"The boundaries which divide Life from Death are at best shadowy and vague. Who shall say where the one ends, and where the other begins?"-Edgar Allan Poe
I am Víctor Del Mar, and the year was 1852. I was once a young promising and studious photographer, who was lodging at the local Winfield Inn, in a small southern town in Texas named Kyle. I was there at the inn for the purpose of taking a daguerreotype, which was a unique phenomenon from France and had provoked a sensation in the country and the world that was nonpareil.
For those who are not quite cognizant of what a daguerreotype is, it is a marvelous invention, by which an individual inscribes his or her own image, on a sensitized sheet of silver-plated copper. The gentleman who I was to take the photograph was a charismatic man of a fascinating aura, by the name of Logan Clark. He was a noteworthy aristocrat by birth, and well-esteemed in the southern society.
It was in the early morning, when I had met the enigmatic Logan Clark in the hall, as he was waiting patiently for my presence. We made our cordial introductions, and his distinguishable voice was deep, but mellow in his southern drawl. What was discernible was his effable appearance of fashionable finery. He was a willowy man in stature, and his eyes bore a tincture of a sable hue of sudden mystery. His nose was aquiline, with a protruding bridge in the front. His cheekbones were high in symmetry, while his chin was solid and manly. His hair was medium curly chestnut brown, with sideburns and a waxed trimmed mustache. His shoulders were narrow and slightly sloped. He was dressed in a green double-breasted morning coat, with a vest underneath of notched collars. He had a linen shirt, and a short cravat around his neck knotted in a bow. He wore full-length pantaloons and luculent black shoes. He carried his tall hat in his hand, and an ivory walking stick in the other. His proud and vintage disposition was a manifestation of his earnest and politic propriety and nature. He was extremely eager to know more about the captivating process of making a daguerreotype, before taking the photograph.
I had explained to him briefly the particular procedure, and afterward the photograph was taken as agreed. I was handsomely paid a good amount of cash for the daguerreotype, and we shook hands, as his departure from the inn was immediate. He was a man of great punctuality and meticulosity. I had remained at the inn, as I waited for the fresh daguerreotypes to be exposed and fixed. Once the daguerreotypes were then exposed and fixed, I took notice of a strange occurrence that had succeeded inexplicably.
As I was in my room alone, with the darkness that had enveloped outside, I saw the complete development of the most unusual abnormality. It was typical to expect that a daguerreotype could easily be manipulated or disrupted, by numerous things of plausibility. Somehow, what I had discovered was a shocking revelation of such incomprehensible magnitude.
It was evening, and the shutters were closed, so that I could prevent any pellucid rays of the sun, from damaging the monochrome of the daguerreotype. However, what emerged from the photograph taken was of a man, who was not the same man I had taken the daguerreotype before. The gentleman was not the young man of before middle age, instead, a very hoary fellow. Even though his stylish attire was not altered, his abnormal guise was definitely. His chestnut brown curly hair was now absolutely gray, and the vivid expression in his countenance was marked, in a profound crystalline pallor and imposition.
How could this be really practical in the end, since it was unreasonable to fathom this startling contrast? The intrinsic effects of the distinctive glare of the sun or the surface could have induced this peculiar consequence I pondered continuously or the underexposure also. Nonetheless, this mysterious result could not transpire so easily, if it did not require a reasonable explanation.
That night I had tarried in deliberation and wondered, if this was not a misconception or uniquity. I needed to confirm my puzzling doubt and conjecture. But how was I to procure that unexpected contingency? I did not know where to locate Mr. Clark, since all I knew of him was only his name and surname—nothing more. Thus, the one option obtainable was to inquire at the front desk, with the clerk.
After asking I discovered his address written in the hotel register. I was informed that he lived in a large deluxe house in a nearby Texan town called Lockhart. Therefore, the enveloping mystery of the true identity of this man would be resolved.
