MIKE BOCKOVEN

Check in and Short Story – Stop Fighting

May
03

Hey, everyone. Crazy times, huh?

I am jealously following a lot of folks who are absolutely killing it during this time of self isolation. I wish that were me. Truthfully in the past two months I’ve done very little creatively. The best reason why was described by the webcomic The Oatmeal that said (paraphrased) “I can stand being very tired and I can stand being very wired but what I can’t stand is being both those things all the time”. That’s me. It’s hard to be creative when everything is in overdrive and you also can hardly get the work for your day job done.

Still, it’s starting to come back. It’s not terribly strong yet but ideas are popping through like chutes sticking through the dirt. I’ve got a new book started. I’ve done some work on the one I have finished. And I wrote another short story, presented below. It’s not substantial, by any means, but it’s a start as we get the creative muscles worked back up.

Before the story, I sincerely hope everyone is doing well and, if you’re just surviving and not thriving, I think that is totally acceptable. Do what you can right now. If you find yourself less creative, like me, do what you can to spark some joy and creativity. Like imagining what someone would say to their spouse if they decided to commit suicide by Godzilla.

This turned out a lot darker and introspective for such a stupid concept. Anyway, hope you enjoy it.

-Mike


Short Story – Stop Fighting
by Mike Bockoven

My Dearest Maddie,

I have to go to San Francisco.

I know you disagree. I know you want me to keep fighting. I know every argument, every thought rocketing through your brain right now. I’m selfish. I have more to give. I can’t end it like this. What about my parents? What about the family we were supposed to start? What about all the doctors and nurses who have given their time to me, the tens of thousands of dollars of medicine that has been pumped into my veins? If I do this, it’s all for nothing. If i do this it’s a slap in the face to them and to you. How unbelievably selfish of me.

I know what you’re thinking. I know how white hot pissed you must be. But I have to go.

I wish I could explain it. I’m going to try, but I don’t think I’m going to do very well. Please keep your mind as open as you can. 

A month ago, on G Day, I remember watching the footage coming out of Japan and something stirred inside me that I still, even now, cannot fully reckon with. I’m not going to call it a connection. That’s not right. I think it’s the same sort of thing that mountain climbers feel when they look at the peak from a long way away. I tried to talk to you about it but you had a lot on your plate – stressful job, new house, sick husband, the fact that a giant lizard had just come out of the sea and was destroying major cities half a world away. I’m not blaming you for not listening. I don’t know that I was eager to communicate what was happening in my heart.

I wish the feeling had gone away. I wish it faded and I could focus on my treatments or on you. That’s my biggest regret. I’ve been gone for a while now, I feel like. I don’t know if you feel it to or if you chalk it up to me being sick but…that’s not it. The first time I looked at that 350 foot creature, I knew. That was how I was going to die.

This part is going to be hard for you to read because I’m going to sound like I’m not taking this seriously. Honey, nothing could be further from the truth. I am taking this so deadly serious. So, so serious. 

Ever since G Day I could not stop thinking about what it would be like to see him, to stand in the presence of something that large and ancient, something that lived before the dinosaurs, that can harness the power of radiation, that looks upon me like I truly am which is nothing. I don’t mean “nothing” like I have low self esteem or something, I mean you, me, all our efforts and victories and celebrations and heartbreaks and achievements and legacies are all, at the end of the day, nothing. From a cosmic perspective or, hell, even a planetary perspective, we are insignificant.  That’s what I see when I look at him. I see…something significant. Something eternal. At the end, before I die, I want to stand in the presence of that thing that is older than us. A thing of significance. I don’t expect that significance to transfer to me. Far from it. I am a gnat buzzing around his feet, not worthy of a moment’s worth of attention. But I will know, in my final moments, what real significance looks like.

I can see you spinning this to your sister right now – he had delusions of grandeur and ran off to San Francisco to get stepped on by a giant radioactive monster. Please, baby, understand that’s not what I’m doing. I’m not killing myself to get a peek at a freak show. I’m doing it because my time on this Earth is just about over. I know this. I have accepted this. And before I go, before I fade into nothing, before I am a footnote in your life and the life of everyone I have ever known, I’m going to stand before the mightiest thing that may have ever existed on this planet and I’m going to know. I’m going to look upon him and I’m going to take him in and I’m going to know something your sister will never know. 

Told you I wouldn’t explain it very well.

He is supposed to come ashore on Thursday, somewhere near the city. He won’t burst through and destroy the Golden Gate Bridge like in the movies…or maybe he will. Truthfully, he’s going to do whatever he wants. Like I said, I don’t have a special connection no one else has. But I will be in San Francisco, watching the news and ready to move the second they know where he is. Once I see him, my plan is to run toward him. If I’m lucky, I might even touch him before the radiation stops me. I know this is hard to think about, but in a weird way this is me keeping a promise to you. Do you remember, the night after my diagnosis, we made love and you were in my arms and asked me “is this going to kill you” and I said “no” and you made me promise? Promise me, you said, that this disease won’t kill you. Well, it won’t.

Remember me fondly, OK? Think on the good times. Show this to people or don’t, it doesn’t matter. I have no final wishes other than to see him. No, to experience him. And yes, I now the death will be painful and I might not make it to him or he might turn around and not come ashore. I’ve thought of all of that. If he doesn’t come ashore I have an email ready. If he does and everything goes to plan, all the important documents you’ll need are in the file folder in the attic.

I’d ask for forgiveness, but I know it doesn’t matter. What I do know if every step in my life, every heartbeat, every breath has brought me closer to San Francisco where I will meet him and where I will end. It’s OK. I’ve loved you since the second time I saw you and I learned your name. You don’t deserve this but it’s happening. Stay well. Stay safe. Be as happy as you can in whatever form that takes. Treat every day like it’s something special. 

Good bye, Maddie. 

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