Castles Made of Sand

"The road to excess leads to the palace of wisdom...for we never know what is enough until we know what is more than enough." -William Blake

The man lived in an isolated beach house miles from any sign of reality. His disillusionment had become so severe that he was unaware how long he had been at the house or how he even got to be there. The nature of his madness was leading to his starvation. His insanity has caused his conciseness to be unhinged in time. His sub-conciseness desires to live in the blissful memories of his past had caused an all-out psychological breakdown. He was now living through his memories in random order. One moment he was experiencing memories of love and youth, then the next he was sitting alone in his ominous empty mansion. In the beginning, the hallucinations horrified him. The random nature of his time perception was frightening but in time he found bliss in the hallucinations, even with the emptiness that followed his recognitions of reality. When he left reality he was able to live on in his imagination as a young and happy man. He could relive the passionate nights he spent with the love of his life. His memories of triumph and happiness seemed as real as the moment they occurred. One moment he could relive the endless summers of his youth, then the next he could recall long lost nights that were the source of fantasy for the rest of his life. The bliss felt in his hallucinations was countered by the dreadful emptiness that always followed. Randomly during these memories he was burst back into reality and forced to encounter an abnormal loneliness. The speed his head burst from one memory to the next, then back to reality, was quickly becoming dreadful. The impermanence of his loved one's existence through this alternate reality was becoming more and more maddening each moment. Somewhere deep inside him he believed that the beauty of the past could cure the ills of time. His madness was both enlightening and crippling. His life had turned into constant cycle of bliss and depressive realization. His hallucination's offered no pity for his ambivalence. The speed he was moving in and out of reality slowly increased over the past many moments. He felt powerful memories overwhelming his imagination. At this moment he was not in the house, not on that beach, not in this world. He felt a world wind around himself, a tornado of joy, passion, fulfillment, love, past, present, and future. Then all at once time stopped and dimensions dropped as he felt the love of his life in front of him. There she stood shattering reality and recreating it to her intent. She looked into his eyes and powerfully asked "why?" His uncontrollable sub conciseness brought them the answers. They did not watch his memories in front of their eyes but felt there presence. They felt the emotions the memories caused and magnitude of their impact. She felt the optimism and the endless fantasy's he once had for his future. She sensed something in him that she had always tried to hold onto, she sensed a lost purity. Then she felt his isolation, emptiness, doubt, confusion, and ambivalence; all caused by uncontrollable forces. She felt his dying since of optimism.

The man's name was Anthony Hendricks. After running away to San Francisco with his friend Brian at nineteen, he soon found his way into a good excess of money in the cocaine trade. He spent a few hours a day studying writing at Berkley, then spent the remainder of his time living faster than most. He spent his nights in the city's best night clubs doing coke with the finest models and socialites in the city. For Anthony, the nature of excess seemed fulfilling. He had everything he thought he wanted. His life was moving faster than he could have ever imagined.

His classes at Berkley satisfied his need for intellectual stimulation and allowed him to maintain a since, that regardless of his choices in life, he was still an intelligent person. He studied writing specifically trying to find work as a journalist. He liked the adventure involved in chasing stories around the world, meeting shamans and taking hallucinogenic drugs, studying the methods of cannibalism still present in the modern world, or covering political campaigns supporting the underdog slash peoples champ. He figured one day he could quit smuggling and work as a journalist, then write some novels on the side. Anthony had a burning need to leave his mark on the world. For him writing served as a means of communication that speaking could not provide. In Anthony's case, he achieved success too quickly in all the wrong areas. Before he could truly liberate himself from his past, through the poverty imposed spiritual enlightenment that is early writer's lives, he became lost in his excess.

