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You reach a point in life, a singular, solitary dot in the space of a lifetime, when it dawns on you that the next day's sunrise someday will not come. That for you and he and she and everyone around you the end's arrival is imminent. But it is more than that. Even knowing that one day and night and dawn and dusk--soon--you will be nothing but some weed's nutrient, even armed with that knowledge, still when that singular moment in your life arrives, you also realize that you will never own a home, never own a new car, never bathe in the waters of true love, never establish a rewarding or lucrative career. Never, in a word, amount to anything more than what you are soon to become--dust. That the answer to the eternal question has a corollary. If God exists, he is an asshole.
For Munsrat, the moment had arrived. The obvious problem for him, as it would be for anybody, is what to do with such knowledge. One solution which would occur to anyone in this situation, is to embrace and hurtle headlong towards the coming doom. To feed that plant with human impatience. But Munsrat wasn't that type. If he was, the cold realization may never have occurred to him in the first place. He was, after all, a coward. Armed with courage enough to see the truth, he certainly was not sufficiently equipped to face its consequences. No, Munsrat needed another option. Something easier and more difficult all at once. Time consuming. Inexpensive. Intricate. Simple.
He absentmindedly threw his stained silk tie into the closet, missing the tie rack altogether, the narrow strip of material floating chaotically, harmlessly to rest on a pair of badly cordovan-polished wingtips with one lace slightly frayed near the tip. The same hand that so casually discarded the tie, maintained the same attitude in running through his thinning hair--the only part of his anatomy thinning.
He doffed his suit with the same air and walked through his tiny apartment's living room, bypassing (as he rarely did) the television set dominating the badly decorated scene, and proceeded straight for the even less-used kitchen. A puzzled look coated his pasty-skinned face as he opened the refrigerator door releasing a wave of cold air into the hot room.
Munsrat turned the problem over in his mind. His body, mirroring its upper appendage, turned also, catching briefly the sight of a year-old magazine on a dusty coffee table, some photos of long-gone family clutching the corner of a dark brown table, a half-dead plant sitting in an old pot in the darkest corner of the room.
Munsrat, empty, sat down on the couch and rubbed his chin looking for an answer. Feeling the rough stubble of a long day's hard growth, he decided to quit shaving. Munsrat stood up immediately and looked at the clock above the mantle. It had not run for years, timeless as Munsrat refused to wind it. He hated the constant ticking away of time late at night in his otherwise silent apartment. Munsrat strode towards the clock, confident, at least, in this decision, and began to wind the clock. As he cranked the mechanical timekeeper, his mood began to change, from despair to contemplative and while the beginnings of a thought did not germinate, the ground was laid fertile. For Munsrat, time began again.
He quickly laced his shoes, put on his best non-descript shirt, glanced in his wallet, and strode out of his apartment into the night.
He wandered the streets, thinking, and slowly the faintest glimmer of a long-dead idea emerged in his mind, like the outline of a corpse at a crime scene come to life. He needed paper, a large-sized sheet of it. Munsrat looked around at the closed shops and open restaurants, wondering where he could find such tools for the task. But immediately he knew the solution and he took the speedy delivery of the answer as a sign from providence that this beginning of an idea was good--and would grow and prosper and work. This thought formed more flesh around the idea as energy begat energy and Munsrat rushed into a 24-hour convenience store. He quickly found the rather meager office supplies section stuck in one corner of one shelf of one aisle of the strange-smelling store. On other nights, in other times, before his enlightenment, before the idea, previous his final purpose, Munsrat would have stopped and fixated on the smell. Wondered over its source and its location. Pondered why so many 24-hour establishments emanated stenches--late night decay he may have philosophized back then; smells are different in the late hours of the night than in the bright day. But this night he would not be distracted by the usual useless ramblings of his careworn mind. He headed straight for the shelf of office supplies and sought out his initial tools. He saw exactly what he needed, purchasing a 70-sheet non-ruled notepad, some scotch tape and a variety 12-pack of multicolored marking pens.
It was a short walk from the drug store to a drinking establishment, a corner bar, dark and quiet save for a few well-saturated experts, amplified by drink. It was a cliched place, but a crucial one for those who start at five and end after midnight, a place where one would expect bourbon or beer, or even the two in combination, to be commonly knocked back. Perhaps because of this, Munsrat defied expectations and ordered port and an appetizer. He did so confidently with none of the mushiness and projected fear of living he exhibited in all his previous years. And, even when he was told the kitchen was closed, he dismissed it lightly as if it was no matter to him, the food order merely a whim (as indeed it was) while he concentrated on more important matters. The port was dutifully delivered to this new master of his own destiny, who promptly set upon making it take its course.
A corner of the dark room provided him an office from which to work. An empty, corner booth was his cubicle. By now, his idea had erupted into full bloody, teary sweaty life. He took the notebook and carefully tore ten pages off. He placed them side by side, top to bottom to form one large sheet on the clean, clear table in front of him. Again carefully, Munsrat taped the sheets together. He pulled out his marking pens, and leaning forward in the booth, wrote in the left, top corner of the sheet. Three glasses of port later, he was midway down the sheet, moving diagonally towards the lower right corner, and before him appeared a strange flowchart with words and drawings blending into a coherent whole. During this planning of his life's work he heard neither the two other remaining customers slurring their steadfast positions to each other, nor the music grinding from the jukebox. Not even the bartender talking loudly into his portable phone to one of his two girlfriends penetrated the master architect in the corner booth. Just as the bar closed, he wrote meticulously, using the lime-green marker, two simple words: "Munsrat lives."