Life has happened. It passed you by with barely a goodbye. A “so long,” and a “see you later,” is all that's left; so much more you could have done with your life. We all have our bucket lists that we wanted to complete in life. Some do more than others, some never even get started. Welcome to Life as it Happened a fictional retelling of those real bucket list items we all hope to complete before our last candle is snuffed. All are welcome to join in and contribute the stories of how they think their experiences would go. I'm your host, Marc Sakol, and I'm here to say “Hello” before Father Time says, “Goodbye.”

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Spinach Rag

By “Absolute” Marc Sakol

Item #27: surprise people by being fluent in an unexpected language.

Date Completed: January 2, 2018

I was traveling abroad for my birthday, but that's a story for another day. What's important here is that I was in Amsterdam for a short amount of time during the trip. While there I met a few really interesting people. I spoke the language well enough, so we managed to chat in their native tongue, Finnish. They were all quite amazed by my use of the language, it was more then they had seen from the few American's they had met. I was just glad to impress.

I had learned the language during my second run through college, I had gone back for a teaching degree in writing and to fill up some hours, I took a language that seemed different. My friends back in jolly old America always made fun of me for learning such a useless language. Well, look who's laughing now; it's those three guys and one increasingly attractive lady person who found the joke I just told them, in Finnish, hilarious. I'd repeat the joke, but honestly it doesn't translate well and you really had to be there.

Anyways, my trains coming into it's station and I'm off to my next destination on this trip. When it's over I'll tell you all about it.

Monday, August 9, 2010

6. Ask Someone Famous To Dinner

Chicago in winter at night is strange and hostile; after the plows have made their way through, a barrier forms between the side streets and the sidewalks; the paved roads are covered in a thin sheen of melted snow that shimmers. There are still tons of cars, but the pedestrians are much fewer, and all of them bundled up head to toe, making their own way. Even the groups that gather to go from bar to bar or to head towards the Red Line into the loop are somewhat disjointed, their muffled voices tumbling edgelessly and without form from their scarves. It's not worth it to be outside in a big group in winter; mostly, you'll just get in everybody's way.

This is why I was alone when she came out of Bulgari's right as I passed by. I'm afraid I can't reveal her name because the paparazzi would have a field day, but suffice it to say she's been in more than her fair share of movies over the past four or five years. Tall and thin, thick black hair... there was no mistaking her for anything but a movie star.

Well, I guess you could confuse her for a generic supermodel, but if you didn't know her profession already then you'd be culturally blind enough to not even realize that much. So... let's just say either you knew her as an actress, or you didn't know her for anything but a regular human being.

Sadly, I was, at the time, in the latter camp, and so instead of asking for an autograph I intercepted her path back to the black Mercedes and said "Excuse me, miss... I realize how stupid it is for anyone to even deign ask someone who probably just spent fifty thou --"

"Just spit it out." When she spoke, I winced as though struck by her words. It had only been a few weeks since I'd lost my place on my friend's couch, but being homeless was... well, you know how some things slowly take over, replacing you bit by bit until you come out the other side as another human being? Being homeless was the opposite; every single desire and fear was upended and replaced immediately. The rewiring had already been complete by the time I had found my way into the Loop that winter night, and all I cared about was a drink and a warm place to stay. Panic had rooted deep in my nervous system, and I was spouting terrified flowers for a buck.

So I spat it out. "I just want enough for a hotel room."

She laughed. "You've got to be kidding. You're in the loop."

"Enough for a hotel room and CTA Fare up into.... shit, what's the cheapest neighborhood? Back when I had a job I never had to worry about this crap."

A heavy gust of wind blew a scattershot of snow down the sidewalk, and she stumbled towards me for a step. When I stepped back in fright, she laughed once more. How weird she seemed to me then, in her rich coat standing outside her beautiful vehicle, the driver waiting impatiently as errant snow crept up the obsidian panels. In her bag was a single object worth more money than I had made in years, not since the Designer Bust. I remember being so obstinate about the homeless, how rigid my jaw would be and how quick my pace would be and how narrow my eyes would be. Why would she care?

