Friday, May 4, 2012

            A writer of romance novels told me to stop writing in the first person.  “Why do you do this?”  She was puzzled by my narrative.  “This style isn’t very commercial,” she said through a crackling telephone line that sparked and fused with my anger at her intended helpful comments.  And I thought to myself, “Perhaps he should write romance novels?”

            But what did he know?  His last taste of romance left a fine sheen of burnt gunpowder and cordite on his lips and tongue; hands, heart and soul blackened and maimed by the blast.  Waiting in line at the grocery check-out, the old housewife behind him found him presentable, but smelling of war.  She would comment to her sister later that evening, “He was handsome Myrtle, but something wasn’t right.  You could tell he was alone, he bought just enough for one, and he smelt like burnt wires.  His smile was more of a wince.  I tell ya, for a second I thought he would just poof, turn into ashes and dust if the wind blew through the line.”  Her sister would respond back, “Sounds like a man in need of a hug.”  And Myrtle said back in a hushed and knowing tone, “That poor boy needed more than a hug, he needed love.  I found myself afraid for him.”

            He is burnt wires and spent gunpowder.  He is rubble and wreckage.  He is.  And that is at least something, isn’t it?

            He has endured a nuclear winter of love a gone bad.  He has suffered and when that wasn’t enough, he has taken, created, more suffering just so he could feel something.  He is no martyr for love, he is loves great champion.  He understands that to feel good, one must feel as bad as possible at times, most times, according to his ethos.  “It makes the good that much better,” he will tell a friend that is hurting in a similar fashion.  As he says this, he smirks and lifts an eyebrow, in a way that brings a smile and joy to even the darkest of moments in this human condition.  He is.  But he is also love.  He is the hope of love and all that it can and should be.  This is why old women at the grocery check-out want to hug him.  “I tell ya Mrytle, I just wanted to take him home and, scrub him nicely, make him a good dinner, and take him to bed.  I haven’t felt like that in years.”  Mrytle’s sister will just sigh heavily and make a point of going to the grocery store more often.

            And he will be there.  He has and always will be.  He is love.

            And he knows love.  It is just far away, a bit out of his reach.  
            And this is why he burns.  It is a new fire.

            No one knows that the seething and smoldering that he exudes is a want, a love so deep that ignites his nerves and melts diamonds.  He keeps this love private.  It is his touchstone and talisman.  It is his and his alone.  He gives of himself feely to others, but reserves a place inside himself that only one other soul can share and see.  He is in love.  This is why he burns with the heat of a blast furnace on Sparrows Point.  What is mistaken by some as loneliness is just a want for a touch from the soul he has given his heart to.  It is her soft hand that will temper his fire, control it, and put its heat to good purpose. 

            He and his love are separated by an ocean, which may as well be a simple pane of glass as far as the universe and its time are concerned.  Miles and time mean nothing in the calculations of love.  Silly mankind studies the heavens and waits patiently for two stars to collide after a century.  What takes forever down here is just a blink in the ether.

            So our hero is in love.  His star has collided with another of brighter and greater magnitude, and their collision will be witnessed and noted.

            An old man sits on the warm hood of a pick-up truck at the end of dirt road.  He drives out to where the dirt and gravel ends by a fecund pond that is alight with fireflies and the sounds of night birds in the thick green trees.  He climbs atop the warm hood and just sits, listens and waits.  He has been coming here for centuries it seems.  He is drawn to this spot by some strange pull from across the universe.  Something tells him that if he is patient, he will be rewarded. 

            And he is.  On a cool springs night our old star-gazer is witness to the power of the infinite and its exquisite beauty.  He watches as the day fades into night and the stars rise over the green that envelopes him.  And just when he has had enough of all this beauty, he sees something extraordinary…Two stars, brighter than all the rest, race across the night’s sky leaving purrfect trails of light and heat behind them.  Their paths are predetermined by a math that hasn’t yet been unlocked and deciphered.  Far away in dimly lit observatories, astronomers await the impact, but have no idea why the courses of these two stars should meet.  And an old man on the warm hood of a tired old pick-up truck doesn’t think of this or care.  He just waits, and remembers what it was like to be young again and filled with wonder.

            And these two stars find each other in the deep blue and purple of the night made new again.  Amongst an infinite array of stars, light trails behind them betray their path; but their initial impact is for them and them alone.  There is a pause.  And then a quick small flash from very far away.  Another pause.  And then a small purrfect circle of light where the impact of these stars had been.  Another pause.  And then another larger purrfect circle.  Pause again, and then a third and even larger purrfect circle marks for a moment this spot in the heavens where paths collide and life begins. 

            An old man on the warm hood of a pick-up truck, at the end of a dirt road, next to a fecund pond surrounded by the green of a cool spring and fire-flies, lifts one hand to his heart and the other to his lips.  He breathes in deep and remembers what love felt like once.  He will stay like this for a few moments, a blink in the ether; and wish for the long slow passing of time by the universe’s clock. 

            Our hero tonight, lies on the floor sleeping.  His love from afar, across the universe, watches over him from the tiny eye of human creation that glows with soft blue electric light.  As he sleeps, an uneasy sleep, he dreams of stars in the heavens that are destined to meet.  He dreams of purrfect white light circles in the ether.  He dreams of touch and contact.  He dreams of love made real.

            And when he has had enough of dreaming, he opens his eyes and there she is.  She is hope.  She is light.  She is love.  And only an ocean, a thin pane of the universes glass lies between them.  Our hero will rub his eyes like a child, to make sure she is real, and then whisper through the ether, “Hello Sunshine.”

            Make no doubt, our hero burns and seethes and smolders.  But it is a new and better fire that burns inside him.  It’s just easily misunderstood by old women in the grocery store check-out line that have forgotten the heat and smell of love.

            It doesn’t always have to hurt.        


  1. I love how you go from past to present and future and back again, from "he has suffered" to "he will tell a friend," from "she found him presentable" to "she would tell her sister." There is so much going on in terms of tenses, conditionals, subjunctives, yet they create an effect of seamlessness and do not encroach upon each other.

    The recurring figure of the old man in your writing, no longer a participant but a knowledgeable, empathetic observer of life.

    The way you spell "purrfect."

    Your variations on a theme: "where the dirt and gravel ends by a fecund pond that is alight with fireflies and the sounds of night birds in the thick green trees," then "at the end of a dirt road, next to a fecund pond surrounded by the green of a cool spring and fire-flies." The variations feed off of each other, acting as foreshadowings and flashbacks of one another.

    The effect is temporal, that of gliding between time zones and aeons with ease, of being fully present in timelessness. A dazzling, fitting device for a time traveller.

    It doesn't always have to hurt. All it takes is someone who is in on the joke with you.

    Cheetah lean.