The next morning I located Logan Clark, after he had left the inn. It was ultimately the enfolding evidence I desired and sought. There were too many doubts and questions I had forming in my mind, at that precise moment that were only speculations or suppositions on my part. How could what occurred with the daguerreotype be authentic? Was I truly only imagining something that was not probable?
When I had arrived at the address, I was truly impressed, by the magnificent Gothic house that stood, beneath the cerulean sky that permeated a tranquil country ease. The exterior of the three-story house was built, with cream-colored limestone and red sandstone. The central clock tower housed a four-faced clock and a heavy silver bell that fascinated me. The mansard roof of the house was characteristic of a Victorian design.
When I tapped on the front door, a generous colored servant opened the door and asked me what I wanted. I made mention of the name of Logan Clark, and the daguerreotype was shown. The daguerreotype was the incontrovertible proof that demonstrated the undeniable identity of Mr. Clark. I was then escorted to the parlor that had draperies festooned over the window, as I waited for his presence seated in the chaise lounge.
Upon his arrival I rose to my feet to shake his hand, and see the man that had apparently eluded common reality. He greeted me calmly and mannerly, while I stood in awe of the extraordinary sight of this affable and deferential man. He was exactly the same as before, when I took his daguerreotype.
"Mr. Logan Clark, it is you in person verily. I have found you in earnest, and I have been waiting, with such an anticipation to speak to you sir, about a certain matter!" I stated.
I asked him, if we could speak privately. He smiled as he remembered, "Indeed, Mr. Del Mar. Follow me!"
"Thank you Mr. Clark. I am extremely envious of your priceless mansion sir." I responded with my candor and admission.
Once alone, I had a curious need to know and verify the encroaching truth that was haunting me, since the inusitate photograph was taken the day before. I was smitten with tremendous curiosity and admired his composed deportment and douth. He seemed to be a very bounteous and prodigious benefactor within society.
We sat down afterward, as the crows could be heard cawing, from the row of the oak trees outside, and I perceived the familiar intonation I had recalled, when the indelible daguerreotype was taken recently. Despite the inexplicable daguerreotype he had maintained his youthful guise that made me marvel with that bizarre reality that transpired. It was a bitter reality that I had envied respectfully. He was always affable and an altruist man of probity toward me, and not insouciant. He was not cantankerous or a catty man in nature and mien. Without a doubt I had admired his unflagging strength and unflinching courage.
"Mr. Clark, if what I have been suspecting with intrigue and excitement is veracious, then you are a living example of such absolute divinity," I replied.
"I am very flattered by your mere eloquence and passion Mr. Del Mar. There are many unlearned swines who debase themselves through greed and treachery. However, it is clear that you are not one of them. You are wondering then, if I am immortal? And if so, why I have not aged in all this time elapsed, since we met yesterday, when you took my daguerreotype," he said.
"Yes, yes, tell me please I implore you sir—I must know your hidden secret. You hold the key to immortality, in your hand Mr. Clark if true. The world is at your beckon call. You see Mr. Clark, yesterday I took your daguerreotype and after it developed, I noticed that your appearance had miraculously altered, and you were an old man sir! Naturally, I thought there was an obvious mistake in the development of the daguerreotype, or there was a logical explanation for this unusual occurrence, but after examining it thoroughly, I realized that there was nothing abnormal, except of course your natural guise and disposition sir."
"Yes of course I understand this inexplicable abnormality Mr. Del Mar!"
He gazed into the depth of my eyes and began to relate his empirical story, as he smoked puffs from his cigar. He was not a jejune man to pontificate and his replies were not curt, "It is true Mr. Del Mar, I am immortal! It all started one day long ago. I was born sir, in the year of 1768. I am 137 years old. My parents were noble aristocrats, who emigrated from Europe, before the French Indian War. I fought in the Revolutionary War, against the Loyalists and British. I was the first born in the United States, and I have fought in the major wars of this country. I have soldiered well, with gallantry in the American Revolution, the Mexican-American War. I had been invested respectfully, with tremendous honors and rank. However, the disturbing images of the bodies of dead soldiers or smithereens of their remains haunt me horribly, till this day Mr. Del Mar."
