Wednesday, January 14, 2009


A crumbling empire, a life disintegrating. Well, perhaps it seemed an empire to you, your little cluster of accomplishment in Indiana, but even being a millionaire isn't enough to lift you from obscurity in modern America. Still, it was the Dream in a way, and like many under its hallucinatory grip, the power was too tempting. Now: a federal investigation, a divorce, seizure of assets, home searches, angry investors, no number or combination of lies or deflections that could smooth it all over this time. No hope for recovery. In this economy, ("in this economy;" you hate when people preface with that) when you're still ahead and suddenly it looks like you're about to lose it all, how can you ever picture the future where you'll be ahead again? Or even caught up to the average? Not as this persona, not with what fate dictates for this life. But you can beat fate. Free-will. You're sure it's what made you your fortune. (So then, is it what is undoing it?) If Marcus Schrenker is no longer in the picture, if he could only become someone else, then what fate befalls Marcus should no longer concern you. It will be hard for you to start again as someone new, but perhaps it will be easier than starting again as Marc with the tarnished reputation and the wounded pride. You doubt that anyone would take you seriously again. You believe it to be a tragic mistake, but you know it to be the case.

Mostly, though, you know this won't ever work. It's quite clear that accessing your means of starting anew somewhere else, as someone else, will only get you caught as the person you are now, Marc Schrenker, a stupid, fallen man, a laughing-stock, a wounded effigy of all that is wrong with deregulated markets and capitalism and the dirty-underside of the American legacy, to be paraded around and made an example of. They'll be waiting for you to tap your sure-to-be-flagged bank accounts, to swipe those credit cards and reveal your location. You know this can't work. But part of you thinks that it also can't get any worse, that maybe you don't need grand plans of rebirth, you needn't be the proverbial Phoenix, you just need to disappear. Worry about the rest later. For now, vanish. They can dismantle your "life," take apart what you've built piece by piece, but they can't take your life, can't rob you of your freedom. You can't allow them to. Part of you feels embarrassed that such thoughts cross your mind. It seems trite, stereotypically American. "You've ridden the American horse as far as you can, Marc" they'll say, "it's time you get the hell off." How offensive, really. How stupid it would be to invoke American liberties, to don a Patriot's hat while you undermine the establishment.

Yet you plot. It's a mess, you're aware. You've rented a storage unit in Alabama under an assumed name, tucking away in its dark corner a motorcycle, saddlebag-laden, as unassuming a vehicle as any for a multi-millionaire on the run. Hours of restless thought have turned up one obsessive thought: you're going to "die" in a plane crash. It's distracting and intense. You're alarmed that it makes sense. Grisly and macabre, but perfectly suiting your purpose. Accident, suicide; it doesn't matter what history records, it matters that you're sufficiently removed as the end result. You imagine an explosion that obliterates the plane. You imagine Marc Schrenker vaporized, reverted to tiny molecules, pulled apart more thoroughly than any Federal probe could ever hope to manage. You imagine all the anger, which is both directed at you, but also not, because you've left Marc behind when you jump from the plane. In your thoughts, a nameless man emerges from the forest, which hides a deployed parachute, tangled in the underbrush.

And so, the next day, you take to the air in one of your planes, point its nose towards Florida. For a long stetch you fly, the world silent but from the hum of your engines. As you enter Alabaman airspace, you send out a distress call. Your windshield has imploded, you say, you're bleeding profusely. You try to sound panicked, and then marvel at how it's working, the adrenaline driving your voice from out of your chest and into your head, high-pitched and dizzy. A voice on the radio tells you help is being sent, planes are being dispatched to intercept you. You shut off the radio. Lost contact. They should assume the worst. You steel yourself, strapping your parachute on. The plane is set to auto, and you find yourself hesitating at the door. Maybe you just won't open the parachute. Maybe that's what's easiest. Or just stay in the plane, try to sleep, knowing you won't ever have to wake up. It seems cowardly, prideless. You open the cockpit door and jump.

The past 24 hours have been a haze. You blindly march ahead, completing each portion of the plan, but feeling like an automaton. In a way, you really have succeeded in eliminating Marc, because in your fleeting moments of clarity, you're pained by the absurdity of all this. The man in your mind did in fact emerge from the forest, but not so much born anew, just the same man as before, only now wet and feeling a little more pathetic. You remember knocking on a door in the night, then the blinding glare of the ER, then the beams of light chasing each other across the ceiling of the police cruiser as it moved through the night, the oblivious officers depositing you at a hotel just down the street from your motorcycle, such a blinding red it nearly glowed in the dark storage unit. The wind as you ride is a bit chilly, despite the fact that you're quickly approaching the Florida border. It hits you: your plan has run out of steps. You're just riding and tired. You checked for news with your Blackberry, and you learned of how your plane nearly struck some houses when it finally came sputtering down. The realization that you could have killed someone, that things have blown this far off course, hung heavily around you like a cloak, or at times, like an unbearable weight pressing on your chest. You sent an email to a close friend, insisting that the crash really was an accident, but you immediately regretted sending it as soon as it disappeared from your screen. Now you just ride. The tears in your eyes are just from the wind, you'd say, if anyone was there. You'll have to get used to being alone. This is only the beginning. This has just begun, and already, you know you can't handle it.

As you pass a sign welcoming you across the state line, you realize the flaw in your original plan. You think, the mistake was dying a symbolic death. The mistake was in assuming that I could both erase and preserve myself. Tonight, you decide, you'll correct the error. The fix is simple enough.

The tale continues:

No comments: