Death-Judas the Apostle

As writers of fiction, we have all had occasion to kill off various characters. Some are missed and some are not. This is part of the magic of fiction. We can create a character who is sorely mourned when we must dispatch him/her and we can create one our readers will yearn for early departure. Goodbye and good luck, so to speak.
I don’t know about you but my noble characters all die well while my villains perish with ignominy. Is this merely a reflection of our human mindset? The good die well and the bad not so much? Do we even think much about it?
Certainly, we all want to live well, don’t we? Regardless of the strength of our faith, and my characters have strong faith, most of us have some trepidation about stepping off this mortal plain. The fear of this transition must be natural even if you believe it is only a transition. My characters, Cloe, J.E. and the monsignor believe this but they still fight tooth and nail to stay here. In spite of the fact that many believe at death we will go to heaven and be in a paradise with God, most of us battle against it to our last breath. The obits are full of people who have fought the good fight but still the result is the same. In that fight death is the only victor. In my writings, I use the phrase “as relentless as death itself…” to refer to circumstances that are inexorable and unavoidable.
Living well is its own reward but I put the case to you that there is value in dying well. I think this means accepting one’s mortality but holding true to one’s spirit in life. If your ship goes down in winter in freezing waters and you are with a hundred others, you know all will die because no one can survive more than a few minutes under such conditions. So your turn in the barrel with come, as Uncle Sonny says in Judas the Apostle, and will come soon. How to handle? Panic? Fear? Or with grim resignation? Live Well! Die well without regret!
This can be illustrated with reference to the many people who protect our lives and freedom. We here often of the poor unfortunate who lost his/her live in a tragic accident. Still everyday cops, soldiers, firemen and others perish to protect and serve us. I think each would say he/she did not lose his life but rather gave his life for his duty. Our fictional characters can only be a pale imitation of such heroes.


About vrmayhalljr

Van R. Mayhall Jr. is the senior partner in a Baton Rouge, Louisiana law firm where he practices corporate and business law and handles selected litigation. Born and raised in Baton Rouge, he was educated at Louisiana State University and Georgetown University. He and his wife, Lorri, have three grown children and enjoy boating on Lake Pontchartrain.
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