Throughout Anthony's childhood, he and his friend Brian encouraged each other's debouched dreams. They talked about running away to San Francisco and starting grow houses all over the city. They believed life was a gamble and drug running was their best game. In each other they found comfort from their lonely perspectives. After moving to San Francisco together, Anthony convinced Brian that selling weed was a waste of time and that the cocaine trade was the place to be. Anthony saw the cocaine trade as a high risk high reward scenario and that was exactly what he thought they wanted. Anthony never fully understood how fulfilling the simple life could be and in turn wanted all the crazy adventures smuggling offered. To him, the idea of laying everything on the line in hopes of the big pay-off, was more than worth it. Anthony and Brian felt ordinary 9 to 5 lives was a prison to begin with so they had nothing to lose. The risk in its self was quickly becoming their drug of choice. After getting into the cocaine trade as mid-level dealers to night clubs in the city they began chasing their blissful and distorted dreams. They were making 20 thousand a month in profits and spending every cent of it fulfilling their dark, debouched, youthful fantasies. They were making more money than they could have ever imagined and Anthony wanted more. He saw the potential for growth and couldn't stop himself. He convinced Brian that they needed to expand and start getting the product straight from the source. After Brian's agreement, they traveled to Columbia to meet a connection one of the night club owners gave them. They intended to pick up 15 kilos and smuggle it back to the United States in an old cargo plane that one of their investors supplied for them. They took off for Columbia knowing from that point on nothing would be the same. When they got to Columbia they had two nights to kill before the deal was scheduled to take place. Anthony suggested they make their way into town and try to get ahold of some drugs and alcohol. After getting an ounce of cocaine, 2 ounces of hydroponic pot, and 4 cases of expensive alcohol, they checked into their pent house hotel and phoned the call girls. Many lines, blunts, drinks and orgasms later they found sitting at a table together watching the sun come up. They sat there watching the sun rise, smoking blunts, and drinking scotch wondering what life had in store for them. They were both 20 years old, dazed and confused, telling their selves that this was the life they wanted to live. They had more than they could have ever expected and were on the verge of making millions. Brian seemed to understand the complexity of the situation were Anthony didn't. Brian worried they would soon be operating such a high pace it would be impossible to stay safe. Anthony on the other hand never even considered being safe. His attention was always on the rewards of his risks. The dynamic between their personalities' always benefited them in business. Where Brian always wanted to take the safe and paranoid route, Anthony wanted to take things to the limit and make as much as possible. The combination of their perspectives lead to the often near perfect balance of risk they chose to take.

Looking across the table at Anthony, Brian asked him "Do you think this is all a good idea?" and Anthony responded "What do you mean a good idea?" Brian explained his worries over the increase in the scale of their business saying "as these amazing highs enter our life, so will a new set of lows". Brian felt that the gambles they prided themselves on could not always work out to their advantage, that they would inevitably have to loose. Anthony came back at Brian arguing that this was something they already knew. That they chose this route knowing it could only end tragically. He told his friend that if this was a question he was asking himself he might be in the wrong line of business. Brian was seeing what it would take Anthony years to understand. He told Anthony "I'm with you no matter what. I just hope you truly understand what we are getting ourselves into". What would later be considered by Anthony to be the most impactful memory of his early adulthood was laughed off to the sound of music and arrival of a new group of call girls. Taking a line to the dome, Anthony looked over at Brian and said "let's go have some fun, tomorrow shit gets real". Those nights lived on forever in Anthony's head; they would turn out to be some of his most treasured memories. Anthony's inability to stop thinking about the things he wanted and recognize all the things he had would become his most tragic flaw.

Now two days into their drug binge they found the sun coming up yet again. They were extremely twisted on an abnormal combination of drugs and alcohol and found themselves in a very intense psychological state. They were running out of drugs and the call girls were now long gone. They had two hours before they had to meet their Columbian connection and were now making their way across the city doing key bumps of coke just to stay consciences. Upon their arrival at the Columbian connections house, Anthony dropped his nose into the bag of cocaine, inhaling as if it were oxygen, then looked up at smiling at Brain and said "you ready?" Brian just laughed at his insane friend and got out of the car. This would be their final moment of shared happiness.

Brian was immediately concerned about connection's house. To him it seemed pretty run down for a guy who could supply you with 15 keys of cocaine. The connection's name was Alberto. He claimed he was the main supplier of cocaine in the area and that he could do much bigger business if they wanted. He gave them a price for the cocaine they was too good to be true and before Brian could tell Anthony not to pull out the cash there was already a gun Anthony's face. Anthony told Alberto that as of now he was going to die no matter what. He said "you can kill me, but not with enough time to kill my friend also and I can promise you that whichever one of us you don't shoot first will not stop until your dead." Anthony told Alberto he could still leave alive if he left the money. Alberto, now enraged by Anthony's confidence, told him "how about I take my chances trying to kill both of you" and Brian responded "so be it". Pulling a gun from the back of his pants, Brian shot Alberto hitting him in the stomach and in response was shot in the head. Quickly Anthony tackled Alberto to the ground and wrestled the gun from him. Now standing over the wounded Alberto, Anthony looked at his dead friend and felt an emptiness and rage that he had never encountered before. He looked deeply into Alberto's eyes wanting to see the pain and sadness he felt over knowing he would soon die. Alberto tried to look away and pulling his head back in to eye contact Anthony told him "look at me motherfucker, I want the last thing you see to be me standing over your dead body", then yelled "you stupid fuck, I told you this would happen, you deserve everything that is about to happen", and right before he could pull the trigger another Columbian gangster named Ricardo pushed in the door and clueless to the situation at hand pulled a gun on Anthony. He told Anthony that Alberto owed his father money and that he could not kill him because if he did they didn't get their money and too Ricardo that was unacceptable. Recognizing the situation for what it was Anthony asked Ricardo how much Alberto owed them and he responded saying 100,000. Anthony, now in possession of a little over 3 million, told Ricardo he would gladly pay 200,000 as a token of his appreciation for letting him kill Alberto and go home alive. Ricardo then told Anthony "what if I said no?" and he responded "some things are more important than living", and shot Alberto in the head 4 times. Shocked that Ricardo didn't shoot him, Anthony looked up and tossed him 200,000 as a thank you for allowing him to walk out alive with all his money. Half way out the door Ricardo called Anthony asking him how much cocaine he intended to buy and Anthony responded "as much as California can snort". Ricardo looked at Anthony, impressed by his hubris and said "you're talking to the right guy; let me introduce you to my uncle". Now defeated beyond all belief, and feeling very few reasons to be a good person any more, Anthony aggressively jumped into business with the largest supplier of cocaine in Columbia at the time. He came to Columbia with everything he needed and left with nothing more than everything he thought he wanted. With Brains death, Anthony became everything dark that loomed inside himself. After the loss of the only friend he felt truly understood him, he entered a period of cold hearted living that would mark his early twenties. He tried to run from his demons, moving more and more cocaine and doing increasingly more drugs. At age 23 he was doing coke steady through the day and drinking constantly to balance out his high. The cocaine was just his drug of choice. He still took pretty much every other drug he could get his hands on. He was absolutely terrified by the thoughts in his head and knew his excesses would not fix anything. Unfortunately he felt nothing could fix the way he felt, that the world was inevitably meaningless, that to escape was the only option.

