It’s not every day that ceilings give away ideas. They are usually unassuming structures that have no real purpose save hiding pipes, wires, and the ugly floor joists of the story above. Most are content with their lot in life and have no further ambitions. However, I have now met two that have stepped forward to play a decisive role in my life: one to help me end it, and the other to save it.
The first ceiling was that of my office back when I was a PAO. For the longest time, when I should have been doing other work, I couldn’t stop thinking about suspending myself by the neck from that suspended ceiling. Once I even tried it and may have succeeded if someone else was not simultaneously crawling in the topside of that very ceiling at that very same time.
The second ceiling, the one that saved my life, did so by reminding me of the first ceiling and giving me an idea for an opening of a book I had volunteered to write. You might remember that my author paid me a visit and threatened to write me out because he was not happy with how I had taken over his story. I offered to rewrite the story, this story, if only he would let me live.
The ceiling gave me the idea for my opening chapter. I left while the blind, reformed drug dealer was still talking. He might’ve still been talking when I called the elevator. I punched ground floor and close door simultaneously, in my haste, and even tried to call for a taxi while it was still descending. My taxi had not yet arrived when I went out the door, but someone’s taxi was there, so I took that. They could have mine.
Tyrone White might still have been talking as I urged the cab driver to hurry, leaning forward on the seat to point out our exit, the road the funeral reception was on, and my car waiting in the parking lot. Tyrone may have been living in a perpetually blinding light, but I knew that my light bulb would dim shortly. These ideas I had would disappear as quickly as they arrived if I did not fix them down on paper.
There used to be a small stream where I would take Paul sometimes. He would hang from tree limbs while I would watch the water. Sometimes I would see a fish in the stream, emerging from the murky shadows of the water. I would call him over and the fish would be gone. Only once, did it remain long enough for him to see.
From that day on Paul would watch the stream for fish with me, at first from the bank, and later, in the heat of summer, from within the water itself. He aspired to touch a fish someday. This hyperactive kid would stand still in the waters for hours; well, for minutes, but it seemed like hours; waiting for a fish to come near him. Once, one touched his leg and he went to snatch it with his hands, but it eluded him and swam away.
Epiphanies are like that.
My fingers did not work quickly enough as I fumbled for my car keys. My laptop was still there, safe and sound. I drove away in search of a café where I could write. Natalie, Kim, Sam, Carol, Paul’s ghost, and whoever else might still be there, worried about me, would have to wait. I was saving my life. Tell stories or die.
I found a place appropriately called The Epiphany Café. They steamed up a Chai Latte while I booted up my computer and searched for an outlet. I bought a cookie as big as a dinner plate. I found the Word program and blinked at the curser as it blinked at me.
What was it I was going to say?