Miscellaneous Mental Musings of an Emerging Artist
It is not a memory, for it has not happened; nor is it an observation of events unfolding in the present. It is a daydream of a man having a nightmare, and the nightmare wears the garments and solemn expression of prophecy without having the credentials to back up that masquerade.
There is a fiction, and the fiction is this.
I am sitting at a corner table of a dark American tavern in the middle of nowhere; an establishment that still displays its sun-bleached “Bar & Grill” sign over the front door even though the grill hasn’t been working for months and the regulars agree that what came off the grill when it was working wasn’t even fit for goat consumption. The stack of irrelevant menus gathers dust at the end of the bar counter.
I am fifty-something, slouched in a hickory frame, my face the craggy badlands of misunderstanding and the life in my eyes long picked clean by vultures. The air in the room is dry and crackles with shreds of tiny baritone, like a forgotten bear-trap for radio transmissions. Muted snippets of Walter Cronkite repeating in place, fastidiously chewing at their own legs. I am tracing the condensation of the highball glass in front of me and considering the feat of engineering it would take to make a building at least twenty stories high next door to this location, a luminous glass tower on top of which I would stand, breathing deeply the atmosphere, and then with a sort of grim joy, throwing myself off.
Imagining that with twenty feet remaining between myself and the earth I am finally forced to make the decision; that I either admit gravity’s superiority once and for all, or I fly.
They do not enter so much as are suddenly there: unshaven, tobacco-stained outlaws in black denim and leather affixed in similar arrangements, like identical twins who tried so hard to differentiate from each other that they ended up circling around their own insecurity and meeting nose-to-nose on the other side.
One is my Spite. The other is my Ambition. I shift uneasily and hope they don’t recognize me, which is a foolish action. Of course they recognize me. I’m the one they came for.
And oh the wild time that dust-devils its way through my being; the recollection of the highway, with its flashing yellow line traveling the opposite direction next to us. We stop only to refuel the vehicle and rob banks. Spite with his collection of overexposed photographs in the bright red toolbox, Ambition’s gleaming pearl-handled straight razor nestled securely in his bootstrap. Bullets high on our own velocity. Predators hunting history. We burned and roared across the language of the narrative; scarring the syntax, wreaking havoc on the sentence structure…Spite, Ambition, and I…
Now they sit across from me, slamming back shots of blood-red delusion, waiting for me to speak. Waiting for me to answer, rather, a question they failed to ask when last we were in the same plane of existence. I pour out my glass on the floor, watch it evaporate into the wood, watch the wood evaporate with it, until the tavern around us has blown away, like an empire made of sand. We are a moment frozen in white space then, with no entrances or exits save our obligation to each other.
They do not ask, again. But the question is “Why?”
“Because I could no longer hear you,” I say to Ambition.
“And because I could no longer listen to you,” I say to Spite.
They nod, slowly, and then smile as their shots of blood-red delusion slam back in one resounding swallow. I am waking up, or slowing down, or coming into focus again. I am still waiting for the door that opens out but fearful of what will walk in. When the light goes out I will stand and wander the unseen avenues of this world, talking to myself and refusing to believe anything I say.