Tomorrow is Friday the 13th. We (as a society) believe that the number 13 is unlucky. Why? There were thirteen people at the Last Supper (Jesus and twelve apostles). Thirteen turns make a hangman's noose (any less and it wouldn't snap the neck). On Friday the 13th of October, 1307, King Philip IV ordered the arrest of the Knights Templar.
Fear of the number 13 is called triskaidekaphobia. Fear of Friday the 13th is called paraskevidekatriaphobia.
Thirteen. We were thirteen when I knew what I wanted to do. I wanted to create. I wanted to write. I wrote scripts that my brother illustrated. Together, we made comics. Superhero comics. Magic in paper form. We sold them for a dollar each.
In Korea, China, Japan, and Vietnam, the number four is unlucky. Because in Mandarin (and the languages evolved from Mandarin), the number four and death sound very similar.
We sold the issues to our classmates and made a hefty sum (at the time). We bought candy bars and bubble gum cigarettes and an issue of MAD Magazine as we walked home. As we walked and found our destinies. Destiny is a fickle thing. Sometimes you can find it when you least expect, as you turn the pages of a MAD Magazine, as you chew on a bubble gum cigarette, as you run to push your brother away from being hit by a speeding car.
In Italy, the number 17 is unlucky, because in Roman numerals it is XVII. This can be rearranged to say VIXI, which means "I am alive" but is also a euphemism for "I am dead." Alive and dead at the same time. A paradox.
He wasn't looking where he was going. I was chewing on the bubble gum cigarette, while he was reading the MAD Magazine. He wasn't looking. The car (as the cliche goes) came out of nowhere. I ran and pushed him away. Before the car hit me, I saw a bright light. Later, they said it was the headlights of the car, but it wasn't: it was the Aleph. It showed me things I can no longer remember. Brain damage, the doctors said. But I knew. I'm going to find it again. I will see all things again.
Tomorrow is Friday the 13th. Do we fear the number thirteen because it is unlucky? Or is it unlucky because we fear it? Do we instill our own sense of unjustness into the number, just so we can have one thing - one number - become that which we hate, so that we do not hate ourselves for not being lucky, for being afraid?
I do not know. I do not know the truth, I only seek it.