In Retrospect

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If you ask me, it was never really a question of where to begin, because beginnings, they happen at wherever you wish. Pick a spot out of a hat, throw a dart, hell, get the big, bad government to assign a plot for you. Whatever you want to do, if it works, will get you a beginning. Found a place to set up? Great! You’ve overcome Minor Obstacle No. Too Insignificant to Recall.

No, no, the beginning’s never the hard part.

The hard part is knowing what comes next. Once you’ve got yourself a comfortable spot to set up and do business, it’s absolutely essential—I can’t stress this enough—absolutely essential that you learn as much about it as you possibly can: the locale, neighbors, laws—everything. I know that sounds like common sense that any bone-headed lout should know, but you’d be surprised at how many lack that foresight. A great lot of folks come out of whatever cave they were under with these fantasies of doing all these awe-inspiring things, and a few overachievers do come out of the woodwork. But too many just don’t take the time to get savvy soon enough, and when they do realize that they’re learning later rather than sooner they start whining.

And by God, is that whining grating on the ears. Let me tell you this: it’s bad enough with spoiled little brats, but the quasi-intellectuals are the worst. I enjoy a good paradox every now and then, but hypocrisy isn’t one of them; if they were so educated and smart, they sure as hell wouldn’t be in their position to begin with. “I knew I should’ve” this, “in retrospect” that, I can’t even begin to fathom how much of a moron they had to have been to begin with.

“In retrospect”…Ha! I’ve always hated that phrase. I’ll explain in a minute, just hand me a light.

Ahh…damn that feels good. This whole thing gives me the shakes like there’s no tomorrow. You won’t hear me saying I should never have started “in retrospect,” though.

I don’t quite know how to explain it, per se, just that I don’t like it. It’s got this feel, this…connotation, this sense that it just can’t bode well for whoever said it. You can’t shake it off if you do.

It’s a bad phrase that implies bad things, is what I’m saying. You know? Regret. Mistakes. Sin.

And sometimes—just sometimes—it even implies evil on the part of whoever says it. Maybe they were born with it, maybe they weren’t exactly careful with what they were doing and ended up on the wrong side of the road. Maybe they found out what evil was and decided it was the job for them, only it didn’t work out and now they’re bitter about it far too late. You never know.

Goddamn this cigarette tastes good.

In any case, it’s an ugly, ugly phrase. Most people don’t even have the luxury of a choice, and all those yuppie fools can say is “in retrospect.” Can you believe it?

Well, I guess I’d find it easy too if I was in that position, but I’m not in that position. Shut your mouth and get back to work.

Speaking of which…well, after they’re all established on firm ground and whatnot, what hole a person digs really depends on a few things: the ground, prior circumstances, and what tools he—or she, can’t keep women out of this business forever, no ma’am—has at his disposal. If he has good, fertile soil and wants to construct a farm, all he really needs is a bit of farming equipment and the wood to build a barn. If he wants to build a skyscraper, so be it—all he needs other than a solid foundation is a building permit and a crew of burly fellows who know how to connect things. Whether they can whistle at a passing broad is entirely optional. You understand what I’m saying?

Good. Moving on.

It’s just, every so often, you find some poor schmuck who’s been thrown out onto this unforgiving tundra with a shovel in his hands and a gun to his head.

You don’t find him like that, of course; you find him lying face-down in a freshly dug grave with his balls in his mouth and a bullet in his skull. The shovel usually still has dirt on it, although blood isn’t all that uncommon. It’s especially noticeable if the sand there is especially pale. Hell, if the conditions are right you just might be able to catch a glimpse of where the poor f*** got himself chopped off. It’s not a surgeon’s job, is what I’m saying.

Okay, scratch that. What I meant is—hand me the light you incompetent tool. Get me another box while you’re at it.


What I’m really saying is, you don’t want to find the guy before he’s like that, especially not in the beginning. It leads to some rather unfortunate implications, you see. I mean, think about it for a minute. The guy’s beginning starts his ending, yeah yeah I think we all get that. But that’s not the point.

Think. Really tax your brain if you have to.

If you were there when the quivering puddle of person is trying his hardest not to break down, trying his very f***ing hardest not to let himself die sobbing and lose himself in every sense of that word, what does that make you?

In retrospect, maybe you shouldn’t have signed up for this job.

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