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I followed a man leaving the movie theater the other day.

He was blind, at least that is what I gathered from the previous few times I had seen him.  For many nights during work he passed by and I caught every glimpse I possibly could.  He wore dark thick glasses and always swung a long white stick in front of him when he walked.  When the store was slow I would stare out and watch the people walking by on the sidewalk.  Occasionally the blind man would be one of them.  The first time I saw him; I was following him unconsciously.  As I was walking to work on the red bricks of the plaza I lifted my head and saw him in front of me.  The swaying of the white stick caught my gaze. It briskly grazed the ground ahead of him searching for an obstacle.  He always wore the same outfit; a green blazer made of tweed, black dress slacks and black non-slip shoes that made a ‘click clack’ noise as he passed.  He wore a black fedora pulled down to his thick black glasses that shaded out any discernible features.

 

A blind man with repose isn’t something that comes across you so often.  The acute accentuation of the other senses due to blindness could either drive one mad or make one more in tune with other frequencies.  What it could be like to see things with your ears.  To feel the vibrations of the fountain as it sprays in the air and falls back into the pool from which it came.  The miasma of a crowded room like thick fog you could feel brushing past you.  The remaining senses becoming so visceral.  For some, imposing like the doorman at the gates of heaven.

 

I decided to catch a movie after work.  I enjoyed watching movies by myself.  Conveniently the theater is located right next to my workplace.  I sat in the frigid theater and noticed a white stick coming out of the entrance ramp.  The blind man followed in the green tweed jacket.  He swung his white stuck down the handicap aisle and took a seat almost directly in front of mine.  He folded up the white stick and inserted it into his left jacket pocket.  

 

I couldn’t concentrate on the film.  I could only stare at the screen and the shadow of a fedora and wide shoulders against it.  He was so still, he couldn’t have been breathing.  I don’t remember the film.  I remember moving pictures supplemented with sounds.  I closed my eyes for a few moments and listened.   I thought about how we heard the same things but must have been listening to them differently.  The cold air of the theater sent chills down my spine and created goosebumps on the nape of my neck.

 

I sat through the credits, waiting for him to rise up from his seat.  When he did, I let him unfold his white walking stick and begin to swing it.  When he turned the corner of the partition out of my line of sight, I rose with haste and hurried to catch up to him.  I caught sight of him again just as he was leaving the darkness of the theater.  

 

I followed him.  The thick carpet that lined the theater muffled the sound of his black shoes.  We walked together silently, until we reached the elevator to take us down to the first floor.  He must have been a regular at this cinema, how did he know where the elevator was?  He swung his stick against the aluminum threshold of the elevator which made a small twang consistent with plastic meeting metal.  He reached with his right hand down towards the panel to hit the small silver button.  He had to search with his hands for a few moments to find the right spot.  I stood behind watching him, the button surrounded by a red ring of light.  We waited for the elevator together.  The aluminum doors separated and he entered first holding his white stick in both hands.  By now he must have known I was with him.  The elevator doors closed and we stood there together, hung in the moment.  I heard my heart beating in the steel cage.  He certainly heard the same thing.  Still, I watched him.  I felt sorry for him but in a way I knew he was content; like the burden of being blind was his alone to carry, like it was something he had to do.  His hands gripped the white stick as if it were to disappear randomly.  The skin of his hands was taut around his bones.  His knuckles reflected the fluorescent lighting of the elevator and they looked like they had white spots.  He smelled like my chess teacher in 6th grade.  Like oak and cherry.  It was an older man’s smell.  I knew my chess teacher must be dead by now.  
When the doors clanked open, he stepped forward one black shoe at a time.  Perpetually swinging the white stick he walked towards the double doors of the exit, towards the darkness.  I walked a few steps behind him as he thrust himself out into the darkness and turned left down the boulevard.  I crept out after him and watched him walk away swinging the white stick.  I pictured him with a thick, rich voice like a river of melted gold.  He had the air of a man who was born with vision but adopted darkness like an unwanted son.


 

I wrote the first draft of this story before I read The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allan Poe.  I thought it was interesting how the plot lines were so similar.  Stalking or following someone without their knowledge, especially someone who is disabled, is one of the more sinister things you can do.  The way Poe writes, with such lucidity yet focus, is something that I tried to emulate in the final draft of this peace.  Obviously his talent far surpasses mine.  I found myself referencing him unconsciously when writing the rest of the story.

