Monday, July 3, 2006

what you do to me

Why write? Nothing more than a little exercise in bridging the gap between what is real and what is not, what has happened and what never will, things actually done and things only dreamt. It's a short step from possible to impossible, but a step that will not, no, can not ever be undertaken by anybody - except in writing. It is for this reason that a writer writes: to experience unreality, to live the unliveable, to wake in a dream. To take that step.

My foot falters.

I am haunted. Tormented by this great asomatous beast forever on the horizon. A beast I do not run from, but instead run towards. I am a hunter; my game, plot. I wish to capture it, encage it in a prison of black and white words, put it on display for the whole world to see. And if I can't take it alive, I'll take it dead. On the wall of my study, a trophy, this monster's taxidermied head.

"Why write?"

I listen to the clink, clink, clinking of your coffee spoon, while searching for an answer in the swirl of cream in your cup. You wait for my words, brushing aside a lock of blonde. Then, your painted lips part, as if to speak again - but I can't let that happen.

"Because," I say. "Because I have things that need saying, and the only way to say them is to write them." There is a better answer, I know, but somehow I just can not put it into words. My gaze turns, instead, to the café window as if what I search for lurks out there in the street.

"And if you don't?"

"Pardon me?"

"What if you don't write?" you ask, taking a sip of steaming coffee. "What if you do something else instead? There are things that pay better, you know."

"If I don't write them," I say, "if I don't get these thoughts onto paper, then they bouce around in my head, and things get all muddled up in there." I pause briefly to root around in my pocket, looking for change. "And trust me - you don't want that. By the way, how much for mine?"

"Don't worry about it - get me back next time."

"Thanks," I say. "Listen, I've got to run. Call you later."

I'm in a hurry now, weaving between the tables towards the front door. Close, now, to the outside. Close, now, to an idea. Growing faint. In one motion, my hand is pushing open the door, and I'm about to step through, when I'm suddenly blinded by the midday sun. I'm just about to cross the threshold when

my foot falters.

Row upon row of polished oak pews, they sit, forever transfixed. Transfixed, because they found another to guide them. Transfixed, because they found someone to interpret Those Pages for them. Transfixed, because they saw the future reflected in his three hundred dollar gold-rimmed shades. In this old worn photo, he leans over the pulpit, all starched white shirt and gleaming epaulettes. He stands, eternally frozen in time, mouth agape, with those brilliant white teeth, in mid proclamation. The choir, having lost their collective voice, stands behind him, silent; everyone waits for the other to make a move. No-one does. Not now. Not ever.

I awake on the dirty sidewalk an indeterminable amount of time later with a crowd of concerned faces around me. You're there. I've been gone maybe seconds, maybe eons, but I'm back now, and you still look the same. A rope of blonde hair lightly brushes my cheek, a soft hand grips my rough one, and in a moment I'm back on unsteady feet, with a bruised shoulder and mangled pride. war wounds.

Injuries sustained during my latest hunting expedition.

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