Today’s writing was more dialogue based than anything and mostly journal based for a story without much direction right now. A sampling of eyelets waiting for something to be laced into. Quoting my moleskine (and, allow for something a bit NSFW, though no terrible language is used.) Continue reading Today, 2/12.
I’d had an idea swimming in my head for over a year about a man who a watch could be set by, comedically so. That he is up at 6:33 every morning, into the shower four-and-a-half minutes later taking no more than a six minute and no less than a seven minute shower, whilst afterward spending thirty-seven seconds brushing his teeth, twenty seconds combing his hair, ten seconds on deodorant (each arm, a total of twenty-four seconds with a two second allowance to switch the deodorant from right to left hands, uncap and also recap and remove and replace from the shelf) intrigued me greatly.
The man who never got so far as to have a name, though I imagined it obnoxious, ending with a hard consanant, a last name like Bach or Rausch or Funk, would be the direct opposite of myself and quite difficult to take seriously. But, I would try to place myself inside him, in his voice and in his reasoning. Sadly, there was nothing of substance to pair with him — make him late for a meeting, drive him crazy in a sort of Falling Down scenario or something equaly terse for his psyche and see how he recovers felt bland.
Until this evening, when I stood for the train, and heard an unexpected voice behind me.
“Hey. Hey. HEY. Got a minute?”
Continue reading One Week Away.
So, here’s how it’s going to go: I’m going to edit this throughout the week until we have a complete story. You’ll likely read some of the same stuff, but, I’d like to spend some of my time sharpening points and making things work a bit more in my mind. This is the second edit and yes, there is more plot added, not just me editing and adding cruft.
I will also warn that this is VERY NSFW. Read it away from work, if you’re apt to get in trouble for things of this nature.
He tapped his fingers on the keyboard, staring at the crack in the wall. “Aaaany day now,” he said, his voice fettered with sarcasm. “Any moment now, an idea is going to jump right out into these fingers, and I’ll write something. It won’t be good, but, it’ll be something.”
The sun had begun it’s rise, peeking through his back window and just barely catching his eye. He felt as though it was a death ray, piercing through to his soul, sending him crashing from his desk. He wiggled and shook, every last synapse firing, his eyes squeezing shut with tremendous might. He felt the presence of someone else then, and opened his left eye.
“Another seizure, Captain Stupid?” his Wife asked. The Writer sighed and stood up, avoiding the beams from the sun this time.
“No one understands the creative process,” the Writer sighed.
“Frying like bacon is creative?”
“In some circles, yes.”
“In your circle?”
He furrowed his brow and stuck his tongue out at her. She smiled smugly and walked out of the room. “I’m going to work now. Love you.”
“I’m not sure I still love you after that pithy remark, Madam,” he shouted after her. She shrugged and walked without turning around, opening the door to the garage and leaving.
He sat down in front of his computer again, the cursor blinking, tauntingly. “Screw you, cursor. At least you know what you have to do. Blink. Blink. Blink. Blink. Shut up.”
“Blink. Blink. Blink. Fuck you. Blink.” said the cursor.
“HEY!” he said, standing and pointing at the cursor.”
“Blink. Blink.” the cursor replied.
The writer pointed harder, and followed it up with a defeated “Gaahhhh!”
“Blink. Asshole. Blink.” the cursor taunted.
“Oh, fuck you, too.” The writer retorted, picking up the phone and dialing his wife. The phone rang twice before she answered.
“If you’re choking on your tongue, you didn’t dial 9-1-1.”
“Ha. Ha. Funny.”
“I thought so.”
Silence. Normally they were comfortable in silence. When they met, they were silent for hours while they stared into each other’s eyes. Now, it was uncomfortable. Nervous, even.
“What do you want?” she asked.
“You know I was kidding about the I don’t know if I love you anymore thing, right?” he asked, nervously. More silence.
“Are you serious?” she asked.
“Are we playing the question game?” he replied.
“Do you want to play the question game?”
“Do YOU want to play the question game?”
“Did you know you just lost because you asked the same question I did?”
“Did you know that it’s not because I said it in English, translated from Russian?”
“Did you know that you’re a moron, and of course I know you were kidding?” she said.
