Copyright © 2007 by Sherman Alexie
Heres the thing, she said. Youve never learned how to be a fully realized human being.
Jesus, what kind of overeducated bitch says that to a kid?
She made me sound like I was raised by wolves when, in fact, I havent been raised by anybody.
|I make it sound like Im just a television addict. But Im also addicted to books. And I know that there has never been a human being or a television show, no matter how great, that could measure up to a great book.|
|I think its strange how curse words frighten and disgust some people. Yes, there are people afraid of certain combinations of vowels and consonants. Isnt that hilarious? Dont those wimps realize that each and every word only has the power and meaning you assign to it? If I decided that plop was a dirty word, and started using it to curse people, and convinced enough people to use it as a curse word also, it would eventually become an obscenity.|
|Three||If I killed enough people for real, would it begin to feel like practice?|
|Four||Man, I had no idea I was this evil. And then it makes me wonder. Do evil people know theyre evil? Or do they just think theyre doing the right thing?|
I believe that what we did the other night was necessary, he says. Horrible and necessary. Do you understand that?
Art and Justice fight on opposite sides of the war but they sound exactly like each other. How can you tell the difference between the good guys and the bad guys when they say the same things?
Did I want revenge? Did I blame those strangers for my loneliness? Did they deserve to die because of my loneliness?
If I kill him, do I deserve to be killed by this white soldiers family and friends?
Is revenge a circle inside of a circle inside of a circle?
Its like little knives stabbing my knuckles.
Then I remember that God is really, really old. So maybe God has God arthritis. And maybe thats why the world sucks. Maybe Gods hands and fingers dont work as well as they used to.
Maybe God looks down on earth and sees the bad guys and tries to pick them up. Maybe he wants to squish them like bugs. But Gods arthritis is so bad he cant make his fingers work.
Why do people hurt each other like this?
I just know I never want to be as much in love with anybody as these women are in love with Jimmy. You cant trust people with your love. People will use your love. Theyll take advantage of you. Theyll lie to you. Theyll cheat you.
What kind of story do you want to hear?
Something personal, I say. Something you havent told anybody. Something secret.
I cant tell you secrets, he says. I dont even know you.
And then the guy realizes that he can tell me anything precisely because he doesnt know me. He realizes that any stranger can be your priest.
But I dont know what that lesson is. Its too complicated, too strange. Or maybe it really is simple. Maybe its so simple it makes me feel stupid to say it.
Maybe youre not supposed to kill. No matter who tells you to do it. No matter how good or bad the reason. Maybe youre supposed to believe that all life is sacred.
Im scared, too. I mean, I know the world is still a cold and cruel place.
I know that people will always go to war against each other.
I know that children will always be targets.
I know that people will always betray each other.
I know that I am a betrayer.
But Im beginning to think Ive been given a chance. Im beginning to think I might get unlonely.
text checked (see note) Mar 2008