Jigsaw

One of the novels I wrote in the early 90’s is called Knowing.  I pulled it off publication in the mid-nineties because stories and books should be free.  As free as the words spoken to one another that is unless you make your living telling stories.  I don’t and don’t want to.

I only have one novel left on Amazon and it’s called The Last Breath by Madison Imes.  Madison Imes was a pen name after the first one, William Scott bored me.  Don’t buy the book because it too will soon be free.

I lost the first royalty check and never cashed it because it meant nothing.  Come to think of it, where did that check go?  I’m about to be on a fixed income.

The Last Breath, by Madison Imes once went for twenty-three dollars and I dropped it to thirteen and now it goes for three bucks.  If you buy it, you can share it for free but like I said, don’t buy it, my words are worth the cost of only the air it takes to say them.  Now I go by, The WiseGuy.  Who would’ve thunk?

Some of us like, Kim, my wife, can easily guess why Knowing is titled as such but for most, like me, would’ve  guessed and as usual I would’ve been wrong again.

The story, Knowing, is about knowing your life’s expectancy, knowing who you are and finally knowing your fateful death.  Understanding when the last piece of the jigsaw puzzle for your individuality will be played and snapped into place.  Imagine how lucky you would be if you had enough time to prepare, enough time to remove yourself from the corporate nightmares and just play and love work, and especially be able to make your one life so extremely significant within the little time you all have with us.  Such a short time.

Reverse that idea in your mind and then think about how lucky you are to have people in your life that are significant to you.  These are your Blue Men.

puzzle4

Some of the really lucky ones already get it and strive to be significant, to be a Blue Man to just one person in the six degrees of separation we all live in today.  So here was my take.

The story goes like this in the Reader’s Digest version.

Four guys, younger than me, not older than the 40 years I have worked, are sitting enjoying a beer at a local brewery on a busy main street of Scottsdale.  It is early spring in 2005.  They’re laughing, debating, and talking about the girl who just walked in with half of her butt cheek hanging out below the shortest shorts in Arizona.

The men are named John, Craig, Jerry and Terry.  Suddenly without notice and kind-of-in the darkened corner where the restroom’s unlit sign hung, a man comes up to the table.  The music in the background dulls enough so the man’s voice can be heard only by the four men.  Everyone else hears no difference.

“John,” the man says clearly.

John sets his beer glass down next to the bottle he had just poured it from.

“Do I know you?”

The man was dressed very nicely.  A casually dark Armani suit with a nearly pure white shirt showing only at the neckline.  Tan Cole Haan Bucks finished of this attire.  He sported a clean-shaven face and a short professional-styled salt and peppered haircut.  He was very well put-together character.

“Yes,” he simply answered.

John looked at his eyes and begun to say something when the man spoke, “June 12th, 2007.”

John shook his head slightly, “Okay?”

The man turned to Craig, “Craig.  September 21st, 2007.”

Craig was right in the middle of a swallow and the group could hear his throat clear.

“What does that mean?” he asked as he lowered his glass.

Without any acknowledgment, the man turned to Jerry.  “January  5th, 2008.”

Jerry raised his draft to his lips and before he drank from the glass he asked, “And?

The man then turned to Terry and slowly touched Terry’s arm above the wrist, “Terry.”  He hesitated.  “Terry is June 17th, 2008.  You should know that date.”  He took one step back away from the table, turned and walked to the front of the establishment, parted one of the doors just slightly and slipped out unnoticed by anyone else.

So we all know where this is going.  Right?  I’ll fill in some of the dialogue.

“So what was that about,” Craig asked.

“The dude is a nut.  What were the dates he said.  I think he said June 2nd.”

Jerry clinked his glass on John’s, “June 12th.  Holy shit.  It was exactly 2 minutes ago and you can’t remember?  What did you have for dinner last night?”

John was stumped whether is was steak or fish.  Jerry’s short-termed memory was like a 45 magnum Colt revolver.  Quick, sudden, and deadly.  He never missed anything.

“So what was mine?” Terry asked.

“Your date is a long way away.  June 17th, three years away.  Son of a bitch it’s going to be hot by then.”

“Damn it,” Terry clunked down his glass as a small splash of beer hit the table.

Craig asked in his facial expression without asking.  Jerry spouted, “Craig, your date is ten days after 9/11.

“Oh yeah.  September 22nd.”

“No, that would be eleven days.  September 21st.”  The waitress with the low-cut tank top came up to the table.  Jerry looked at her, “Can I have a pen and five napkins?”

“Sure,” she turned and walked away appearing only moments later with Jerry’s off-the-wall request.

Jerry took the pen and wrote all their names on a napkin along with the man’s date he had given for each of his buddies.