Maybe it was pity; maybe it was fear that the paparazzi would print "XXXXXXXX XXXXX TREATS HOMELESS POORLY" in the morning tabloids. Either way, she hadn't walked away. And I was going to press my advantage.

"Look," I said, "it'll probably be easier if you get Jeeves to drive me to some place. I promise I don't smell, I haven't been homeless more than a week and even then, it's more of a, uh, temporary thing. sort of trying panhandling as a job." I smiled, glad that I still had all my teeth. I figured, since I was homeless now, I probably only had a few more weeks left before they all started rotting out. "So far? Beats web design by a mile."

There was one beat, one moment, where I was sure she was just going to walk away, finding the whole thing amusing but not worth her time. I knew it was audacious as hell to ask for the ninety bucks that it would cost for some shitty motel instead of chump change to drown myself in ten buck chuck. I keep telling myself that I was being an idiot, but I guess it's already past, hasn't it? And for once in my life, luck was shining on me. She opened the door, gesturing with one hand for me to enter.

"I hope you're not lying about smelling," she said, and I laughed and entered the car. She came in afterwards, and closed the door.

There is always a moment when you meet a person when you're unsure which topic is okay to broach, what will be enjoyed, and what will send the night into fiery flames. I knew that, if I spoke, I would end up looking like a fool and she would kick me out right away. The bright lights of the storefronts and signs danced past us on the tinted windshield, bringing her face into view and then out of it. It was then that I finally realized who it was I was sitting with.

Keep calm, Zach, I thought to myself. If you act like some dumbass fanboy she'll throw you out onto the curb so fast even the guy in American History X will wince. Don't ask for her autograph. Don't ask which movie she liked being in most. She's a professional, it's just a job, just because you've seen her in like three of your favorite movies of the past half-decade doesn't mean you should ask "Hey, which movie did you like doing the most?"

"Excuse me?" She was huddled up against the opposite window; okay, maybe I did smell, just a little.

We were heading north; the area was still relatively nice, with fine two-story houses lining the side streets and businesses squashed nice and tight along the main thoroughfares. My friend's couch flew past and I watched it go in the window with sad eyes, but I remember thinking very distinctly, homeless people shouldn't plant stakes in the ground. Begging there instead of here is only different in terms of the clientele. Just like a business.

"Hey," she said again, nudging me gently with her long skinny fingers. "I didn't hear you. What did you ask?"

"Oh." Realization hit me. "Just... I remember seeing XXXXXXX again recently, and it seemed like you weren't having as much fun as in XXXXXX. Still, great roles, great job, just, uh, you know, I actually really like movies and, being so money-strapped recently, it uh took me a moment and to realize that uhm oh jeez hold on hold on." I took a deep breath. "Sorry. Sorry. I just hadn't realized you were XXXXXXXX XXXXX until like right now. You look gorgeous, by the way. FUCK."

The car stopped. My heart sunk into my gut and everything suddenly got very, very heavy. The winter coat was not helping in the heated car, and I began to sweat.

She smiled. "I know I do." And she did, and she knew she did. And all I could picture in my head was that image of the fat kid trying desperately to give Megan Fox a rose. Look at that poor sad nerd! He loves Transformers so much, he wants to bone Megan Fox's sexy body, but he is thinking to do it through romance. How sweet; how pathetic.

It was winter out, and as I wrapped my scarf on, the words came tumbling out all their own, "Hey, do you want to get a bite to eat? I can't treat you to anything but good stories, but that should be enough."

Crawling in my Skin

By “Absolute” Marc Sakol

Item #29: Overcome an Addiction

Date Completed: September 2011

I've never been one to admit to my addictive personality, because frankly I don't think I have one. I can quit anything I want, anytime I want; just ask my last five girlfriends. My friends happen to think otherwise. They ambushed me back in August with what they called an intervention. I called it entrapment. They lured me over to a bar claiming that it was our good friends bachelor party. When I got there they locked the doors and ambushed me. They whined and bitched that my addiction was tearing all my friendships apart and that I was killing my family. I told them I didn't have a problem, it was them who couldn't understand my needs. That's when they brought out the hard balls. A slide show of my destruction. There it was, the evidence staring me right in the face. I broke down and began apologizing. Never did I realize my so called hobby of collecting snow-globes could hurt so many people.

