Pages 11 & 12

September 14, 2010 — 1 Comment

Here, There and Everywhere

When your prized possessions start to weigh you down, look in my direction, I’ll be around.  I’ll be around[40].

From the deadness of his apartment he moves out into the ever-crowded commerce filled world that buzzes and breathes in all directions as winds blow and the fogs rolls in.  He strolls passed shop windows that are full of ugliness and modernity[41].   Filled with things that are unrecognizable to the untrained or uninformed eye.  Unmoved and numb to the life that thrives outside of his gaze, Sidney sails passed blinking marquees and full trolley cars that struggle on their climb to the wharf; the open air art gallery that offers peaceful displays at every angle; serenity seekers practice meditation or yoga on the lawn of Cathedral Square; voices full of dull conversation rise and fall, roll with the cities hilly topography; across town, waves like society, crash in to the banks of the bay as people who aren’t quite ready to go at another day mope like scavenging pigeons that chase morsels.  He continues his climb.

Once he reaches the cafe[42] he steps into the room at the rear,[43] gently sets his typewriter down on the table and glances at the man[44] that rests his elbows on the front counter.  Sidney’s eye contact is noted as he then holds up two fingers[45] in the direction of the overly familiar face.


[40] And Your Bird Can Sing. (Lennon, McCartney) Capitol Records. 1966

 

[41] Hegemony.  Saks, Macy’s, Neiman Marcus, all places Sidney passed on his way to the place he typed all of his stories (see note 11).  Overpriced and gaudy merchandise buried on mannequins and items that floated on clothed shelves that no one needed to own to be happy.  Complicated clothing that made it impossible to dress without the help of another.  Gadgets unusable for anyone who lacked patience or  suffered from the ills of arthritis.

[42] See note 13

[43] A tiny, one table room that’s walls were covered with photographs that related to the ship that shared the cafes namesake.  There were powerful pictures of the enormous Titanic roaring through the ocean, the only vessel visible for miles.  A symbol of strength.  Then there were the happy pictures.  A baby walking on deck, passengers smiling, passengers eating, passengers dancing close to one another, a man typing a letter home.  And finally, the sad pictures.  A baby walking on deck, passengers smiling, passengers eating, passengers dancing close to one another, and a man typing a letter home, all of them empty and unaware of the death that there were all about to witness not long after the photos were taken.  And the ship that was no longer powerful but a sinking heap of materials, a symbol of death that doubled as a tomb for the many passengers who were unable to make it off.

[44] Eric Ulee Richmond-Thomas.  Private owner of Titanic Café since 1944.

[45] Coffee with rum.  Three fingers: Mint green tea with rum.  When Sidney returned from World War II his jaw was wired shut.  Tiny fragments from a grenade sunk into his abdomen, which caused him to fall on the butt of his gun and thus break his jaw in two places.  Not being able to speak for a short period of time forced him to develop a simple system of signals.  Signals for things behind grocery counters, signals at restaurants, signals at cafes.  This wasn’t so hard for him for two reasons, for one, he believed in always going to the same private owned markets, diners, and coffee shops, guaranteeing himself that the person serving him would always know the signals.  He thought it was important that if one was going to spend money, they should spend it to support small business.  Corporations didn’t need his money and if they did they wouldn’t get it.  He thought their mere existence ruined commerce forever by forcing the little guy to raise prices.

The second reason Sidney was dedicated to small business was an offshoot of his signals and that was his no conversation philosophy, which is the idea that meaningless conversation is just that, meaningless.  He felt that when someone asked questions without any bearing, like “How are you today?” or “Nice day isn’t it,?” when answering them, important thoughts or ideas exit the mind through the mouth.  This philosophy was born when Sidney returned and was first starting out as a writer.  His head would fill with magnificent ideas, beautiful words juxtaposed with others, alliteration, literary elements that any author would love to employ.  He would’ve been able to write a story in a short few hours, but he didn’t want to write a story, he wanted to write a novel about his war experience.  A novel filled with new ideas on humanity, the pungency of American life, something no one had ever done.  He let the ideas fill his head for weeks, until he would buy a typewriter at a pawnshop.  Sure he wrote down little thoughts, phrases, words that should be able to tease out and unleash his truths to the world.  The day he bought it, he ran out to some large market that handled a copious amount of goods, including paper for typing on.  While rushing the money out of his billfold, the woman of African dissent behind the counter courteously asked in a broken English that made it hard for Sidney to understand, “How. R  Yo today sir-e?”  Silence.  Not thinking about anything but acquiring the paper and getting right to typing, her question floated in the air. An awkward silence consumed them briefly when finally his mind was again clouded with artillery smoke, bullets shredding and soldiers shouting.  “HOW. R YO TODAY SIR-E,” she repeated in a voice more stern but equally as incommensurable and now somewhat beautiful and foreign.  Being polite, his mind fumbled and searched for a way out of the trenches, a way out of the haze and horror that he wanted to dictate to the world, he searched for words to counter her polite but arbitrary question.  He glanced down at the name badge that read “Mercy” with the words “in training” stickered underneath and replied, “Oh, I, um, I’m. Ah. Fine, Mercy in training. Thanks. For. Asking.”  And after he paid the nice woman behind the counter, he exited the store with a mind emptied of story and filled with fleeting glory.  The battlefield that shrouded his conscious for many a month was emptied.  Trees grew over the blood rich soil, children ran over the bodies buried beneath the earth.  When he returned home to study the thoughts and notes that he scribbled down all reflected gibberish, a language that he could no longer make out, maybe Icelandic.  He could only get out a few sentences that lacked syntax and cohesiveness.  Sentences that after he wrote them, not even he understood.  So, from then on he stuck to the short stories of positive avenues and shiny endings that he would become known for. He was sad, confused, but lucky.

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One response to Pages 11 & 12

  1. 

    (…maybe Icelandic.) Love it so far.

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