Snake Pit

 

Lying on that couch with my leg elevated in a cast, my mind had felt like a dull knife.

Friday afternoon and my ankle had just started working again.  Business professionals were just beginning to vacate their desks; people who define themselves on the hours between Friday afternoon and Monday morning.  I sauntered to the closest bar I could find.

My beer began to sweat as soon as it hit the table, I drank it quickly.  The man at the table next to me was drinking a whiskey on the rocks.  He was playing with his daughter; she was drinking an orange juice.  Two big open windows let fading sunlight into the dive bar.  The smell of beer and spicy mustard was circulated by the cool summer air.  3rd grade level paintings of snakes looked like they were tossed up on the wall.  Two bartenders alternated between disdain and cordiality under a sign that read “Snake Pit”.  I slithered through another beer.  Derek walked in and asked “Where is your whiskey?”  Before I had a chance to decline he walked over to the table with two glasses of Jameson and his own perspiring beer.

The darkness that overtook the elongating shadows of the snake pit crept inside my head.  I said goodbye to Derek.  I stomped back home.  I sat on my couch.  Through the clustered black holes of my front gate I could hear the rats that infested the bamboo shoots in my neighbors yard.  I listened to them as they climbed and made the leaves rub against each other.  My mind tumbled in a wave of breaking anticipation.  I undulated between contentment and grief.


 

For some context this story is about an injury that I sustained recently.  It forced me to go on leave from work for a few weeks.  It left me with a decision when to go back.  I also had a prompt for my writing class that was to write a story about a character going somewhere and coming back.

the red brick wall

THIS IS FICTION


 

He maintained a small apartment among the clutter of downtown San Francisco.  The apartment was meager compared to the extravagance of his Friday nights.  There was one room and a bathroom.  There was no kitchen.  A sink and mirror sat in the corner in front of his bed and above that stood a small television set which was never on.  There was one window that contained nothing for him except light and fresh air.  The red brick wall of the next building was all you could see out of it.  The buildings downtown are built so close together, one would have to give his life for a room with a view.

The morning light and the fog rolled into his room together like they were playing in bed sheets.  He sat on the edge of his bed smoking a cigarette and stared at the endless brick wall.  He was complacent with his life.  He lacked purpose.  He didn’t have something that he was willing to die for.  He didn’t feel that he was a scale upon which a man could be measured

‘Brrrrrrrring’

His phone rang and he picked up quickly.

“Hello”

After a few moments of heavy silence the receiver clicked.  He grabbed his jacket and went out.  The  cigarette sat in the ash tray with fire still burning at the end of it.

His car sat inert in traffic as red brake lights shone bright on his face.  The Bay Bridge looked like a toy the fog plays with.

“How could she be pregnant?”

He thought to himself, the red brake lights still flashing in front of him.  Aside from the ambiguity of their relationship he was considering cutting off the drunk late night hook ups they shared.  That was all their relationship was predicated on.  Now he thought he would have to marry her without question.  He thought about how his life was going to change.  He thought about how he would have to get a second job and a bigger apartment.  He knew he wasn’t ready.  He knew he couldn’t even take care of himself let alone a wife and child, but he had a calm feeling.  A sense of fulfillment and reassurance.  He knew he would figure it out, he always did.  He thought about abortion for a quick second but then whispered,

“Fuck that”

under his breath.

He pulled up to a suburban neighborhood in Oakland and put the car in park.  He picked up his cell phone to dial out.

“I’m outside” He said.

“I’m sorry, I’m not there anymore” She said calmly.

“What the fuck do you mean you’re not here?” He replied with worried annoyance.

“Christina picked me up, were going to the walk in clinic,  I’m getting it taken care of” she said in a declarative and matter of fact tone.

“So we’re not even going to talk about this?”

“I’m sorry” She said “I didn’t have time to consider your feelings.”

He hung up as his heart fell deep inside him, somewhere not easily found.

The bridge was still gripped by the fog.  He drove back aimlessly but this time a hollow shell of his former self.  He was completely detached.  He felt as if he was watching himself drive from the back seat.  He was at a loss.  He knew he didn’t have a say in the affair.  Ultimately, the decision was always hers.

