I guess now that it’s been a couple days and I’ve cut a trail to a new destination, I can finally relate this story to you all. As I sort of mentioned earlier in the week, I headed off to meet up with a fellow runner. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, I’ll assume you’re all familiar with Shaun? I managed to get in contact with him sometime last week to set up the meeting… still kind of surprised he agreed to meet with me, but it was a welcomed surprise for a change, so I’m not complaining.
Now, my memory is kind of shit and I don’t have a tape recorder to carry around like some of you guys seem to do, so I’m gonna detail this as best I can recall, but it’s not something I could call 100% accurate. Especially since I’m missing a few pieces of it, but we’ll get to that…
I had Shaun select the meeting spot since he knew the area better, figured he’d know a nice place where we could get together without having to worry about Slender-shenanigans or causing much of a public scene. But that meant I had to find the place… and google maps decided to remind me that its directions are a load of shit, so I can’t say I made it approximately on time. And I probably looked like an idiot wandering around the block as many times as I did with a sheet crumpled paper and a lost puppy dog look on my face. If I hadn’t known who to look for (thank you Shaun for making video logs) then I’d have probably still been wandering around.
So, I’ll just pick up with the first thing I remember after greetings were exchanged…
Shaun – “I can’t believe you really came all the way out here just to pick a fight with me.”
Gargoyle – “Well, not so much ‘pick a fight,’ more of a… settling a grudge type thing. I’d like to wipe the slate clean and start over, honestly… but first I’ve got to hold up my end of the deal. I said if I ever got out of that hole I’d let you take a swing at me. I keep my promises.”
S – “So do I.”
G – (sounded like he didn’t need any extra provocation, so I just rolled along with it) “Just try not to break my nose, okay? That’s all I ask. Anything else is fair game.”
S – “Alright, well, then turn that cheek of yours to the left a little bit. (I turned my head a bit like he suggested) There you go buddy, right there...”
Now, I’ll admit, I’m a skinny ass punk and I’m not in the best of shape, but I like to think I can still hold my own. I’ve been in scuffles before and sure I come out with a good couple of scrapes and bruises, but I’d at least end those fights in a draw. I just want to make sure you’ve got that perspective in mind before I get to the part where I explain how he knocked me the fuck out. Let me pretend I’m not quite that much of a push-over here, okay?
Cause I remember the first swing he took at me vividly. Like it was in slow fucking motion and I was taking in every last detail, from the angle of his fist to the look on his face to the wrinkles in his clothes as he turned his body to follow along with the blow. And then he hit me… and I have a really hard time remembering things after that. I mean, I remember the impact and stumbling back from it, the sudden burst of pain in the upper left side of my face. But then my vision got kind of blurry and things started rushing together as he came in for another blow. And then I basically blacked out.
I asked him about it later and he told me we actually went at it a bit longer than I thought… but I don’t even remember throwing a punch, let alone landing one… so that’s a set of details he’d have to fill in if he feels like it. All I can remember with any sort of certainty was waking up laying with my back up against a wall in a place I don’t remember us being in earlier and my Everything hurting. Well, okay, really it was more just my face and upper body, but I thought it was everything at the time. How do I explain this… ahh, have you ever been hit by a truck? No? Okay, well neither have I… but I’m pretty sure if you went out into traffic right now and got hit by a truck then the feeling you would have right then would be thereabouts equivalent to how I felt at that moment.
So as I’m coming to and rubbing my left hand across my face while making a series of noises which some would call “explicatives,” I notice that Shaun is sitting down across from me, propped back similarly against a wall. He seemed to be intentionally avoiding my gaze at that moment, but he was still there. Which surprised me somehow… I guess I thought he’d have just left me there. But he didn’t… so I think I managed a smile somehow and managed to cough out a “Feeling better now?”
Shaun – (finally looking back at me then) “Maybe.”
I chuckled for a bit. But then I realized it hurt to laugh. So I stopped doing that. Took a moment to get my bearings straight again before I said anything else. Wanted to make sure I was conscious enough to remember the conversation I was about to start.
Gargoyle – (still rubbing at the side of my head) “Mmph… Wanted to ask… what was it that made you stop?”
S – (he gave me an odd look at that) “Stop what?”
G – “Experimenting… You were all into that at one point. Best I could tell from reading, looked like you were pretty good at it too. S’what got you slapped with that old Sage title even… but then you just kind of stopped.”
S – (there was a slight pause here, he had to think about it I guess) "I dunno, bro... it just got too messy. The logistics didn't add up. I never got anything concrete. It's not like I was doin' anyone any good, right?"
I shifted a bit uncomfortably at that. His voice sounded so hollow when he said it, leaving me with this feeling he was trying to convince himself of it more than he was trying to convince me.
G – “You really believe that?”
S - "Well...not like I'm doin' too much good now, either, am I?"
I kind of tilted my head back against the wall to look at the sky for a moment, let my hands fall to my sides as I tried to figure out how to respond.
G – (sighing) “Hell man, I dunno... I wasn’t there. All my information is second hand. But if you’re asking my opinion, I think maybe you just lost your way. Nothing to be ashamed of... shit kind of hit the fan and everything went sideways for a while there. People got scattered, lost hope... Some of em recovered, some... (I kind of trailed off there and dropped that train of thought, no need to ramble off into even more depressing territory)
"Mmph… the bottom line, I think, is maybe you’ve just forgotten. You’ve had a lot on your plate for a while, just trying to deal with your own problems and everything else… shit gets kind of distracting. But make no mistake, you were one of the good ones. Maybe one of the best. While one guy was off spouting philosophy and mysticism, you were carrying out experiments grounded in reality. All he ever gave us was speculation. You gave us results. You were like, some kind of badass sciency version of M, running around and having a field day with it. Some of the most practical advice I carry around came from your blog.
“And fuck, I’m an idiot. (I think I threw my hands up at that point, dramatic effect) So if I was gleaming wisdom from you, then I’m damn near certain all the brighter kids were too. You’ve helped out more than you realized. Hell, just being alive today is proof enough you know what you’re doing. That’s inspiration right there. You’re a survivor… and people in shit like this look up to guys like you. If all of that’s not doing people good, then I dunno what is.”
I’m not the best speech maker… especially fresh out of a near comatose state, but I think I might have got through with that a little at least, since he kind of nodded along at the end. I could tell from the look on his face he was giving it serious thought anyways, even though the “Yeah...maybe...” he eventually gave me in response wasn’t a whole lot to judge by. Didn’t really press the subject any further from there.
We went and got a bite to eat together after that, sat around and talked about “normal things” for a while. He gave me some running tips, might have been a few other things too, but that part all runs together. Nothing really important for you to know I guess, just two guys in a crappy situation trying to make the most of it. Was nice…
We parted ways not too long after that. I’ll admit, I’d have probably liked to travel with him… I get that vibe that he could really use a second pair of eyes watching his back… but I guess that’s true for all of us. We figured it was best to keep going our own ways though. He’s got his own mess to sort out and I’ve got mine. Besides, the way I act, I figure it’s only a matter of time before I gave him another reason to punch me and I’m not sure I can handle another one of those. Soooo the more distance between us the better. But I’m glad we got the chance to meet and that we parted on good terms.
Hopefully I can mend a few more bridges while I’m out here… though hopefully they can be mended in a less painful fashion. Hm… speaking of… Elaine, those “doctors who won’t ask questions” you mentioned knowing? Eh heh… ^.^;;