the problems of choice.

this is a piece i have been messing around with for about two years now. i found it in an old notebook at home and i’ve had a go at re-working it. it is partially inspired by american gods.

i’ve always been fascinated by existential philosophy; where the importance of choice is emphasised. you are your own moral person, capable of whatever you want. but at the end of the day, there still should be things stopping you from doing whatever you want. a world of ultimate freedom, while a nice ideal, would not be a nice world to live in.

—————

in his mind, the landscape was black and white, like a gritty old film noir. the air seemingly crackled like super 8 film, but he was sure that was just the blood and worry pounding through his head, rather than his grip on reality slipping. when the cigarette burns and the punched black of the soundtrack reel appeared in the frames of his vision he would commence his breakdown

even if the world was not in noir, the red on his hands stood out clearly enough. he should have worn gloves.

choice was sat at the table when he burst through the door, and was rather suprised when the bloody knife hit the kitchen table. scarlet stained the tablecloth and scabs of congealed blood scattered around the blade. never going to get this shit off the table choice thought to himself.

the man just stood there, staring at choice, then back to the blade, and finally back at choice, whose eyes were constantly changing. in the normal run of things, he chose to wear expensive sunglasses to cover this condition, but in the privacy of friends he tended not to. fickle man that he was.

“darling, what the hell is that?” knowing full well what it was, “would you like to explain to me why there is a bloody kitchen knife on my table?”

“YOU gave it to me, choice” He screamed back

“no dear, i gave you a kitchen knife. YOU are the one who has returned, with MY knife covered it in blood”

he was sobbing under his breathe. not wanting to show choice, but it was oh so clear.

“why did you make me do it?”

“make you do what? bloody up my kitchen knife? i didn’t make you do anything, i just illustrated to you your freedoms”

in our modern, godless world, choice has found that anything was possible. without God to look over us, guide our morals and such like, we were free to do anything. this left two types of people in the world; people like choice who believed the above, and people like the crying mess in the corner, who felt there were some things you just could not do. some people were capable of taking lives, some were not.

It was a quiet night in the bar. Earlier in the week a man had died and, while this had attracted some press attention immediately after, some people were superstitious and had taken their business elsewhere. Choice liked it here, old bar like this trumped the new neon and chrome of the modern day affairs in the center of town. They looked like the backgrounds of rubbish 1960s sci-fi shows.

He was nursing a beer, does not matter what label. Long day. Needed something to cool his aching brains, and this is how he was doing it. His eternal sunglasses either gave him a level of cool, or a level of pretension, depending who it was looking at him. In the corner booth, he noticed a well dressed man sitting on his own. Choice went over. There was something he wanted to try out. He sat down at the booth.

“So hi, I’m Choice” his hand was out stretched to the man in the booth. Already, Choice could tell he was a quiet and refined type. One to stay on the outside of a circle, not in the center. To his suprise, the man took his hand and shook it, but did not say anything. “Listen, this is not some crazy bar bet, or a line or something, but what does freedom mean to you?”

The man was clearly taken back by this. Not your usual crazy drunk he was quickly realising. “um…freedom? The power to choose to live how you want!”

“Excellent! But you’re just scratching the surface. See, this might come as a shock to you. God is dead. That’s even if He ever even existed, but this is good news!”

“God is dead? How is that good news?”

Choice had heard this before. Retorts from people, who did not even believe in God anymore, shocked that He does not exist.

“You are free to do anything-you-want. You could go over there and kiss that girl. You could go in the street and run around naked. You could kill a man if you wanted”

“No, I couldn’t kill a man..that is beyond me”

At this point, Choice pulled out a kitchen knife from his suit, laying it carefully on the table. “Is it?”

“Do you just…carry that around with you?” nervous at the blade that had just been placed on the table in front of him.

“Oh this? Only when I have a point to prove. But yes, you ARE capable of anything you want. What’s the point of that freedom if you do not exercise it? Another Singapore Sling please?” he indicates his empty glass to the bartender.

“So….you are saying you want me to go out and kill someone?”

“Sure. If you want. Consider it a bar bet. Here is my card” sliding a card across the table at him, taking off his shades and looking deep into the man’s eyes. Choice’s ever changing, hypnotic eyes did not phase the man nearly as much as the sharp blade between the two men at the table

“Anyone in particular? Not that it matters..I couldn’t bring myself to do it”. Choice looked into his eyes and saw that he genuinely believed this. That he could not just slide the blade into another man’s stomach and just twist the blade. Of course, he could. But he figured he would probably just break down and walk away. Simple.

“Nope. This is a test of your freedom. Go out, find a random person, and kill them. Pretty please. With sugar on top”

The man left, knife tucked away in his suit pocket. Choice sat down at the bar. The bartender knew him

“Up to your old tricks again, Choice? Why do you do these things? What if one of these days one of these guys actually kills someone?”

“You know as well as I do”, giving the bartender a knowing look, “that he is fully well capable of killing someone. He has the freedom to do so. But he won’t; his rationale and morality will kick in and stop him”

“Then is he truly free?”

“Sure…there is nothing stopping him from doing that. Of course he’d have to deal with the law afterwards…but he COULD kill a man tonight. Same as you, dear. What stopped you? Morality? Fear?”

“I get you. Just wish you’d illustrate that to your pawns”

Choice smiled to himself. He loved the chaos of it all.

now a man stood in his kitchen with a bloody knife, and he was not quite sure what to do.

“you actually KILLED a man!?”

“yes, like you said!” choice’s eyes boggled at this.

“i was trying to teach you the limits of your freedom! not actively force you to murder someone! if god is dead, then we are our own moral guardians. we make our own rules. we have our own morality. i was trying to show you your empowerment as a person; that you can choose to do what you want. you could have chosen not to kill that man! your choices define you, is that the man you WANT to be?”

choice was so busy rambling on about his philosophy that he didn’t take much notice of the man picking up the blade, and examining it. he was paralysed with fear. even though the man lept across the table at choice, the first stab into his chest was a real suprise to choice. the second was just a massive inconvenience.

“i guess that depends on the person, doesn’t it? maybe i want to be that person. you chose the wrong guy to bait with your little games, dear

in about ten minutes, choice as dead. his lungs had long filled with blood and he drowned there on his kitchen floor. the man was long gone.

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