My accident left me paralyzed from the neck down. I lied there in the gloom, the shades drawn, the television sputtering muted pastel images as I decided when to bite my tongue off; the feeding tubes pushing mush into my blood as people won money; the Kinkaid wallpaper signaling some ideal future I never wanted, and the days and nights running like my tears.
Things were no different the day I met the old man in black. He kept well covered and classy, like he was dressed for a funeral. I would've found his presence totally ironic, like some personification of death, some perfect end to a meaningless life, if his blue eyes hadn't been so strange. I was curious to know who he was, but his presence like that of any stranger, annoyed me.
He smiled at me as if I was his long lost son or brother, and this sense came over me that he might be some religious nutjub.
“What do you want?” I said.
“Nothing.” The man said, turning the television off. He sat down next to it with his legs crossed, in the corner of the room.
An awkward silence passed before I spoke again, “What is it exactly that you want?”
“Nothing.” The man said again, grinning capriciously as he went for the blinds.
“Keep those closed.”
He pulled his hand back and pocketed it, “I'm a therapist.”
“I don't need one. Who told you to come here?”
“What are you here to do?”
“Nothing, really.” The old man laughed.
“Get out you crazy old prick.”
“How are you feeling?”
“Like shit. How about you?” I said.
“I couldn't be more content. I have all I want in life.”
“Oh yeah? And what is that? Besides making a living bothering paralyzed people?”
“I exist.” The old man said.
“Sounds like a consolation prize.” I said.
“Do you know that you exist?”
“Yeah, but I might as well be nothing.. I might as well be dead.”
“Life and death are just concepts.”
The man was really starting to bother me with his abstract philosophy, “What the hell are you talking about?”
“You have negative ideas about being alive. When you believe in an idea it affects your entire nervous system. The belief in nothing is the feeling of nothing. The belief in paralysis is the feeling of paralysis. But that is not the sum-total of reality.“
“I believe that I can't move my fuckin' body because I can't move my fuckin' body. What more is there to reality?”
The man in black leaned in, his face shifting towards sincerity as he pointed at me with a relaxed hand, “You are paralyzed but not still. Words are the shadows of reality. Reality is light. Reality is here.”