“Yes, I did. I love you.”
“I love you. You and your big stupidhe-”
“My stupid head?”
“My stupid head?”
Silence, only louder still.
“Don’t give me the silent treatment. I hate the silent treatment.” He hated the silent treatment and how easy it worked on him. How frantic he got, how hard it was to be the one who got the last word or action in. And there, on the other end: Silence.
He looked at the phone and choked it, before putting the receiver back to his ear. “Hello?! Hello? Damnit!
On the other end of the phone, there would be no reply. His Wife, the one woman who loved him more than any other, the one woman who would put up with his nonsense, sit on the side of the road, gasping for air, looking around frantically for help as the police officer approached the side of her car.
“Any idea how fast you were going, ma’am?”
There is some debate on the true age of Alan Summers.
Some of his stories take place five years before the Great Depression, when he was just a small child, living in a farming community outside of Pittsburgh. The Summer Farm specialized in spinach, a delicate leafy vegetable that Alan had grown to hate, thanks to it being the only food they could eat during the Depression. There was spinach fries, spinach casseroles, spinach with spinach sauce and spinach ice cream for desert. All of which Alan confided to Lila was a bunch of malarkey. Doreen made the worst, most waterlogged and oily spinach he’d ever had the displeasure of tasting, a fact that each of the family members agreed upon. Stories set around this time put Alan’s age somewhere in the late 80’s.
Other stories took place fifteen years before the start of the Great Depression, making his age somewhere in the hundreds. In these, he was a beet and potato farmer from Missouri, watching helplessly as the Beet Beetles ate his family’s sole crop, forcing him to take a job as a boot black for a man who’d lost both legs in the Civil War. This story especially offended Doreen.
“What on EARTH would a man with no legs be doing with boy to shine his shoes when he had no shoes?” she would ask, flabbergasted each time Alan told the nonsensical story.
“Who’s to say? General Cornelius C. Cornpone wanted to ensure that by the grace of God, if he did grow new legs, he’d have shoes on the ready.”
By now, Lilac would giggle, and Doreen would become even more infurated at the man’s spendthrift ways. Nevermind that Genereal Cornpone was a figment of her imagination, so far as she knew. That he spent his money frivolously angered her to the point of the vapours, and he knew it. “Now, Doreen, relax. My time was spent well. When not shining his shoes, I was tending to his horses which he’d ride daily.”
Had she been a tea kettle, her outburst would have signified that the water was ready. “How can a man with no legs ride a horse?!” By now, Steven would put his head down to cover his laughter while Lila would excuse herself from the room to giggle uncontrollably while the fight raged on, Doreen arguing with her father-in-law, who stayed steadfast in his dedication to Cornelius T. Cornpone and his ancestors, the real champions of the Civil War.
Still other stories about his birth lead him to be a childhood friend of Christ, the man who gave the name “dirt” to the object which had no name before he came along, and sometime within the last week, depending on how witty he was feeling. Only Alan knew for sure his birthday and date, and he wasn’t telling. Inspite of that, he lived a wonderful, vibrant life at his “around ninety years” of age.
It’s not that Alan was secretive; no, Alan was an open book, for those willing to get past the foreword. His stories were long and worth every word, if you were willing to look past the grandiose and absurd exaggerations placed within each story. Alan could see everyone as he told his stories, and the second someone looked around, incredulously, he’d had him and began speaking only to him, gradually ramping up the absurdity until the subject burst. It was his favorite thing to do, and he was an old pro at setting Doreen off.
What’s known about Alan Summers is: He stood six feet, three inches tall for most of his life, and weighed a perfectly healthy one hundred and eighty pounds. His eyes blue, his hair blond, his skin fair with Germanic features. He was an athlete in high school, and very nearly won the Wisconsin State 100m dash some year of his life when he was eighteen. And, until ten years ago, he’d likely never had a bad day in his life. His first day of life, he was born in a hospital next to Gertrude Opal Smith, who would become his best friend and wife. Alan was born first, Gertrude seconds later. Their parents — William James and Anna Ruth Summers and John and Jane Smith, both men farm hands on the same farm, both women servants on the same farm were like best friends.