He sat on the same bed staring at the same red brick wall.  He was chain smoking like he just came home from a funeral.  He thought about his father.  His father was a man.  His father raised him to be a man but he wasn’t.  He was a pathetic hollow little organism with no direction except down.  He decided to write a letter to his little one.

‘Dear my child,

When I was young I would sit by the window and wait for my father to get home from work.  When he would arrive he would always sneak around the back of the house so I would have to go looking for him.

Life is tough my love but you would have made it worth living.  I would have shown you the value of life.  It would have been difficult but at least we would be together.  I’m sorry, your mother is playing by societies rules.  Don’t blame her, it’s my fault I didn’t stop her.

I’m trying to be indifferent but guilt is gripping me the same way you would have gripped my thumb after you were born.  Who am I to say you can’t live your life?  It’s yours not mine.  It’s your heart that doesn’t get to feel love.  It’s your hands that don’t get to touch.  It’s your eyes that don’t get to see.  Now it’s your soul that sits heavy on my conscious….’

He grabbed the letter, crumpled it up and threw it violently but it just hit the wall and landed softly beside him.  His apartment was very small.  He put his face in the palm of his hands and tears streamed down his arms like little waterfalls.  He didn’t understand why he cared so much.  He was free, he could go on living his life.  Then the sun broke through the fog and shone bright on the red brick wall that sat outside his window.


 

I got the inspiration for this story during a recent trip to San Francisco to visit my brother and the book I read there which was The Age of Reason by Jean-Paul Sartre.

 

Men With Similar Interests

Men With Similar Interests

 

Northern Spain 1950’s

 

Francisco Alvarez sat on his boat on a warm August morning.  His schooner was docked as he awaited a group of Americans that had chartered his boat for a day of sport fishing.  He prepared bait and lines as his dog Bruno watched him pensively.  Bruno was an African Ridgeback he had purchased many years ago from a young French Yachtsman.  He never kept a deck hand or co-captain.  It lowered his expenses.  He made a living as a fisherman in the Bay of Biscay.  As the sun rose above the Cantabrian sea the city of San Sebastian became a hive of activity.  The bulls were running just twenty miles south in Pamplona.  This time of year brought in an influx of English and American tourists seeking to empty their pockets for a thrill.  It was a very lucrative time of year for Francisco and the small port town of San Sebastian.  The life of a fisherman is a simple one.

“We need you to take us out, we will pay you,” said a tall skinny man who was now standing over him.  

He hadn’t noticed the three men walk up along the dock to his boat.  The tall skinny one who spoke to him wore a very nice suit.  He had long blonde hair which he had slicked back.  His long nose and strong jawline made him look villainous.  From the way the men were positioned he seemed more managerial than the other two.  The other two men also wore suits but of lesser quality.  One of them was short and stubby like a thumb.  The other one looked like an average man except for he sported a thick black beard and was missing three fingers on his left hand.  

“Con permiso senor,” said the skinny man, “but we are eager to depart.”

Francisco noticed submachine guns slung around the shoulders of the other two men.  They were all carrying black briefcases.  They looked like Mafia henchmen in the midst of a turf war.

“I apologize but my boat’s been chartered for the day, the party has already put down a deposit,” said Captain Alvarez

“I’m afraid this isn’t negotiable,” said the tall skinny man

“How so?” said Francisco “I may charter who I please.”

The tall man lifted his jacket revealing a silver pistol.  He reached for it and pumped one round into the head of the dog.  Bruno lay on the floor of the boat in a pool of his own blood, still wearing his pensive face.  Francisco acquiesced to the situation rather than reacting.  He put his face in the palm of his hands as the three men boarded his boat.

“Take us north to Biarritz and don’t get too close to the coast,” said the tall skinny man.

Francisco Alvarez pulled his 28’ boat out of the slip in the dock and headed north along the Spanish and French coast.  They must be French he thought.  What kind of shady dealings were they doing in San Sebastian?  What’s in the briefcases? Money? Drugs?  The speculation and the sight of his dead dog made him queazy.  He could hear the sound of blood and water sloshing around on the floor of the boat.  The three assumed French men stood towards the bow of the boat discussing their plot.  He stood at the helm offsetting the current of the ocean with a subtle tilt of the helm.  Francisco listened to them converse with each other.  He could barely hear them over the sound of the ocean, they spoke French to each other.

“Why haven’t we killed him yet? The stubby one asked the tall one.

“Do you know how to pilot a sailboat?” Replied the tall skinny man.

