Short Story: Nietzsche at the Stop Light
I was driving down Mooney Boulevard this morning and saw a very strange sight. I had stopped at a red light down by the Sequoia Mall and was sitting there minding my own business listening to Warren Haynes flog his guitar.
All of a sudden, a battered blue and white 1963 Chevrolet C10 Chevy truck pulled up beside me. I knew that's what it was because I had lost my virginity in the back of one back in 1970 to a girl who I couldn't even name. I mean it would be unmannerly of me to do so, and I guess not knowing her name in the first place might me seem kind of shallow, but, at least, it eliminates the possibility of me being a complete cad.
I looked over at the driver and to my utter surprise the van was being driven by none other than Friedrich Nietzsche, the great German philosopher who is often given the credit for killing off God. He also coined the term, "That which does not kill us makes us stronger." People don't remember that one preferring to label him as a god killer and not an uplifter.
His presence behind the wheel of the truck kind of unnerved me because God had returned the favor killing Nietzsche dead in 1900 after having first broken him down mentally and emotionally by placing a sick horse being badly beaten in front of him as he was out walking one day. Legend says he threw his arms around the horse and began to sob uncontrollably. Could be he was feeling remorse for throwing shade at the deity?
Anyway there he was driving a beat up pick-up and taking a drag off of a Camel cigarette. I was little shaken by the incident. But he turned and looked at me and smiled a little. His window was down, and I could hear a little bit of Wagner's Tristan and Isolde leaking out window. My windows were down too, so I turned the volume up and let him listen to some of the wondeful guitar interplay between Haynes and Dickie Betts.
He smiled and then turned his volume up. Just then the light turned green and he let out the clutch and drove away, but not before flicking the cigarette out the window and giving me a peace sign too.
I had my doubts that it was really him, but the bumper sticker on the back said "God is Dead." The rear window also had one of them white stickers of a kid peeing on a church, so I figured it had to be him.
I was hungry so I drove through the McDonald's drive-thru to get a couple of burgers. After I ordered, the guy at the window said, "Will there be anything else?"
I stared at the speaker for a couple of seconds and blurted, "I just saw Friedrich Nietzsche at the red light."
There was a silence before the guy answered, "Look, dude, I work at a McDonald's and even I know that that fucker is been dead for over a thousand years! You must be smoking crack."
"Nietzsche. He's been dead for 119 years, died in 1900. God probably killed him, I'm thinking."
" I don't know dude. I thought it was him that killed God."
When I got home, I went inside the house and turned on the TV. I checked my phone before chowing down on the burgers, and that is when I noticed that Leslie my youngest daughter had called and left a message.
I called her back and she told me about this problem she was having a work with some dill weed who needed his ass kicked. I let her vent for a while. My therapist told me to do that. She said that men make a mistake when they assume that a woman wants them to fix things all of the time. She also said that sometimes they just want someone to listen. So, I listened until she had ran out of things to say.
Then I told her about seeing Nietzsche. She told me I was crazy and needed to see a therapist.
" I am seeing one."
" Well, maybe you need to see two. You are starting to worry me. I haven't seen you happy since Mom left you."
" Well that's ironic, I don't think I have been happy since your mother left."
" I thought you had a good time at my wedding."
"I did, but it was exactly that, a good time. Happiness is a completely different thing. I smile from time to time, and I even laugh sometimes too, but on the inside, nothing but heaviness."
" That's because you are depressed, Pop. You need help!"
" Nietzsche said that happiness is the feeling that power is growing, and that all resistance has been overcome."
There was silence at the other end before she answered, " Dad? This Nietzsche thing? It needs to go."
I looked at the bronze bust of Nietzsche sitting on the mantle of my fireplace and nodded, " I know, Les. I know. That's what Socrates has been telling me."
The bronze bust of Socrates sitting next to the one of Nietzsche seemed to smile.