Okay. Jesus. So first off, Howard’s an old friend of mine from the paper.
I’m sorry for yanking you all around. First off, the truth is I haven’t worked at the paper in years. Kind of had a breakdown after Lachmann and we not-so-politely parted ways.
And I’m having a hard time now. After seeing what happened to Augie. I’m not for talking about my feelings all that much but I’ll tell you what I told Aether. I walked into a bar on the LES a few nights ago. Haven’t had a drink in over twenty years.
It was all just too much to handle. And I feel like I’m being called to do something now, but every time I get involved, every time I think I can help, something bad happens to somebody good.
I was barely hanging on that night. But I didn’t drink.
I pulled out my phone and for whatever reason I wrote Aether a letter. Didn’t know if he would see it, if he could (my phone is 175 years old.) I guess he did.
This is what I wrote him—
You there, Aether?
I think I have a piece of her in my head. Stuck in there, like Brandon and Augie and Lauren and you and all the other people I couldn’t help.
My wife. My son.
I’m gonna fail the mountaineers too. Like I’ve failed everyone who ever needed me. I’m cursed to be alone because when I reach out people get hurt. People disappear or they die.
I guess you know Portencia put a piece in me. She should’ve given it to someone else.
Watching Augie, being closer than ever to all of this, and seeing what came of it, of him, I don’t know if I can do this.
So tell me. What am I doing here, Aether? What do you see since you can see everything.
He’s a shrewd kid pulling that email up, even if he is a disembodied internet virus.
So, I had this phrase rolling around in my head for a couple weeks now but I honestly didn’t realize it was a part of all this. Or maybe I just didn’t want it to be.
But… “don’t fear them in the present”