At the Bottom of Everything

A new short story by Nick ďCaptain FunĒ Varnau



They all wanted me here. All of them, right down to Angus McFarlandís secretary, who had been looking for a pay raise for two years, but hadnít gotten one because ďI was cutting funding in that area.Ē Bullshit. Thatís what theyíre full of. I bet Angus himself is leading that crew of aging war mongers, who would be happier on some golf course talking about their latest acquiring of some sports teams.

I never did such things. I saved my money, even though I was President of one of the highest oil companies in North America. My only vice I ever pursued was my precious 1954 red Buick convertible, which I purchased at a convention in 1998. They say 98% of ďfast carsĒ are bought by people who never take them above thirty miles per hour. I would take my son out to the desert and blast that thing so far past light speed, we were able to go back in time and meet ourselves before we left.

Ah, my 17-year-old son Thomas. His report cards never reflected his true intelligence. Mary and I would give him a hard time about them, but he would just brush us off, the stubborn young man. But he has so much of me in him. I donít care if heís 17, heís the only person touching my car when Iím gone, and thatís final. Heís the only one besides me who understand how that car moves and thinks. And Iím positive heíll keep it well above the speed limit, where all fast cars should be.

I see the light come on and try to move my eyes to see who has come into my room, where Iím hooked up to so many machines I may as well be a cyborg. Itís Mary, here to, of all things, change my ďnasty bagsĒ and feed me. I drink real fruit smoothies which Mary makes herself with fresh fruit and our top-of-the-line blender, which we received for Christmas last year, a sort of nasty omen as to what would come.

I cannot speak to her. I can barely utter a sound. But she knows Iím happy with her presence.

Mary is now 59 years old and doesnít look a day over 40. Itís as if she never went through a midlife crisis because once midlife happened to her the aging process shut down all together. And here I am a brittle 55-year-old man suffering from a stroke, due to die in a matter of days. Iíve heard the doctors quietly tell Mary that Iím only getting worse and that ďitíll only be a few more days.Ē And itís right now I want to stand up and tell everyone who ever had to put up with me that the waitingís over. That soon I will have checked out of the hotel known as ďLife,Ē and that whatever bother I may have caused can all go away now. Iím leaving.

But the waiting, just lying here listening to beeps and dits on the machines and feeling myself do things without my controlÖ itís all just a form of hell before hell actually takes me in. I play a game with myself. I try to think of as many of my favorite sports teams as I can before the machine beeps again. However, Iím unable to focus for that long, so I give up. I canít even get into the rhythm of the machines, and I used to be a very musical person.

I begin to wonder why Iím still here. Why I canít just die and be at peace. Well, because that would be against the law, unless it was well documented that such a thing would be acceptable to me in a healthy state. It figures. In any normal day, I would never sign such a document, believing that I would be strong enough to live through it and defeat the challenge. Maybe the way I should look at this is, I didnít go down without a fight. I think the healthy me would like the sound of that. Laying here in my final hours on Earth, not knowing when death will arrive, it sounds reasonable. Itís so much like the human spirit, to want to believe that going down fighting is better than just accepting defeat. How highly we think of ourselves and yet, how little we know about our own existence.

Still, I do feel inspired to stick around as long as I can. At least so I can give myself the illusion that Iíve given death a headache.

Nick Varnau is a humorist living in Indiana. To see his blog, go to

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