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If you had ever felt like an invisible man walking the phase of this lonely earth, you can probably relate to this more. I used to be like one of those men who could care less about life. A preacher once told me that life was a short travel to our resurrection and our eternal afterlife. I never took his words into consideration , like I said I didn’t take life seriously . To me the only reason for the invention of life was to fulfill my pleasures. That is my carnal , and gluttony pleasures. The whore house was my playground and everyone knew me by my name. It’s not something to be proud of, I know , but I was young and making the best out of life. 1969 was coming to an end as a new decade approached , yet The Ohio state college was still stuck in the psychedelic era. I promised myself to stay clean and had all the intentions of the world to keep that promise , with the exception of today. Besides semester finals were over , and I was going to the winter ball with my sweetheart. She wasn’t like the rest and I can’t bet my life on that. She was comprehensive and a real charm . Her name was Joanna and at 6 feet and 6 inches she was a walking southern monument of beauty . Mother dear always used to say “ There ain’t no princesses that can compare to us southern gals” and hell that was the only thing we could both agree on .
Sometimes I like to think about my family, think about how things used to be before Dominic went to Vietnam . A part of me went away too ,but died somewhere in a foreign land . Maybe it was looking for rest isn’t that what we all want? I combed my golden locks back more than 20 times , introspecting my childhood. All I could remember was my fathers raspy voice echoing in my head “life is just like a light bulb . We shine for a moment and then it burns out just to get replaced by a new one, we always get replaced.” By the time my roommate Everly , had walked into the dorm I was mad with confusion . Sometimes the things old people say are like reading hieroglyphics ,there’s more to the message then the pretty symbols.
Everly had budged the door open and I dismissed his presence for that of a fly on the wall. “ Sanders! My man if you keep on looking at yourself in the mirror I’m going to have to take your date. “ Back off Everly.” “Envious or jealous?” “ Neither I just wish I could say the same thing for you” . He was dating our history professors daughter and anyone who was stupid enough to try their own luck knew that it was an immediate death wish.
“No kidding you look fine now let’s go!” “ What’s the hurry? We have all night. Unless you’re going to give her the time?” “ Sanders you clever fool I just like to be punctual .” “ I’m sure she likes it to.” He was going for a blow on my face when he abruptly broke out in a ill wave of laughter. I began laughing too and then the room was a madhouse full of hysteria. “Let’s go” Everly finally said . “But before we go I’ve to ask you something” yes I responded. “ How do I look ?” “Everly you’re a real prince .” “ No joke ,tell me how do I look !” “ Like a Bossa Nova king” I could read his mind ,he obviously was such a lover boy and cared for every detail. “She’ll love it” I reassured him . “ Do you really think so?” “positive . Everly I taught you were in a hurry?!” “Oh right .” I sighed , it was so typical of Everly to get caught up in his own agony . “One more thing ..” “What neverly” he usually got all pissy when I miss pronounced his name . “ Don’t tell anyone.” “ You’ve my word as long as we get out of this room right now.”
All this waiting around got me more anxious about meeting Joanna . It felt like Christmas in New York all over again. I was beginning to feel more like Everly for every second I waited. Joy was in my blood and anticipation made my paper thin skin to succumb the fact that it was winter. I couldn’t wait to see her delicate smile and her glorious eyes glancing back at me . The smile of Apollo himself could not be this luminous . Every time I stared at her with infatuation, I got a natural high. Outside my white tuxedo camouflaged with the blanket of white snow .We walked to the party leaving tracks in the snow, but never looking back. Perhaps this would work out ok I thought , as I spotted the only red rose amidst the sugary snow. Oh Joanna, my Joanna I love you , my only and the last love. Crap I just realized I didn’t ask her if she wanted to coordinated our outfits. Now she’ll think I’m a jerk for sure. “ It’s to late now. To turn back .You left you’re good luck charm on the mahogany drawer” recalled Everly . This is it . It’s going to be a big failure all my life depends on that stone. It’s my philosopher stone that turns my weirdness into wit . Without it I’m me ,and who likes simple old boring Ack Strophe Sanders ? I’m not overreacting or beating myself over a stupid rock , I mean it’s not a stupid rock , it’s my security blanket for God’s sake. It’s what brings the ladies home after I’ve counted all my sheep . “ Sanders, Sanders! Pay attention ,and don’t look at me like a stray dog! Gees what’s wrong with you?” I wanted to cry because I felt so foolish and stupid. I wasn’t crying over a rock , but over my bizarre ways to believe and depend on a rock . This is embarrassing I’m 23 and can’t get trough a real date without the intervention of a rock.
Every step , second , and heart beat became another mile, another hour , and a whole lifetime . So this is what love feels like ? Being stuck in the waiting room of a hospital while the inside of your organs are committing suicide . And your head becomes a little bandit that robs you of your sanity?