We started the rehab slowly, I wasn't allowed to buy any more then I already had. If I did, I had to willing throw one away. It was excruciatingly painful, so many wonderful pieces were passed up in order to preserve my collection. So many times I though, “well, they'll never notice one more,” but I held strong. I had to admit that I had no power over my addiction. Those damn propagandists in the snow-globe industry had me hooked on their cutesy little designs and tiny flakes of white.

I held strong thanks to my friends and family.

Last week, I managed to throw away my last snow-globe. It was a long journey. I wasn't so willing at first. I started by agreeing to remove them from my home but keep the objects of my affection in a designated place, a small warehouse outside of town. I found out after the fact that my friends were slowly emptying the boxes and smashing the globes out back by the dumpsters. It sounded really awesome. It took almost an hour for me to let go of the snow-globe, but I did it.

I'm proud to say that I've been snow-globe free for the past 2 months, though I still have to attend SGA; snow-globers anonymous.

Thanks to everyone that sent their support. I appreciated it and I want you all to know that you are all invited to my house to come see my new decorative tea-cup collection. It's totally choice.

Saturday, August 7, 2010


By “Absolute” Marc Sakol

Item #11: Blow up a Tank

date completed: February 12, 2022

Shit. That was friggen awesome. Listen, I can't even begin to describe what this feels like right now.

Seriously. I'm on my way to the hospital right now [Note: this is being dictated -Zach “Dictation bitch” Lome {note in note: Marc added the “Dictation bitch”-Zach}] I just... I just blew up a tank!

Today started pretty normal. (Zach and I) are currently are on an undisclosed location, we aren't allowed to say where. I buddy of mine gave us a call up and told us about what was up. Some rich friend of his got a hold of some decommissioned army surplus, no questions asked. So of course we jumped on it.

There it was, the mother-load. We climbed around and played with the controls for a bit. We had a few war games, using water hoses of course.

As the night went on, our host for the evening brought out the big guns. A couple of scary looking RPG's. There weren't enough for all of us so we drew straws. Zach here was being a puss, so he stood out. The winners would each get one shot at the tank with his/her RPG. I got lucky number 4. The first guy totally choked and missed. The second and third guys got good shots at the treads, but no real damage. I was up. I made the totally awesome [note: incredibly stupid] decision to aim my RPG into the tank's cannon turret. It obviously required me to get a little close to the target, but damn what a result. My ears are still ringing from the blast. Which probably sucks for Mr. I told you so over there, as I'm probably yelling this at him right now. Anyways, the ambulance guy here is yelling something at me, so I think I have to cut this short. I just wanted to let you all know that I managed to finish item 11 on my list!

[note: Marc's going to be out of commission for awhile, he's got a couple broken bones but nothing too serious. He got lucky for being that close to the blast. I'll keep you all posted on the site about his recovery.- Zach]

Friday, August 6, 2010

Thanks That was Fun

By "Absolute" Marc Sakol

Item #1: Make out with my High School crush in the back seat of my car.
Date completed: June 22, 2019

This one is a little more personal then my past entries. I'm always nervous when I talk of my past. People generally find it had to believe when I tell them that I didn't always used to be the hilarious, adorable little love muffin that I am today. Seriously, people I am a gigantic toy house full of fun now. Back then though, you would have to use a number of seriously less colorful euphemisms and adjectives to describe me.

In High School, I was a ghost, literally (not literally). I went in Freshman year with a quick, quiet burst of wind and faded away with the current once Senior year was over. No girlfriends, only a few clubs, no sports, and almost no friends. Well I guess that last part isn't entirely true. There were groups of people I knew and sat with at lunch. Occasionally I talked with them in classes and in the halls. No one knew the real me though and I did my damnedest to make sure it stayed that way.

So, why do I find myself in my nicest suit

on my way to

my 15-year High School reunion.

I hated those people

they were vapid, vain and stupid,

caring only for their cliques and status.