After barely graduating college Anthony began his first Novell. He set out to write about the nature of excess. He rented out the penthouse of one of the nicest hotels in San Francisco and began what would be his longest escape from reality so far. He bought a key of cocaine, 14 cases of expensive scotch, tequila, champagne, wine and whiskey, 5 pounds of the best hydroponic pot in California, 25 hits of blotter acid, DMT, 40 hits of high quality MDMA, and 12 pints of Promethazine-Codeine. Too top off the list he had a friend find him some opium in hopes of some Kubla Kahn like perspectives.

For the next two months Anthony locked himself in his pent house ivory tower. He had woman coming in and out constantly, vast amounts of kormaed food going to waste, and not one friend to share it with. He felt so alone up there hidden from the world. Shortly after beginning his jaded journey, and many white lines later, he began writing. Line by line the world got farther and farther away. As he kept writing he got the feeling he was confronting his demons for the first time rather than running away from them like he always had before. He wanted to tell the story of a rock star that used excesses as a means of gaining intelligence. His novel would talk about the consequences and rewards of a lifestyle of excess. He hoped it would answer some of his questions. He was completely confident he was unhappy with the way his life turned out but couldn't really see anything else better out there. He figured taking things to the limit with all the drugs, woman, and alcohol would allow him to understand the exact nature of his need to always confront the edge. He thought going too far might show him what enough really was.

He called his novel "White Room" after the Cream song by the same name. In the midst of a heavy acid trip he cranked out three chapters encoding his feelings about Brian's death into his main character's challenges with accepting the loss of his friend due to a drug overdose. Through the progression of his character Anthony was able to judge his own opinions with the same cynical attitude that he judged all other writing with and soon saw the gaps in his own philosophies. For the first time in his life, Anthony began to understand what Brian was trying to tell him many years ago on that lost Columbian night. He asked himself "is this really worth it?" He wondered if anything he had gained through his fortunes in the cocaine trade really made him happy. He noticed how much he was really risking and that the rewards were fast becoming unfulfilling.

With the recognition of his own disillusionment, Anthony now found himself completely lost. In response he started a five day journey within, only taking hallucinogenic drugs, and stopping his use of the rest of his vast stock pile of narcotics. Over the next five days Anthony switched between acid and DMT, increasing his doses daily to keep the trip going. In the midst of this spiritual quest Anthony came to understand how lonely he truly was. During his trips he recognized that all the delicacies he had were useless if not enjoyed with others. He felt his life would never be fulfilling if he was the only one reaping the rewards of his risks. During the peak of his five day trip Anthony recognized his insurmountable loneliness. He noticed how frightened he really was and that he had absolutely no one to turn to for comfort. He wanted a reason to live again and he felt having the right woman in his life was exactly what he needed. As a result of the acid, Anthony came to the conclusion that happiness can only be sustained with the help of loved ones, that it takes making others happy to be happy with one's self.

Coming off the hallucinogenic drugs, Anthony found himself diving back into the cocaine, MDMA, and other hard drugs. His new revelations scared him shitless and the thought that he was wrong his whole life, that he really was lonely and deep down yearning for a pure connection, made him want to escape even more than ever before. Over the next two weeks Anthony delved as far into his debouched fantasies as possible hoping he could find some solace from his newly understood emptiness. Many long, intense, drug fueled nights later Anthony was nearing the completion of his Novell. He had been in his pent house hotel room for a month now and had yet to make contact with the outside world (with the exception of the expensive call girls he constantly had coming in and out). He had run into a gap between his theories about reality and the actual experiences that make up life. He couldn't figure out how to end his Novell because of his lack experience with love. Anthony wanted to offer love as a pure escape in his main character's life but felt he might be lying to say so. He was still not entirely sold on the idea and refused to write anything he didn't believe to be real or true.

