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Rooftops

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What’s in a name? A few letters and syllables, strung together, given to you in the hope that one day, maybe it will mean something? Or is it predetermined, created by some higher being and passed on to you, along with a destiny and purpose? Is a name something you adapt, shape with your actions, your most crucial characteristic that in the end defines who you truly are? Is it something less? Something more? Is your name a gift from the Gods, or a curse? My name is Ambrose Fugate. This name is one that has done nothing but cause me torment and pain. Quite recently, it has led me to set into motion a chain of events that will, tonight, result in what is essentially the perfect murder. The name Ambrose Fugate is a curse.

To me, the term Methemoglobinemia seems like an awfully superfluous word for being a condition that no one cares about anymore. A rare and dirty disease, the disorder affects the blood in such a manner that leaves the victim with inexplicable, irrevocable blue skin. Ever since my ancestors first settled in the mountains that surround Hazard, Kentucky, half of their descendants have been blue skinned. It’s in our genes. It’s in our blood. And so became known the Blue Fugates. For years, we were famous. We were the blue people. But as time passed, so did the prevalence of the disease. The gene started to show up less and less. Before long, none of it mattered, and much was forgotten. For I was the only one left. The name Ambrose Fugate is a curse.

It’s not easy being blue. You’re never really human. You can walk the streets of this forsaken world, surrounded by ordinary people, and know that no matter what you do, you’ll never be allowed to really live your life. When you’re blue, you know it’s not enough to be good. To be nice, smart, talented. People will always treat you with disgust, incivility, like an animal. They will spit on you, then run from you. The best you can hope for is to lie low, to not be seen, so that when death embraces you, you can look back upon your existence knowing that you caused the least amount of pain you possibly could. Thus is my fate. But for me, the misery doesn’t end there. It wasn’t enough for me to just be blue, to be an outcast. I also carry the burden of being the last blue man. For this, I have no one to blame, nothing but my ancestry. The name Ambrose Fugate is a curse.

You’d think that as an orphan, people might feel at least a little sorry for you. Not me. Not that I care one way or the other. Much. I don’t know a lot about my parents, except that they weren’t blue. Which explains the abandonment. It’s okay, though. I learned pretty early on that having blue skin goes hand in hand with being forever alone. For example, I could tell you that I grew up in the Sunny Day Orphanage in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, but I’d only be telling half the truth. I may have lived there, but my real childhood home lies within the confines of my own mind. Being alone is the only way I could stay sane. I would do anything to escape the constant feeling of hate and fear that emanated around me when I was in the presence of other people. That is story of my life. So I ate my meals and slept at the orphanage, and stalked the streets of North Philadelphia in between. Things changed one night, when I was eight years of age. A man in a dark suit came to the orphanage during dinnertime. He looked at me once, and then talked to the man in charge. One thing led to another. Before I knew it, I was enrolled in public school. I don’t concern myself with details. I have no reason to. The name Ambrose Fugate is a curse.

I can honestly say that in my pathetic life up to that point, the prospect of going to school was the closest feeling to excitement I had ever felt. Of course it was naïve, stupid even, to think that by surrounding myself with people, maybe, somehow, by some miracle of god, I could find something better, maybe find a place in this world where I had none before, where even if I didn’t truly fit in, I might feel like I actually belonged. I can tell you now that I never found my paradise. But was it wrong? Is it wrong? Am I wrong to want something more than this pitiful existence I lead? To want to live like others, to feel like others, to crave beauty and love, and affection? As a human, do I not maintain the right to pursue happiness? Of course not. I never have, and never will. The name Ambrose Fugate is a curse.

You can always tell what a person’s like by observing their eyes. They can hide and pretend to their hearts’ desire, but their eyes will always tell the real story. That might be the only useful thing I learned from school. Over the seven years directly following that day in the orphanage, I attended a branch of the North Philadelphia Public Schools. Almost like a normal child. But not quite. It would be paradoxical of me to state that I never found the haven of kind spirits and new friends I had dreamt of. What I found instead were dozens of stares. Dozens of eyes. Some eyes were curious, others bored. Hard eyes, and soft eyes, and mean eyes. Eyes full of hate, eyes full of fear. There were blue eyes and green eyes, gray eyes and black eyes, and everything in between. Some eyes were dull. Others shone, often accompanied by a malevolent grin. These eyes frightened me most of all. Surrounded by eyes that only glanced, never stared, never looked on with anything akin to a friendly gaze. All eyes were cold. All eyes were distant. All eyes that could never, ever, not in a hundred thousand years, look long enough to see past this cursed, damned blue skin. Eyes always tell the real story. The name Ambrose Fugate is a curse.