Why do I feel the need to prove myself to them.


Well, I don't need to...

but maybe I want too. I did my best to hide myself in the shadows, but it isn't like any of them tried very hard to know me. Maybe I'd like to see what it's like to walk into a room and have someone say, “Hey, isn't that Marc from Biology? When did he get so cute/handsome/adorable/rich.”

I guess I didn't hate everyone, there were a few people who understood how exactly this brain of mine worked then. Ryan and Tim were always there to back me up and I could always count on Bob to be my wing-man when I got into a sticky situation. Maybe wing-man isn't the best term, I didn't have any real luck with the girls back then. Now-a-days it's like “flavor of the week” with me, but back then I was unlucky in love. The closest thing to a girlfriend was a girl who was my friend, Corrine. She was more tom boy then girl but she had a cute face, large breasts for her age and knew how to put me in my place. It was one of those “why then hell are you hanging around me,” relationships with her. I admit though-

Part of me hopes she's here tonight.

I reprise my role as teenage ghost when I get to the event. I hide in shadows and avoid people, glancing at name tags and trying to place faces with memories.

“Did you here she's pregnant?”what do you mean she died?”How have you been?”You married who?”

“Que Pasa!”OMG, you look great!”Have you seen Marc Sakol?”Hey girl hey!”working for NASA as an astronaut.”I'm moving to China next Thursday.”haven't seen you since Murtog's birthday.” hold on.

Where did that come from. You heard it too right? Who could possibly be looking for me.

I look across the room, 2 guys and a girl. One of the guys was Bob, I'd recognize that goofy smile anywhere. I'm guessing the other is Tim or Ryan. That girl though... I'd say something like she was a tall drink of water or some such thing, but I'm not that cliché. She was gorgeous though. Long brown hair to match her long tan legs, cute baby face, the whole package. For the life of me though, I can't place the name, I assume it's Corrine though. I'd recognize those breasts anywhere.

My name tag conveniently finds it's way onto my jacket as a sidle my way behind her. I scare her slightly as I suddenly appear from behind her with a quiet, “gentlemen.” We all explain pleasantries with each other. By that I mean, Bob jack's me in the stomach for not staying in touch and Ryan gives me his card with all his contact information on it. Corrine stayed quiet, which is odd seemed odd for her. I spent four years of my life trying to get her to shut up.

We talk and get to know each other all over again. They tell me of their jobs and lives and for the life of me I feigned interest as best I could. Corrine tells us about how she's between jobs now, having just quit from a law firm in Chicago. The night goes on, Bob and Ryan both eventually go, leaving me with Corrine. We make the obligatory awkward small talk befitting situations like this. My natural charm and sense of cockiness seem to have taken their mandatory five minute break. She makes some comment about needing air and asks if I want to join her outside.

Well, the natural playboy in me wants to take her out back and wreak that shit if you know what I mean, so of course I join her.

It's warm out and neither of us can think of anything to say.

“You wanna go make out in my car?” she asks

“yes” I reply.

What seems to be histories first recorded instance of superhuman speed, we made it into her car in a matter of seconds. Of course, Murphy's law kicked in moments after the heavy petting began.

We kissed.

It sucked.

We both pulled away and sat quietly. It was clear that we were both looking back at the past through rose-tinted glasses. I tell her the world has a funny way of making fools of us. She tells me that her feelings since High School have moved on. We talk for hours, reintroducing each other to ourselves. It feels natural, sitting here talking, like finding a long lost sister.

Ah Jesus... I just made out with my sister... sort of.

I guess the moral of the story here sweet children: Don't make out with your sister, seriously. It's gross and wrong. I'm marking this item as completed.

Then I'm going to forget it ever happened.

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Happy Birthday to Me

By "Absolute" Marc Sakol

Item #35: Live without Inhibitions

Date completed: Incomplete

I feel hesitant to talk about this, as I try to live each day to the fullest. After my accident a few years back, you know the one, I've made at least an attempt to spend each day as if it was my last. I say what I mean and mean what I say. I hold no objections to telling a kid to shut the hell up in front of his mother. When I'm at a party, I don't need alcohol to drop my pants and give everyone a good laugh. In my own little way, I already live my life without the restrictions that inhibitions force on the common folk.

