Note: This follows on from the first story – Fiction Page Here
After the Event
You know they say whenever someone close to them commits suicide? “I didn’t see it coming. They were always so happy. They just seemed normal, cheery even, this last week. I never expected it to happen…”
If you pay attention to the persons expression, voice, their eyes – while they utter these words you will notice something amiss. A reflective glance as if something came to mind mid sentence. A moment of hesitation before the last few words: “I never expected it to…. happen…” It is because this statement is reflexive, they wish that they never noticed anything wrong, but they did. They ignored it. Really, none of these people could ever fully mask that the individual was empty.
I watched Mannix make his way around the workshop, I noticed something odd, peculiar, about his actions. We completed our apprenticeship together, we started at the same time, we attended class together – I would never say we were friends, we just didn’t have much in common. You need not know more, this information will suffice, I knew him well enough…
“I wonder if he is still alive, I have not yet heard the paramedics arrive.” I ponder while I make a coffee, no one has come back up here yet, like hell I am going down there. The smell of death, blood and gore is strong enough in this room. There is an icy chill, a sensation is creeping all over my body. I don’t feel bad though, I am not bothered that he is gone, really, not much will change: “Why should I care?” Someone was walking towards the door, they heard me say that out loud, they stopped and went back the other way. Am I a bad person for feeling unconcerned? Maybe I am concerned: “Do I care?”
… About a fortnight ago something changed in his entire demeanor, but how do I put it into words, how do I convey what I witnessed? Have you ever noticed that some things are beyond a simple explanation, like when you are asked why you did something but you are unable to answer: “why did I do that?.. I… I don’t know…” There was obviously a reason for what I did, but my conscious self cannot respond, the answer must be there, I must have an answer why, but something is preventing me from knowing why.
It might sound crazy – “But what is crazy? Who is sane? What is sane?” – or maybe it isn’t crazy – “how am I to determine what is crazy and what is sane? How can anyone determine such a thing?” – it is as if Mannix was happy. Then again, now that I think of it, maybe he was. It didn’t seem like a show, it didn’t seem like he was putting it on. The display was entirely authentic. As I said before, you can tell when someones behavior is not true, there are signs, all that is required is actually paying attention to that person. Jean-Paul Sartre referred to this in-authenticity as Mauvaise foi.
“His movement is quick and forward, a little too precise, a little too rapid. He comes toward the patrons with a step a little too quick. He bends forward a little too eagerly; his voice, his eyes express an interest a little too solicitous for the order of the customer. Finally there he returns, trying to imitate in his walk the inflexible stiffness of some kind of automaton while carrying his tray with the recklessness of a tight-rope walker by putting it in a perpetually unstable, perpetually broken equilibrium which he perpetually reestablishes by a light movement of the arm and hand. All his behavior seems to us a game.”
There is nothing genuine in the actions of the waiter, it is evident that all that is directed outward is an act, everything brought inward is despair. In Mannix I sensed nothing false about his actions, this is what made me concerned.
But how do you say raise the issue to another person when your concern is that someone is happy?
Mannix used to be quite miserable, to put it bluntly. It was just who he was. His lunch breaks were spent writing depressing poetry – good poetry – just depressing. His talents were truly wasted here.
Neatly dressed, always on time, polite and caring yet miserable to be around. He could drag down a whole room into misery with nothing more than a sentence while his eyes scan across the room.
Then he was happy. He had not met another girl, he had not come into money. I tried to find out why, but he insisted it was nothing, he was just happy. This I refused to accept, people do not become happy out of nowhere. Happiness requires an event.
People have forgotten that between happiness and unhappiness lies content, you are satisfied. You are neither here nor there. As Heidegger has told us, you are always in some kind of mood. Content is a mood, it isn’t happiness or despair.
Happiness requires a reason, unhappiness requires a reason. These two mood require a cause behind them. Unhappiness can be a negative event or mental illness, happiness can be a positive event, or also a mental illness if you have a mood disorder.
I now know why Mannix was happy, he knew that this event was to come. He planned this all along. Mannix was happy because he knew that the ultimate end was to occur at his own hand.
Isn’t it odd that you can be so down you cannot go back up? You become Sisyphus, unable to push that boulder over the edge at the top of the hill… As Albert Camus said, ‘we must imagine him smiling‘.