The Invincible Man

In the corner store, 3501, is where I found him this time.

Hunched over his desk in the same place I left him, cold, but responsive; it’s happened again. I dropped my bag at the front door and began to clean up the mess he had made, picking up the bottles strewn along the entryway as the clock chimed six; I always hated that noise.

It made me uncomfortable to see him like this, because this is not who I remember. He used to be formidable, standing outside of the fire department with his old uniform on, his hand on his helmet that day I came to take pictures. I would come by on Wednesdays and we would sit outside on a bench and he would tell me funny stories of cats in trees and buy me chocolate bars from the gas station.

He used to come to the store and pick me up from behind, swing me around on my heels and kiss me slowly, before The Thing happened.

via pinterest
via pinterest

Every time the fire alarm rang I used to get nervous, and he would kiss me on the forehead and tell me he was invincible. He called himself the invincible man, and for the longest time I believed him.

We were young then, and we had plans.

There was a map in the living room that was covered in bright push pins. Each and every place we wanted to go, stuck on the wall with yellow yarn connecting locations. A plan that had been forming for ten years or so. After The Thing happened, I used to sit and just look at it. I don’t know why I left it up there until now, perhaps I had hoped it would make things better, maybe I thought we could go back to those days, booking last minute flights and wandering off in the middle of nowhere and making love in the woods.

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The map sat on a large cork board, and every so often we would attach a ticket from somewhere we went, removing the push pin and repurposing it. It was an odd way to do things, given that most people would mark where they went, not where they wanted to go, but I liked all the colorful pins, I had found them at a flea market somewhere. It seems like a million years ago.

The Terrible Thing happened one night on the corner of Ridgely Street at around three in the morning. He couldn’t save her, but he didn’t believe that. He couldn’t save any of them, sometimes that’s how a fire works. He had his very first drink the next day, and now I am left with living ashes.

It wasn’t his fault, you have to understand.

He looks at me now the same way he always does, apologetic and sorry, and I know he is, and I hope he knows I am too.

I put my arms around him and stayed there for far longer than I should, there are places to go and things to see after all, and I knew he couldn’t come with me.

“There are two men waiting outside, and I want you to go with them.” I whispered this in his ear and stroked his hair, even though I knew he couldn’t hear me, and I cleaned off the places where my tears had touched his skin.

I want places to go, I want people to see.

I let go and began to pick up the bottles, waving through the window before grabbing the garbage bags. The two men came in and picked him up by each arm, gently placing him in the backseat. I wondered what would happen when he woke up, if he would know what I had done, if he would hate me.

Picking up my bag I followed the men out to the van, and placed a letter in his jacket that included my apology for when he remembers.

Walking on the sand.

It has been thirty days since I found him in the corner store, I know this because he called me, saying that one of the steps was to make amends, and that he never meant to let it get so bad. He said he got the postcards I sent him, and that he’s trying to make things right. I told him that I loved him, and that I’ve been to thirteen places we put on the map.

And every single time I get there, I take out this black box I stuffed away in my bag and remove one push pin and drive it deep into the ground.

And that I do for the invincible man.

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63 thoughts on “The Invincible Man

  1. “…..and when he checked, the clock was still ticking, a disturbing gong in the quietness of the room. He rose with unsteady gait, daring the clock to tick faster. He staggered to where he thought the urinary is, willing the full bladder to behave and not spill before he got there. Too late….he felt the warm liquid soak his boxers, then his jeans pants and the rest of his left leg, while he clutched the table, leaning his weight heavily on the only instrument that’ll prevent his fall as his blurring eyes surveyed the empty bottles and half empty glass of beer on the table.
    Closing his eyes, he tried to remember yesterday, when he was the centre of his group, the man with the swag and magic wand until his eyes fell on the crucifix and the tears started dropping. Heaven lost……!

    Several years later, sitting in church, he recalled his story to another young man who is travelling on a path he did years back and prayed that the young man will retrace his steps

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Very beautiful piece there Miri….felt trapped in its weave and have tried 3times to prophesy it’s ending. did he really mend and got back again his invincibility? Did he try to fight d depression and then relapsed back? Or simply resigned any determination to pull himself up by his strings.
    But most especially…..i admired the you in d story. your struggles, effort to rewind the clock and the final “seek a solution ” thanks

    Liked by 2 people

  3. This is a beautiful, sad story. I’ve had a lot of coursework on psychological trauma, and you capture some of the possible effects with remarkable accuracy. I also like the fact that you wrote it from the perspective of the non-traumatized partner in the relationship, because their struggles often go unreported.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Can’t add much to what’s been said in praise of your story. Quote from Hyperion: “For the others, they remain in the hearts they touched, forever young and strong.” To all you invincible men (and women!) the key to Hyperion’s claim is to be “invincible” not for the self, but in service to others. No need to be always successful, only to be compassionate. Compassion explains it all, as the woman in your story knows.

