THE THREE MEN

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Over the many years of my life, I have had  many  strange  and wonderful experiences. But the strangest one  of all has  been on my mind for most  of my life. It is a  vivid  recollection  of a scene that seems to parallel my path of life.  It makes me wonder-was I able to choose my path  before I  was born? After you read my story, you may think you  did the same thing.

It seemed as if eons of time had passed when I  found myself sitting on a small white  bench, looking  down at  my feet and wondering how in  the world I got  there- and from where. Bewildered, I looked up and saw three men.

One of the men  sat behind a small white  table and  opened a shiny metallic book. I watched him as  he leaned   over the  book, placing his hand on  his forehead  and his  elbow on the table.

He started to read but never  turned to  another page.  The second man stood  behind  him,  leaning  over his  shoulder and also  looking  at the book. Every now  and then he would look up at me and grin. I felt as if they were reading something about me.

As I sat there waiting, I looked the three guys over.  The  two men reading  the book were dressed in old-fashioned  clothing. I turned and looked to my left at the third  man.

He was dressed like a jockey in a white, silklike shirt.  It was  opened in the front, and I could see  his skinny, bony chest  and a few straggly hairs.  As we looked  at one another he  gave me a haughty look, and I  could tell  that he was a vain  and arrogant person.

Looking beyond him, I could see the barren white ground   stretching like a  prairie to the horizon, merging with a  light blue sky.  I saw no sign of human habitation.  Being  curious about my  surroundings, I looked up and  to my right.

What I saw  gave me  the feeling  that I was  in a huge eggshell.  The sky looked conical, stretching up as it  darkened into the  blackness of infinity. The clouds that I saw  did not seem to  follow  the contour of  a round earth,  but seemed to rise up  from the horizon in a  perpendicular manner,  intermingling  red and  blue colors with a dull orange glow  that tried to  shine through.

As I sat there amazed by the  wondrous sight,  I heard  the  man at the table ask: Are you sure  this is what you want?”  replied. “Yes, for I have lived many lives. Great and important as they were, I now want to experience the life of a  poor man, and know the joys of fatherhood.” He gave me a skeptical smile and stood up, closing the  book. “So be it,” he said, and the  scene faded away.

Something made me gasp for breath. I felt  an icy  cold  fluid enter my nose. It was stinging cold, but it made me  feel good, so I breathed  in again and again. As I opened  my  eyes I saw a light gray mist about me.  I saw strange  dark  shadows moving to and fro.

Then I heard strange sounds  that frightened me, so  I cried. And I knew  then that I was  being born again into a cold and hostile world.  Somehow, I know that my conversation with those three  men set me to my destiny-a lifetime of hardships and  poverty that I had  chosen.

As the many years passed, I often wondered about the  paths that I could have taken  instead,  for the trials and tribulations of my life were many,  I embarked  on the stormy sea of  matrimony  and as time  passed on,  I knew the painful joys of fatherhood  many  times.

As the family got bigger, the work got harder- and  the paycheck seemed to get smaller. My occupation was that  of a miner.  My life was often in   peril. I have  always wondered who could  have had  the power to snatch  me from  the jaws  of death so many times. Did those three men spare my life just to see  if I would  keep my covenant?

Now that it has all passed by, I wonder  if those  three men would laugh at me if  I told them it  was a great  and exciting trip,  and I might like  to try it again.

William J. Zupancic

Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania

August 2000

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