Marv McMaster pulled the old and cracked wooden chair —one of very few items he owned in this world, and placed it right in front of the open window in his fifth floor apartment. He sat down with a deep groan, and lit a cigarette. Every time he wanted a smoke, he had to carry out this ritual because if he didn’t, the smoke would quickly fill his small apartment, and he’d die out of suffocation. The place was that small. Marv spent most of his days sitting by the window, peering at the people walking up and down 42nd street, and smoking his hand-rolled cigarettes. That was all he could afford, cigarettes and booze, and of course, pens and papers. He bought a whole lot of pens and papers because if Marv McMaster wasn’t smoking, drinking at The Cave, or watching people stumble across the street out of his window, he’d write. He’d write down everything he could think of, everything he could remember because that was Marv, that was Marv McMaster. The man who walked away from all the fortunes of the McMaster Family, and decided to live. And so he did. Marv did it all. Marv hitched across the country. Marv jumped freight trains with bums and hobos and escaped convicts. Marv had the will to live and learn. He laughed and hurt. He got high and low. He won some and lost all. Marv McMaster, now in his early seventies, now alone in his fifth floor apartment, now smoking, now watching the fools of 42nd street staggering about, was a happy man.
McMaster had a theory about life, which was mainly inspired by this statement: “You’ve only gots your mind, boy.”
An old hobo by the name of Frank Mills said that to a young Marv one late evening in a dusty boxcar on a train heading south. Marv brooded on that sentence for years and years. He concluded that the worth of a man is measured not by his achievements, but by the stories he could recite of past adventures, of past lifetimes, and past experiences. And he roamed and roamed the lands until he felt the burden of old age on his shoulders, until he saw age cutting deep, deep valleys into his features.
And so he sat there, on his old and cracked wooden chair, in his small apartment, smoking his hand-rolled cigarette, peering at the world through his window, surrounded by heaps and heaps of papers filled with his adventures, and knowing very well that he had lived.
Now you see it, now you don’t.