He was a corpulent cuss bloated, no doubt, on his own self-importance. He stood there, posing in studied regality, regaling me with his life’s accomplishments. He’d cured his father of cancer and was going to write a book to cure the world. A movie about one of his many harrowing (and covert) military exploits is written in his mind. He once “. . .beat off a pack of wild dogs. . .” who were attacking a defenseless woman. That sentence fragment alone leaves an image one should not have.
While listening to him prattle, for I sensed his stories were endless because his greatness and bravery knows no bounds, I noticed his right eye was slightly out of focus. As if it were on autofocus and the refracting light was causing an unsteady clarity. I wondered if that was the eye he saw his adventures through. As if his life was viewed through a gauzy halo like the soft focus of a film noir femme fatale close-up.
I could hear a slight wheeze as his stories continued. I took that as a sign the end was near. Not as in his death, but due to the exhaustion that comes from the summation of ones achievements.
He reminded me of the old Saturday Night Live pathological liar character, Tommy Flanagan, but with a smoker’s echoed breathing. He paused for a moment during his litany of self. He smiled the smile of a deathshead salesman. Part vacant, part conniving. Was he sizing me up? Am I engaged enough for him to ride on to his crescendo? Is he wondering if I think he’s gone too far? I couldn’t be sure.
It was in this moment of somewhat quiet and contemplation, the battering of his over sized heart against his rib cage and the low engine rumble of his lungs the only soundtrack, I took the opportunity to ask him the only question I’ve been dying to ask since he began his soliloquy,
“Can you cash me out now?”