To say that I truly live without any inhibition though wouldn't be correct. I understand the limits that society will allow, which lines can and can't be crossed. Last thing I need is the police showing up at my door. I question the plausibility of the idea. Can man live his life without any regret of consequence. Unfortunately, unless I don't mind losing my job, angering my friends and losing the love of my life, I don't think I'll ever find out. Perhaps later in life, I'll discover what it is to live. For now though, I feel I can only sigh and yield the floor to my good friend from the future.

* * * * * * * * * * * * *

Item #35: Live without Inhibitions for 24 hours

Date Completed: Now.

I finished it. My partner in this performance blog reminded me to write without inhibitions, so I did.

[note: I apologize to everyone reading. Marc is in fact living his life without consequence, as a result he seems to be taking every suggestion as literal. I didn't tell him to elaborate on his accomplishment, so he didn't. Unfortunately, I also didn't tell him to use proper spelling and grammar, as most of you saw in the post before I had the chance to edit it.

I guess since I have the floor, I'll elaborate his accomplishment. Today is January 2, 2016, Marc's 30th birthday. Apparently, to the surprise of everyone, Marc made the conscious decision to work on this section of his bucket list today. When we asked him 'why?' he replied with a rather simple, 'dunno, seemed like the fun thing to do.”

As of now, we've been kicked out of three separate buildings for Marc's... antics. At the mall, his girlfriend this week started throwing a fit when Marc decided to look at another woman. So, Marc dumped her, right there. One trip through security later, Marc and I were banned from the mall for the rest of the day. At lunch, Marc decided to tell a rude waitress, what was really on his mind. Marc is probably lucky that he isn't being slapped with a sexual harassment suit. I still can't believe he slapped her ass. The worst was at the Pet Store to get food for Boris, my dog. There was this one woman there, she was a little oddly shaped to say the least. Marc must have thought it was funny when he asked her if she had swallowed three dwarfs to get the shape she was. When we finally got her dog off of him, he was asked to leave.

We're back at the apartment now, Marc is off playing some games with the other guys. That's probably why I hear screaming coming from the other room. I better go stop him before he gets shanked or something.

Signing off,


Wednesday, August 4, 2010

7. Take a 300 mile hike.

The idea was inspired by a friend, who nobly -- although perhaps misguidedly -- made the decision to walk from his home in Champaign, Illinois to Chinatown; more precisely, to the Zodiac statue of the Rabbit. He was unable to do the full one-hundred-mile trip on foot. Pain, the most intense storm Illinois had seen that year, and poor preparation all conspired to do him in, and only fifty or so miles were done by foot alone.

But the idea of it -- of abandoning the world at large to truly experience it -- that stuck with me. And so, in late spring 2034, I took the first steps towards changing my life through suffering.

The preparation.

I read blogs, watched vlogs. This was not a new concept; human beings are one of the hardiest animals in nature, capable of maintaining reasonable speeds for miles and miles and miles. but I was not in shape, not by far, and age had been taking its toll on me. It's pretty rare for a thirty-year-old to submit himself to the hell of a multi-day trip, let alone someone pushing fifty.

It wasn't like my life was worth living in and of itself. Still stuck as a programmer, my first wife gone -- who gave a shit how I spent my vacation hours? So I started dropping hours in my work schedule; cancelled my therapist; and pushed myself. Whatever it was I did, it wouldn't be as hard as Israel, wouldn't be as hard as this trip. Thinking about it now, it's kind of sad how little preparation my military stint offered me. Firing a gun or piloting a drone wasn't the same as walking three hundred miles. Killing a guy didn't help me be friends with anyone. And I was sure I would need friends to make it.

Ten miles out.

I remember walking down Prospect Avenue, the sky a beautiful red as the sun had begun to rise, and my iPod randomly turning itself off.