They all looked at each other.

“How much did we get?” Asked the bearded man.

“Let’s not worry about that until we get to Biarritz.  I saw a row boat hanging off of the side.  Once we get anchored close enough to the coast, we will waste him and row to shore,” said the tall skinny man.

They continued talking but Francisco discontinued his eavesdropping.  He felt his heart and stomach drop to the floor.  He knew immediately what he had to do.  He thought about his family.  His dog still lay dead on the floor of the boat.

“I have some food below deck if you gentlemen are hungry,”  said the captain.

“We’re not hungry,” Replied the tall skinny man “but what about to drink?”

“Only Grappa,” said the captain “there are two bottles below deck in the cabin, you may help yourselves.”

The stubby one went down and came back from the cabin with the two bottles in his hand.  He uncorked one and took a long drink.

“Give it here you hog!” Shouted the tall man.

He snatched it and took a large gulp then handed the bottle to the captain.  Francisco poured the warm Grappa into his mouth like a man preparing to complete an unwanted task.  He was going to do something he didn’t want to do, but he had to.

“Do you make a good living as a fisherman?” Asked the tall skinny man.

“I make an honest living and I enjoy the tranquility of the ocean,” replied the captain. “I would never work just for the money.”

“Then why work at all?  What other motivation is there besides money?” Asked the tall skinny man.

“I do what I have to do to provide for myself and my family,” replied Francisco.

“We are men with similar interests then,” said the tall skinny man.

“I don’t agree,” replied the captain “I don’t fraternize with criminal enterprises and I don’t steal from the working man.

“It’s like you said captain, I do what I have to do,” replied the tall skinny man.

The sea rolled as the distance between the men and their destination shortened.

“Hey you!” yelled the captain looking at the stubby man. “Come man the helm for a second while I check on the engines.”

The stubby one walked to the wheel with the machine gun still slung over his shoulder.

“What do I do?” He asked the captain,

“Just keep her on a straight line, don’t let the wheel deviate, I’ll just be a minute,” Replied Francisco.

He glanced toward the bow of the boat where the other two men were standing facing the ocean.  They were passing the bottle of Grappa back and forth to each other.  Francisco turned around and descended into the engine room which was located at the stern of the vessel.  He felt a slab of concrete slide from his throat down into his stomach.  He reached down and opened his toolbox that contained his pistol.  The toolbox had carried the pistol for many years on the open seas and never came close to being used.  Francisco always wondered why he kept the pistol on the boat.  He realized that this was the moment it was meant for.  He was filled with nerve and he prayed the gun wouldn’t jam.  Francisco Alvarez ascended from the engine room and he got that cold feeling you get right before you kill a man.  The stubby one was still at the helm as Francisco approached him from the rear.  He raised the pistol to the back of stubby man’s head and pulled the trigger.  The muzzle was so close to his skull that it bounced off of the pistol as he fired.  He aimed down his sight at the bearded man and let off two shots in quick succession.  As he swung the pistol towards the tall man and pulled the trigger, he heard a shot from the pistol that killed his dog.  Pop! Pop! Pop!  Francisco emptied his clip at the tall man and simultaneously felt a sharp pain in his shoulder like someone was plunging a fire iron into it.   The impact of the bullet made him fall down behind the steering wheel of the boat.  He pulled himself up and leaned against the helm and waited a few moments to investigate the fate of the tall skinny man.  When he finally peaked over the steering wheel he saw two men lying next to each other in a pool of blood.  He walked over to the bodies and discovered the tall skinny man, still alive, and writhing on the floor of the yacht.  The tall skinny man was hit in the neck and had his hands clenched around his throat in an attempt to stop the bleeding.  Blood gushed from his neck and as he gasped for air you could hear it filling up his lungs.  Francisco felt the cold murderous feeling subside as he watched blood spray from the tall man’s mouth and his eyes roll to the back of his head.

Francisco felt no pain, only the cold wet blood running down his chest.  He put pressure on his wound but to no avail.  He didn’t feel an exit wound, the bullet was lodged in his shoulder blade.  He went down to the cabin of the boat and grabbed a small emergency hand flare that he never had the use for either.  Francisco unbuttoned his shirt and put it in his mouth and bit down hard.  He activated the flare which glowed hot and red even in the daytime sun and pressed it hard against the bullet wound in his shoulder.  All Francisco could smell was burned skin and blood and death and the ocean.  The adrenaline went away as he turned his boat back towards San Sebastian.  