    Liked by 4 people

  5. Miri, I was one of those invincible men. I became a drunk when I couldn’t seem to control love anymore. Couldn’t make someone love me. Couldn’t make them stay. (That old “set them free and if they come back to you it was meant to be” crap wasn’t working for me.) I remember a dream I had years ago while in active addiction that still haunts me. In the dream, my sons were spending the weekend with me. I was passed out on the couch when a fire broke out. My boys escaped the flames, and they were standing on the sidewalk outside my apartment when my oldest son said, “I have to go back in and save daddy.” My youngest son replied, “Why.” I awoke from the dream unable to shake it from my mind. Tears were streaming down my face. It became obvious to me that my sons knew I was a drunk no matter how much I tried to hide it from them. What I find fascinating and tragic about the dream is that my youngest son hasn’t spoken to me in over two years. He remains angry and upset by my constant failure as a father. My oldest son calls me on a fairly regular basis. We spoke on the phone for nearly and hour earlier this week.

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      1. Yes, things are great now. After much prayer and contemplation, I have reached the decision to attend Bible college next year. I am interested in a 5-year BA MA program of study at Lancaster Bible College in Pennsylvania. My primary “ministry” will be working with young adults who are struggling with addiction.

        Liked by 3 people

    1. Forgive my intrusion. My heart is pounding, Partially from Miri’s story, some from renewed hope.

      One of my sons is an Invincible Man. Believing he doesn’t drink on duty or before shift he has it under control. Maybe he does. He holds up his FF/PM brothers, and yet doesn’t seem to see he needs to be held also, so his rage doesn’t escape to attack his wife and children. Married to a FF/PM, with this amazing woman they’ve been holding it all together. Maybe.

      Miri, your story is wonderfully written. Only because of my personal experience I suspected where it would go (entirely unpredictable though, I was surprised to have been off center). Very well done.

      I shall be praying fiercely for The Accidental Poet his sons and for Miri and her Invincible Man.

      Liked by 2 people

  6. Is this fiction or real… Either way, the writing grabbed me. I have to admit. I started reading casually as I began the routine, grind coffee, pressurise the espresso head, pour grinds into the handle…. Have a piece of toast whilst doing it, people trying to talk to me and then I waved my hand ushering them to silence. They knew I was now engrossed in something and so coffee waited as I abaited, the rest of these words walking on page gaited , and what I anticipated left me elated……. I loved it. Now please tell me, fiction or true? 👌👌👌👌👌

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Beautifully written. I like it when stories evoke just enough heartbrake before bringing the reader back around to the light at the end of the tunnel. I think we all can relate to either knowing someone who has been either physically or emotionally broken or being that broken person ourselves. Both the person who suffers as well as the loved ones who suffer as a result have an emotional and spiritual trial to go through. Sometimes they make it and sometimes they don’t. I’m glad the people in this story found the peace they each needed.

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  8. i think all men believe themselves to be invincible. i feel totally strong all the time. i never get frightened or anything. i don’t think any man does. other than normal.

    if something bad is gonna happen we just face it. thats why we get on motorcycle and die on battlefields from since the dawn of time. we know we r invincible. till the day we die we believe it. and when we die. we all kinda think. yeah! i just beat life! I Won! different goals , so different outcomes, i think this is true.

    i need feedback on my blog, thats why im reading others aswell, for resource, i hope u dont mind. thank u. :) oh i’m new

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      1. i’m not gonna send u personally anything. i’m the massive intellect here. u blog people must worship me as a Lord. And i will Lord over u all! thanks.

        that was a joke. yeah. i got a couple of poems im gonna drop u. :)

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      2. eh. like that post? i’ve been up for 2 days now blogging. but ive got 80 more mini-essays ready to go. this is just my warm up stuff. thank you x

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  9. Truly enjoyed reading this story. I’ve known many invincible men and women too. Age and circumstance erodes the armor of those that live to regret the loss of their invincibility. For the others, they remain in the hearts they touched, forever young and strong.

    Liked by 1 person

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