In Defiance of the Gods

In Defiance of the Gods
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Do it then, you fuck. Fuck you, you think as you lean into the wind and throttle down hard, gunning the bike just feet from the glistening blue Maserati’s rear bumper. You are on the Merritt Parkway in Fairfield County, Connecticut playing 100mph chicken with who you imagine is some trust-fund brat and his platinum blonde female companion who cut you off coming off an onramp about twenty miles back. You caught him on one of the corners and flipped him off, and he swerved and slammed his brakes on in front of you and took off again. But instead of letting it go, you passed him on the right with a high-revving scream of the engine and pulled a quick no-brake downshift, engine braking rapidly and slowing down the bike with no warning.

In your rearview mirror, you watched as their laughter turned to horror and the woman began shouting and slapping at the guy to slow down. No pussy for you tonight, motherfucker. And you waggled a gloved middle finger in the air daring him to come back and go again. He doesn’t though. He’s had enough. He gets off at the next exit to take his pissed off girlfriend or wife or other man’s wife home and nurse his wounds. Or so you imagine.

You are a little disappointed by this. You would have kept playing. You would have rammed that laughter right back down his fucking throat and watched as it got tangled in his silver spoon and choked him to death on the vomit he spewed all over his soft custom Italian leather interior and her $900 Louboutins. Or waited until you both pulled to the side of the road, and he took a swing at you, and you beat his ass in front of his lady. And then she’d step over him lying there knocked out in his Brooks Brothers tweed jacket in one long legged stilettoed stride and jump on the back of the motorcycle and take off with you, manicured fingers entwined in your beltloops like in some trashy novel. Ha, silly harlot. You amuse yourself with this for a few more miles. Fucking bourgeois Greenwich-ass motherfuckers. You listen to the comforting, throaty roar of your parallel-twin in your ears and feel the warm afternoon sun on your face and the wind whipping at your hair, and you give not one absolute fuck.

There is a hubris to you now. An arrogance and superiority of which you have not felt before. The arrogance of the surviving warrior perhaps. The arrogance of having cheated death maybe. An arrogance in which you will come to believe that you are entitled to that of which you know you will not ever return or repay.

You will take risks you would have never taken before. You will push the limits now. You will not care about the consequences. You will take, and you will take. You will bend until things break. You will test until things fail. You will push until things cease to push back. You will not understand why you do this. You will not even consider it then. And you will lash out at those things, and punish severely when very little or no punishment is due.

You will act as if you are immortal. Or immune. Or exempt. Exempt from the norms and standards and rules by which civilized society exists. There will be a new selfishness to you. A new greed. You will be Icarus wanting more and more altitude and daring the sun to melt your wings. You will be David taking Bathsheba from Uriah, sending him to his death. You will be Odysseus wandering, drunk and stupid and risking his life and the lives of his men. You will lack in purpose. You will lack in conscience.

Hubris will be the fuck you to the boyfriend of the grad student you will fuck in your Jeep in the parking garage of CCSU and on her mom’s couch and in hotels and on your own couch while your wife is at church after he calls to woefully ask you not to. Hubris will be the bottles of Grey Goose and Kettle One that you drink and fall asleep with on your kitchen floor with the dog and in your driveway in your car and curl up with an army-issued poncho liner on your back porch when you can’t make it up the stairs or find your way back inside the house.

Hubris will be the morning-after pill that you drive a friend from high school to the pharmacy to buy after having unprotected sex with her at a Christmas party when she was in town for the holidays. Hubris will be the bullet that you accidentally fire into your floor, narrowly missing your foot as you drunkenly unload your Walther PPK one late night, and the racked slide slips out of your grip. Hubris will put that same pistol in your mouth and dare you to end it one day when you are alone and sad and listening to depressing music on repeat. Hubris will make out with nineteen-year-old waitresses from T.G.I. Friday’s in the parking lot of a 24-hour diner and forget to tell them that you’re married, and that you can’t take them home with you.

Hubris will be the voice in your head a year later that says go ahead and pull that trigger, you little shit when a fourteen-year-old kid with a battered AK-47 is pointing it at your chest because you don’t care and because you wonder what it would feel like. Except you will not see a teenage African kid staring back at you, you will see yourself – angry and defiant and full of hate and envy and false bravado. Hubris will look at the tip of an RPG-7 being aimed at your face and not feel anything except fuck you. Hubris will feel anger when you should feel fear. Hubris will feel vengeance when you should feel guilt. Hubris will feel shame instead of sorrow. Hubris will drive you to the end of your physical and mental limits when you should feel need. Hubris will make you feel hatred when you should feel compassion.

