My brother is a philosopher. I know this because he’s told me, countless times. More than just a philosopher, even.
“Philoso-raptor,” he calls himself. “Swift of mind, rapaciously inquisitive.” On his twentieth birthday this year he alerted me to the fact that “at approximately two dumps a day, more than seven hundred a year, times twenty years, that puts me over the fourteen-thousand mark for squatting, most of it on the toilet. That, my man, is a lot of contemplation.”
That’s my brother.
He’s always telling me to be philosophical, to take things philosophically. I’ve never entirely wrapped my mind around what that means, but it seems right now is as good a time as there ever will be to figure that out.
There’s a moss-green river that cuts in half just in time to bypass the hospital on both sides. Sometimes it doesn’t appear green, but even at those times it smells green. Doesn’t matter, though. People are always on the banks, walking up and down, sitting in the park that belongs half to the hospital, half to the river. Because of the sound. It’s millions of splashy voices all going at once, and this river is never, ever silent.
I’m standing with my back to the voices and my front to the gleam of the new hospital wing rising up, eight stories of yellow brick and glass against the deep purple clouded sky. I think I’ve picked out the window on the second floor, in the room where my brother is not going to die. All the voices behind me say that Duane’s not going to die.
Is it being philosophical to believe the voices? I suppose it could be.
Is it being philosophical to be picking up golf-ball-size rocks and whipping them one after another at that window like a spoiled and angry and petulant kid?
Of course it isn’t. I’m sorry, Duane. I’m sorry, man. You’re not even gone and already I’m letting you down.