday I was the mayor.”
     “The mayor?”
     “And the day before that?”
     “The day before that I was your wife.”
     “Make up your mind, will you?”
     “It’s awfully hard when you keep asking these questions.”
     “Very well. I’ll be you.”
     “Don’t’ do that. I have a hard enough time being me as it is.”
     There’s simply no pleasing some people.


     I dreamed once again of my father. We were sitting at some coffee shop along the highway surrounded by glass windows and with barmen and bar to the interior all in dark serving up the coffee dipped in cream and looking through the windows I could see my apartment building across from the highway and I said to my father, “We could go across that way for the journey home.”

     My father said to me, “No, the highway cuts through here. A different kind of highway.”     I looked at him then. He looked young. So young. Why, he couldn’t be more than twenty.

    “Should we pay for the coffee?” I asked.

     He said, “We don’t pay for it. Everything’s been paid for by now. Long and gone away.”

     I looked at him again and wondered what could possibly be free in this world.

     Then again, maybe we weren’t in this world after all.

     Finally, I woke beneath my old worn blanket and realized that he was gone. Simply gone. I wrote down these words and left it at that.