Each stayed on the farm in Lower Wisconsin growing soybeans on the largest soybean plantation in Wisconsin until the death of the John D. Rockefeller of Soybeans, T. Harold Wilson. Wilson, not having children due to an accident as a child, left his vast plantation to the Summers and Smith, which was inevitably passed on to Alan and Gertie, which will then be left to Steven and Doreen and then Lilac Flower Summers.
Fifty-two years ago, they welcomed their first child into the world, Steven William John Summers, their first son. Fifty years ago, they both welcomed and buried their second and last child, Mary Anna Ruth Sanders.
Alan and Gertie, until September 6th, ten years ago had not spent more than half-day apart, when Gertrude got sick. She passed quickly, her heart failing her after sixty-four years of marriage. From there, somewhere in his eighties or nineties, Alan’s health started failing, too. He was sicker more often, tired more often. Still tending to his hundreds of acres of soybeans, he finally allowed Steven to take over more of the day to day operations of the crops.
Alan barely remembered the days, barely knew he was alive anymore. Without Gertie, life just didn’t seem to matter, aside from Lilac and Steven. He’d do anything for Gertie, he’d do anything to have her back again, and through his granddaughter, he felt her still there, even slightly. She loved him, and he loved her. They hadn’t spent more than a day apart since Gertie died, and likely never would again.
That is, until it was time to tell her the family secret.
“Come on, dude. It’s not Beethoven, and you’re not like, writing the Sistene Chapel, you know? Just get out there and do what you do,” he said, as if he were a cheerleader, punctuating his gooutandgetemituitiveness with a solid, straight right to the my shoulder and a double nod.
“What are you talking about?” I said, unblinking.
“You know. You gotta like remember that you’re this big awesome guy at what you’re doing, you know? Just like that other guy. Albert DaVinci. You know him: Invented the toothbrush and the radio. He didn’t just give up. He went out, got into his truck, and just did it. Okay? That’s what you’ve gotta do, man. Just do it. Isn’t that some cereal motto? Rice Krispies, I think. Yeah.”
I stood incredulously as he hit my shoulder again and gave me a push away. I walked as though I were Atlas, and for a few hours, I was burdened with someone else’s stupidity. I would be lying if I didn’t say that for a split second I thought he might be right and I might be wrong. That all I had learned about Beethoven was wrong and that DaVinci’s name may be Albert.
But, only for a split second. I’m not that stupid. That’s Keith O’Keefe for you. He can be so convincing and confident in his own stupidity that he could make you doubt your own intelligence. Despite Keef Keef’s (his childhood nickname) shortcomings, and they are indeed many, he does have one thing in his favor: No matter who I meet, no matter what stories I hear, I know that I know the World’s Biggest Idiot.
And so, another dream dies and you plummet to earth, down from the euphoria and glee that thoughts and aspirations took you to. You reached the stratosphere with the wings of insects, holding promise that one day they would spread into those of a mighty albatross. Your heart soared with joy as you passed through the clouds, looking down on all who you may tower over someday.
The clouds come and go, but with your nose firmly planted at the grindstone, you’ll never know it. In time, you’ll forget that there’s more to life outside the never changing view of consistency, that the anchor of familiarity keeps you grounded and that freedom is a sucker’s bet. Up there, where only dreams and hopes keep you afloat, it’s a long, long way down.
No, dreams are not safe things in the slightest. They are frivolous and pointless endeavors, undertaken by the weak willed. Stay here. It’s safe here. Here, when a dream crashes down, you only need step left or right to avoid the catastrophe.
Heed our words: We’ve learned the hard way. We are the dreamers who’ve moved on; bitter, empty shells of what we were, what we could have been. It may be said that we simply gave up on ourselves, and took the safe way, and no words could be truer. That is exactly what we did, and what we will say until our deaths. We scream to the highest highs, so that the most distant dreamer can hear our cries: “Give up, O’ Dreamer, Oh future casualty of the crushing weight of self-awareness and responsibility! Give no passing thought to what could be, what may be! Stay grounded to what is; what needs to be!”
You will be better off for it, we promise you.
-The Dreamers of Long Ago.