Tuesday, May 26, 2009
The figure in the hallway shambled along, feeling his way through his own dusk with his hand along the wall. His hand was there only for support. His eyes could still, barely, make out the vague shapes that loomed and wobbled in front of him, but his despair that the beautiful world was fading away made him more unsteady. More and more often, images from his mind would overcome the dim picture in front of him and he would be overtaken with momentary panic that he had seen his last of the outside world. His memory, at least, was rich with images that would maintain his sanity and imagination.
One of his favorite images to recall was that of three construction workers standing in the dirt next to a large fire, green flames flickering between the yellow and orange. Behind them was a large, open parasol, made of delicate cream and fringed with lace. It was like something out of a dream, yet had appeared one tired evening before his eyes as he was heading home. No explanation was needed, nor did he ever receive one. It just was what it was. Sometimes existence was beautiful like that.
He eventually found his way to the door of the library. Not only did he have this place memorized by heart, but he could smell when he was at the door. Bookstores had a similar smell, but it wasn't quite the same: he preferred the library. It was a deeper, heavier scent, enhanced by history and time, the experience of having been read over and over.
The expansive space that existed in even a small library was nearly impossible to comprehend. Pages and miles of adventures, lives, emotions and tragedies existed in the span of only a few bookshelves. He entered the space, made his few greetings, and took his accustomed place next to a nameplate which, he supposed, was meant to make him feel important.
After a couple of hours, he heard and saw the vague outline of a girl sitting at a table near him, reading. He walked over and put a hand on her shoulder, partially out of kindness and partially for balance. She jumped slightly and turned her head. Gazing down at her, he could make out the mass of deep brown that was her hair.
"Tell me, Marie. How are the clouds today?" he asked. She paused for a moment before answering and, he supposed, she smiled.
"There are some large ones spanning the top of the sky. They are thin and spread out, like melted whipped cream."
"There are also a few on the horizon like shining, fluffy pillows," she added.
"Are they really like pillows?"
She thought for a moment. "No. More like cotton balls."
"Ah, I see. Thank you. Please, don't let me keep you from your friends."
She glanced down at her open book and smiled, resting her hand briefly on his before turning back to her story.
He moved to return to his desk, but decided to walk through the shelves instead. The past few days had been particularly shaky for him and he needed the balance of the literature to calm him. A beautiful young woman walked in front of him, a question posed on her lips. The most startling thing about her was that he could clearly see that she was beautiful. His eyes seemed to have returned to him: her inquisitive smile, the individual strands of dirty blond hair. He smiled widely.
"May I help you find something, miss?"
"As a matter of fact, a rich, beautiful Brazilian man has decided to marry me, and I know nothing about the culture at all! Well, darling, I thought that was just dreadful, so I decided I need to brush up!"
He chuckled quietly at her enthusiasm. "Books on Brazilian culture, then? Come with me, we have plenty over in this section." He walked purposefully, although not certain of his footing. He did not want the young woman, whom he saw so clearly, to know that he was otherwise mostly blind. He depended on his vivid memory and the slow counting of shelves with an outstretched hand at his side. When they reached the appropriate place, he gestured to the shelves where she could find all the information.
"Well, look at that!" she exclaimed as she reached up to the bookshelves, pulled out a few books and disappeared around the corner.
There had been something about the girl that he had found startlingly familiar. He was puzzling it over as he rounded a bend and choked on a scream. There, standing in front of him, was a gigantic insect. He was about to turn and get away as fast as possible when he noticed an apple sticking out of its side and the its pleading face as it drew slowly closer. He could see this insect just as clearly as the girl. He then realized why she had looked so familiar. This one he knew all too well and murmured, "Ah, Kafka. Finally we meet." He did not, however, know which book it could possibly want, so he walked away.
Heading to the front of the library, he realized his vision was becoming increasingly clear. As he approached the open area in the front, he heard many murmurs and voices speaking, which were clarified as he walked into view and saw various characters all over the library.
'There he is!" one particularly tall man in rusted armor shouted, and they all turned towards him. They walked over, some asking for books, others engaged in conversation with him and each other. He wondered how they all could have come to be. He looked up at the various characters wandering around and grinned softly. What did it matter? He could see. And he was among friends.
Wednesday, May 13, 2009
I know you see me. I know what you think about me. I really don't care. I sit here, like a rock in a river--no one pays any attention, they just rush around me. And every day, a woman walks by--long, flowing brown hair, or those startling blues, or even just a whiff of the right perfume--and I think it's her. I know it can't be, but, God, do I wish it were. I try to drown myself in whiskey--my poison of choice--and I think that it'll dull my memory of her. Maybe, just maybe, I'll forget about her for a while. I've been thinking that for five long years. You'd figure I'd have learned by now. But I haven't. I guess that some people just learn habits, and then--well, can't unlearn them.
Ah, you don't need to hear all the sorry details of the story. I mean, I started trying to forget, and I couldn't, and then I stopped caring. You know, good job down the tubes, my family gave up after a while, and my friends...well, they never did get it, anyway. So, I kept pouring the whiskey. I kept looking for her. Heck, I still do sometimes. And eventually...here I am, the star of 19th Ave.