"But how did you become immortal? Why have you not aged at all? What is your fountain of youth? Why do you not have any wrinkles or gray, if you are human, Mr. Logan?" I had inquired.
During the colloquy he revealed his century ancient secret, in such an unctuous and unfeigned manner perceived.
It was the undeniable pith and denotation of his illusory truth. "It is like the wonderful mystery of the phosphorescence of the fireflies or the metamorphosis of a butterfly. You see I was traveling in Mexico one day Mr. Del Mar, when I had become very ill with a rapid fever and was dying. I was saved, by a local curandera of Aztec blood with the name of Tonantzin, who had saved my life. I was then given water from a mysterious spring that appeared to be vulnerary. The mysterious spring of Chalmecacihuilt, the Aztec goddess of the underworld was never discovered in the end, and neither was the old curandera. This is all I remember of the incredible incident."
He then showed me a daguerreotype of the Mexican-American War, after the famous Battle of Chapultepec in 1847.
"I was a proud soldier of the American Army. Our army as well, as the Mexican Army fought bravely in the war Mr. Del Mar. Although the war seemed destined to proclaim American victory it was not overtly impartial to the moans and affliction of the ill-fated fallen soldiers of valiance from the vanguard of each side, who lain in the strewn piles of the deceased I had witnessed from afar and from nearby. War is a terrible thing to have to bear with such grievous admission Mr. Del Mar. I reckon death is only a determined precursor to the ultimate course of human destiny. Nevertheless, I have yearned to efface the haunting memories of the those dead colleagues and foes on the battlefields."
Among the American soldiers was the striking face of Mr. Logan Clark. He appeared to be in his youthful spirit, and despite the wear and tear he suffered in the war consequently, he had no obvious signs of aging. He appeared to be a very versatile and plucky man indeed, and he maintained himself, with the most sedulous care. This I had to confess, with a sudden apprehension that inhibited my sentience.
"The war, at last, had ended, and I returned to my home to resume my passion and occupation Mr. Del Mar. But, the daunting phantom of those dead men lurked in my mind daily." He paused to show me tokens of the Revolutionary War, and a silver medal he had received.
"This silver medal you see Mr. Del Mar was given to me for my bravery, at the siege of Yorktown. Oh I reckon it is safe to say that many honorable and decorous men died, for our glorious independence from England. I have had to endure the insuppressible cries of those daunting memories Mr. Del Mar, for unabatable decades."
Thence, I thought was this sufficient to prove without a doubt, this theory of immortality that had been engrossing me gradually, and contrasted the reality I knew as a human?
"I know you are wondering still if what I say is absolutely the truth. I shall continue with my story Mr. Del Mar. Henceforth, once I knew of my immortality I attempted to find other immortals like me, and for years I searched, as the decades passed, and no concrete evidence. All infinitesimal pieces of information were discarded, and my intrigue became an urgent obsession. In the year 1849, a year after the Mexican American War, I was informed of a mysterious case of immortality, involving an individual. The case was more than an inexplicable coincidence, and had definitely captured my fascination and interest. It appeared that this bizarre phenomenon was not only inclusive to my case, but as well though uncommon, to other unknown individuals. This particular case was about a strange man from New Orleans. Immediately once I was told about this occurrence I traveled to Louisiana, where I had met the man whose name was Bertrand Lafayette, a distant relative of the famous French Marquis de Lafayette of the Revolutionary War. He was a reputable man and a prosperous merchant as well. His family had accumulated wealth and a luxuriant mansion and estate, outside of the city. When I arrived at his estate, I was greeted by him, and he was not aware of my interest in visiting him. I had explained to him that I wanted to take a daguerreotype of him, using the pretext of his remarkable lineage and his affinity to the Marquis to see whether or not this miraculous tale of immortality was accurate. Judging from his appearance, he was a man in his late thirties, tall and robust in stature. Even though his surname was French, his propriety was excellent and cordial of a Southerner."