Hubris will push away the loves of your life. The kind, and the giving, the beautiful, and the forgiving, the patient, and the sweet. Instead, hubris will attract the vindictive, and the self-serving, the spiteful, and the self-consumed, the poisonous, and the disloyal. Hubris will find the psychotic and tyrannical. Hubris will betray. Hubris will seduce. Hubris will confuse and frustrate and paralyze the heart and soul until you no longer know yourself. Hubris will mistrust and second-guess. Hubris will be destructive and respond bitingly and with sarcasm and cruelty when you should respond with sympathy.

Hubris will be the inferiority complex that drives you to multiple future graduate degrees that you probably don’t need or even want so you can pretend to walk on the other side of the tracks. Hubris will be the six Manhattans and wine that you will slam at a public outing and dinner a decade later in New York City because of your anxiety and your inferiority complex and the lifelong chip on your shoulder, and because you are a semi-functional alcoholic who finds more comfort in the sweet taste of bourbon than anything else in any social situation.

Hubris will refuse defeat with an iron will and an iron fist and instead of asking for help push you to run farther and faster and longer than you ever have before. Hubris will drive you to the brink of your capacity time and again and for no good reason and teach you nothing good because you will learn nothing good. Hubris will only teach you to mask your pain and your exhaustion and your hurt and your sorrow and to put up impenetrable walls around your emotions and to cut off anything and anyone who has ever wounded or slighted you.

Hubris will find you on the other end of the globe, six thousand miles from the place of your birth and your home and your family and your friends, because you have grown to hate yourself and your life, and you are desperately seeking redemption, and you don’t know where else to find it. Hubris will find you plummeting thousands of feet through the air on a rocky KLM flight over Addis Ababa during a thunderstorm as you siphon Heinekens with UN peacekeepers and are mesmerized by the blue lightning striking the wings of the plane while other passengers scream in terror and luggage falls from the overhead bins.

Hubris will decide that fate is the ultimate decision-maker and in regards to one’s mortality, fate has already decided where and when and how your life will end. Hubris will not fear death any longer. Hubris will develop a “c’est la vie” type of philosophy for everything. Or “Insha’Allah:” God wills it. Or: “It is what it is.” Or: “Fuck it.” Hubris will lean into the wind on the curves and not think about the sand or the salt or morning dew still on the roads. Hubris will lean toward the muzzle of the rifle and not think about the 7.62mm piece of steel and lead at the end of the chamber. Hubris will look on stupidly as IVs are inserted into your veins and morphine and antibiotics are injected into them at various times throughout your life and will wonder what the fucking point of it is it anyway.

Do it then, you fuck. Fuck you, Fate, you will find yourself saying. Pull the motherfucking plug. Even though you know you don’t mean it. Even though you know you really don’t want to die at all, and you do feel fear about it, and you really do not want to tempt fate or the gods or God or whatever higher power is in control of the lifespan of mortal souls. And you will feel remorse and regret for ever tempting fate and the gods and God and Mother Earth and everything across the Rainbow Bridge and the pot of gold at the end of it and everything else and everyone you can think of and apologize to.

You will be sorry for disappointing those powers that be and will recount every time you ever have disappointed them when you are staring up at a hospital ceiling one day for days and nights and hours on end. You will vow never to disappoint them or tempt them ever again, just as you have so many other times after you have thought it was the end and a machine gun or rifle or proverbial guillotine or tractor-trailer has gone off over your head or swung across your neck or swerved across your lane, and you’ve promised to live a good life and do good things and help the poor and defend the weak and those in need of your help – if only, if only you could have another chance at it.

Patrick Mondaca

About Patrick Mondaca

Patrick Mondaca holds a Master of Science in Global Affairs from New York University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He won the Waterston Desert Writing Prize in 2018, and his writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Globe and Mail, USA Today, and U.S. News & World Report. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey.

Patrick Mondaca holds a Master of Science in Global Affairs from New York University and an MFA in Creative Writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. He won the Waterston Desert Writing Prize in 2018, and his writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The Globe and Mail, USA Today, and U.S. News & World Report. He lives in Montclair, New Jersey.

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