After a week of ramped drug use and no creativity, Anthony dipped into the ominous opium he had saved. After ingesting the opium, Anthony felt an abnormally strong high overwhelming his body. The opium put Anthony into a hypnotic state. He had never done anything like it before. Opium gave Anthony the escape he so heavily desired and then some. Thirty minutes into the high he felt detached from every stressed thought in his head. He felt an intense ecstasy oddly accompanied by an abnormally high level of comfort. The opium was so strong that he was seeing dark and mysterious visions all around him.

By definition, this drug was everything Anthony thought he was looking for, the ultimate escape. Opium put Anthony's head in all the weirdest corners of his brain. He felt as if he was in a dream within a dream. In the midst of his euphoric high, things took a turn and he began seeing visions of his dead friend Brain, with a bullet hole in his forehead, standing in front of him repeatedly saying "as these amazing highs enter our life, so will a new set of lows." Blood ran down his face onto his clothes and his eyes were black. Anthony was terrified by the sight. He thought he was going crazy and that he would never recover from letting his best friend get killed.

After coming down from the opium Anthony sat alone smoking some weed contemplating the meaning of his hallucinations. He couldn't figure out why he saw what he did or what it was supposed to mean but he knew drugs could no longer offer him solace from the demons inside his head, he needed something else. He had to change something because everything felt wrong. Now fully understanding his loneliness, drugs no longer distracted him the way they did before. He finally understood that he couldn't run from his thoughts forever and that he direly needed to get back out into the real world. He got the feeling the world might have something to offer him and if it didn't, well fuck it then, he had nothing to lose.

Many revelations later Anthony finished his Novell portraying excess as a destructive force that inevitably leads to wisdom, good and bad. He ended the story offering his unique definition of love as the only solace from the absurd emptiness of life. He finished his Novell believing he wrote the truest story he could. The end of his first Novell was much like a rebirth for him. He left his lonely pent house feeling ready to take on the world with his new found philosophies. His departure from the hotel marked the letting go of his old unfounded selfish beliefs and the beginning of his search for something pure in the world, something to make his life worth living.

Anthony's life would soon never be the same. In the near future, a woman named Jane Mitchell would turn his world upside down. Jane was a painter living in San Francisco going to art school. She hoped to design expensive clothes and wanted to travel all around the world looking for inspiration for her designs. She was very independent and unpractical. She had lived all over the United States and was born in Canada. She grew up poor and didn't take things for granted. When she was twenty she quit college to teach English in Europe in hopes of finding herself and came back to America three years later with a completely different liberated perspective. She believed she didn't need anybody to be happy. She felt she needed to maintain her independence at all costs. She read many books as a teenager about the lost generation, Edie Sedgwick, Andy Warhol, and Jean Michel Basquiat, and as a result developed grand fantasies of decadence. After a few years of living in San Francisco she began feeling that her dreams couldn't come true. That there was no practical way for her to live that well that young. She was doing well in art school but was having trouble breaking threw as a clothing designer and her paintings were sold very moderately. She knew she was doing what she wanted with her life but didn't feel like she was getting enough out of it. She couldn't let go of the crazy fantasies she had when she was younger. She had sporadic relationships with different men over the years but none gave her the excitement she craved. To her, no man could make her happy, that was until she met Anthony.