Logan Clark paused then continued, "He spoke to me at length, about his honorable grandfather, as if he was the actual Jean Paul Lafayette himself in person. I was captivated by his account and listened attentively. I did not mention or reveal the incident with me, since I did not think it prudent. His daguerreotype was taken in the hall of his mansion. Afterward, there was an urgency to reveal it at once. I had departed from his estate and returned to the hotel I was staying in within the city of New Orleans. I wanted to be in a place or room that would allow the photograph to be properly exposed. After waiting and waiting, the daguerreotype was finally exposed. However, there was no abnormality detected. Apparently either he was a mortal, or the daguerreotype was illusionary. Either way, I was faced with the reality that there existed my extraordinary case. What if this odd phenomenon was only found in daguerreotypes and nothing more I thought? Of course to prove this I would have to find a daguerreotype of Mr. Lafayette himself, or take one of him. But where in heaven's name would I find such daguerreotype I pondered? Perhaps in the mansion of Mr. Lafayette, I would be able to discover such possibility. I had returned to his estate the following morning, where I gave him a copy of the daguerreotype taken before. He was extremely content and satisfied with the photograph, and he invited me to the parlor. Once there I saw portraits of him and his grandfather. But there was one in particular that arrested my curiosity. It was a painting of the Marquis with his grandfather. I studied the painting, with such meticulous observation, while he had left for a moment. Although it was only a painting, the incredible resemblance to his grandfather was stunning. But once again, this was not enough proof to deduce any concrete surmisal or conclusion of absolute immortality. What if I took another daguerreotype of him using another method? Thus, I asked him if I could take another daguerreotype of him, and he agreed. I took the daguerreotype and then returned to the hotel to reveal it."
He paused and then continued, "Once there, I had the daguerreotype revealed, and indeed, as with my case, his appearance on the daguerreotype had altered, from being a man in his thirties to being a hoary man over a hundred-years old. It was too unbelievable and yet a confirmation of an actuality. There was no doubt that he was Jean Paul Lafayette. The problem was how I would prove this theory to be rational and coherent to any one? I thought of revisiting Mr. Lafayette, but when I did I learned that he had been shot and killed, by a disgruntled man who he owed a debt to. Naturally, it was a terrible thing to be told, and unfortunately for me, I was left wondering what if he was truly immortal? My quest for immortality would have to wait, until I discovered another case such as the previous, with Jean Paul Lafayette. I knew that other immortals existed amid the mortals, but where could I find them, and when? Therefore, I continued my search, until I found another immortal. I was traveling in Mexico, when I met in the distant town of San José of the state of Coahuila, a woman who claimed to be immortal and ageless. The year was 1850, and her name was Ofelia Balderas and she was beautiful and as brisk, as a morning nightingale. Ofelia was of average height and had dark hair that flowed down her lower back, as her oval eyes of onyx had a luster that was so revealing. San José was several miles outside of the city of Piedras Negras. When we finally met and spoke to each other, we knew we were both immortals. Ofelia Balderas was born in the year of 1668 and was originally from Sevilla, Spain, but migrated to Mexico in 1690. We became lovers in time, and we stayed in Mexico, until we feared being revealed. We outlived our acquaintances and had to abandon the life we had together. Perhaps, it is cruel to believe that immortality is worth an endless treasure than the children one bears. You must believe me, when I acknowledge, through my admission that I was destined to the fate that sealed my existence. Ofelia was then my soul mate, until she mysteriously disappeared Mr. Del Mar. I looked everywhere for her, but could not locate her. The years passed and became everlasting. I thought much of the family I left behind, my sons and daughters. Of course I thought much of Ofelia as well!"
"Where are your children and Ofelia at now Mr. Clark? Have you seen them since Mexico? Are they still there and alive?" I eagerly asked.