The floor of the boat looked like the Nile river after the first plague of the Egyptians.  Francisco stared out at the ocean but wondered about the contents of the briefcases.  One of the briefcases sat down next to the body of the stubby man.  Francisco picked up the briefcase and opened it up revealing stacks upon stacks of crisp US dollars.  They were federal reserve $100 notes.  He immediately shut the briefcase and brought it down to the cabin with the other two.  Francisco then dragged the corpse of the stubby man over to the other two frenchmen.  His shoulder stiff with pain and his arm hung with limited movement.  He detached the rope with the anchor from the bow of the boat.  He ran the rope through the belt of the stubby man then through the belt of the bearded man then through the belt of the tall skinny man where he tied it off.  He threw the anchor overboard which assisted him in lugging the corpses of the Frenchmen into the ocean.  When he got the last body over he tossed the machine guns into the cold bloody water.  He kept the pistol which killed his dog.  Francisco wrapped the body of Bruno with a blanket and put him below deck next to the black briefcases that were filled with cash.  He would have traded all the money on the boat for the life of his dog.  Francisco thought about how money changes people.

As Francisco and his boat re-entered the port town of San Sebastian there was a boat similar to his passing close by.  From the deck of the passing yacht a dog barked at Francisco.  Francisco locked eyes with the captain of that vessel and they nodded at each other as they passed.  The acknowledgment of men with similar interests.  

—————-

I drew inspiration for this story from an Ernest Hemingway book To Have and Have Not.  When I pictured the dialogue I wanted the characters to be speaking French and Spanish but for the sake of my demographic they are speaking English.   This is the first story I’ve written in which I’ve done actual research.  I don’t know anything about yachts or fisherman in Spain in the 1950’s.  When I was researching about the currency Spain used in the 50’s I found out they used pesetas which were coins of copper, nickel and silver.  I felt the aesthetic of Francisco looking into the briefcases and seeing stacks of cash was better.  I tried to tie in The Running of The Bulls in Pamplona and how the foreign currency most likely came from the Frenchmen robbing a bank there.  I tried to use a lot of implied morals and I left it up to the reader to decide what Francisco does with the money.

The Ash Tray

It sat on the table droll and beckoning them like any other empty bowl.  It was white and round with three notches spaced equidistant around it to place a still burning stogie.  There was only one small burn in the middle of it.  The ash tray was emptied out routinely without thought, a reflex, like when the doctor hits your patella with that small rubber hammer.  The way it was filled up was more enigmatic

Large deposits are made on nights when they arrived home late, and still from nightly festivities.  Other times they would sit and inebriate themselves with neat whiskey and no intention of departure from the home or the table at which they sat with the ash tray.  These nights were also similar to reflexes, just reactions from stress at work and being in their twenties.  But on certain nights there was a different kind of ash filling the little bowl.  An experience, a palpable memory of the departed.  There were times when they needed to use it, even if it was only once.

The Cigarette rested between his middle finger and index as smoke idly rose to the ceiling.  A puff, an inhale, a release, and then a flick which broke off the ash and with it sadness and longing.  Heartache followed and eventually anger and despair.  The emotions in the ash tray weren’t always spoken and were far from disingenuous.  A moment of introspection.  The ash in the tray made it heavier with no change in weight, made it deeper with no change in dimension.

It was drunken nights with others or sometimes it was the dark nights alone.  It was always filled with some sort of emotion.  If you looked in the ash tray on one of the days before they emptied the contents, you wouldn’t see them, you would see the ones who had abandoned them.

 

Notes:

The main inspiration that produced this story was actually letting my emotions and feelings get the best of me until I felt the urge to smoke.  The cigarettes were temporary but the ash tray was always there.  So i felt like rather than focusing on the cigarettes themselves I would focus on the place where I deposited them.  The funny thing is I don’t normally smoke but I do use it as a scapegoat sometimes.  Sometimes when I feel longing for a particular someone be it female or family I tend to get down and to get stressed and to think negatively.  I’m not saying that smoking is the most positive outlet for these stresses but sometimes I find myself saying “man I could use a smoke”

 

the garden

A young man and his grandmother walked through the gardening section of a supply hardware store and had a conversation about vulnerability.  The grandmother was old but she wasn’t gone yet.  She knew she was close but she was very strong.  She had always been.  It wasn’t strange seeing them walk together.  The grandmother spent many hours in her garden.  She spent her life raising children and her children’s children.  When there were no more kids to raise she found purpose in the soil and flowers in her backyard.  The young man wasn’t necessarily interested in gardening.  He enjoyed taking his grandmother on little outings as he knew they were limited.  They always thought about the concept of death, but these thoughts were always hidden.

