“Maybe we can still try to get to know him a little,” Stacey offered. “Tom, do you still have Mr. Felder’s notebook?”
“What?!” Michael exclaimed in disbelief.
As Tom pulled out the notebook from his messenger bag, he proceeded to relay the events from the previous night. In doing so, he realized the reason for the police the night before may have been in response to Felder’s accident; suspicions Michael had confirmed.
“Should we read his notebook?” Michael suggested, hoping the others would agree. “I would like to know more about this no-account. I think he at least deserves the dignity of his thoughts being heard.”
“I don’t know,” Stacey worried, second-guessing herself.
As Tom turned the notebook face-up, he noticed something that he hadn’t before. Written in black magic marker on the front cover were the words: “TO BE READ ONLY IN THE EVENT OF MY DEATH. (This is not a will or legal document, only a cry to be heard.)”
Deciding this was encouragement enough, the only three people in the world who took notice of Felder’s absence sat down at a table, drank cold coffee and began to read. As they did, they wondered how the thoughts of one so quiet would affect them. A few entries from Felder’s journal concludes our story:
(Narrator’s note: Jonathan Felder never used dates for his entries, just entry numbers. He thought that most days were so dissatisfying and alike, there was no reason to provide the specific date.)
Surely the rain would come tonight. I knew my thoughts would not be lonely for long. But why is my voice still unheard? Why I am yet unsure that tomorrow will live up to its alleged grand reputation? Is it only the fear of rain that bothers me?
It’s true- I am a no-account. Marianne made sure that of everything I would remember about her, that I would ever be reminded of this in the mirror. My best efforts- wasted and unwanted, thrown away as if they were just the adverse. And I am left holding the vows freely given and freely taken away.
“Marianne Felder.” That name never did make much sense to her. It did once to me. But it doesn’t any longer. The tears are already ending, though not overtaken by any hope. I am not naïve enough to believe in second chances. I have surrendered any penchant for devotion to anyone. I could not survive such ridicule again. So she found her prince; I know I will never have a kingdom. I am humble, save in my disappointments.
These streets are so forbidding when the weather is not agreeable. But A.T.’s is a place worthy of traversing to, no matter the rain. I find clarity of thought here and little to disturb me. The food and coffee are excellent and the service always speaks well of its owner.
These days are beginning to run together. And I am running short of breath. I will survive these contemplations, but will they survive me? I cannot be contented, yet my choices have not prohibited my misery. I am too poor- not to subscribe to a worthwhile ideology- but to live it. It is expensive to travel from loneliness to love to heartbreak and back again. And I cannot be a martyr for my own cause. My greed would prevent it, even if I have never been in love with my own name. The hour is growing later than these reflections. The people at work surely don’t care for them or if my sleep has become an enemy, either in presence or absence.
Ah! The thunder never sleeps when I want it to. But sooner or later its troubles cease for a season, I fear mine are just beginning. Well, at least the rain won’t be lonely. Even for all the good it can do, the weight of the rain haunts me. I guess I will end these present thoughts with the proverb my grandfather imparted unto me. How aptly it fits my current situation: “Unrequited love is as wasted rain to hungry souls.”
I feel so sorry for those who have no one to pity them. Surely, I’ll find pity somewhere, even if only in my mirror. How greatly my sorry state and even sorrier feelings haunt me daily. And I realize again how I am so weak when I am so unwanted. I have no one with which to share these confessions, no one to admire or appreciate my honesty. Honesty is so important, even to the point of degradation beyond appeal; even if no one else wants it. What am I to do? Pretend as if my faults don’t exist, as if I am guilty of nothing? Should I exalt whatever reason I can find to be proud of myself and ashamed of everyone else? I have no strength or desire to hide my weaknesses any longer, even though my ex-wife ignored them. But she didn’t ignore them as if she loved me in spite of myself- she ignored the good and the bad, the strengths I thought I had and the weaknesses I so desperately despised. Even without her help, my failings overtook me and I arrived at a place I never thought I’d be, a place where nothing was attractive about me. I looked inside and out, examined every area of life and saw nothing but my regrets ever increasing and the consequential tides of my choices never ceasing in trying to drown me. My refrain in these times of frustration became: “Maybe one day I will wash ashore.” Said even as I tried so hard to improve my efforts to swim. And yet, I found myself drowning still, coming up for just enough air for one more day’s breathing, even when I didn’t want to.
It is the times I scream in silence that I must force myself to remember to breathe. It is the days without words that hurt more than any insults from ex-wives or co-workers. It is the nights consumed by empty arms, and an even more empty heart, that haunt me more than a thousand bad memories.
Why do I find myself so thirsty so much lately? It’s as if I can’t hydrate myself enough, yet I haven’t changed my habits. Coffee is still enjoyable, but it seems nothing is really able to satisfy me anymore. Did anything ever…?
Thirty-five years of life, of love come and gone, of unappreciated contemplations, of an unending desire for more than what I can offer…Three decades of longing for more than the mirror’s reflections, for more than what my arms can hold….And I am left with no strength to change my countenance, no permanent meaning of hope to satiate my soul…I have offered no response to anything beyond my sight, despite all of these realizations…In spite of all of my efforts, I am still underweight…Maybe I should make peace with the rain after all.