He sighed with a sullen singular expression, before he replied, "I prefer not to respond. I am certain that you will understand my reluctance! Oh for years, I had always pondered within my creative thoughts of such incredible immortality, and the apparent notion and truth, about the actual existence of immortals in this world. I could not avoid the pressing temptation to investigate this unearthly phenomenon and ensample even more, as I assayed. This was an impalpable enigma, and I had continued to search and search endlessly cities and towns throughout America and Europe previously, with the sole intention of finding more immortals. Verily, would I ever find another immortale, after all these passing years of decades? This was the pending doubt that I had and could not answer, as a solonist."
He paused for the last time and revealed a disturbing confession that was testimony of his last words spoken, before his unbelievable demise, "My time on this earth has now expired Mr. Del Mar, and I have seen in three centuries, many castles, fortresses, monuments, mansions, manors, etc. I have dined and wined with elegant and illustrious nobility, from all around the world or globe. I have seen the prominence of the Romantic and Victorian epochs in person. Now I long for the peace and quietude of perpetuity, along the side of my devoted ancestors. I have no wife, no children, and this has been my curse. Today, it will all end, and I bear no ill will to the curse that has given me this immortality. My only regret is that I could not locate Ofelia or see my children again."
He was totally immune to any pernicious illness, wounds, and other grievous conditions of explicable peril, as long as his heart would beat continuously. He took a deep breath, before he took some poison and fell to his chair manfully, as he began to slowly age and enervate before my very own eyes. The deadly poison swiftly attacked his inner organs, and without mercy. His curly chestnut brown hair turned entirely ashen, and his face began to be covered in unveiling wrinkles. His back was bending, as his posture faded. He rose to his feet nequient, as he struggled greatly with his ivory cane in his hand. He stared at me and then muttered one last utterance of entreaty and ghastliness before his untimely and impending death, as his declining bones became particles of dust he sloughed chillingly.
"By the grace of God, I am eleutheros now, and I can rest Mr. Del Mar! Bury me thereafter, next to my beloved kinsfolk. This is my honest supplication, and not condign punishment!"
That was the grisly final act of the immortal life of Mr. Logan Clark. History would never know the inception of his incredible and fascinating story of the man behind the daguerreotype. No one except me knew the remarkable account of Mr. Logan Clark. His unfathomable secret was kept silent and confidential by me. His death was proclaimed, as an inexplicable disappearance the next day.
Thus, the indeterminate fountain of youth or the water of that spring of immortality were never discovered by me. I searched throughout Mexico and found no trace of the mysterious spring.
Presently it is now the 20th century, and I am an old man, instead of a young vigorous and peripatetic man in my thirties seeing the world, as that very same man that took the implausible daguerreotype. I often think of the ineluctable curse that Mr. Logan Clark had to endure forever, as an immortal in impletion. The seed of immortality is taught from the commencement of the Homo sapiens unwittingly, as an unattainable and unfounded concept we pursue incognito, in the fanciful desideratum that consumes us in such an inexplicable obsession and unbalance, by degrees of such deep introspection.
After the unfortunate death of Logan Clark, I was driven to the extreme passion of discovering more cases of immortality within this world, but I failed to find another immortal person on this earth. I never found Ofelia and Mr. Clark's children, and I was obsessed with determining the genuine significance of immortality. The mere reality of the nature of physics renders the dubious probability of immortality devoid of an unequivocal basis of any rational and coherent asseveration and logic in eveniency. Then, we must conclude and ictuate that the very cogent ratiocination determined is more than a tentative assumption we ascribe, instead, a quality we yearn with such desperation to ascertain.
The engaging passion to be immortal manifests within the brain's detachment, from the ponderous and visible circumference, in the world of the illimitable mortals, who are vectitorily in an unknown place. This in accordance, with the elucidated theories of science imposed, upon the immutable suppositions and visionary dreams expressed. Herein, the veridicous mystery of immortality is sought, through the consequent process of causation. I ask the reader, can immortality be existent and irrefutable, if it is proven to be no actual aberration or a quixotical impossibility? My unbroken and undeniable obsession for immortality forsook and superseded my unbounded or earthly mortality.
Mors certa, hora incerta!