Author's note: This is my first longer piece, and I tried to incorporate some real issues, hence the oil and... Show full author's note »
Philosophical WarfareThe sun blazes on the horizon, a fireball of red, yellow, orange, and pink. Light emanates from the sphere and floods the vast skies, creating a stunning mirage that blinds me. As the sun continues its slow descent, a few early stars twinkle in the now darkening sky. With the stars comes dusk, and with dusk comes the moon, shining with a beauty quite unlike anything else in the world. I look up and find myself intrigued by the fact that the sun has set much more quickly than normal nights, and the darkness has more completely and thoroughly enveloped the world tonight, making the stars twinkle even more brightly than usual. I hear the footsteps behind me, but do not turn, instead taking a sip from my glass of wine and breathing deeply, seeing my frosty breath dissipate into the chill night air. Jonathan silently takes a seat next to me and pours himself a glass of wine. He follows my gaze and stares up at the sky. He takes a sip of wine and shakes his head with worry.
“Alphonse, are you sure that you’re happy with this decision? I feel that it may not be the best choice” John says, setting down his glass and clasping his hands together. For the first time that night, I tear my eyes away from the enthralling night sky and look at him.
“Am I happy? Tell me, John. What does it mean to be happy? What is happiness?” I don’t leave his gaze. He looks at me evenly for a few moments and then responds.
“Happiness is love. Happiness means to be with the people you love and the moments you share with them that define your life.” He opens his mouth as if to say more, but hesitates and shuts it again. I avert my eyes and delicately sip my wine.
“That, my friend, is where we differ. Happiness is not determined by the moments and people in our life, but rather the choices that we make in life. Happiness is a gift that all of us hunger for, but that few of us truly ever find.” I pause to look at my old mentor, and see that his eyebrows are raised. I smile subtly. “I am one of those few people, John. Money, power, and intellect. Those are the three components of happiness; and the love that you so admirably speak of… is nonexistent.” I finish my glass and set it down on the table with a slight chink.
“If choices are what define us and what lead to true happiness and power, then shouldn’t you think more about this choice? And I’m sorry to say it, Alphonse, but you’re wrong. Don’t let your power and money get to your head. I’ve seen many talented and intelligent men ruined by their own greed, overconfidence, and cockiness” Jonathan warns me. I laugh quietly to myself.
“Jonathan, my friend, I have no Achilles Heel. I am unstoppable for the very reason that you are weak. Sentiment. The importance you place on family and love has turned you soft, John. Pity. You used to be great.” I smile coldly at him. He looks surprised and slightly angry.
“Keep in mind that I was the one who took you in, trained you, and made you the successful man you are today. You have no right to speak to me in that manner.” He tries to keep it out of his voice, but I can tell Jonathan is hurt and frustrated. I laugh on the outside, but my eyes are as cold as ice.
“My dear friend, I‘d have thought you’d know me by now. I don’t play to get even. I play to win. And I do what needs to be done to win. I’m sorry to say it, but I don’t require your services any longer, John. You’ve taught me all that you know, and your knowledge has been exhausted. Now, if you would be so kind as to leave the premises?” I chuckle and pour myself another glass of wine. The surprise on John’s face has now turned to utter shock.
“You wouldn’t… you can’t! Y- You need me, Alphonse!” The paunchy, mustached man pulls a handkerchief from his pocket and dries away the sweat away from his face and neck. I take another sip of wine and stare at the pathetic old man, no longer smiling. I survey Jonathan with contempt and disregard. Slowly, I slip the gun out from my pocket and look at it fondly. As if on cue, a beam of moonlight illuminates our seats on the balcony and I gaze at John, my eyes cunning and calculating. I lean my head closer to his, making sure the gun is in full sight.
“I don’t need anyone.” I raise my gun and confidently shoot it, hitting the vase behind John and shattering it into a thousand jagged little pieces, some of which cut into Jonathan’s back. John gets up so fast that his chair falls to the floor, causing a rattle that resonates through the night. He winces and shuffles away. When he is at the door, he turns and speaks one more time.
“You’ll regret this, Al. I swear you’ll regret it.” With that, he storms off, blood dripping from his back and leaving three distinct stains on the otherwise impeccable white carpet of my room. I smile and set my gun down, taking another sip of wine.