Shifting Perspectives


“It’s got to be black, and have a standard transmission.  If I am going to buy a new mustang, then I am going to do it right.” my neck was hot, and my pulse throbbed in my temple.  “I like to have control, besides it looks cool.”

The salesman didn’t linger, he walked over to a lot tech, “Go and grab that black ECO-Boost from the back lot, I think we found it a home.”

After a three hour volley of negotiations, I finally agreed on a price.  After you buy a car, if the salesman looks like he wants to punch you, and the manager won’t talk to you anymore, you did good.  I could think of a thousand ways to spend a few extra hundred bucks, or a few hundred ways to spend an extra thousand bucks.

“I am in complete control of my life,” I smiled as I rolled down the street in my new fastback.  It smelled like new fabric, and clean rubber.  The radio was loud, it was June, I wouldn’t make it to the end of the year without 2 speeding tickets.

My mind was taking in the moment all around me.  “Better call the wife,” I dialed the phone.  I knew I was going to be in trouble.  There is a reason car dealerships don’t want you to call home to your wife.  She will shut the whole thing down.

“Uh oh,” she said over the phone.  I could feel her emotion over the phone, it was calming and supportive.

“Yeah, when you get home, I wanted to warn you about what is in the driveway.”

“It’s ok, you have been working hard, going back to school, a career change, you’ve earned it.”

“Ok cool! Thank you, I love you” I hung up the phone, I was happy.  I got to stay married and I get to keep on living.  When husbands draw out the ‘I love you’ statement, almost contorting it into a plea of mercy, then you know that they are really feeling guilty, but are glad they are gonna get away with it, this time.

The ‘whisp’ and ‘whoosh’ of the instant turbo boost is intoxicating.  Sammy Hagar is singing about how driving 55 is something, he may not be able to do.

At an intersection, I see a man sitting on a red bucket turned upside down.  The look on his face, takes my breath away.  He looks beaten, hopeless, tired, and ashamed.  The sun is hot today, the car says 94 degrees.  My heart breaks, I have spent my entire day, devoting myself to buying a car I wanted, and didn’t really need. I found a $20 in my wallet. I seemed to snap out of my capitalistic coma,  as I took it out.  I was going to get a burrito and some six dollar coffee, but now I have lost my appetite.  Was this guy, true to his image, or a conman earning an easy buck?  The question didn’t matter anymore.  I considered for a moment that God put me here, in this moment, and all I have to do is acknowledge that I am grateful.  After I hand him the money, his situation is between him and God.  I look at the rainbow glisten in the strip they sew into the money.  I crease it and put it in my left hand, I drive up slowly and stick the money out the window.

“Hey man,  God has blessed me way too much today, I think it is your turn.”

He smiled,  a glimmer grabbed hold of his eye, “God bless you!”

I tried to drive away, but the car lurched and stalled.

Maybe somethings in life, just need to be Automatic.




I sat at my thick banquet table.  Cool night air danced in my hair.  I another great year, another great feast.  I ran my fingers over the cold speckled stone of the table.  The food was warm and rich.  I could tell my friends were impressed.  A large fire housed in ornate stone, warmed my guests.  There was laughter and the clanking of expensive silverware.  My dogs waited beneath the tables in perfect obedience.  I love the taste of meat, and so do they.  Even though they usually have to settle for cold scraps.  I savor the warm juice, and the way it melts in my mouth and makes my belly feel full.  I think I ate more than I should have, again.

Later that evening, I look down on my open court banquet hall.  Every night I see the same wounded beggar.  Something is wrong with him.  I don’t know what.  The servants are drunk again.  They don’t see him stealing food.  My dogs are licking the sores on his body.  There is no meat left, if there were, my dogs would kill him.  I’d enjoy seeing that.  But, all that is left is cold hard bread.  Sawdust really.  I make sure not to leave left overs.  My eyes catch the last glow from the dying fire.  The blackened wood has orange lights dancing on it.  He looks like a dying ghost crawling on my stonework.  Leaving rank blood in the wake of his crawl.  I wish he would go away and respect my privacy.

In the night, my body surrenders its last breath.  The morning finds me dead.  My spirit is flung off of the earth.  In a moment, I see it spinning away from me in vast cold space.  I think I am falling, but I am being pulled.  I am given no time to take in what I see.  I feel like I have fallen into my fire at home.  It is the size of an endless ocean.  I hit the surface hard, it is thick like molten rock.  Churning and boiling.  I am bounced and tossed.  On the horizon there is a distant light.  I scream in pain, as I swim though fire.  I arrive to a rocky face.  I look up into the sky.  In the clouds, I can see people at a banquet.  They are far away.  A vast darkness separates us.  A man, I have never seen before but somehow recognize is holding the beggar.  They have water.  I shout, and shout.  Somehow they hear me.  I ask, simply for a drop of water.  My mouth is so dry.  A burning, sticky, hot kind of dry.  I feel the heat of the fire.  Melted rock, falls from my lips.  Toxic gas vapors swirl out of my nose from the back of my throat.  Why don’t I ever burn up.  Doesn’t this nightmare end?  I am locked in a moment of pain.  I keep thinking my skin will melt off, but it never does.  I am trapped in the moment when fire first finds flesh, and bites.

The man lets the beggar go.  Somehow he can walk.  Somehow, in the night…  He must have died too.  He looks fit.  Younger.  Alive.  The man tells me I can’t go back to warn the living, I can’t leave.  I must stay, wrapped in eternities blanket of fire.  I am a orange ember trapped twisting in burning rock.  Pain, shouting, and flame are all I have left in  my new reality.  I burn in the privacy of death.

Copyright © 2017 Zachary W Gilbert