“These Lilies are beautiful.” said the grandmother as she picked one up to smell.

“Whenever I see the roses in your garden they inspire me and give me compassion, stick with those grandma.” said the young man.

“Roses are beautiful.” She said “But they can hurt you if you get too close.”

“Kind of like me, right grandma?” joked the young man.

“I certainly miss when you didn’t have such a tough exterior.”

“Well, I am your grandson.”

They continued to walk among the colorful flowers.

“Do you remember your grandfather’s old property up north?” She asked.

“Of course I do.” he replied.

“A long time ago, you must have been five or six.  You were visiting us and all of your cousins were there as well.  You guys were all playing like you usually did.  That winter a tree had fallen across the stream.  In the summertime when the stream dried up the creek bed filled with thornbushes.  You and your cousins took turns walking back and forth over the fallen tree.  You slipped off the log and fell in the thorn bushes.  Do you remember this?” asked the grandmother.

“No” The young man said.  But he did remember.  He had a vivid memory of this exact moment.  But he didn’t want to feel vulnerable.

“After you fell in, I carried you back to the house.  You were crying because there were cuts all over your arms and back.  My heart wrenched as I tended to your wounds, but I told you to be strong and stop crying even though I just wanted to hug you and kiss your tear filled cheeks.”

“Why are you telling me this?” asked the young man.

“Because I love you very much and you will always be that little boy crying in my arms.” She said

“Maybe one day I’ll get to take care of you like you took care of me and I can see you vulnerable.”

“Being strong is both a blessing and a curse my son, it carries a burden that prohibits you from showing vulnerability.”

The young man laughed and said

“Ok grandma”

The young man remembered the day that his grandmother was referring to.  He remembered it going exactly the way she described, but to him it wasn’t about being vulnerable.  To him the memory was a reminder of how much he loved her.  It wasn’t implicitly apparent to him but that experience among others added a layer to his subconscious.   It made him never want to show weakness or vulnerability.  He wanted to be strong, like his grandmother.  They walked to the car with a cart full of flowers and contentment.  

“Grandma have you heard that ‘the earth laughs in flowers?’”

“My garden is not a joke.” She replied with a smirk.

They loaded the car and drove away.  As he pulled out of the parking lot and accelerated down the boulevard he said,

“Could have fooled me grandma, I can’t help but smile when I’m in your garden.”

What he didn’t see was the pick up truck speeding through the yellow light behind him.  The truck tried to swerve and avoid the car which contained the young man and his grandmother but it was too late.  The truck slammed into the rear end of the vehicle which whipped their heads back and then forward into the steering wheel and dashboard.

———

The cardiac machine maintained a subtle tilde.  The young man sat next to his grandmother’s hospital bed.  He sat with his head down, listening to the beep of the cardiac monitor.  Her face was peaceful but she was enveloped in jumbles of wires and cords.  He looked up at her, grabbed her hand and began to speak.

“I lied grandma, I remember you carrying me to the house, I remember you telling me to be strong.  I’ve tried to be that ever since.  There is something else I remember grandma.  It was a few days after grandpa died.  You were sitting by yourself in the garden and you were sobbing.  It was strange to me because during that time you were so rational and composed even though the love of your life had passed.  I realized now that it was because you were being strong for us.  In your time of great pain, your unselfish strength served as a monument for the rest of the family.  I realize that life has patterns grandma.  I recognize that it’s my turn to be strong for you and for the rest of the family.”  He kissed her hand as the monitor continued, beep…beep…beep.

8-27-15

To preface this piece I have to say what a strange thing writing can do for you.  I wrote this 5 minutes ago on the precipice of falling into a deep sleep.  I’ll spare you the details but I’ve had a long day and many before it.  But I had the urge to write and with it came a creative exuberance.  I couldn’t fall asleep now if I tried.  I needed to write.  Maybe I am loopy, maybe I needed to get something off my chest.  I have been thinking about this for a little while.

