Readers' Submissions

The Serpent And The Apple Part 2

  • Written by J J Flash
  • February 3rd, 2005
  • 4 min read


By Jumpin' Jack Flash


Everything can be assessed against a series of continuums, each extending from one extreme to an opposite extreme. Good/evil, day/night, alive/dead, lazy/dedicated, happy/sad, moral/amoral, honest/dishonest, eyes wide open/eyes wide shut…everything can be defined by where it sits somewhere between these sets of extremes. Everything is the same as everything else, nothing sits outside this word of opposites (…unless of course you are dedicated at being lazy and happy to be sad…mmmmm)

Life…just a shitload of bell curves…the masses, clinging to each other, sentiment and monotony, form the bump in the middle, climbing all over each other, they use their principles and fear as footholds, in their quest to stay away from the edges. And the rest? To varying degrees, they allow themselves to slide, to drip, and to seep, into the tapers on either side – expectations pricked, eyes wide open/eyes wide shut.

In the movie “Eyes Wide Shut”, Nicole Kidman tells Tom Cruise the truth. She says that one day in a hotel, the lift doors had opened and she saw a stranger. She said that instantly she wanted to fuck this stranger so much, she would have risked everything; her marriage, her happiness, her life, if only this stranger had just asked. Eyes wide shut.

Extrapolate. Thailand. Personal worlds disregarded. Histories, promises, expectations, lessons and consequences temporarily smothered by the sense of pure opportunity, the heat – the smell of the place. Visions of sweat beading on silken, firm, caramel skin, like waves, wash over the stale acceptance of yesterday and tomorrow, drowning the fake smiles and stilted mechanical laughs of worn-out, politically correct, endless, banter. Relaxed, smiling, slippery pleasure, metered out in thousand baht blocks. Dutiful western men relinquishing decades of honor and correctness, if but for only an instant, cascading into the void, into this world of joy, eyes wide shut.

Eyes wide open. Picture a 50 year old beer-bellied expat staggering around Thailand with his pants around his knees, dribbling down his unshaven, grey-stubbled chin as his watery eyes dart from side to side, feverishly scanning for his next sexual feed, for the next host of his venereal warts – lets call him Bob. Bob let go. At some point he just simply walked away from them; friends, family, his house, his car, his work. Now he just patiently waits for fate’s next whim, indulging himself at every opportunity. His courage is enviable. He has realized how little control he had in the first place, how tightly bound he was, and for that, the trade-offs just didn’t add up. His eyes are open.

Now, picture Mother Theresa (yes, before she was dead), stooped, scurrying about feeding and clothing starving, ill, homeless, hopeless people. They are the same – Bob and her. Identical. Both selfish, completely honest, guilt free hedonists. All Mother Theresa cared about was her own quest for happiness and fulfilment that she felt when helping others. She was totally dedicated to this cause – her focus; unwavering, absolute, totally obsessed to her own sense of happiness, as is Bob. The truth, everything honest, real and open for all to see. No deception no guilt. In this assessment Bob’s eyes are wide open, Mother Theresa’s eyes – also wide open, in fact, they are nestled snugly together in many of life’s tapers. They are both happy and dedicated in what they do, they are both honest in their approach, and they both avoid the “bump in the middle” like it was cancer of the throat.

Bob’s complete honesty must be respected. There are no contrivances, no masks, no guilt – he is the better man. He is honest to himself and to all who choose to judge him. He makes those above, those dutiful men who are so eager to stand proudly on the high moral ground, squirm. He is braver than them – they still care what other people think. They do not have his strength of character. They can only pretend to be honest to those that raised them, those that love them, those that judge them.

Quietly they open their eyes. Last day. Times up. Sadness weighs down. Fear building, they carefully sift the evidence of the their stay into the refuse in their room in the Nana hotel, cautiously packing their homely belongings into their homely suitcases. In the taxi on the way to the airport they pass Bob on the sidewalk sharing his yoghurt, M&Ms, and fruit-juice “… he looks so happy, relaxed, comfortable…she must be half his age! …”

Before the flight “back home”, over a quiet espresso in the Airport lounge, they quietly modify their minds, filling in the blanks, accounting for blocks of time, blocks of cash, making absolutely certain that there are no signs, no telltale unnatural refractions in their recalibrated history that could expose the truth; what world they allowed themselves to fall into while their wide eyes were squeezed, tightly, defiantly, shut!

The truth will set you free.

Stickman's thoughts:

The truth can also get you in hot water.