Chapter Two - An apologia. The reasons are totally irrelevant; let me tell you the reasons.
Having quelled the enormous tide of sorrow building in his chest, and empathetically dabbing at the wet splotches on the parchment with a rag torn from his shirt, hoping to erase the evidence of his momentary weakness from this last record, he sat up straighter, and clenched his teeth in grim determination. Thoughts of the boat being upturned in the next moment and this last ditch attempt at committing his life to paper being made moot caused a fiery, defiant anger to spread throughout his mind. He realised, to his vigorous revivification, that he had to increase his pace, lest all this be for naught; his words would be dissolved and expunged, and their noble purpose be annulled, by the great obliterating force that is the engulfing sea.
The very first thing you must understand is that the woman I appear to glorify in the puerile fashion of an adolescent doting on a classroom crush is entirely worthy of every manner of idolisation I can muster, and more. I have never encountered anyone even remotely like her before. She is spectacularly extraordinary in every sense of the word.
The very instance she entered my life, I experienced something truly wonderful. As if my mind had been clouded with a thick swirling mist of obfuscation and at first sight of her, her image blew through this wretched fog like a powerful gust and displaced it in its entirety. To relate this life-changing phenomenon to someone who has never been in love is practically impossible I’m afraid, but if you’ve felt what I felt, you will know precisely what I refer to.
She was a beacon of blindingly brilliant light. In her awesome glow, I saw clearly for the first time. I saw my life with eyes anew, and I now had my first truly honourable ambition in trying to make her mine forever more. Juxtaposed with this upright gallantry, I realised just how meaninglessly frivolous my life had been before. The brief meeting with her imbued me with such startling clarity, I almost didn’t know what to do with myself; I was paralysed by the salient transparency everything had now adopted. I saw the truth of the matter with unignorable acuity: mine was previously a severely depressing way of life indeed. In fact, I realised, to my aghast horror, that my life was really only rendered as a continuous stream by nature of its successional chain of interconnected disappointments and failures. In hindsight, the many missed opportunities which can be attributed to its short span weren’t so much missed as they were evaded or rejected. This epiphany gave me another gift too: I knew, with ashamed conviction, that my shortcomings were so often of my own manufacture, and to artificially limit oneself like this, for the purpose of a more comfortable existence, is a reprehensible deed to behold.
I assure you that I myself find excessive self-pity repugnantly undignified, though I regularly made its fetid bog my wallowing grounds once upon a time, and so you need not fear its embarrassing occurrence in this chronicle. You also need not worry that I might exaggerate or conceal what really happened. Let me tell you, when your fledgling grasp on mortal existence becomes so apparent that you can practically see the sands of times whiling away before your terrified gaze, the impression you present of yourself is no longer of any especial importance to you, only that you accurately portray your life and times, in vivid moral ugliness and all. What good is an epitaphic testimony composed of lies? No, if it deems me at all noteworthy and thus opts to gift me the honour of its remembrance, I would have history’s immortal record depict me as the man I genuinely was. I was flawed. I was foolish. I was brashly flesh and blood. So often, I was intent on living hedonistically, surviving at any cost, and accruing scars and regrets as if commemorations of emboldenment, and wearing cavalier irreverence as if a flagrant emblem signifying my character.
I owe any forthcoming annals, should I be deemed worthy of entry into them, a brazenly authentic account of my dealings, and though I intend to be as boldly candid as possible I do not relish retelling and detailing the many ugly things I have done. Respectively, in the eyes of the law, in the gaze of the heavens, and the collective opinion of society, I have repeatedly and unapologetically done things that are unlawful, sinful and immoral. Some of these misdeeds were at the imperative of survivalism, and I generally feel no remorse for those instances; though, in hindsight, and in the interest of full disclosure, many of the dangerous scenarios I found myself needing to escape from were, for all intents and purposes, voluntarily entered into, because the miscreancy and wrongdoing involved in such choices were performed of my own volition.
Although, and perhaps foolishly, my soul rests somewhat easier on consideration of the fact that I have never actually purposely or directly killed a man in the course of my nefarious affairs. However, I must admit that there were definitely points when I would have done so, had it been a requisite of my continued survival, or, during particularly dark periods in my travels, had great potential profit been even its sole incentive. That being said, I have injured, even maimed, a handful of other men, always in self-defense, though sometimes preemptively so. Yet, once again, the theatrics behind each such episode of necessary violence were generally produced or induced by either my haughtily swashbuckling ways or my arrogant disregard for caution when I found myself in dangerous places among equally dangerous people.
Also, I have stolen from a truly countless multitude of my fellow countrymen and peers, and practically every single time having done so without reluctance beforehand or guilt afterwards. You might think that this apathy was simply due to me systematically suppressing the inherent feelings of contrition and remorse, but the truth is that there was actually no such emotional response for me to have to do so. I considered such offenses to be trivial infringements upon the liberty of others and so spared the consequences or moral repercussions no thought. This selective sociopathy proved mightily convenient in my criminal endeavours.
Beyond these transgressions, I have also committed a great many other offenses against my fellow man: I’ve deceived them, cheated them, betrayed them, et cetera. Out of some misplaced sense of honour, where possible, I consciously attempted to limit the targets of my roguery to those engaging in it themselves. Whilst this uniformly elicited a satisfying feeling of twisted righteousness, this unorthodox form of ethical recompense or atonement was a rarely enjoyed gratification as the majority of those I disadvantaged with my misdeeds were common folk. I would add though, maybe due to unwarranted pride, that I have always strived to adhere to an unwritten, indeed nebulously defined, personal code of conduct, the boundaries of which are not so easy to definitively identify but they have at least prevented me from ever inflicting serious misfortune or hardship upon the old, the infirm, and of course, children. Yet, I think that if I am to eventually be judged by a higher power, these weak conscientious scruples shall not be weighed too heavily as a token of redemption.
Whatever rationalizations I offer will invariably, and probably rightfully, seem as though childish excuses meant to exculpate myself of blame but I assure you that they are nothing of the sort, for they are merely intended as an elucidation of my motivations. Let it be said that I fully embrace my rightful accountability for an immoral existence forged by malevolence and mischief.
Nevertheless, my justifications and admissions of blameworthiness are largely unimportant to the story itself, and shall be saved, I think, for a far more severe and prejudiced adjudicator than you my friend.