But God, was she beautiful. And I don't mean the knock-you-down-with-a-stick model-type chick. I mean an honest-to-goodness beautiful, quirky person. She had her faults, but when she walked into a room, BAM! You couldn't see anything wrong with her. Heck, you couldn't see anything BUT her. That was the love of a lifetime. Unbelievable, that one. I couldn't see it, though, you know? I mean, what in the world was this beautiful woman doing with ME? Yeah, well, I guess that after a while...she couldn't see it, either. Just...up and vanished one day. No note. No stuff. No nothing.
You know, this stuff just knocks you right out. You can't remember a thing in the morning: no dreams, no nothing. And sometimes, it's just too cold out here to sleep. No dreams that way, either. I don't mind. I don't dream, I don't see her. I don't see her, she can't leave me again. Listen, I know it's time to move on, but sometimes the heart just won't let go. What can you do?
Oh, and...if you happen to see a tall, stunning woman named Vanessa with long, flowing brown hair, startling blue eyes, with the scent of lavender dust around her, just tell her...Harold says hello.
Monday, May 11, 2009
Her hair is made of saffron silk
and sand is in her song.
Her laughter rings with morning's birds
and I'll be there ere-long.
I live among the memories--
she dances with the waves.
I sit; I wait so patiently
and know I must be brave.
My darling, how I miss you still
but know I'll see you soon.
I feel this old heart slowing down
and then--oh, and then
we'll fly together to the moon.
Monday, May 4, 2009
Yesterday, I went to the Vatican to have lunch with my good friend, the Pope. I met him many years ago and we now have lunch together once or twice a week. After lunch, the Pope and I sit together to drink some whiskey, play poker, and talk about old times. Once the doors have closed, the Pope tends to relax, shows his sweet side, and is generally less annoying and disturbing than his public persona. But this time, that didn't happen. He was acting stranger than usual, and I knew something was going on. Then I noticed the metallic seam along the side of his ear. I jumped up out of my chair.
"RoboPope! It's you! What have you done to my dear friend??"
RoboPope responded, but spoke in a creaky Latin, so I couldn't understand him.
"But, I thought that we had gotten rid of you! I saw you die in the Mouth of Fire after you tried to take over Catholicism!"
Again, he spoke, and I was frightened.
"Well, I guess that means you didn't. But where is my friend? I know it was you that offended the Muslims! The real Pope would never do that! You, sir, are an evil robot!" My eyes widened when I saw him reach his hands beneath his robes. I knew what he was going to do. He pulled out--the Bible of Doom! I had, unfortunately, encountered this deceptive device of doom before. Once opened, this common-looking Bible spits out a ball of fire. RoboPope began to open it and I jumped and rolled under a statue of Christ. The fire just skimmed the edge of the statue, and I couldn't help myself. I poked my head out.
"You can't do that! This is a Michelangelo!" I heard a horrible, screeching mechanical noise and I covered my ears. I then realized that it was RoboPope laughing. I shuddered. Then I remembered where I was. The Official Papal Staff was behind me. This was an emergency. I turned and broke the safety glass, pulling out the Staff. I rolled in front of RoboPope and his Bible of Doom and, using the Papal stick, I managed to push it into his bellybutton, which also happened to be his Off button.
I knew I had to find my friend, the Pope, fast, because RoboPope doesn't stay off for long. I looked into his bedroom and screamed for him. What could RoboPope possibly have done with him?
I had an idea. Of course! The cabinet where the real Pope kept the whiskey, cards, and the irreplaceable Catholic treasures. I was one of the few people who knew about it. I ran to it and sang Ave Maria six times, and the door opened! My friend, the Pope, was curled up.
"Are you all right in there?"
"Yes, yes, I'm okay. But there's something awfully uncomfortable behind my back." I helped him out and we looked inside. "Eh, it's only the rest of the True Cross."
"All right, so what do we do with RoboPope?" I asked.
Returning to the room, the Pope looked around and made a decision. We would wrap him in a priceless tapestry he'd had lying in the corner.
"Are you sure this is all right? This looks like a fourteenth century piece, " I said.
He snickered. "We're the Catholic Church! We can replace it. He glanced out into the hallway, looking both ways, then turned back to me. "All right, let's go!"
We carried him out in the tapestry, past all the dozing guards, and heaved him into the Popemobile. We drove through a secret underground passageway which connected the Vatican to an ancient fortress, which served as a prison for heretics and other people the Vatican didn't like for hundreds of years. Unbeknownst to local authorities, it still is.
The Pope and I stopped near the river, and pulled RoboPope out, throwing him, and the tapestry, into the depths. Interestingly enough, no one recognized the Pope. It might have been his ducky pajamas, though I would think his Pope hat would have given him away. He never does take it off, except when the bishops make him for certain functions. After we had finished catching our breath from throwing RoboPope, we turned to each other and sighed. The Pope put his hand shakily on my shoulder and turned me around toward the Popemobile.
"Lunch?" he asked. I agreed, and we headed back.