Into The Abyss

by Nic Olson

On Saturday nights—when you are drinking weekend beers with your friends, when you are snuggled up close to your loved one, when you are deep in your weekend sleep—I mop up vomit. I mop up vomit at a place that describes itself as a lounge. A lounge that is pure, and one that is ultra. I have not yet discovered any of these to be true. As I mop, I think of my resumé. I think about stacking my resume with these marketable skills, as if it were my education, as if learning to spread coffee grounds over semi-digested foods on dancefloors was a highlightable skill for the future. I think of what is ahead while I mop up vomit, while rich undergrads smash bottles and spill glasses on purpose. I think of my three levels of savings accounts.

I have recently discovered a fear of death, sort of like how someone discovers they have a taste for wine, through gradual exposure, trying it out with different foods in different settings. My fear is not one that causes me to stay at home where I am safe, nor one that will bring me to the altar on my knees. More of a fearful interest. For several reasons, it has been an evident theme lately.

Through the first few chapters, the book ‘The Warden’ by Anthony Trollope includes men fighting over the will of a rich clergyman. On Easter Sunday my family and I lightly discussed our last wishes. My possibly hyperbolized wishes included selling my ten dirty t-shirts, putting all of my money in a chest and burying it in a field somewhere. They also included burning my body in a field, on the Ganges, or in some other sort of humble effigy. My parents mentioned the necessity of lawyers and I cringed. They told stories, similar to that in ‘The Warden’, of people feeling entitled and therefore hiring lawyers and fighting family members. You can fucking have it, I figured. Smiling, Dad told me that I can have the money, as long as I have the house, the cars, the investments, and keep them. I’ll opt for the the tent and Indian spices. A will is a glorified, end-of-life resumé. Where we gather our experience of investments and property and distribute it among our family, those references that are ‘available upon request’.

Watching the documentary ‘Into the Abyss’ by Werner Herzog did not help my fear of death. A dark study on the themes of death, violence, capital punishment, and time, it forced me to essentially witness three murders and the ten years that followed them. It forced me to watch as death was handed out like Metro newspapers in downtown Regina. Speaking of the man who was about to receive a lethal injection, the woman who had her mother and brother murdered said that some people just don’t deserve to live. The former executioner says that no one has the right to take a life. Schoolyard law still rules sometimes, schoolyard disagreements always will. And so it goes.

My fear of death could have to do with all this. With the savings accounts. Vomit is the physical incarnation of regret. And I am its janitor. Other than that, I will not begin to speculate as to the the reason of this new found fear.

And like death, the unanswerable phenomenon, I will end this blog abruptly. Without conclusion. Surprising and empty.