Five or six months later, Anthony fatefully found himself sitting alone in a bar overlooking the bay. Anthony watched the ships coming in and out and quietly drank a glass of scotch. It was now eleven p.m. and the bar had a mystifying combination of lights, music, and smoke filling the air. Green, blue, and red lights shined all around the room penetrating the gloomy smoke cloud filling the bar. It was a weekday and the bar was relatively quiet. As if it were meant to be Nirvana's "Come as You Are" was consuming the bar and matched up perfectly with the dark setting giving the moment a touch of the surreal. Anthony looked around glancing at the other people in the bar and found himself completely awestruck by the woman he saw sitting across from him. The moment Anthony saw Jane he felt his stomach drop and reality spinning in around him. She had straight black hair with mysterious green eyes, giving her an unknown mystique. She was five feet seven and very slim, almost frail. Anthony noticed two tattoos, one on her wrist and the other on her shoulder. He enjoyed wondering what other tattoos he might find. At first sight Anthony fell in love with her vulnerable beauty. He was nearly too awe struck by the power of the moment to get of his ass and go talk to what he believed might me the woman of his dreams. Snapping back to reality he got up and walked slowly across the bar. Looking at her tattoo he recognized it was a lizard symbolizing Jim Morrison. After ending up on her side of the bar Anthony asked what her favorite Doors song was and she responded "My Wild Love". Anthony, now thoroughly impressed, introduced himself and asked if he could sit down. She agreed and they began what could only end in tragedy. Throughout their conversations in the bar they both had a since that they had found one in the same with each other. It was almost as if they had already been waiting for each other all their lives; just recognitions of a known memory. She explained that she was a painter and that she hoped to start her own decedent clothing brand one day. She told Anthony all about her favorite writers, painters, and musicians while Anthony happily listened in amazement. Jane told Anthony stories about her crazy adventures moving around Europe teaching English and expressed her desires for a life of decadence. Now thoroughly invested, Anthony invited Jane back to his loft, asking if she would like to smoke some weed and listen to some old classic rock records. After some hesitation Jane gave in and found herself stoned beyond sanity in Anthony's loft. Their conversations carried on late into the night. They talked about everything. They discussed their views on family, friends, music, painting, books, traveling, and above all their views on love. Jane explained that she felt her independence was of the upmost importance. She expressed her feelings about not letting herself become attached or dependent on a man. She maintained that she would never be any one man's permanent soul mate. Thoroughly interested by this point, Anthony looked into her lost eyes and said "I've never really much been interested in things that are easily had." He told her he would never try to keep her or force anything upon her and that the only moment that mattered was the one they were in. He told her "If you want to take the ride, I can show you things you could have never imagined." He explained his position in the drug trade hoping she would understand. Then told her he could take her anywhere in the world, that they could be whoever they wanted. Jane had long been waiting for the adventure of a life like such and following Anthony's words she leaned in and kissed him readily accepting what she knew was a dangerous situation. She didn't know why but she felt that if she was ever going to take this much of a risk, Anthony was the guy to do it with. She felt comfortable in his presence like never before. Now far past kissing they made their way through Anthony's candle lit loft to his bedroom overlooking the skyline. Jumping into bed together, they knew their relationship could only tragically end but they didn't care. The connection was too overwhelming. They couldn't think about tomorrow when they were together much less next year. To them it didn't really matter. Now was everything.

They were the perfect mess. Jane was independent to the extreme. Anthony knew he could never truly have her and that was probably what he loved most about her. She became his partner in their decadent quest. He flew her all over the world to meet the best fashion designers in the business and purchase the best fabrics for her clothing brand. He launched an expensive clothing line for her putting up all the cash regardless of the brands many years without profit. He felt a connection to Jane that struck a deeper note then any of his past experiences. Jane seemed to symbolize a dying optimism inside him and Anthony represented an eternal energy for life hidden inside of her. Both brought out in each other what they were unable to understand alone.

Anthony had never experienced such a willingness to put his emotions on the line and give as much of himself to a person as possible. Smuggling always offered Anthony all the emotional risk he could handle and the thought of being in a real relationship never made since to him before. His first concepts of a relationship came from his parents constant fighting and from absorbing his father's unsympathetic and uncompromising views. Throughout his late teen years and early twenties he struggled to grasp the notion that love was anything but a destructive force. To him delusions of love and the standards of marriage in the United States had led to everything bad that happened during his childhood. He had no interest in a conventional relationship and with Jane nothing was ever taken for granted. They seemed to give each other exactly what they needed. They wanted each other for exactly who they were.

Four years later Jane and Anthony found themselves wrapped in decadence. Together they traveled the world. In those 4 years they lived a life time. Every youthful fantasy of love they could think up was brought to life. They travelled all over the world, spending passionate nights in every faraway place imaginable. Their excessive, exotic, and insane lifestyle seemed to perfect to ever end. They found themselves so far beyond lost in the moment that their thirty's were nonexistent. Life was too good to be true. Jane felt that Anthony could never be stopped. She felt oddly secure when she was with him. Everything about his lifestyle was impermanent and bordering the edge losing everything but for some unclear reason she trusted him like no man before. She thought he couldn't loose, that taking the gamble with him was more than worth it. He launched her clothing line and flew her all over the world to meet the best fashion designers in the business. Anthony happily provided for her every fantasy as if they were his own. He couldn't have been happier. He finally had found someone to share the rewards of his life with. Now more than ever Anthony felt a true since of fulfillment. Jane gave him something drugs, money, writing and smuggling could never offer him. With Jane he felt comfortable, as if no matter what happened everything would be ok.

At the peak of their fulfillment Jane and Anthony traveled to Spain to watch the running of the bulls and bull fights. Anthony had been looking forward to the trip because of his obsession with Hemmingway. He read The Sun Also Rises five times over the course of his first year with the book and at least once annually every year after. He loved Hemmingway's symbolism with the bull fighter. He loved the idea that to face death with courage was the only honor left in the world and based many of his views on it. They spent four nights in Spain eating out at the best restaurants and drinking expensive wines. They made love madly as if the chance would never come again. For them, everything was perfect. He did anything and everything for her. She was his everything. Jane offered everything Anthony wanted, good and bad. To him, even her flaws seemed perfect. She gave him a purpose and he gave her an adventure.

