Tag Archives: philosophy

It’s not too late …

27 Sep
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“You know Ritter,” Reuther said. “Downtown Lancaster looks more busy, I daresay even vibrant, with lots of youngsters in their 20s and 30s.”

“Hipsters,” Ritter said with a snort.

“Even in Chumley’s?”

“Especially Chumley’s,” Ritter said with disgust.

“You mean?”

“Exactly.” Ritter threw up his hands. “Used to be a gathering spot for writers and dreamers and misfits. Now, it’s junior executives. Young fellers and gals with laptops, their gaze on the bottom line.”

“Damn. What happened?”

Ritter used his index finger and thumb to pick up a stray crumb from the muffin he’d just eaten. He looked out the window from his balcony affording him a birds-eye of the Lancaster Barnstomers ballpark. He’d carefully selected this place back in the early 2000s before things had changed, when Lancaster was still holding on as a gritty, tough little city with a chip on its shoulder, very much aware that it couldn’t be little New York, let alone a tiny Philly. But shit … now …

“But Jon. Things change. I mean … look at us … Time was when we were the young rock ‘n rollers. Regularly knocking off fifty miles on the trails in a day, clacking away on our Remington typewriters, banging out thirty pages at a clip.”

“It’s not our town anymore.”

“Well … not your town anymore. I mean … I left years ago.”

“Right. You did the Kerouac thing. Found your true calling as a trout bum.”

“I begged you to come along. Remember?”

“I remember,” Ritter groaned.

Reuther studied his old hiking and drinking buddy. Geez. He was starting to look old, tired.

“It’s not too late you know.”

Ritter emitted a sigh. Shit, he thought. But it was too late. And yet … and yet …

“You know, when it comes down to reality. We’re all here on this earth just a short time. We need to grab the gusto while …”

“No,” Ritter snapped. “You’re starting to sound like a beer commercial.”

“Well … I mean …

Ritter slowly shook his head. The late afternoon shadows from the downtown buildings were throwing long shadows across the streets.

“I got laid off yesterday.”

“What?” Reuther couldn’t believe his ears. “This is it. Your chance … ”

“Er … I don’t think so.”

“But why?” Reuther said, jumping out of his seat. “This is it. C’mon. You can be out of this burg by tonight, on your way to a new life.”

“Yeah. And we could both sit around that stream you’re so fond of … what is it?”

“The South Platte River.”

“Right, the South Platte, build a campfire and belt out ballads like Big Bad John by Jimmy Dean. It’s elusive, a myth.”

Rutter pushed himself away from the table and began walking around the room.

“C’mon Jon. You can do this.”

“No. It’s a myth Reuther. All of it … the West and the outdoors and how it can save your soul.”

“I’m sorry you feel that way.”

“C’mon Reuther. Face it. Happiness … you can’t buy it, and you sure as hell can’t find it through geography.”

A tentative knock came on the front door – three soft, tentative raps upon the wood.

Reuther saw a sly smile appear on Rutter’s face.

“Did you order Chinese?”

“Er … you’ll have to leave now Reuther.”

“A girl?”

“Please. Take the fire escape down Reuther.”

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The Bargain

6 Sep

Ritter poked at the campfire as he mulled over the question.

“What if I had choice between giving up hiking and rock climbing or spending the rest of my life with Annie Klondike?” He furrowed his brow and looked quizzically at Reuther.

“Right. What would you choose?”

“But that’s absurd,” Ritter said, tossing down his stick.

“Just work with me here Jon,” Reuther said.

“I would never give up hiking and rock climbing. I mean … those are my passions.”:

“Okay,” Reuther said. “I get it. But what if giving them up would mean being with Annie … the gal you’ve long pined for … for the rest of your life.”

“But it’s not going to happen,” Ritter said, throwing up his hands.

“No. You’re right. It’s not going to happen. Unless you believe in magic and such possibilities, no one is going to suddenly appear and offer you such a bargain.”

“Right,” Ritter said.

“Still … what would you choose?”

“Jeepers. You’re not going to let this go. Are you?”

Ritter studied Reuther’s smiling face as his longtime hiking buddy moved closer to the fire, his face lit up crimson from the flames.  He appeared almost otherworldly. Ritter had a fleeting thought that perhaps Reuther was a kind of supernatural being who could indeed make such a thing happen. A chill ran through him that even considering an answer would involve him in a sort of Faustian bargain.

“Well … Reuther said.

“Who do you think will win the World Series this year?” Rutter asked, a nervous lopsided grin crossing his face.

“Jon. C’mon.”

“You c’mon,” Ritter said. “This is just stupid.”

“Maybe,” Reuther said, rocking back on his heels and looking skyward. “Then again …”

Ritter poked some more at the flames. “Well what about you Reuther?”

“What about me?”

“Let’s say you had a chance to have your book be a bestseller and make you a boatload of money, perhaps a movie deal. You even win a Pulitzer. You gain worldwide fame.”

“I … don’t follow Jon,” Reuther said.

“Sure. Let’s say that happens, but only if you agree to spend the rest of your life unplugged, off the grid, in some lonely, one-room cabin in say … Greenland? Cut off from everyone you know and love … forever.”

Ritter watched Reuther consider the question as he chewed on his jerky.

“Interesting proposal Jon.”

“Yeah, it is,” Ritter said with a laugh, jumping to his feet.

He watched his buddy consider it for a few more moments. “I wouldn’t take the deal.”

“Why not?” Ritter said.

“It’s a no-brainer,” Reuther said.

“But you’d have everything you always wanted … a bestselling book, fame, immortality.”

“And no one to enjoy it with.”

“Er … right,” Ritter said.

“So.”

“So what?”

“I guess you’d give up your outdoors pursuits if it meant you’d gain Annie.”

“Never,” Jon said.

“But she’s your dream girl.”

“Dream girl?” Ritter considered the very words. Dream girl? A buxom outdoors gal who piloted prop planes around the Northwest and Canada. A sharpshooter and trapper, who drank her whiskey straight and could more than hold her own with any man. Surely not a gentle lass, and yet …

“She’s promiscuous,” Ritter said.

“And your point is?”

“No … no I wouldn’t even consider such a foolhardy notion of giving up hiking and climbing. Besides, this whole dialogue has been ludicrous.” Rutter got to his feet. “I’m going to bed.” He headed toward his tent.

“Funny isn’t it?”

“What?” Ritter said. With his back to Reuther, he stopped halfway between the now-dying campfire and his tent.

“These gals. They sure do funny things to our heads.”

“They sure do,” Ritter said. “They sure do.”