"What the flying fuck? Piece of shit." I whacked it with the heel of my palm a few times, to no avail. So I kept walking, grumbling miserably to myself. I'd barely begun, and already things were turning sour. I actually almost said "At least things couldn't get worse," but cut myself off halfway through. Now, I wasn't -- I'm still not -- a superstitious guy, but even so.... there are just certain things you don't say.

Forty three miles out.

It was at about this point in time that I began to realize the real folly of my situation. It wasn't the walking itself, although I had already switched socks once on the trip and my feet were aching beyond anything imaginable. It was that I had to walk along highways, and statistically, the odds were pretty good that I would get hit by car well before I made my destination.

The drivers were rude, too. They liked to swerve close to me, one window down, while some snot-nosed little shit shouted obscenities. "Fuck you, old man!" "The road's for cars, dumbass!" Yes, thank you, kid-with-la-brea-piercing. I had no clue that a road was for cars.

The problem was exacerbated when, forty three miles out, I ran into two cars already pulled to the side of the road, blinkers on. There had been a fender bender, it seemed, and what looked to be an ex-military guy like me was chewing out the other person, still in his or her car, hidden in the driver's seat.

"Excuse me," I said, trying to pass around the pissed-off Marine. He spun around, spittle flying, and I realized he wasn't any ordinary soldier; he was a red pill reject. I realized that the only thing worse than directly antagonizing him is trying to avoid him, but I'm exhausted and frustrated from the trip so far. The light of cars zooming past us is blinding, and in the LED luminance his face was a whitewashed grimace, an ivory mask of frustration and impotent rage.

I don't remember what he said, but I remember very distinctly the confused look in his eyes when I jingle my dog tags. "Look," I said in my most calming voice, "just... jack the guy in the face once, he'll learn his mistake, he won't do it again. I'm walking to St. Louis. I'm fine." I almost told him it was a training exercise, but before I could speak I realized that meant he would probably follow me. Red pill guys are obsessive about training. So I just walked away and hoped to high hell that he didn't do anything.

He didn't; behind me, there was the sound of a window breaking.

One hundred and fifteen miles.

This was the... third day, I think. Yeah. Start of the third day. I was bleeding profusely from my feet and the skin on my shoulders had been rubbed raw from my pack digging into my neck. I left the hotel with all of my food in my room. My original plan had been to just keep walking and walking and walking and walking and live on my own, but this was just idealism, and I had no hurry. I doubted that my job would want me back when I finished, anyways. So I was going to take my time, stop pushing so hard, and just eat at a restaurant or diner whenever I was hungry.

This turns out to be pretty good for my sanity, if not the exercise itself. I'm stopping far more frequently, and at the first place I eat -- an Arby's -- I ordered way too much terrible food, forcing me to stop an hour later at a shady gas station. I'm nearing one of the more dangerous areas, but I'd made sure that my route didn't cross any of the official gang zones. Still, wandering around just to find food has left me lazy and uncomfortable, and I make almost no progress.

One hundred and seventy two miles.

Route 66 was more dangerous than I'd figured. I end up fighting with a thugger after he holds me up for my wallet. I don't think he would've normally been a problem, but the walk had taken its toll on me, and I nearly get stabbed before I have the good fortune of a passing car to throw the fucker into. The driver was apoplectic, naturally, but she saw the frustration in my eyes and after I explained the situation drove off. The thugger wasn't dead, but I wasn't about to kill anyone, not any time soon, so I left him and continued on.

Two hundred miles.

I celebrated the two hundredth mile with a nice cold beer and an extended break. Even though the sun was still out I checked into the motel early and just lay on the bed. I didn't think, I didn't eat, I didn't move. At some point I fell asleep; when I woke up, the first thought on my mind was "this is enough. This is more than enough." But then I thought about why I was doing this, about what it meant to do this, and so I got up. Only... my legs wouldn't respond. It wasn't that I couldn't feel them; the agony that shot through them was as real as ever. It was just that I couldn't wiggle my big toe, as they say.

There is no feeling worse than a loss of control.