The night before the bull fights, Anthony, in the midst of a passionate night with Jane, began getting the feeling that Brian got on that long lost night. He asked himself "is all the money really worth it? Do I really want to risk losing her? What do I want?" Quickly he snapped back into the moment and became lost in Jane's exotic ways. Although not aware of it yet, these thoughts would remain hidden under the surface until confronted.

Something about that night stayed with Anthony well into the next day. Everything felt so ominous. He couldn't shake it. Things almost seemed too good to be true. He couldn't stop thinking about what Brian was trying to tell him all those years ago. Something was off. He didn't feel right and couldn't decipher why. Still bewildered by his emotions he dragged himself out to the bull fights with Jane. They had amazing seats on the floor level of the coliseum. The roars of the crowd gave them goose bumps. The announcer came on and introduced the bull fighter that was about to enter. The announcer spoke in Spanish so Anthony asked to the man sitting next to him to translate. The man explained to Anthony that the bull fighter was Romero Rodriguez. He told Anthony "He is a legend; he has killed over 100 bulls in his career and cannot be beaten." He told Anthony of a time Romero laid down in the middle of a bull fight and afterward told everyone he wanted to give the bull an advantage and that for him to fight any bull fully enabled would truly be unfair because of his extraordinary talent. Anthony was amazed by Romero. He felt like he identified with the bull fighter. He was enthralled by Romero's direct confrontations with death and his confidence when doing so. He felt that, like Romero, he could keep winning every gamble, that some rare people out there had the ability to outrun fate and beat karma, and that a fearless confrontation with the unknown was the only way to live.

He excitedly watched Romero dance around the ring, flawlessly controlling the bull and never losing his composure. He moved around easily deceiving the bull and pulling him in closer for the kill. After ten minutes of the bull fight, Romero began thrilling the crowd as he tested fate and taunted the bull. He slowly moved out of the way of the bull's charges acting as if it was child splay. He then, yet again, lied down in the ring giving the bull his first advantage. As the bull ran toward him, he intentionally took his time standing up trying to act as if he was in no distress over the charging bull. Tragically, this would be Romero's final temptation of death. He was unable to stand in time and perform his maneuver to avoid the bull. He miscalculated by half a second and found himself impaled on the bull's horns. A dramatic sadness overwhelmed the coliseum. The entire crowd fell silent. The moment this happened, Anthony's head was imploded. He felt every bit of his mortality coming over him. For the first time it occurred to Anthony that no one could tempt fate forever, that even the best will eventually loose. After living in a fantasy for six years, Romero's death firmly jolted Anthony back into reality. He looked over at Jane, who was clearly distraught over the bull fighters death, and wondered if he could bear not seeing her again and the answer was no, absolutely not. He couldn't even imagine losing everything he had at this point, life was to perfect. He loved Jane and direly wanted to supply the lifestyle he promised her but knew his time in the cocaine trade was coming to an end.

After returning to San Francisco, Anthony began contemplating his next move. He couldn't figure out what he wanted to do. He knew if he got out right then he could pay his looming IRS debt and make out with half a million to run away on, but to Anthony, that wasn't a future worth living. In his eyes 500 thousand was not nearly enough to keep living the lifestyle he wanted for Jane and himself. He hadn't invested correctly and Jane's clothing brand barely broke even most years. He had nothing legitimate to live off of and writing was never much of a good source of income. He knew he would have to make a choice. Would he put it all on the line one more time and attempt to maintain their decedent lifestyle or give it all up and live a simple life with Jane. After waking up from stress at 3 in the morning, he left Jane in bed and walked up to the roof of his loft. He stood up there for hours smoking cigarettes and looking out at the San Francisco skyline. He knew this decision would affect his life in an extreme way, for good or bad. He thought of his lost friend and everything he had done in his life and felt an extreme ambivalence. He couldn't let go of his desire to have everything rather than just the things he needed. He didn't just want to be with Jane; he wanted to give her the world and thought that he would be a liar to do anything less. Quietly sitting up there on his roof, Anthony lit a cigarette and thought to himself one final time "You know what, fuck it, I'm all in."

