Do you see that man right there? Wandering the streets, hunched over and crumpled? That is me. Burdened by the weight of failure. It wasn’t always like this, I wasn’t always like this.
It all started in a nice town in New Jersey; nothing more than that, nothing less, just nice. All the streets had there own little names as every town does. All the brownstones lined the streets in neat rows. In the brownstone, right at the corner of Peach Tree Road, is where I was born.
I was no ordinary baby, my pop used to say, because I didn't cry when I was born, not one bit. Instead I laughed and played with my pop's fingers. I think that is how they came to the name Jazmen, a man full of jazz.
I had skin dark as the night, yet eyes the color of ocean. My hair sprouted from my head like bushels from some exotic plant. My momma had the same crazy hair, and my pop the same sea blue eyes. I had the largest smile anyone had every seen. normal; font-style: italic; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; “>Just looking at your smile normal; font-style: italic; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; “>makes me want to laugh, my pop used to say. Hilarious, filled with joy, just fun to be around, just me.
My life was about as happy as anyone could have wished, just full of jazz. That was how it was until I was a senior in high school. It was the day that the doctor predicted that my sister was to be born, and she was, just on time. My momma rushed to the hospital while I waited at home eager to see the cheerful baby, that we were to name Rose. I paced the room waiting and waiting. Hours went by and still nothing, and then I heard a knock on the door.
Faster than anyone could say Mississippi I was at the door, only to find a stranger in a black suit standing there. His top hat carelessly tipped to the side, it's shadow covering his eyes. He had a long white beard down to his neck and there were laugh lines around his chapped lips.
“I am afraid you are at the wrong house,” I said, for from what I could see of him I did not recognize the man the slightest.
“I'm afraid not,” he said in a low rumbling voice. There was a hint of regret in his voice, as if… he was regretting being here. “You are the son of Benjamin and Lily Wolf, are you not?” As he said this I nodded my head.
“I have very important news to tell you son.” He paused, waiting for a response. When there was none he continued, “both your parents have died in a car accident earlier today.”
I was shocked, as anyone would be with this heartbreaking news. Then second guessing this strange man’s authority I asked, “Who are you?” not caring about my manners at this point.
“I am the man that was behind your father when he was hit. I called the ambulance immediately after the accident …but it was too late. ” As he said this he cast his eyes down and stared at his shoes, as if there was some undiscovered mystery hidden in the leather.
“The police got the man that hit your father’s car.” If this was an attempt to cheer me up, it didn’t work. The man turned his back and started to leave. He was half way down the block when I yelled,
“What about Rose?”
He was too far away to hear me and all the energy I had was drained from me. I just couldn't run after him, and perhaps that was the biggest mistake of my life. I shut the door plopped in a chair and just stared into space.
I couldn't bear with the reality. I sat and thought about what happened over and over again. Just sat and thought.
Many years have gone by. Maybe 10, maybe 20, I have lost track. I live off of the money on my parents' will which is slowly running out.
On one of these monotonus days I was sitting in my pop's old armchair when I heard a knock on the door. I didn't even budge just stared straight forward. The knocking was getting louder by the second. All I was thinking was: normal; font-style: italic; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; “>not again, I will not let some selfish fool rip my heart out again, not again. Butnormal; font-style: italic; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; “> eventually I couldn't stand it.
I slowly crept to the door, and opened it, only to find an innocent little girl standing there. Her clothes torn and ripped. Her face muddy and dirty, and there were big bags under her big eyes.
“Do you have a few pennies to spare? Some extra food? Anything?” she asked in a small voice. I would have closed the door, but suddenly I saw beyond the rags and dirt and I saw big dark blue eyes, deep as the ocean itself, and her skin, dark as night.
“I barely have enough for myself, none the less for you,” I said. As much as I tried to keep the pity out of my voice I couldn't. Instead I gave in to my pity and continued, “but don't give up.”
She turned to leave, her shabby rags flailing behind her. I closed my eyes to get her out of my mind, but when I closed my eyes all I saw was her dark face and those sublime blue eyes staring back at me. I couldn't let this happen again.
I ran to her, grabbed at what was left of her clothes, whipped her around until she was staring straight at me.
“What is your name girl?”
“My name Sr? My name is Rose, Rose Wolf”.
I couldn’t believe my eyes. Could it be? It had to be! But no, this isn’t possible. Rose died many years ago! But did she?
“umm, Rose…” I stuttered. “I have something to tell you. I …er …I … am your brother.”
She stared straight at me, not moving a muscle, and then she ran. Ran until her small figure was nothing but a dot in the distance.
I darted home. Felt hot tears sting my face. Tripping over the steps to the front door and finally feeling the relief of my arm chair beneath me. “That was it?” I muttered, “Is this my only life? No matter how I try I can’t break out of my misery? There cannot be hope?” I felt like a vacuum had just sucked the life out of me. To tell the truth, I felt dead. It was then that I heard the knock on the door, and all I was thinking is I would never, for my life, open that door.
Suddenly something slipped under my feet. I looked down to find a crumpled piece of paper. Someone probably slipped it under the door, someone like Rose. There was no chance I was picking up that paper.
I sat for hours thinking about the many things it could say. I couldn’t bare it any longer. I started to pick the paper up when a red object caught my eye. I picked it up and saw that it was a figure of Spiderman on a necklace. It had one broken foot in front of the other, as if Spiderman was a taking a step, but in vain because he had no leg. I threw it around my neck and moved on to the letter. In barely legible writing it read: normal; font-style: italic; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; “>You told me not to give up, but you gave up on me. Why?
I’m telling you many years have gone by. There I am again my back is hunched over from the weight of failure. As you can tell the money from the will has run out. I have no goal, I just wander. I have lost track of my age. Maybe I am 35, but from what I can there is grey hair sprouting from my head, a mass of hair growing from my chin, and deep lines etched into my face. People back away from me when they see me, and my haggard appearance. Everyday, everywhere, I think: normal; font-style: italic; font-variant: normal; text-decoration: none; vertical-align: baseline; white-space: pre-wrap; “>I had a chance. I still have my necklace of Spiderman hanging limply around my neck. It has lost its color from years of use. I have nothing, am nothing, I begin to question was I ever something? I tare away from my reflection in the store front window, and continue on my endless search for nothing.