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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Religion and Spirituality  |  House: Booksie Classic

Decisions shape and define who we are. But what if your life choices are made for you?

Intangible, being unable to be touched or having no physical presence, is an unusual way to describe yourself but it’s always been this way. Well, since I lost my mind.

I’d like to introduce myself. Until I lost all physical form, I was known as Simon, “Si” or to a select few Sicknote. It’s a play on my surname, Knot, rather than an allusion to any illness. Or at least that’s what I thought.

I’ve always thought that losing one’s mind would be a slow thing, an occasional voice whispering and influencing me or the gradual buckling under the weight of external pressures. But for me it was more a eureka moment - no warning, no alarm bells, just bang! Intangible.

Looking at the pollution covered walls as my train rolled under Chicago’s skyscrapers, butterflies performed their usual jig in my stomach. But this time both tempo and duration felt more manic. Embarking into one of America’s ultimate train stations my strut left nobody in any doubt they were in the presence of a returning hero. Armed with a 5.0 grade point average and having survived the alien culture of New Haven, Connecticut, for the past 3 years, I was back to make my fortune. Employers didn’t know yet but they were about to get “it”. That being the ‘work completed in a competent manner by a conscientious 22-year-old without any experience “it”’.

Returning to Chicago always brought out euphoria. I never felt truly home until I reached The Loop. A highway acting as a lasso surrounding the area I had spent my formative years. With ten churches scattered through the centre, the dome of a huge Gurdwara visible off to the north and both a mosque and a synagogue ensconced in its borders, any visitors could be confused into thinking they were visiting a holy place. Nothing could be further from the truth. Whilst prostitution had been eradicated through police camping out on street corners and strangling the local demand for services of a carnal nature, if you scratched the surface the area’s true nature became clear. Groups of young men loitered around street corners, occasionally giving elaborate handshakes through the car windows of transient visitors. Bars and shops all had one thing in common; barred windows. When you saw the obvious poverty, you realised why various religions had decided that the inhabitants of this place required a saviour. But this was all if you looked at things as an outsider.

To me this place was home. Many of the dealers were old school friends, just looking to make an honest living the only way they knew how. Outsiders saw poverty and danger but to those on the inside, that poverty created a real community. It was us against the world and I was delighted to be back. Saying that, I hoped to make it fleeting. I was going places and with all that lovely money I would make, I would be living in one of the gentrified areas that surrounded my hometown.

It was two nights later that my plans were thrown into chaos.

It happened as I was out with an old friend, Kevin, “Kev” or the Kevinator to a select few (well one actually as only Kev refers to himself as the Kevinator). We were having a few beers in a pub garden to celebrate the interviews I’d lined up when Kev starts going on, in his own staccato way, about a nightclub that he’s going to on Sunday:
“greatest club ever, man”, “Chic-a-go”, “banging hardhouse”, “sweet crowd, dude”, “sweet DJs”, “at The Church”.

That’s the thing about Kev, he always talks in bullet points; no filler, no flow, just pieces of information fired at 100 mph. He blames it on being from Skokie but I’ve always suspected that it’s the amount of amphetamines he takes.

“So what you doing Sunday then?”, “i’m thinking”, “watch the game”, “few jars”, “bar crawl” “Chic-a-go”, “Yeah, yeah, yeah?”.
The question was always coming and now I’m torn, two interviews on Monday but football and some hardhouse on a Sunday, in a place called ‘The Church’, seems to make sense.

As I hear myself saying “ok”, “sounds good”, “not too messy”, “as I’ve got some interviews lined up” the words out of my mouth are “sounds great mate”, “but I’m not gonna be able to make it”, “interviews Monday” and “I want to get an early night”.

I had to do a double take, did that really just happen? Had I answered the same question simultaneously, with different answers? Three beers can’t create this much confusion. So when Kevin replied. “Shame”, “your loss”, “soon then”, “i’m gonna have another drink” I’m not ashamed to say I freaked out. “Kev, have you spiked my drink?”

No response. “Kev, did you hear what I said?”, I reached across the table to shake some answers out of him but noticed the strangest couple of things. Firstly my hand seemed to disappear into and through Kev. Then I looked behind me and could still see myself sitting in the chair. As I said, my insanity moment was very sudden. Intangible.

To be honest the next few hours were some of the weirdest of my life. Do apparitions even have lives? I had somehow become disembodied and so I planned on reattaching myself as quickly as possible. I followed myself around the bar, trying to mirror the exact same position as the physical me but every time either form moved, we separated. I decided to try my luck with other patrons and walked round, at least I wasn’t floating, trying to touch or speak to numerous people. Each time with the same outcome, intangible.

This all happened to me years ago now. I spent the first few months never leaving my tangible self’s side; I was at every interview, every business meeting and every date. Initially I was proud of tangible me. He got the job he wanted and immediately starting impressing his new employer. He knuckled down and worked hard. Bought a converted warehouse condo and a Porsche. Over time he started seeing less of his “real friends”. They didn’t fit with his new image and his new choice of friends wasn’t really to my taste. However, I did enjoy watching his love life unfold though; all the visuals with none of the pressure. Over time he really started to change though and his arrogance grew exponentially. The more he changed, the less I liked him.

At a loss and needing something to take my mind off the arsehole my tangible self was becoming, I decided to stop following “me” and join Kev instead. I remember the shock I felt when I saw him again for the first time after the split night. He’d always been slim, the amount of nervous energy he burned wasn’t conducive to putting on weight, but now he looked almost skeletal. It became clear why when I followed him to ‘Chic-a-go’ for the first time.

The music, as Kev had told me, was banging. Beats jackhammering into the crowd’s skulls at an almost unimaginable rate. Walking around, watching people openly take dabs of white powder and popping pills took me back to my youth. However, the crowd, even with all of the chemical help, still couldn’t keep up with the beat. I instinctively knew that this was where my physical self could have ended up - clubbing, taking drugs and going to parties that lasted for days rather than hours. Even watching the mental decline of the habitual attendees, pushing their minds further than they were supposed to go, I still felt more comfortable with these people than my tangible self.

I understood that I was supposed to have gone to ‘Chic-a-go’ all those years ago. The drugs were meant to take their toll on me. Ecstasy and speed was supposed to tear my mind apart. It was these experiences that were supposed to shape me. With this added life experience, both beautiful and terrifying, I would’ve straightened out and got myself back on track, wiser and kinder.

Or not. Kev’s been all but forgotten in Mount Carmel cemetery and I now actively avoid my tangible self as although he looks like me, I can’t stand to be around him. He’s arrogant yet insecure, deceitful and shallow. But hey at least he’s got a nice car. It’s been six months since I’ve seen my tangible self and the last time I bumped into him, not literally obviously, he was asking someone “do you know who I am?” The weird thing is, he’s me and even I don’t.

Submitted: September 12, 2017

© Copyright 2021 Thom Goddard. All rights reserved.

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Add Your Comments:



Kind of weird, Thom....but I thought the idea was excellent. If we all had intangible selves I wonder, would they all dislike the tangible versions. An enjoyable and thought-provoking read!

Tue, September 12th, 2017 6:38pm


Thank you Hully. A "sliding doors effect" without the doors, if you will...

Tue, September 12th, 2017 12:49pm

Oleg Roschin

Very clever and original. This can be understood on a deep metaphorical level. I love the details in the writing, the mixture of the mundane with the bizarre. Thumbs up!

Wed, September 13th, 2017 8:10am


Thank you very much Oleg. Of course, I was going for all of that... ; )

Wed, September 13th, 2017 12:18pm

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