He was now twenty six and felt fifty five. The past six years of his life were so full of experience, and his head had been functioning at such a high rate, that he knew his inevitable crash was looming. He knew he couldn't last forever in the smuggling business, especially operating on the scale he was. He had many new competitors and most of his original connections had gone to jail, were killed, and or had disappeared into the abyss. His youth was coming to an end and he felt his oncoming destruction. He felt emotionally drained and was truly unaware of the tragic twists fate and destiny had in store for him. Everything has an equal and opposite reaction and for his years chasing selfish dreams he would have to suffer the inevitable downfall. Life only allows us so much. An excess of years experienced in the years lived can only lead to a hurried demise. Karma will not let you live without sacrifice. Anthony's ominous feelings seemed overwhelming. He lived in the moment every instance life presented him with the option. He never thought about the future and had no real interests in making it past thirty but now that he was experiencing his demise, it was not as easy as he thought it would be. He discovered things in Jane that he could have never predicted. He was now nearing thirty with all his walls closing in and for the first time in his life he actually knew he had something to loose. Before Jane, Anthony was able to lay it all on the line in a second with no regard for his own life or future, but now he felt that each crazy situation he got himself into risked everything he had with her. This newly found purpose couldn't have come at a worse time. Anthony was in serious need of all the adrenalin he had left. He needed to do something big. So he began the conception of what would be his largest scale drug deal yet. Anthony knew his time left in the cocaine trade was limited and felt he had one last run in him. He put together one of the most massive drug import and distribution networks of its time. He asked his connection in Columbia for quadruple his normal load (one load on average filled a cargo plane). He wanted to bring in the coke through 4 major cities. He had a load smuggled into Texas in the tires of eighteen wheelers and sold off in Austin, Houston, and Dallas. Then he had the second plane drop square groupers into the ocean outside San Francisco and Anthony and his associates went and retrieved them in boats disguised as fishing vessels with custom false bottoms. From there he moved it to his distributors in all the big cities in California. The other two loads went to Miami and New York. Anthony was able to meet some professors from Harvard and a gangster from Miami that were interested in his business and were eager to get involved. So with that he was looking to make around 1.5 million each trip, with intentions of doing 3 shipments then running away to a decadent retirement with Jane.

Jane couldn't understand his need to do this last deal. She felt they already had everything they needed. To her the intensity of their years of decadence was more than enough for a lifetime, but Anthony could not accept the idea of living anything less than an adventure of a life. He saw money as a need rather than a choice. He was never truly able to understand that the excesses in his life never held any substance. Although they provided for a much needed escape from reality, they were only distractions from the inevitable truth. Jane had an amazing influence on Anthony throughout their years together. The calming effect she had on him seemed nonexistent before meeting her. His need to push things to the limit all the time seemed neutralized by the vibes she gave off. During his time with her he published two novels and slowly cared less and less about his life as a cocaine trafficker. With her he felt all the joy for life that he previously couldn't recall. Even so, her presence alone could not stop his self-destruction. His demons seemed to run to deep. Some aspects of his personality were discomfortingly dominant and all the things that led to his sky rocketing life would in turn lead to his equally quick demise.

After two successful shipments and 3 million in profits later Anthony found himself completing the third and final shipment. Unknown to Anthony at the time, his connection in Miami failed to receive his load. The Miami connection was a shady guy to begin with. He had dark eyes and dressed like he attempting to appear more ruthless then he actually lived up to be. So naturally Anthony wondered about him but his attention was so spread out at the moment that he never gave the it too much thought. In response to Anthony's load never coming in, the shady Miami connection furiously wanted to get back at Anthony. Anthony never carried a cell because of his paranoia over modern government's power to invade people's privacy and as a result was unable to be reached until days later when he made his round of calls from pay phones to make sure all the deals went through. The Miami connection was too furious to fight his impatience. He thought of how this young kid could have the balls to fuck him over. He was trying to prove something to himself, Anthony, and most likely, to the world at large. He broke into Anthony's loft and waited for him to come home. He hid in the hall that curved left and made a nighty degree angle facing away from the door. He sat in the hall filled with anger and rage completely unaware of why he was doing anything he did. He was the personification of life's diminishing effect on people's morals and values. He heard a crack, and then the door opening, then as soon as a head came across his sights he fired his silenced pistol, lodging a bullet inside Jane's head. In shock from what he had done he ran out of the loft and back into his cumulated life in Florida without even the slightest recognition of the tragedy he caused. He had lost the battle for his purity long ago and tragedy made him its slave.

Jane's death marked the beginning of the final and most difficult bout of psychological ambivalence that Anthony had left to encounter. Dealing with Jane's death seemed impossible to Anthony. She represented all the optimism in his life. Their connection was all consuming and with her departure a piece of him was gone as well. He knew he was responsible for her death and couldn't shake the feeling that there was nothing left in this world for him. For him Jane was it. Without her he lost the little since of completion, comfort, and happiness that he had. Now he was a defeated man. He lived his entire life willing to risk it all at any moment never expecting to truly have anything to loose. Anthony from a young age had the false assumption that life had nothing to offer him; that the only thing worth doing was living through all the excess he could imagine in hopes of running from his own demons forever. With Jane's death his life became a self-fulfilling prophesy. Her death confirmed everything he already wanted to believe. That love is destructive and tragic. That life has nothing to offer but heart ache and pain and most of all that he was too naive to understand how much he had until it was gone.

