Don't Forget to Pay the Debt

January 31, 2013
As he leaned across the dashboard to turn the key in the ignition, Vincent began to feel sentimental despite himself. For a boy who moved from place to place with little regard to supposed friends and homes left behind, the family Cadillac had been one of the few permanents of life. Besides his recently-deceased parents, the Cadillac was the closest to a true friend that Vincent ever had. Large and of an unusual very light tan, with beautiful rich leather seats, the Cadillac was a comforting presence to Vincent. With no more relatives and no real reason to live, Vincent decided his time had come. The five hundred and sixty-seven pound Vincent had long been incapable of fully climbing into the interior of the Cadillac. He contented himself by dragging his father’s old armchair into the garage, and, after what to Vincent seemed a great task, the chair was in place. As he sat in the chair reminisces began to take the front of his mind.
Age eight and two hundred and eighteen pounds, Vincent reached the weight of a stocky full grown man in the third grade. Only vaguely aware of the social stigma attached to his size, Vincent had also reached the happiest point of his entire life. His classmates had some sense that he was different, but he was not quite ostracized. Never once did a peer mock him for his weight. Never once was he invited to a sleepover or birthday party. He learned to enjoy the simple distractions of his toys and television. His weekends were routine: Saturday mornings filled with colorful cartoons, then Sundays with panic when it was discovered that he had become too wide for yet another set of church clothes. His mother and father blinded themselves with slogans such as “big-boned” and “husky” even when Vincent surpassed his father’s weight at less than a fifth of his age. When he finally asked his parents why he seemed so different, his mother replied, “You’re my beautiful baby boy. I’m glad you’re not just skin and bones like some of those boys in your class.” Vincent thought that the other boys seemed rather happy for skin and bones, but even at eight he knew well enough to keep that to himself. His father deluded himself believing that Vincent, who could not run 10 yards without becoming red in the face and short of breath, was destined to become an excellent football player. But these things are insignificant to a dying man. The core of Vincent’s thought was of each Sunday, after church, when Vincent’s family went out to eat. As he sat musing on these things, Vincent decided that these were the most pleasant moments of his life. Driving the Cadillac, his father would take the family to the local diner for lunch, and then to the Rosie’s, the local ice cream store. Vincent loved nothing more than these long lazy afternoons. But then, Vincent loved little other than his family. Not that he was incapable of it, but even at that young age, Vincent seemed to understand that few would be predisposed to loving him if not out of obligation.
The carbon monoxide from the car’s exhaust slowly filled the large garage and Vincent’s breathing began to come slower. He almost stood up and opened the garage door, fear of death suddenly pouncing upon him, but he continued to sit in his father’s armchair, standing fast in his resolve to swallow his hemlock. As his breath slowed, so did his mind; his thoughts becoming steadily more and more disjointed. As he sat, he thought dying rather strange. The gas did not strangle him as he had feared; it lulled him, called him forth towards his end. The longer he sat, the surer he became that his decision was correct.
Sixteen years old and three hundred and sixty-seven pounds, Vincent’s weight upon entering high school ballooned yet again to a size that made him his mother three times over. Already, the cancer that would kill his father grew undetected. In the ninth grade, Vincent discovered something new to fill his time: video games. Vincent’s time spent in these virtual worlds soon came to rival the time he spent in his own world. Always bright, Vincent managed to keep his grades just above failing while spending only as much time on classes that he was required to give for attendance. Vincent’s love for his new pastime soon grew from an interest to an obsession. The ability to have control over the fate of a world, the fate of a village, the fate of his fair maiden, all enchanted Vincent. He withdrew further and further from the real world and farther and farther into his screen. His previously sedentary life grew to him spending days in front of his computer, leaving for the restroom, for food, and for nothing else. His parents finally began to worry, but they began far too late. They purchased a mask for his sleep apnea. He refused it, but that refusal mattered very little; Vincent’s bouts of sleep were few and far between and were most often brought about by sheer exhaustion. Vincent realized that he worried his parents, and he wished he could stop, but that was something he was no longer capable of. Vincent depended on his retreat as he depended on oxygen. He needed it.
As he set out to rescue his bride, Sir Vincent truly fit the part of the gallant knight. Fitted in newly fashioned armor, with his long sword hanging from the belt strapped about his waist, and mounted upon his war horse- a strange champagne colored creature with a beautiful tooled leather saddle- he set out to rescue the beautiful maiden. He knew he was her only hope, and he intended to show her that her hope was not in vain. As he left the city he had grown in, Vincent raised his eyes to the brightening skyline and knew that he was at the brink of a new day. His family and friends were gathered to see him off. The farewells were difficult but necessary. It would be many months before he could return, if ever. However, he knew that what he was doing was necessary. He set out upon his quest on his faithful steed and slowly vanished into the distance. Surely, he could not fail in his quest. His princess could not survive without him. She needed him.
It would be impossible to discern the exact moment at which Vincent died. The slow slip from consciousness to unconsciousness was not a precise thing. Rather, Vincent was there, and then he was not. It was rather like falling asleep; the action itself cannot be observed, merely the cessation of thought. A wise man said that the unexamined life is not worth living. Perhaps it is not the examination itself but the simple act of remembrance which brings meaning. Quite soon after Vincent’s death, the only remembrance of him was as the large, quiet child in his class. His meager accomplishments forgotten, and his life extinguished by his own hand, Vincent was truly no more.

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