8-27-15

I walked down Melrose as the sun beat down on me from above.  It was the kind of heat that makes you look down but simultaneously radiates off the sidewalk so you can’t avoid it.  The only escape is a small sliver of shade created by the traffic light that hangs in the intersection.  Green, I walk.  Beads of sweat drip down my overpriced iced coffee.  This particular intersection has buildings with low profiles, so I’m able to see the rolling Hollywood Hills with their gaudy mansions against a clear blue backdrop.  It’s Thursday and I’m walking into work.

I have a recurring fantasy on different occasions.  Sometimes it happens on the hot mornings as I walk into work.  It happens when I speed through a yellow light.  The moments are vague at times.  The fantasy I am referring to has to do with alternative realities.  This morning for instance I had a strange sensation as I walked into work.  I felt like I was dreaming.  Normally, (at least in my case) dreams have a specific tunnel vision aspect to them.  In that I am only able to focus on what is right in front of me.  Conversely this morning, the dream felt more comprehensive.  It felt like I was living in a dream for a brief moment.  For the smallest amount of time it felt like my whole life leading up to that moment was also a dream.  It felt real, it felt possible.  Like I was off imitating sleeping beauty somewhere dreaming up a grand old mediocre life.  Eventually the feeling subsided.  But the thought is still there.

There is another reality I think about.  This happens sometimes with a sudden jerk when you’re heart drops down into your stomach.  But I mostly think about this when I am speeding through a yellow light.  After the light turns red and I cruise down the street I wonder.  Did I really make it through that yellow light just now?  Did the oncoming truck just hit me head on causing instant death?  Is my life now a subsequent heaven that let’s me experience things that I might have missed.

“Look God I know I fucked up but let me just finish my twenties”  I can picture myself at the gates.

Once again I think about it for a few minutes and then it subsides.  The morbidity of this isn’t as appealing as living a dream but I still enjoy the possibility.

When I use the term alternative reality, I am not using it as a synonym for parallel universe.  I am trying to speak about perception of reality.  There are plenty of examples of alternatative realities that I might have fed off of to create the idea of mine.  The cliche “brain in a vat” reality in which I am a brain floating in a vat in some laboratory.  Electric impulses make the neurons in my brain react to create experience and emotion just like a normal brain would.  It’s like a more mundane version of The Matrix.  There’s the Shutter Island reality or the 6th Sense reality.  Maybe I’m the fucking crazy one on the island or maybe my best friend is Bruce Willis.

My alternative realities stray closer to ambiguity.  The empirical evidence and my personal experience leads me to believe that I’m just sitting here typing on my laptop and I have work tomorrow.  But I will say how much fun it is to wonder about these things.

“Since we cannot change reality, let us change the eyes which see reality.”

-Nikos Kazantzakis

fifteen

I haven’t felt it yet this year.  The inspiration boiling in my blood.  So I came to this spot.  It seems to mean something.  I started my blog here.  I get my coffee here.

It is here that I sit.  I was here with my father and my mother and my young sister.  Here is where my father ordered coffee.  As we waited in the stuffed commercialized coffee shop with it’s pumpkin spice latte’s and its chestnut fucking macadamia bullshit.  We heard the barista call out “Alvin”.  We didn’t react as Alvin is a common name.  When we realized that the barista had written “Alvin” on my fathers coffee instead of Albert we were stunned.  Alvin is the name of my fathers deceased brother.  It has been about two years since his passing.  We still can’t stomach it.  So when we saw Alvin on my fathers cup we didn’t see it as a mistake on the part of the employee (even though mistakes at this particular location were frequent).  We saw it as a sign from our late Uncle Alvin.  A sign that he saw us and he was watching over us.  How fitting a moment for us as a family.  To have him there with us at the coffee shop on the corner.  If I had to guess on it, I think it made him happy to see us as a family down in LA.  Just us together we didn’t need anything else.  I think his appreciation of the moment gave him the motivation to make his presence known.  This moment also shows me how my family has never lost faith.  Through the struggles and the losses, the ups and downs of life.  We are still able to see his signs and to feel things that aren’t necessarily tangible.  So here I sit, in the same chair my father was, when he sat next to his brother in the afterlife.  His faith was restored a little bit that day.  I could tell he was questioning it.  This is the chair I sit in to try and find my inspiration.