The context of your life has an enormous hand in how you live, the decisions you make. Sometimes, even an innocent choice takes you down a path so dark that, at the end thereof, you are stunned by what you’ve done.
Even the cold-blooded protagonist of The Magic Bullet, a man who has given some serious thought to the things he’s done and why he did them will admit to a suspicion that he possesses criminal predilections that spring from what he calls “intermittent sociopathy” when pressed to find a name for it. As he says….
“Every time I made a choice to do something most people would never consider because it’s a crime or unusually brutal, even cruel… it made the next such choice all that much easier, if not and inevitably necessary. Sure, I had values, still do, and I have the full array of human emotions at my disposal, emotions such as love and compassion, but… like the man said, shit happens… and the choices you might truly regret are sometimes made for you, such that one willful mistake will inevitably lead to one you might regret, but were forced to make in a spiral downward… or up, depending on your willingness to adapt to your circumstances. You have a choice. You either choose to embrace your conscience or you open up offshore accounts… some in Switzerland for security, some in Germany for stability and investment, and some in the Cayman Islands for the stuff you absolutely need to not be seen. I chose the latter path always. A conscience is bad for your health, but an offshore account is a friend who will not desert you.”
His name is Joe and the book is his confession, both the unburdening of a secret with historic implications and the unburdening of a conscience long restrained. If you were together in a bar and he was not there to kill you, he might explain it like this….
Say an animal runs across the highway right in front of you. Split seconds elapse during which brief time you must decide… hit the brakes or kill? There is that sickening thump, a slight tremor in the car’s suspension and the rear-view mirror is the place where regret begins. You could say there wasn’t time, but you know that’s a lie.
There’s an old Sinatra song that goes like this… “Regrets… I’ve had a few… but then again, too few to mention…” It’s called My Way. A lot of singers tried to take off with it, but Sinatra kills it. Not everybody knows that Paul Anka wrote the song. When I tell them, people are surprised, because Frank Sinatra owned the song just like I’ve owned the course of my life. Maybe other people laid things out for me along the way, but whatever I did, I owned it… same way Sinatra owned that song… still owns it.
Unlike Frank, though, and even though I did it all my way, I’m not so sure there’s any regrets involved. Which is to say, I don’t remember spending too much time thinking about all this and asking myself, “…was it right or wrong?”
Maybe I’m not altogether normal in terms of how I deal with things like guilt, but unlike your average sociopath, I have feelings. Are they sincere? Who can tell? They’re feelings not facts. Besides, life is really hard and some things play out in ways that are so damn tragic, they could pull tears from a stone. Given that level of tragedy, how would you recognize sincerity, or even define it?
The Magic Bullet is about an American epoch written in blood. Centered around one of the most profound events in Twentieth Century American history, it is also a study in the motivations of institutional violence and the hypocrisy that fuels the self-images of men who use the icons of patriotism to camouflage the brutality of their crimes.
Coming in February of 2021.
Watch this space.