Say the Word

by John F Musser, SSC | October 19, 2022

grim reaper

Now is the time for doing, not whimpering and whining.

If I would just let you explain? Sure, give it a shot. But don’t fool around, your feet are getting wet.

Don’t ask me where to begin. You are the one who wants to jabber. Start with your mom? Sure, after all, she is in the trunk.

You want to start further back? I got plenty of time…you, maybe not. The water is up to your knees.

Yeah, I remember what happened when you were 12. I was there. Let’s see if I get it right.

A guy followed you and your mom home from the ATM, pushed in the door and slammed it shut. Knocked her down, sat on her chest and started slamming her face with the sides of his fist. Your mom dug her fingers into his face, bit at his hands, arched her back and screamed. He just kept hitting her. His hands got sore so he started using his elbows.

So far so good?

Did you pick up a chair and smash his head in? Maybe grab a knife out of the kitchen and bury it in his neck? No, you just whimpered for her to stop fighting and told her she was making it worse.

You were afraid? Of course, you were afraid. Your mom was too. Terrified what he would do to you when he was done with her.

The pressure of your fear caused you to justify your behavior, to attack the easy target and somehow blame the victim.

Your mother’s terror and rage fueled her to fight. Pressure clarifies what a person is, always.

She was laying there while he caught his breath. Her lungs ripped, nose and cheeks shattered, one eye hanging out. She moved her head to the side and looked at you.

You remember that look, don’t you? Admitting to herself what you were hurt as much as his fists and elbows.

The roly-poly cop kicked the hinge side and the door straight up exploded into the room. He moved easy and casual-like for a guy everyone called Officer Tiny. He slid something out of a deep pocket on his trousers' right pants leg (those pockets aren’t there on the new issue uniforms). His hand came up behind his right ear and with no rush at all swung that leather wrapped goodness with nice hip rotation and good follow through. It made a very satisfying sound when it hit.

And just like that, the fella trying to beat your mother to death was no longer a problem. I don’t have the words to describe how happy I was to accept that one.

When they loaded your mom into the ambulance, everyone could see how hard she fought. The pressure of her glorious spirit made everyone work harder, smarter and maybe even pray. It made good people even better.

You hadn’t fought at all; you only managed to blame your mother and screech and cry.

The pressure of your failure as a man, the pressure of you failing as a son caused all the flaws to bust to the surface. A failed man/son, shamed by stronger and better people while his mom looked at him in disgust. What’s a sheltered, passive-aggressive, manipulative insecure little shit to do?

Recruit other weak and pathetic people to help you gang up on the strong.

She wouldn’t just quit, she made it worse. And did that cop have to hit him so hard?

Everyone looked at you the way your mom had. You didn’t do a great job reading the room, did you, little boy?

You learned at a young age to deny responsibility, hide, manipulate, and blame others. Or maybe you were simply born that way…inherited personality?

However, your mom, Officer Tiny, the rescue squad folks, and the other cops were strong capable people who do what they do – the type of people who have seen the clarity pressure brings.

You were the only weak person there, and your pathetic attempts to change the narrative from useless-pathetic-son-fails-to-protect-his-mom to nice-gentlemen-beaten-to-death-by-the-police didn’t fly.

This reminded you of the lesson you already knew: only hang out with people like yourself.

How many others you catch looking at you like that? What do they see? What do you see in the mirror? Not ready to say it? We still have a little time.

Look, the seat belt has you locked in this little electric thing, and the water is coming in quick. Get your pocket knife out, cut the belt, lean back, and kick that damn window until it breaks.

Don’t have a pocket knife?

More talk? Sure, it’s your dime.

Your daughter looked at you just like your mom did, remember? You were in the ER, one of those several times. Your wife has good insurance. Another anxiety episode of some sort, wasn’t it? You insisted your wife and the kid come with you. So, they could sit and stare at you while you felt sorry for yourself.

The little girl's head was cracked open and everyone could see what shouldn’t be seen. Her eyes were open and she was talking to her father as he carried her through the doors.

I was so close and tried to get her attention. She ignored me.

When solid gray hair eventually grows over that horrible wound, everyone will call her Streak. This was not the first time Streak ignored me, and I eventually got pretty damn used to it.

“It’s going to be okay, Daddy.”

Did you see? Her eyes swollen open, brains spilling out of her tiny little head. Telling her dad everything was going to be okay.

What made-up thing were you there for? You know what? Shut up. Nobody cares.

Streak had apparently jumped from a wall-mount TV, underestimated the spring from the couch, and it launched her into the book shelf.

Her fault, you told your daughter, she should have to wait her turn, you whined. That’s when your daughter looked at you for a long time – that look – and walked out.

The doctor who saw Streak was not suited to the task. He was not capable of the precise work she needed and the assisting nurse had drunk too much wine the night before. They desperately wanted to stabilize her and move this patient on. However, she wouldn’t survive the trip and suddenly a mediocre surgeon and a hungover 25-year-old nurse were responsible for this 9-year old’s life.

Streak told the nurse it would be fine, she trusted her and invited her to her birthday party in a week. She would have a good time, Streak promised. Her dad was great with the grill.

The doctor looked down and the pressure of Streak's belief caused him to steady. Streak’s bravery, her fearlessness, demanded the same from those around her. The pressure showed the doctor he was much more than he knew. Later, after the surgery, the doctor said he watched his hand stop shaking as Streak patted his cheek and told him not to worry.

Streak helps people see who they are. Not that it matters, but do you see yourself as a good person or the horrible terrified little cuck you are? Who the fuck have you ever inspired?

Your Mom recovered and became strong, and all who listened to her and read her books and watched her on TV were better because of it. When I came for her, she was surrounded by those she loved and who fiercely loved her back.

No, you weren’t there. Somebody did mail you a handful of her ashes, and you've never even taken them out of the car. The pressure of her success made you more of what you already were – ready to say it?

I was proud to walk with your mom, she touched my arm and smiled at me.

Tiny’s girlfriend was treating him like an amusement park ride when the widow maker hit. He was grateful she was on top, and hoped he would be able to hear all the jokes his buddies would make. Tiny walked in front of me, like he lived his life, curious and mostly amused.

You wish you could have brought him down a peg or two, don’t you?

Streak has a long life ahead of her. Sheer cliff faces, super bikes, falling from the sky. Wherever she goes I will always be just a step or two behind.

When I finally catch up, I bet she will turn, grab me by the throat, spit in my eye and walk her own path.

You resent Streak and those like her most of all. Strong and competent and brave – you don’t belong in their world. You are not like them. Everyone can see it, smell it...

Say the word – say what you are.

Listen, fight the seatbelt. Maybe bust something up in here to use to cut it. Kick the glass out, drag yourself out of this thing. Do something. The water is moving pretty quick, but I bet you can make it. Get out of here and live.

You're gonna wait for help? Yeah, I hear the sirens. They aren’t for you.

Your wife? She is going to be fine. As a matter of fact, tonight is “Yoga” – she is being treated particularly well right now. Without your poisonous influence, your kid may be alright, maybe not. Her choice.

No, you don’t get to go just yet. It’s called a “fishhook,” and you get the double-version. I’ll just crank your head back and whisper in your ear.

You have always been terrified of this and now it’s here. Say it, say what you are. This is my favorite part, just say it…


That’s right, such an honest little child. You should be deeply ashamed of who you are, but instead you delight in your fear. You resent those who live their lives. You hate the people who are fearless, or who do brave things in spite of being afraid.

Your death is a blessing to those around you. And you have chosen this path. Will it be over soon? You think? Maybe not.

You heard how a brave man dies only once? You know the rest of it, right?  

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