The incense of the party lured us inside with a very provocative scent . The night was wearing it’s seductive cologne that clung to our skin and dispersed into the atmosphere. Inside the catchy tune of The Kinks “ You really got me” was entertaining a clan of hungry feet. A carnival of colors distracted everyone walking in , but I only had my eyes reserved for a special someone. I searched across the whole perimeter of the room , my eyes wandering from corner to corner , but no sign of my beloved Joanna .
I paid special attention to her unique voice , but nothing . Maybe I ’m searching blindly . 30 more minutes passed and my head was raising hell . I decided to cool off my anger by splashing my self with some cold water. The song had changed to Frank Sinatra’s “ I’m a fool to love you” and then it happened . I saw her with my own eyes , I wanted to look back, to poke my eyeballs with needles and scream that this was not true. That my Jo, my Joanna was not embracing Everly with her tender lips . You kill me Everly. Why you especially you? You knew how much she meant to me , she wasn’t a game like the rest . And I considered you a brother? I guess Helen didn’t give in easily and you came chasing after my girl. We shared fears that no one else knew about , embarrassments , and ambitions. Yet you betray me , you Judas . Stab me in the back with your kindness. I reached into my pocket and took out the only surviving red rose of the winter, kissed it , and dropped it into the floor to be mourned with everything that dies with the winter. Joanna you bitch why did you play with my feeble heart , and why was I so stupid to fall for something so heinous ?
I stormed away from the building and did the only thing I could do . I was going home ,all the way to Nashville . I was nostalgic as hell and I f I didn’t get out of here I was afraid I might hurt Everly . Although he deserved everything I planned to do to him . I began sniveling and wheezing uncontrollably, to much that I Kinda peed a little . I felt miserable ,as if I was forced to drink toilet water and pretend that I liked it. Let’s see how he likes It when I mess with his jewels . I got inside the dorm and stripped off my tuxedo placing it on Everly’s bed . 1 minute later of revenge and I was out the door with some cold hard cash along with the keys to his new
Gran Torino. The engine droned out for a while as it projected my exasperation . Finally the car started but I was no way near done with my weeping . To my left the passenger seat had a book relating to enigma 23 . I remember Everly telling me something about that. I also remembered that he drove a lot of girls in this car . I wondered if he and Joanna had done it in the back seat before. The thought of it made me angry and morose all over again. I needed a smoke badly . I’m sure this son of a gun had a pack in the pocket . I was not amazed when I did find them there along with some lingerie . Joanna you idiot he’s ruining you! My soul burned in a conflagration and deep inside I accepted that perhaps my bad habits were the culprit for her betrayal. Never had I felt more reckless in my life . The stars seemed to be teasing me in my darkest moment as they played hide-and - go -seek with me. Everly was all smoke and mirrors he covered up his mistakes by being friendly to everyone . At least I was honest ,horrible , but horribly honest . The cigarette had warmed my blood out that for a while that I actually forgot everything that had happened to me. I began thinking about enigma 23 instead. According to believers everything that occurs to you in your life is some how related to number 23. The more I thought about it the more I believed. Ack Strophe Sanders: 5 syllables (2+3=5), age: 23 years old , dorm # : 23, date: December , 23, 1969, time: 10:55 pm also known as hour 22 in military time. This is kind of exiting what else could I expect? And if somehow an outside entity had herd me I began to experience what some call Fata Morgana . In the middle of the street around 1 mile to and fro I saw them again . Torturing me as they embraced too freely , and she willingly . Her dress was red ,the same color as Everly’s tie . Those damn liars probably had this planned out a week ahead. Now I was mad as a bull and the red was my target. The car began to accelerate in accord with my heart. Nowhere to be seen was the velocity mark , it could be lost within the smoke of the burning rubber. Nevertheless it did not matter. I only thought of revenge and getting even . How do you look? You look find in red. It’s a nice color for you specially when your covered all in blood . I rammed into them with all my force and freewill . Their fearful eyes , and Joanna apologizing is all I remembered.
“ Are you sure there where no witnesses in the crime scene?” “ I’m telling you dock that’s all I remembered . When I woke up I was strapped to this bed . I don’t even know how I got here so why are you even asking me questions? Say , where am I anyways? “ You’re in Frankfurt Kentucky and by no means in the position here to me asking questions. Hey clever fool when was the last time you consumed drugs ?” “ I don’t know what you’re talking about.” “ The blood diagnoses we took say other wise . It’s not very smart of you to be lying to us you know. We are only trying to help you .
