I remember the accident as if it was yesterday. I had been living in Washington, D.C. for three years. That
particular morning, a Saturday, I was running late for work. It was a gray, wet
morning at the edge of Winter. Heavy rain, like molten white gold, fell from an
aluminum sky as I blazed along at 80 mph. A gray car merged onto the roadway from
the right, then proceeded to move into my lane without signaling. The car was
moving so slowly it looked like it was moving backwards. I pressed the brakes hard,
pumping steadily with increasing pressure, my right hand tight on the gearshift
ready to down shift. Realizing collision was inevitable, I glanced at the
speedometer: 60. The impact sent my little car spinning towards the concrete
divider separating west-bound traffic from east. The world seemed upside down.
I remember thinking, I’m going to die and
I never got to be friends with my father. I glanced up at the sky, oddly
unafraid, and I swear I saw the hand of God reach down and stop…
My life: I have been a model citizen; a good son; employee
of the year, year after year after year. I have lived in the shadows, a ghost,
unseen. And now, as my life ebbs away, eternity like a black moon
rising, I felt his hands on my body, efficient and cool. My chest was tight,
and I was uncomfortable, but I didn’t mind, not really. I had endured worse,
much worse. I wished I could scratch my nose. I wished I could move. “Does he not have any family—anyone we should call?” someone
else was in the room with us, then. “No,” he said, his hands working. “I suspect he was gay,” he
added, speaking of me as if I was already dead. “And you know,” he continued,
his hands working, working, “He was of that generation that kept in the
shadows.” I recognized his voice now; he was my day nurse. He was a
fey young thing, gentle and outrageous, but much loved by patients and staff
alike who treated him not as a curiosity to be pointed at and whispered about, perhaps
even laughed at, nor as some exotic…
I am Prometheus. Prometheus. Say it slowly,
roll the letters around in your mouth. Prometheus.
It is not my real name but it is name most fitting for me. Prometheus, the
creator of mankind and its greatest benefactor, chained to a rock, his liver
eaten daily by an eagle, in eternal damnation for stealing fire and gifting it
to mankind. Yes, there are definite similarities between us.
I am Prometheus, and this is my story. Except it’s not my story. I wish it was, but I am
not unique or special. This is the story of untold millions of hapless chaps
and chicklets caught up in the grinding gears of the corporate machine.
This is a faux memoir told episodically. You will be
inclined, at times, to laugh at us, and cry for us. Do not hold back either
impulse. That is the point of sharing this story—to remind us that life is
nothing but a series of small comedies and tragedies. What is important is what
we take away from each occurrence, what we learn from each calamity and joy.
What will be…