Not being able to get my head around the idea that I’d have signed a contract the details of which I knew at the time I wouldn’t remember once the ink had dried, I sought to litigate my way out of the bind on the grounds that the nature of the contract was exploitative, which whether I’d agreed to sign it or not rendered the agreement unlawful and therefore null and void.
I had considered carefully prospective arguments pertaining to me as beneficiary and could only think of one: That this had been my only way out of purgatory. Given that the term of that limbo’s length was defined by it end’s eventuality, it is understandable that I’d have, eventually, made that choice, but had the terms of the exit contract stated how incarnation meant for me, the ignorant incarnate, ultimately a preponderantly probable return to the former state of affairs, it is more than considerable that I’d have chosen to remain in stasis.
Concurrently as regards the motivation behind the drafting and presentation of the offer, a question of coercion would seem to arise. Summarized, a contract barren of comprehensive reciprocity and laden with unintelligible expectations that appears to prey on the decidedly desperate draftee is not one that can be entered into in good faith.
The problem I had with respect to establishing my adversary’s motive was material to say the least. And it remains an immaterial puzzle. One can examine exhaustively and conclude nothing but an unprecedented pathologically twisted design. A layperson like myself faces overwhelming odds in spite of case after case of similar complaint, in all instances thus-far, however, on behalf of litigants on the other side — defendants pleading for leniency. Given the outcome of every single one of those cases, not only did I not have precedent on my side, it served only ever against me.
Unfortunately I couldn’t get anyone to join my suit, but even if I had filed a class action, with a preponderance of alleged grievances demonstrating consistency, the degree of grievance in the aggregate otherworldly, there was still no motive to speak of save for the sadistic amusement of the tenderer. “He does it for sport, Your Honor.
“I therefore ask not that you return me to purgatory, rather that I be allowed to restart this incarnation with the conscious memory of all the knowledge I have acquired heretofore left entirely intact.”
Spake the judge, “If I send you back, then I have to send everybody back.”
Comic irony aside, I think the last time I had heard that pearl of wisdom, it’d come from my kindergarten teacher, which is about the point in time I had in mind for this return to start reaping benefits. I was flummoxed, kicking myself for not having anticipated this obvious and most logical response.
In a panic I heard myself mutter, “His Honor could at least have dragged me through A Christmas Carol or It’s Wonderful Life.”
This time there was pause and a genuine look of reflection came over the jurist’s face. “Your suggestion is counterintuitive,” he puzzled. “You are not asking for the nullification of your current existence, merely a restart with an unfair advantage over everyone whose entered into a version of the same basic contract — which is everyone.” He was right, of course. “As to the former, with its triumvirate tour of moralizing guidance,” he continued after a slighter pause, “it would appear you are managing such well on your own. Quite heroically, I might add.”
Fuck! This guy had me coming and going. Although my quip had only just garnered a strike against me, and in spite of his praise-veiled criticism, I must have been encouraged by this conversational continuation because I mustered a tone of goodwill rejoining, “As to the latter, His Honor could’ve given me the tour with a Back to the Future twist.”
Clearly I’d lost this argument before it began and commenced to wasting this precious moment stalling for time, but unless I had another solution, this brainstorming regurgitation of half-baked satiric repartee with half-an-eye toward an unforeseen stroke of lucky logic was my only option, all the more absurd in that it was no conscious intention on my part and had only occurred to me when it was too late for another approach.
“If I am to understand you correctly,” came his measured reply, “I shall escort you back to your younger self and demonstrate in as many steps along the way how things might have turned out had you chosen your path more wisely, with you naturally unable to do anything but watch in agony, for to change the past is to irreparably damage the heretofore known future, and it is at this point that I should through the banal cruelty of humor suddenly see the wisdom of your original request,” he said, adding, “Naturally, you were hoping I hadn’t planned on humoring you.”
At some point during this rhetorical reprimand — maybe triggered by the judge’s use of “watch in agony” or “cruelty of humor” or the mocking tone in which he’d said “heretofore known future” — it dawned on me that the defendant was not absent from this courtroom, but perched right there in front of me. Again, what had been a stupid oversight on my part, its degree immeasurable either in the precise level of profound lack of forethought on my part, or reflected in the result soon to be rendered upon my personhood, which, although only the fate to live out the term of the contract I was seeking to refresh, meant no less than the final nail in a living coffin.
I was already suffocating. If humor me he would, his’d be a last laugh and mine a final gasp after which – roughly returned to the deck of the ship – I’d get a final glimpse of the eyes that guide the fingers that re-cork the bottle.
Lhasa De Sela – September 27, 1972 – January 1, 2010