Figuring that maybe I just had to jolt my body into action, I used my arms to swing myself off of the bed, feet planted on the ground. Big mistake. I stumbled and fell over, jamming my chin on the ground and dizzying myself. I began to panic. What if I would never regain the use of my legs again? What if this was something serious, like maybe I was having some kind of weird heart attack? Was I dying? Would I need to go to the hospital? And what about my hike? I only had one hundred miles left to go... I was past the point of no return. So, after thrashing about incompetently for a few minutes I started to crawl my way towards the bathroom. I... don't actually know why I did that. I guess it seemed appropriate? But either way, I found the sink and managed to pull myself up, dragging my legs behind me. I could feel my poor muscles throb with the effort, but the intense pain had begun to subside into a heavy, molasses-thick ache. But I could feel them again. Slowly, very slowly, I managed to stand up without using the bathroom as support.

"Hooray," I said to myself. "Only one hundred more miles to go."

Two hundred and nine miles.

Funny thing about Denny's: it really does make you want to give up at life!

The only thing that kept me going  was a phone call from my brother, who I hadn't seen since he'd moved to Canada. "I heard you were doing what Brian did," he said in his usual monotone.


"Keep going, bro."

"Thanks, man."

Two hundred and eighty two miles.

Another two days... I don't know what I was thinking when I'd originally planned the hike. It had already been something like two full weeks at this point, and my original plan was  to have finished in ten days. Clearly, I didn't know what the fuck I was talking about. Of course, my three day stint walking only fifteen or so miles a day and stopping for food at every place possible sure as shit didn't help, but the time was beginning to bear down on me with the force of inevitability. It was almost June.

With St. Louis in my sight, I had the misfortune of running into another ex-marine tweaker, a big Chinese dude who still had an accent, rare in these parts. As I walked past a dilapidated Rug Cleaning shop he jumped out from behind the wall, shouting. "Hey! Hey! Fucker! Shitfucker! get the fuck over here so I can jam this goddamn spoon into your fucking eye! C'mon, man! It'll help! I'll help!"

"Stand down, soldier. I don't have time for you."

The man grabbed my shoulder. "Hey, hey, you sure as shit do now, huh, don't you now?" The item being brandished was, in fact, a fork, not a spoon. I remember that being absolutely hilarious, so I pointed it out to him. "How are you supposed to jam a spoon in my eye when you haven't got any?"

"Huh? Fuck you!" He moved to punch; I tried to dodge, but the agony my body was in meant I just crumpled to the ground. Not the most effective defense, but... for whatever reason, the guy just walked away after that, muttering to himself.

Three hundred miles.

I'd made it. St. Louis University Hospital. The goal of my journey. I smiled at that; I had been clever enough to realize I was not going to come out of this unscathed. Even if I hadn't been in as much pain as I was at that time, it would've been a great irony and a good story to tell my kid. So, unable to lift my feet, I trudged into the front entrance before collapsing. Some nurses or whatever came by to see if I was alright; I was, of course. I just didn't want to stand any more. I could've probably done it with a bit more decorum but I didn't care. I was at the Hospital.

Before I knew it, I was asleep. Which was funny, because I remember being more hungry than I was tired. But hunger is something you have to seek, have to feed; sleep is capable of coming up from behind you and dragging you down into the depths before you even know it. Sleep is dangerous like that.

When I woke up, my ex-wife was sitting at my bed. Heart, meet throat.

"I heard you came for me."

"Not just you," I said. Why was I always such an idiot? She looked so sad there, so sick, with her pale skin and her knitted cap. Her hands shook; she had gripped the rail of my bed to stop, but it wouldn't stop. "Jenna too."

"She's at home right now. So... you came from your parents' place, right? Spencer told me about it. He called yesterday, said to..." she began to cough. I tried to reach up and comfort her, but as usual, my arms were a dead weight. The look in my eyes was clear enough, though, and she waved me away with one arm while coughing into the crook of the other. "He said to expect you. I said I had been, for years now. What have you been up to?"

"Slowly killing myself, it seems. One mile at a time."

Okay, so it sounded cleverer in my head. But I'd made it. I'd done it. My pilgrimage was over.

Zach Lome is a 25-year old programmer with big dreams. This was cross-posted to his blog, One More Level.