After killing Jane, the Miami connection laid low and Anthony never learned of his whereabouts. His defeated state was far beyond revenge as a cure anyways. He knew killing the Miami connection couldn't bring her back. He couldn't help but wish he was twenty five again and living what he know knew to be an elusively perfect balance in life. Something inside of him made it harder and harder each day to stay in reality with the rest of the real world. His connection with what was left of her presence was overwhelming. He was in no way aware of what lied in store for him. He sold his lofts in San Francisco and cashed in all of his liquid assets then ran for the hills. He bought a large antique mansion on an isolated beach somewhere in South America and dropped off the face of the planet. He would never have anything to do with smuggling again. At this point he seemed content to never confront reality again. He seemed fully convinced that he wanted to spend the rest of his life alone in his massive antique mansion far away from any reminders of the harsh world he had grown to hate. Slowly Anthony drifted farther and farther from reality out there in his isolated fortress. His belief that the joy of the past was the only cure for his emptiness was increasingly on his mind, and soon the repetition and reoccurring images began. He was hearing the phrase "as these amazing highs enter our life, so will a new set of lows" over and over inside his head and while in his darkest moments of despair, Anthony had begun encountering hallucinations of Jane telling him "it's ok", that "it's all in your head, calm down, and the storm will pass." His memories of plentitude haunted his lonely state. Soon his need to be with her was too much to bear. He couldn't stop the hallucinations and was soon forgetting to eat his meals and take care of himself. With the increase of the intensity and power of the memories, he went further and further from this world. He soon recognized the root of his madness was his sub consciences desire to aware himself of the purity in his life and to accept death, so to not depart with his ghostly desires still haunting this reality.

There he stood, twenty seven years old, feeling like a defeated old man. He looked into the mirror wondering why things worked out the way they did. He knew he wanted life to be fast and in the moment but he never truly understood how precious time really was. He had everything he had hoped for. He had the crazy stories of faraway exotic nights in surreal destinations. He lived the life of a writer, smuggler, philosopher, lunatic, and counterpart to someone else's confusion and loneliness. For him, the decade he spent in San Francisco felt likea life time. He was beginning to understand the impact of the sacrifices he made in life and as his head began to spin out of control, Jane's presence, once again, began giving Anthony a since off comfort.

When, in whatever reality Anthony was in, his soul mate asked him "why?" he was unsure how to answer. He asked himself a million times over in his head what she meant by "why?" He believed maybe she was asking why he is the way he is? Why must his selfish desires rule his life? Why did he foolishly risk all he had in hopes of more, not noticing he already had everything he needed? How could he answer? What could he say? Anthony slowly came to understand that what she was really asking him was why do you hurt so much? Why won't you forgive yourself, people, and the world? Why can't you let go of your anguish? Why can't you just let things go? He stood there petrified by the scene unfolding in front of his eyes. Anthony began feeling the life in him fading, and as it did, an overwhelming since of forgiveness came over him. Jane's presence allowed Anthony to gain a much needed since of closure. He looked into her eyes one last time and said "I couldn't have been any different if I wanted to. I'm so sorry that I couldn't understand I had everything to lose when I risked the rest of our lives together. I let you go once for selfish desires and lost you forever." She then intensely whispered the words "its ok, I knew exactly who you were the day we fell in love and never expected anything else. You wanted to give me the world and nothing less and ill love you forever for it. Even know we only had four years together, we lived three life times of adventures, and for me that was more than enough to die happy. Maybe in another life we will find each other again and I hope to god we do it the exact same way we did.

In the final moments of his consciousness he became aware of the ills of time and the impact of our sacrifices in life. Anthony noticed time eventually devours us all. There is no escaping it. How we choose to live in light of this knowledge leads to the sacrifices we will inevitably make, either for ourselves or for others. Either through the power of love, the imagination, or divine intervention, Jane and Anthony were able to experience their intense connection one final time before Anthony's death. All in one moment Anthony accepted his oncoming death, understood the purity of his life, and finally came to terms with his inevitably tragic fate. He wanted to push the limits of life every second until the very moment he died, never giving life a minute to take his existence for granted, and he did. For Anthony and Jane the clashing forces of love and freedom bred destruction. For them it wasn't how long they had it, it was about how much the enjoyed it. With the onset of these revelations Anthony was abruptly pulled from his hallucinations and thrown back into reality.

With his madness finally cured, he was now falling in and out of conciseness and on the verge of his last breaths. In his last moments of life he looked across the vast empty room into a mirror on the wall and as the morning light penetrated the darkness he slipped on his sunglasses and lit a cigarette. Looking into the mirror he lowered his sun glassless and took one last look into his lifeless eyes, then confidently assured himself that it was better to burn out, than fade away.

The End