For me, shooting up drugs would be a threshold condition: once I started, I could never stop. I had smoked heroin and I had been addicted to Demerol while in the hospital. But now, sticking that needle in my body would forever place me in a new world. My waking hours and my sleepless nights would be ruled by my need for the drug. My heart would owe allegiance to the needle, whereas before it had given fealty only to my wives, my girlfriends, my principles and my art. Not the sublime honey of love but the dirty liquid in my syringe would rule my temperament.
I did not want to go gentle into this good fright, where metered souls live in diminished light . I bore my battle scars and I was reliable when called upon to fight. I eschewed a foe I could not smite. As ever I had, I wanted to run free. Deep in wilderness or trekking to the ends of the Earth, I wanted to vault my body by the strength of my heart. I wanted to tread the highlands of Scotland as my ancestors had and keep the culture as any true Druid would. I wanted to ravish a beautiful woman, repeatedly, among the blossoming marvels of an alpine meadow. I wanted to win the love of a fetching beauty with my silvery words and my golden thoughts. I did not want to go down to live forever within the bounds of a drug round.
No stallion seeks corral. No pelagic fish swims in littoral water. Yet, a shrunken world awaited me at the tip of a needle. For years, I had avoided this barb. All counseled now for me to relent, to let my world be rent—before from after. The man in the glass was no longer young and though he moved somewhat slower his thoughts were ever more piercing. I did not desire to see him surrender to the slender spike. After all, he had come back from the dead and he had, alone and badly crippled, raised himself out of that wheelchair and taught himself to walk. After a hemorrhagic stroke took away part of his mind, he sat alone on his couch and rebuilt it, brick by brick, until his creative power was restored. He had survived the darkest place on this planet during the war. How could he yield to this?
I remembered when my children were babies. I recalled their bright laughter and their happy spirits. I pictured the picnics we had under the big maple tree and Christmas trees we merrily harvested from our woods just past the barn. I remembered hot chocolate on Christmas Eve and squeals of delight on Christmas morning while the candles flickered. I thought of them pulling up their crab traps and jumping waves with me. I reflected on Saturday mornings when we played knights and castles and I made pancakes.
I stuck myself and slowly depressed the plunger. I went to bed and my dreams were dark and joyless. Never would I see another day on this Earth when I would be free of insulin.
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