“ That’s what they all say .” “ Who say’s ?” “ The people I just told you about!” “ Right, John and Eva?” “No!!!! Joanna .Her name is Joanna!” I was crying again . “ I killed them .I killed them both , I’m a criminal . Don’t look at me!” “Sanders , Sanders my man you killed no one. Now tell me again when was your last dose of drugs?” The way he talk was suspiciously familiar to Everly . Maybe he was screwing me over for killing him . He had taken the form of another human being and had not realized his reincarnation had taken place. Everly was studying to become a doctor you know. And then again maybe I’m just disturbed. I looked at myself trough the mirror . Bruises of all sizes covered my pale body to display an art form of poka -dots . This was as true as the body in front of me , I had killed them . “ Everly you know you were my brother when Dominic left. The last thing I want to do before I go to hell is to see my parents one last time . Take me home Everly.” I was sobbing at his feet now, maybe he’ll have some sympathy. “ Take me home Everly , I beg you! You can have Joanna all to yourself and Helen if you want, just take me home!” He refused to listen to me and was hollering out to the nurse . “ Nurse. Nurse bring the sedatives! Hurry!” “ To what room ?” “ Room 23 !” I was laughing like a maniac now . It’s a lost case I don’t think I could prove my sanity any longer! No one can save me from my abysmal agony exempt for “ Joanna!”
She walked in with her white uniform like I had imagined her at my wedding . Lips perfectly parted and her incessant smell of strawberries in her hair. I was elated , happy with mirth she came to save me . “My Jo my Joanna I knew you would come back to me.” I was wrong she came to get her revenge too. “ Jo what are you doing with that needle? But I love you Jo , I forgive you . You don’t even have to apologize . I’ll be a better man for you Jo , my Joanna things could be like they used to be .” No she had no mercy . The bull came after her Slayer .
What little I remember after that is of unimportance. It was a dream on awakening like the rest of my short lived life. I look back and wonder if I accomplished everything I wanted. Did I make my parents proud? Could I be forgiven for my human mistakes? My vision was blurry again and my memory in an opiated trance . I was in a dream once again ,I think.
The rich smell of southern food meant only one thing . I was in Nashville again listening to my Elvis vinyl’s . “ I forgot to remember to forget .” was playing and comforting my ears. Dominic was there too ,and of course he changed the song to his all time favorite “ Hound dog” he started singing ,and man he had a golden voice . When he sang his voice echoed in your ears and stayed in your heart. To beautiful it made you cry . In the kitchen my mother was admiring Dominic’s purple heart he had come back from war wounded but alive. I felt 11 again , like the endless summer of 1957.
I wanted to hug my parents to tell them how much I loved them and that I was a changed person ,but I only stood there next to the door listening to their conversation. “ Alberta why don’t you go get Dominic and tell him we got him a brand new car he can take downtown.” “ Oh my little boy, how I wished Ack would be more like him .” “ Wish , but don’t wish for miracles. C’mon let’s be realistic here . What makes you think that, that low life is ever going to get anything done with his life?” “ Carl I just want to see my kids accomplished ,it’s that such a big favor to ask of life? “ For Ack lifting a shovel would me a miracle” Of course now that Dominic was back I was going to be tossed back like Clovis our dog . I was the wayside son and Dominic was the mantra of their life . He was the blessing while I was the burden . I bet a bastard had more luck than me . How could I compete with the compulsive perfectionist who graduated from Harvard . Maybe I was a mistake , never meant to live . Now look how he had ended , a law graduate transformed into a killing machine. This is ridiculous what can you expect of a low life like me.
I woke up upset, but still longing for the acres of sunflowers than this cold insipid clinical room . I was convinced nothing good could come out of me. If my parents said it , it was for a reason. There was only one solution left that prevented me from being a bother to anyone . Everyone except me had found their happiness and I was going to be a martyr to make sure it stayed that way. On the gurney in which they had strapped me to was a camera someone somewhere had forgotten . I took in my hands , gently caressing it, afraid I might destroy it too . If I’m going to do this I better take of my clothes and give back to God what never belonged to me in the first place. Besides hospital clothes were itchy . I went to the mirror and focused my reflection to the lens . Not to me because the person trapped inside the mirror was a better man that I’ll ever be , I mean ever was . He never had the chance to explain himself though that’s why he was trapped by himself . From himself he was hiding , but he wanted the world to see him for who he was in his bareness and beyond his flaws. Time has forgotten me , but I hope I would be remembered. People say “eyes are the soul of the heart” and what do I see ? I see a sinner who is unwanted and despised by many. I see a weak child who never accomplished anything. At the same time I see that his eyes are to old for his age. I see myself and I’m disgusted. Loveless and alone ,a solitary scum of the earth. This is you Ack Strophe Sanders look what you’ve done to your self . Forgive me God for what I’m about to do , but it’s for the good of everyone else. I took a moment taking in my surroundings with close attention to the clock . I smiled. It was 11 o’clock . And then it came to me ,the moment of the accident on Everly’s car it was 11 o’clock also . The 23rd hour of military time . If it was God’s grace to save me then , it haves to be done this way . Why else would life wait for me?
I stepped out the window into the bitter snow . I want to die in Nashville grounds , but is now or ever. Before I forget dear audience happy birthday Jesus and to all A merry Christmas.