Thursday, November 03, 2011

Failure Is Not an Option

John sat in the visitation area across from his father, Carl.

"Well, son, was it worth it? They're going to execute you tomorrow. Was it worth it?"

John leaned forward across the table. "I think so," he said. "You know, I was doing what I loved, and if failing at it resulted in this, then so be it. I was doing what I loved."

"That seems an odd thing to say. You were greedy, son, and that's what got you here."

"No, not greedy. Ambitious. I was ambitious. I wanted to be in charge, and I was in charge. I wanted to succeed, and I succeeded . . ."

"Until you didn't."

"Yes, until I didn't." John leaned back and looked at the gray ceiling. "But until then, it was glorious. I was the best, and that's why I made it. I was the best. I have no regrets."

"What about your family? Your wife? Angela and Adam? Your mom and me?" A tear ran down Carl's cheek. "You were selfish. You are selfish. They're going to lose their father."

John leaned across the table and almost whispered his reply. "Dad, I'm not the one who made the law that if you fail, you lose your life. Everyone supports you so long as you succeed. Nobody, not even you, accused me of being greedy or selfish for as long as I was succeeding. You said you were proud of me when they made me coach. As well you should have been. You don't get to take all that back now that I'm in this situation. You knew as well as I did the consequences of failure. We lost. We lost, so here I am. And tomorrow . . ."

"And tomorrow I can't even bury you, because they won't let you be buried."

"I lost the championship. I failed. That's how it goes. You know you can't fail in this country. You succeed, or else. No do-overs. Ever."

"It's not fair."

"I suppose not. But would it have been fair if I had won and been declared a national hero? I surely wouldn't have turned down the trophy, the accolades, the parades, and lord knows what else. Refusing to turn down all that, how can I turn down the consequences?" John sat up straight in his chair. "It is my destiny. It is the consequences. I did not enter this ignorant of the consequences. I can't complain now."

A guard approached. John looked up at him.

"Well, dad, looks like I have to go. Give my love to mom, Barbara, Angela and Adam. I understand why they couldn't come."

John stood. Carl remained seated. The guard grabbed John by the arm and led him out of the visitation area, the first to leave. The room echoed with continued murmuring. Carl watched in silence as he watched John disappear with the guard through the iron door.
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