“Put this shit in your wallet and we’ll see what happens.  I think Lottery is in the works.  Millionaires!”  The men toasted the positive unreality.

“We’ll take another round,” Craig voiced toward the waitress standing at another table near them.  “He’s buying.  He’s going to be rich soon,” he said as he pointed at John.

— Time Travel Time —

A couple years pass by with very few thoughts about the man in the suit.  John, Craig, Jerry and Terry have many more happy hours and once or maybe twice someone mentioned the napkins in each of their wallets.

Jerry hears his phone vibrating on his night stand.  He fumbles to open the flip phone, “Hello,” he grumbles.

“Get up!  Did you hear about John?”

Jerry sat up in bed, “I’m sleeping.”

“He’s dead!”

“What did you say?”

“He’s dead.  Raleen just called me in hysterics.  John is dead in bed.  She woke up and his eyes were open and he’s dead.  She called me first she’s so whacked out.  She can’t call 911 so I did before I called you.  I’m going over to John’s house right now.”

“I’ll meet you there.”  Jerry looked at his clock.  “5 o’clock.”  Jerry picked up the pants he had thrown down on the floor and slipped them on.  His wallet fell onto the carpeted floor.  He could see a corner of white paper sticking out where the bills are put.

He opened the wallet and pulled out the napkin he had been keeping for the last two years.  He read his own writing.

“June 12th, 2007.”  He picked up his phone on the table and opened it.  Clearly in small letters the phone’s face read, ‘June 12th 2007′.  “Holy shit,” he whispered as he read the rest of words on the napkin then tucked it securely back in place.

Jerry wasted no time getting to John’s home.  Three cop cars and a small fire truck were parked on both sides of the street.  He ran to the door and went in.  Raleen and Craig were sitting on the couch.  He held her as she leaned on his shoulder.  Craig’s shirt was wet with tears.

A covered gurney comes out of the hallway and is taken through the front door.

“What happened?  I just talked to him yesterday and he seemed fine,” Jerry asked.

“We don’t know.  The firefighter said it was sudden death.”

Raleen begins to cry loudly and uncontrollably.  Jerry quietly pulls out his wallet as Craig is looking at him he pulls the napkin out enough to see.  Craig’s eyes widen with remembrance.  “I’ll call Terry.”

Okay, so you see where this is going, right?

September 11th goes by without mention of the upcoming date.  Jerry and Craig are at the casino sitting at the bar.

“This is bullshit!”

“What is?”

“My date, my time.  I’m calling bullshit.”

“Well look at it this way.  You won’t know it is until the 22nd comes around and you are going to work in the morning.  Seriously Craig, it was just a coincidence that John died on the day we wrote down.”  Jerry set his draft down and looked at the foaming beer.  “Just a coincidence, just a coincidence.”

Well, you guessed the story right.  Is your name Kim?

Craig kicks the bucket in his sleep and Jerry and Terry are now living on top of Freakout Hill.  Terry asks Jerry what he plans to do for the next three months.

It takes only a day for Jerry to go out everyday and do something significant.  He moves in to his Mom’s old rundown apartment and gives his paid off home to a homeless family of four.  He makes donations from his sizable 401 to ten different churches in his neighborhood.

A short man watering his yard with a rusted pickup truck with balding tires about fell to his knees when Jerry pulled up and parked against the curb of his home, walked up to him holding the hose and said in very clear Spanish, “I want you to have my truck.  Here’s the title already signed off and I paid 10 years of insurance up front.  Here’s a prepaid gas card for you.  There’s two thousand dollars on it for you to have.”  A cab pulled up and Jerry looked at the man who had dropped the hose.

In a very strong accent the man asked Jerry, “Por qué?”

“I wanted you to have it is all and I knew by the looks of you, you would take good care of it.  I had it serviced too so your good there too.”  The man could see Jerry’s huge smile through the cab window as he drove away.

The man’s wife opened the creaky screen door and asked who was that and why was there a truck parked in front.

“Un ángel.”  He showed her what Jerry had given to him.  She sat down in the wet grass and cried.

Here we go again.  Jerry’s Mom goes into his bedroom and finds him dead in the morning of Jan 5th.  Terry had the napkin out on his dresser and knew Jerry’s date was this morning.  Jerry’s Mom’s checking account has a whole bunch of zeroes after the number three.  She just doesn’t know yet.

Terry’s alarm clock was one of those kinds that the next day the date flips over to the next date at midnight and it woke him up when he heard the sound of the gear moving.

puzzle6

He was staring at the paper and had just whispered, “Six months left,” when the phone rang.

You guessed it right again.

Terry goes on a spending spree.  He pays cash for the most expensive car he could get.  Terry’s credit is great.  He applied and got so many credit cards, he had to carry them in a man bag.  Within three months Terry’s debt had reached nearly a half of a million dollars.

