It is something to watch a man die. It is something to have been the last touch, the last connection to life. I don’t think I believe in God or heaven. But I feel that I’m tied to Benjamin Mackintosh all the same. When he interrupted Adam’s assault, he traded his life for mine, and that makes me responsible for the life Benjamin will not get to live, as much as for his death. I talk to him about this as if we are old friends, old souls who have found themselves with an odd, explicit connection. When I talk to Benjamin, I feel like I just might make it through the day.
I want to know more about him. I have the images and stories that have been shared by the press, stories of a man who loved sports and good wine, and his family and faith. But those things I could have guessed, they could be attributed to any man of his age and standing. I want to know why he stopped. I want to know what he was thinking as he rounded that bend, what last thought gave way to instinct when he saw Adam close his fingers on my throat. Was it work, love, sex? Some dream or some regret he’d slept over the night before? Was he happy in those last moments of his life? Before he gave it over for mine? These are the things I want to know. These are the things I would ask of his grieving widow, or his mother, or his stoic, sharp-nosed brother who shows up in the news so often now.
Tell me something about the man you loved. Let me hold on to who he was, so that I can let go of what it was to watch him die.
Benjamin, what do you say? Are you ever going to answer me? Were you a good man, a happy man? I have known so few in my life. I have messed everything up, I don’t think I even know what a good man is, let alone a happy one. I have hours and days to consider this now, as I wait for my body to heal. My mother retreats to her books and soap operas each afternoon – we don’t talk, and she doesn’t ask questions, not even the ones I might like to answer. So I think about you, Benjamin. Correction. I think about us. The pair we have become. I dress, and then slip back under the covers to think about us, until it is late enough to take another blue pill. And then I dream us. Those last, suspended moments played out over and over. Until I wake up and begin again.