I plucked it from the shelf and went straight to the cashier. No book has provoked in me such an instant, compulsive proprietary interest. Its title alone, revealed to the browser by its spine, did it, igniting a powerful sense of self-validation: “Everything is Eventual.”
I’m not much of a Stephen King fan myself. I’ve read a couple of his novels, speed-read them really, although I did find myself slowing through some passages, savoring them. I like his short fiction better. The form, I think, forces him to be leaner and subtler, which suits me, and I decided to keep “Everything’s Eventual” precisely for that—it’s a short-story collection.
But I seem to have lost it. (The only Stephen King I now see on my shelves is his autobiographical “On Writing,” itself hugely inspiring and instructive.) I discovered the loss when a conversation with my wife about life’s eventualities had me looking. At my age, thoughts seem to occur on their own; I don’t have to think them up. They float on some random cue, and in this case a friend and newspaper colleague, Iggy Dee, was the oblivious signaler.
Iggy texted greetings from a long-missed friend from the old neighborhood, the dead-shot basketball Olympian Jimmy Mariano. He reported that Jimmy had put on weight (a six-four string bean in his playing days, he certainly could have used at least half more his size) and that he looked younger than his 73 years.
His father and three of his father’s brothers all died after a heart attack, all in their 50s, all at the tennis courts, while playing or just after walking off a game on some sudden mortal intimation. Jimmy himself had intended tennis, a far kinder sport than basketball, to sustain him in good shape and spirits into old age, but foreswore it on a presentiment and—to cast his case in the perspective I have appropriated from Stephen King—has gone on to live to healthier, happier eventualities.
Anyway, all I have now of King’s book is its title, itself the title of the lead story in the collection. I don’t even recall what the story is about, although I’m sure I’ve read it. But again, given the specific purpose to which a short-story writer deploys an idea (not to mention Stephen King’s preference for bizarre fantasies) and given further the severe structure within which he is expected to do that, the forgotten story probably could not have served my purpose after all; in fact, forgetting may only have proved eventual in itself.
Indeed, all I needed was that one pregnant line to set me along—“everything is eventual.” That line does for me more than unblock a stream of memories, as does, say, a certain scent or fragment of an old tune or some such other memory prompter that comes only when it comes; in fact it serves as a standing perspective, one that holds that nothing is to be taken in isolation—that everything proceeds from and toward something.
Of course, with the progressive failure of memory and the limitations of hindsight and foresight, one is guaranteed no foolproof conclusions. Still, I’m grateful to Stephen King if for that one line alone.
My discovery of it was—but what else?—eventual. An avid searcher of some operating logic for life such as exists for every discipline (mathematics, science, even pseudo-science), I felt certain at first sight that I had found it. That was more than 15 years ago, and I’ve been using it to sort life’s curiosities; life’s larger and deeper mysteries I leave to the braver ones to deal with, although I am myself forced sometimes to venture into some deep.
Working the odds
A journalist all my life, presumed thus to have seen and heard more than others, I know I’m bound to be tested, and, as happened recently, I was tested—inescapably. Asked at a televised forum whom I see coming up to succeed to the presidency, I replied I was still waiting for the eventual accident that would give rise to the eventual white knight that would trump the for-now front-riding black one. I proceeded to explain from my Stephen King perspective:
In the post-Marcos era, we’ve had either accidental or fraudulent presidents. Cory Aquino ascended from the martyrdom of her husband and Marcos’s archrival, Ninoy, and, extending the benefits of that eventuality, anointed Fidel Ramos as her successor. Then came Joseph Estrada, borne on a vote that, while legitimate, had been inspired by the popular misbelief that he was in real life the same heroic figure he is in the movies. Eventually impeached, for plunder, he was succeeded by his vice president, Gloria Arroyo, who, after serving out, as another accidental president, the remainder of his term, ran for the presidency herself and won on a rigged vote, making her another fraudulent president in an even worse sense than in Estrada’s case.
Ninoy and Cory’s only son, Noynoy, from whose mind the presidency was farthest, reluctantly rose to the challenge on a popular call upon his mother’s death, an eventuality that solidified their family’s legacy in time for an election in which lay the nation’s hope for redemption from the anomaly and scandal of the outgoing presidency.
So, do I get things right? Are we going to see another accidental or fraudulent president, as I reckon we just might by the patterns of eventualities I see? It makes little difference to me really betting wrong. I’m happy enough working the eventualities as, I would think, the bookmakers are themselves working the odds.