He had bought so many hookers that they swarmed his car when he drove up to them.  He never had the same woman twice.   Terry even tried sex with a man.  He thought what the heck, won’t know if you don’t try it.

The casino knew him by first name.  He spent so much money the casino comped rooms for his ladies and he never paid for drinks again.  Then in the book, Terry gets risky.  He first tries robbing a Seven Eleven just to see what the adrenaline feels like.  He uses a gun but it’s not loaded so nothing accidentally happens.

The next liquor store attack, it was loaded.

Now he’s into drugs and alcohol on a level of statistical significance.  Heroin of all types, White Lady, China White, with Mexican Mud being his favorite.

So the story continues with all kinds a bad things this guy is doing so he gets as much in as he can before the date comes and he doesn’t wake up.  Kim already knows what’s coming.  So do you by now.

Terry lies down on the night before his date the man had given him.  He can’t sleep so he gets up and shoots up a load of Mexican Mud and makes himself a gargantuan Gimlet.  He passes out in his bed.

Terry had already made preparations for a house keeper to come over in the morning and clean.  He didn’t want to lie in bed for days without anyone finding him and become bloated and disfigured.  He had spent way too much money on vainness at the plastic surgeon.  He had spent it all and his debt passed the million dollar mark only a few days before.  He was broke.

When the lady put the key in his door she didn’t notice anything wrong and she knew she was a day late so she hurried and put her supplies in the lavish kitchen and started in on her work.  An hour had passed before she made it to the bedroom where Terry was lying still.  She picked up the phone disturbing the flip clock.  The date flopped to June 17 then the gear made another noise and the date changed to 18.  She didn’t notice the stuck flipper and called 911.

“What’s wrong with him?” the Detective asked the EMT.

The man motions with a nod to follow him into another room.

“He’s in a vegetive state right now.  He can hear and see us but he can’t move.  We loaded him up with enough Naloxone to kill a horse.  He’ll wake up soon.”

“Did he say anything?”

“Yeah.  He whispered he was supposed to be dead.  Sounds like a suicide attempt gone wrong to me.”

“Well, he’s gonna wish he was tomorrow.”

— Time Travel Time —

So you have to ask yourself, Jigsaw?

Well here’s my short story why this is all related.  I’m going to let you in on a very important understanding I have.  Why do you think I spout significance as the most important aspect of one’s life.  Anyone can choose the direction left, right, up, down and sideways.  How you leave is up to you.

John did some things.  Craig didn’t believe and wasted his time in denial.  Jerry touched so many lives that he’ll forever be remembered and Terry, well he didn’t do so well and the hellish price he’s paying will only go away when the man in the bar tells him the truth.  Who knew he was playing a game.

When you are born, you are given a game.  The game is in a box.  Inside the large box is 32,000 pieces give or take a few thousand.  I know a small person who only had 40 and I once met a man who had 33,580 pieces in his.  It’s your jigsaw.

puzzle2

All of your jigsaw pieces are white and they fit perfectly to the one next to it.  It may be up, it may be down.  You can tell the pieces that go a little sideways.  Each piece represents a day in your life.  When the first piece was placed, the white turns into a color, a picture, a face of a person.

My very first one turned into a picture of my Mom with my Dad standing on quarter just behind her.  My Sister is standing in front of her but you can only see her face.

I’m hoping my box has 32,000 interlocking pieces in it.  That would make me 87 years, 245 days old when the last piece is placed.  Hold it, I really would like to be like the man I know with 33,580.  I don’t know where that piece will fit in my jigsaw puzzle of life.  I do know that it will turn a deep black when it is pressed and snapped into where it fits and that there is no game with 44,000 pieces in it.

No one will ever get to see the last piece placed because all pieces are placed the next day.  Every day after the last when the piece is placed in your jigsaw, it turns to represent what you had done the day before.  Gray is bad.  Pictures and colors of significance is good.  Jerry’s puzzle pieces turned gold.

“Where did you come up with this?” Kim asked.

I pictured my yesterday’s white piece being placed as it made a snapping sound when it settled.  The white was transforming into a colorful representation of me greeting a friend at work whose name is Robin.  I greeted her with, ‘Hi Robin, seeing you makes my day.‘  She said thank you and continued to her office.  She has such a contagious smile.  Always happy.

I turned to Kim and eyed her questioning expression.

“I do know this.  I’m a Jerry, not a Terry.  Not everyday, and I have some gray pieces sometimes.  But for sure, I’m no Terry.”

“How could you possibly know what you would do if you knew the day of your death ahead of time?”

I turned away and faced the monitor as I grabbed for the mouse.

“I just know.”

The End

“The best part of life starts at the top of the stretch.”
The WiseGuy

Click here to read more stories of The WiseGuy

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