I have to get my head on straight this month. ~ Corvidae
John Smith. It couldn’t get much more unoriginal than that. It wasn’t even a Smythe to add a curve ball to the name game. “This is terrible; I’m a nobody,” he thought as he opened the unassuming aluminum-framed, glass door of the coffee shop. “All I want is to be heard. Nothing much, just to get an answer out of someone.”
The ragged journal at his side posed as a message in a bottle. Cradled in his hand, the worn diary was much more a friend than any flesh or blood. Its scratching, doodles, and loose leaves from other sources gave the appearance of a drunk hoisted from bed. It was his life away from menial work which kept him off the street.
Personal demons that poke and laugh made a merry ring around his existence, completely camouflaged under a sensible wardrobe. Dressing the part is an easier path in life, as experience explains. The polite exchange over the counter masked his deep-seated longing to be bold, to feel something. Alas, any quirks are quickly regarded as threat anymore. Irreconcilable male emotions seek the weak spots in the moral battlements of human control. Probing, testing, always questioning the strength of its material and will of its garrison. Passion is a crime, crimes of passion. People seek meaning in violence, which is cremated in the flames of righteousness. Two wrongs that make a right with horseshoes and hand grenades. He wanted to grab her by the shoulders and kiss her like an apocalypse, but that is taboo anymore.
He kept it level, his heart tying forget-me knots with a swirl of a spoon. Freedom isn’t really free, but not in the way it’s often delivered, especially when society doesn’t look beyond themselves.
The pockmarks and stains on the corner table spoke of all walks of life. A tracker could instantly follow the personalities which once graced the table: the slob, the vandal, the klutz. It’s probably a good thing humans aren’t acceptable game. They’d be the 21st century dodo.
The tattered book covered these from view, and once more John plied graphite to wood pulp creating humanity. Lovers, haters, ships, trains, philosophies, opinions, emotions, logic, light, darkness, pride, and despair developed on the canvas of paper. All of it a symphony for the conductor.
Had he not dropped his mechanical pencil, his life might not be any different from his drink order, but the focus was now on the world around him. At first, he thought his eyes might be suffering from some malady or allergy, as the neatly sorted, used paperbacks slid slightly on oiled wood. The oil then grew on the books themselves.
Peering at this newly discovered substance, John became the cat and lightly tapped the binding to test its physical properties. Peculiar protoplasm it was with light pulses to suggest organic origins. “What is this… goo?” He began to rub the substance between his fingers and thumb. To give it contact was to give Dr. Frankenstein lightning.
“Read me,” slid through his ears as a whisper of confession.
“Read me, please?” Sadness implored.
“Who said that?” John was skeptical yet coy, a defensive mechanism for those scared to death of being committed. Undeniably, it was the heart and soul of the author, speaking to him. They were him, and he they, all together in one giant cell. Despair fell to the pit of his stomach and he rested for a moment on the casing behind him.
He could see them all, penning away in their space making what seems like a desperate attempt to find form in the script. No castaway could envision this archipelago from the shoreline. Worse yet, the flow increased. Books from all sections of the shop were seeping with gelatinous ooze. More and more slide down the spine of the novels, relentlessly filling up the floor with murmur and misery. John tiptoed around the pool in a fright.
“Oh God… Oh God! Oh God, oh God, oh God,” he tried to keep himself quiet. This was starting to draw the attention of others. A man pressing himself up against a bookcase in defense of invisible vermin. It’s not something one sees everyday. An overwhelming anxiety washed over him as the history section coughed up distant centuries. The mists of time were but a sneeze on his glasses, and not a Kleenex in sight. He moved ever more quickly to the exit with his coat and journal in hand. A sprint gave him access to the door and he never looked back. At his house, the locks bolted firmly into place as he rested his back from fatigue.
Why did this just happen? He had been around books for as long as he could remember, but this was definitely the first time he experienced this. “Maybe I don’t want to be published? Maybe this is all wrong? Maybe I’m all wrong?” His eyes found their way to the haphazard journal opened randomly to a piece written six months prior. It was a story of his dead mother, and his whole time grieving. A moving story filled with sorrow and loss.
“This is why.” A raspy, masculine voice announced. “To hear yourself speak.”
John sat down at his crude table which he called a desk and smoothed out the pages carefully. Even though the clues had been laid in front of him, he needed some time to calm down from the shock of hallucination. It was right, though, he needed to hear himself even if others wanted to be heard too. In a conciliatory gesture, he laid one hand on the writing utensil and began another page.
© 2013 by Corvidae in the Fields, all rights reserved
Wow. Gorgeous writing in this and a message I can relate to personally these days. Some personal faves:
“loose leaves from other sources”
“and once more John plied graphite to wood pulp creating humanity”
And the whole paragraph beginning with “Peering at this newly discovered substance,”
Thank you. It was based on a true story (love it when Hollywood says that).
It was an attempt to think beyond simple sentences, to act like the moody artist in a way free of social fear and anxiety.
Nice stuff….why, oh why, do we want to write?
Like smoking, it’s something to do with our hands. 🙂
I lived this over dinner.
I was fairly sure it was a common thread with several writers.
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