Chapter I: At My Age
“You know, people at my age often forget how their life ends up in a nursing home,” I scream as I climb down said nursing home’s gate. My voice, muffled by the beating rain of the coming storm, gets lost in the wind and the uselessness of the nursing home’s guards. “Or worse,” I don’t give up, “they are all dead. So what’s there to worry about?”
I make the final jump in front of the resounding round of applaud of the imagined elderly crowd and take a bow. “Buh-bye,” I wave at them and run away into the darkness of the (also) imagined stage. Behind me, the guards are screaming my name. Sorry sons, no encore this time around. With the small backpack on my shoulders, I leap through bushes and earth, and rock and wind and rain like the thief all my old friends dream of being. I’m stealing the crumbling remains of my withering life from the hands of – I don’t know – of some villainous guy who I never see eye to eye, Old Age. The gate opens. The flood of nursing-home-guard chases after me along with the infamous flood that occurs every damn rainy season in Saigon. Some guards speak to their walkie-talkie, demand for more guards and even the police to come over. But I don’t care.
The only thing I care about is to run. And run I do. Against the flood. Against the wind. Against the rain. Against the shaking legs and the crackling bones.
I run down the hill to the street. I chase after the invisible Freedom and try to catch that thief before he’s long gone. In my fervent pursuit, I jump into the signature green taxi and shout, “RUN!”. The driver startles from his sound sleep and looks at me befuddled. The guards are coming on to the car’s trunk like a wave. I shake the driver’s soul back into him, “RUN! GOD DAMMIT, RUN!”. He pushes the accelerator, and the car finally sprints forwards into the rain. I laugh like a mad man at the commotion behind me while the driver’s eyes tear a hole on my wrinkled face.
“You don’t look like the age for adventure, sir.” He says, not fully grasps the whole two-cent-drama-action-horror-adventure movie scene.
“Nah. You know what they call my age?” I ask, wiping rainwater from my face with a damp towel from the soaking backpack.
I grin at him, roll down the windows, and scream at the commotion of guard-wave behind me:
“It’s THE AGE OF NOT GIVING A FUCK! ADIEU!”
With my final laugh, the taxi merges onto a dimly lit street and disappears into the night. And that is how I miraculously escape Old Age. Hearing this story, the taxi driver says, “My Ancestor always says that there’s never a madness that’s the same as other madness.” And I tell him it’s true. “You must hear the story about the guy who is my roommate,” I say as I squeeze the rainwater from my shirt.
“He also escapes?”
“That’s the tricky part, son. He never escapes anything. Not Old Age. Not the nursing home. Not the solitude that is closing in on him like a vacuum bag. He never escapes, and guess what?”
“You tell me, sir.”
“He died. Last week. So you tell me what’s the moral of the story?”
“I don’t know, sir.”
“The moral is, we are all dying, son. But dying without at least trying to escape? Nah, not me. Not this glorious bastard.”
“May I ask how old you are, sir?” The driver looks at me through the rearview mirror.
I grin at him. “This is not very appropriate but,” I lean back on the taxi seat, “ I’m currently not-giving-a-fuck years old.”
He is silent. It seems he has to think hard about my age, about the two-cent-drama-action-horror-adventure movie scene, and about the dead old man who used to be my living roommate. Then, with a solemn gravity, he says:
“My Ancestry is right. There’s never a madness that’s the same as other madness.”