You know something’s wrong when mediocrity is something you strive for. Sadly, being blue has rendered extinct any desire within me to stand out, or succeed. If I had anything to give, I would give it all to be that guy. The one who doesn’t say much. Who isn’t happy, or sad, or out of the ordinary. Who lived life without much ado, to whom people might think of, but never for very long. Whoever that guy may be, he’s living my dream. As it is, a dream it must remain. When you’re blue, depression isn’t a condition. It’s a state of being. One day as I left school, I lay down in the dirt. I realized I was too sick to move. Too sick of my skin. Too sick of my life. Too sick of this world and everyone in it. It was then that I made some decisions. I decided I could never go back to school. I decided that I’d had enough of being treated like a monster. And I decided to spend the rest of my life dealing back unto the world a small fraction of the pain the world had dealt unto me over the past fifteen years. I decided I would do this, even if it spent me to my last blue-skinned breath. There is nothing more dangerous than a man with nothing to lose. Which is exactly what I have become. The name Ambrose Fugate is a curse.

Do you believe in ghosts? Haunted spirits that roam this world, too restless to pass on through the void and beyond? You should. Ever since that day of decisions, a ghost is exactly what I have become. I had a plan, one that I had perfected for my redemption, and the only thing left to do was carry it out. For a year, I stalked these streets, gathering information and materials, moving by dark, sleeping by day. I am nocturnal. I am the shadow of fears. I creep and I crawl, and go bump in the night. I am your worst nightmare. My name is Ambrose Fugate, and I have recently set into motion a chain of events that will, tonight, result in what is essentially the perfect murder. Here I stand today.

Of all the inventions of man, none are as mysterious as numbers. Take the number forty one. In terms of fish in an ocean, or stars in the night sky, it is relatively small. In terms of natural disasters, or vast mountains in a range, it is relatively large. But in terms of meters to the ground for a single man, the number forty one may as well be a thousand. I stand here at the top of Independence hall in Philadelphia. It was surprisingly easy for me to get up here. I’m used to moving about unnoticed. I look around me. It is nighttime, and the stars are shining bright. The skies are clear, and all is quiet save the occasional murmur from the crowd assembled on the ground below. I looked down at them and smiled. From what I see, I estimate that over two thousand people are gathered at the base of the historic building. There were policemen and civilians, firefighters and reporters. I could imagine what they were perceiving. A lone figure at the top of a building. Must be a suicide jumper. My smile widened. If only they knew.

It was a splendid view. I gazed out at the other buildings of Independence Square, took in their beauty, their majesty. I looked out over the rooftops, and couldn’t help but think that here was the place where the foundation of this country, of the free world, had been written. I am not free. For sixteen years I have been a prisoner within my own skin, a slave to torment. I glanced down at my chest, to the bomb strapped there. It was my masterpiece, my own creation, with enough power to obliterate Independence Square and all of these doomed people. It seems ironic now, that I am the one who will destroy this place, who will destroy these lives for naught but my own satisfaction. Worthless I, with my blue skin, who has for so long endured the pain of the discriminated, will be the one to return the favor. It is nothing less, and nothing more, than the perfect murder. I know this, I love it, and hate it, and the fact still stands. The name Ambrose Fugate is a curse.

To be or not to be: That is the question. I choose both. I know not whether it had been nobler to live in pain, to suffer silently until my body lay deteriorated, and my mind forgotten. I know not whether this night subsists of my own device, or if it is a creation of the Gods unleashed as an admonition to the people of this Earth. I choose to fight. Circumstance has cheated me out of a life, and yet I, Ambrose Fugate, embrace immortality. I stepped out onto the ledge on the rooftop of Independence Hall, and I heard shudders as those in the crowd below discerned my discolored figure in the pale light of the moon. I took it all in one last time. The light breeze teasing my hair. The crisp taste of cool night air. I lifted my right hand, and flipped a switch on the device on my chest. It started flashing: 10, 9… At some point in the distant future, this universe will stop expanding. Gravity will cause the edges of space to collapse, and all left will be a black hole. At that point, this world will cease to exist, and none of it will have ever mattered. Until then, this city will bleed blue, and I will fly. I took one last look at the crowd gathered before me, and just one more breath. And then I jumped.





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