With hollow stomachs, in the mist of heavy traffic and sweltering heat, our two boys wadded through the side walk at a steady pace. Being famished as they were, the conversation was limited to the occasional grunt, nod, point or any other reassuring existence acknowledgment gestures that one might think of. A conversation was limited even more so by their positioning on the sidewalk. One, the more daring of the two, walked in front of the other. Their separation was of merely three feet but, in the range of a common ear on a busy city street, a conversation, one proper, without strain, could not be achieved.
Prior to their entanglement with the pesky sidewalk and its inhabitants, it was convinced, by the leader of the pack, to take a peak at the follower’s manuscript. The manuscript was written with the intention— loftiest of intentions— to reach certain heights only achievable by suicide, divine intervention or, in a most literal way, an airplane.
Next we see the duo, the manuscript will be read, reread, folded, placed in a coat pocket and not talked about for the better part of half an hour as they wait for a table.
“It’s a bit heavy handed, in’it?”
“Well, sure, but it has to. That’s almost the point.”
“I like it, I really do, but it just seems…”
“I know what it seems like, that’s the point. It’s supposed to be like that, you know.”
“I’m not supposed to like him?”
“So you’ve just thrown out centuries of literature rules. If I don’t like him, there’s no need for it. You know, you’ve almost thrown out literature’s purpose.”
“Purpose, what is it’s purpose? I don’t mean to be a prick or anything but what’s it’s purpose? Is there a purpose? Is there a purpose to art?”
“Relatability. That’s why we like songs we like. That’s why we like books we like. Listen, it isn’t because it’s writing is perfect or whatever, it’s because the characters that are created, they’re created to feel like us. For us to feel like them. This isn’t mind blowing stuff here, you know.”
A heavy pause was felt. A deafening pause. A pause only to be broken with the ear—splitting screeches of more conversation. “You know, why is Hamlet still read today? Or the Iliad? Or fucking Gilgamesh? Because those characters are relatable. You keep going on about points, that’s the point.”
“Alright. No, I get that. But what you just screamed—”
“Screamed. That is the point.”
Sitting still for a moment, recapturing their broken minds, the boys eyeballed the menu. They were placed, in this little story, at Bush-Wacked Pub in the East Village. It should be said of the Bush-Wacked Pub that, as most patrons would not care to admit, it is, undoubtedly, the capital of all things literature in the East Village. As the speak of these will soon come, the unflinching aura of the Bush-Wacked Pub was (oh to be young again) one of self absorption, childhood neglect and half smoked cigarettes.
“Listen, you know I’m your biggest fan and all and I want you to succeed. And maybe your on to something here but the thought of, like I said, centuries of literature is against you, that’s all. If it hits, it’ll be big, if not, who cares. You become just like everyone else.”
“Hey, you know, the way I see it, I’ll do something pretty good, maybe a few books or something or I’ll, I’ll just be fuckin’ homeless or something.”
“But I think if this can be done right, it’ll be huge, there’s no denying that, you don’t seem to get it.” This one leaned in. “Now, I think you just need to find that one person to like it. Cause I think you’re on to something, they, the fuckin future people you’ll deal with, might not agree… Fuck— if just one person, you know… Somebody, you know, Awan… Jesus.” He leaned back, not fully impressed with his imparting but somewhat satisfied. “What are you getting anyway?”
After the brief soliloquy, again, the two sat still, looking at the menu.
“Club an’a pint.”
“Club and a pint. That sounds good.”
“Don’t get that too. Get something else.”
“That’s what I want, a club sandwich and pint of beer. Why can’t I get that—?”
“I don’t like getting the same thing with people.”
“You know that’s like the most popular fuckin’ thing at this place, right?”
“I know and I’m sorry but that’s how I feel.”
“So I can’t get what I want because you don’t want to feel funny? Is that right.”
“Jesus, if I knew this would be a big deal I wou— It’s like wearing the same outfit as your brother when you’re seven.”
“Don’t make me feel bad for this, this is your fault.”
The waitress came around asking for their orders. She noticed, as it seemed evident to me, that there was an uneasy presence between the men. “Everything alright? Seen something you shouldn’t have?” The waitress let out a calming bellow. If there were any character with any redeemable qualities in this story it would be her, the waitress at the Bush-Wacked Pub in the East Village.
“No,” one said, “were good.”
“What’d’ya want then?”
“Club an a pint for me. He’ll have a burger and a pint, if that’s alright.”
“It certainly is. I’ll be right back…” The waitress left, leaving a hole in the action.
Now, as the keeper of the story and caretaker of the narrative, it is my duty to tell you, all those who have come to read this shabby excuse for literature, that an undecipherable amount of time passed. But, be sure, enough time for two men, boys really, to drink one pint of unidentified beer. I leave it to you, brave souls, to decide how much time has passed in the Bush-Wacked Pub.
“What’s more relatable than a broken heart anyway?”
“So you’re thinking is to just bombard the readers with sympathy? Is that it.” The boys each gave a grin.
“Yes, if I could get as many people as possible feeling bad for me, that would be great.” The waitress checked their drinks. “That, right there, is my intention.”
“Listen, I didn’t come here to get bullshitted. If you want to have a mental breakdown or something, that’d be pretty great right now.”
“A mental breakdown...”
“Because you’re not a real writer unless you drink a gallon of coffee before noon and have a mental breakdown by 3, right?”
The waitress came around. “’Nether pint?”
“That’d be lovely.”
“Alright, tell it again.”
“The whole thing?”
“Sure, take me out of the darkness. I want to see the light, Shaman.”
“Right.” The Writer reached into his coat pocket that had been sitting in the shoulders of his chair. The paper was creased about a dozen times over, torn, burn and otherwise proof a writer had written it. He cleared his throat, straightened his back and pushed on towards the Doom of public criticism. “In a sense…”
“Love it already.”
“Don’t fuck with me. I’ll have a fuckin’ mental breakdown like you want.”
“Ah, an improvement then.”
The stone walls of the Doom have closed. A horror to all people of aspiration. A solution had come over him, as it had many times prior. He coughed balls of stale air and negative auras. He relaxed, began again. “In a sense: heartbreak.” The writer paused, noticing the waitress came around. She gave a look of avoidance with a hint of brazen hatred. A look that screamed: Goddam. Another fucking writer pitching his fucking story to a greasy haired low-tipper. He waited until she left to continue. “We all have gone through it…”
“This.” The low-tipper started with a certain bravado and continued with a swift accuracy. “Is what I wanted you to avoid.”
“Would you let me finish at least.”
“You wanted to write something, from what I get, so terribly relatable,” As he spoke, he lifted his hands in the air. A keen observing eye would see a slight rotation where the ulna and radius meet at the unification of the hand. “That it isn’t relatable. Ok.” For a second, or so, when the rotating bronchi had fallen to the previous resting place, they moved, seemingly without the knowledge of the mover towards a paper napkin that had, until this moment, been stationary— an immediate fixture in time and space— and played with the napkin. Played with only in a way that a particularly nervous homo sapiens could. As the writer played with the napkin, making a great mess on the table, the low-tipper, without any hesitation, began the droning conversation again. “That sort of makes sense, not really, but sort of. I feel like I’ve wrapped my head around it a little bit at least. But there is no actual brilliance to it. Not yet, anyway. If it really worked, we would get this thing that kind of circles around relatability and unrelatability and no one actually knows if it’s good.” The low-tipper stopped. Closed his half-witted mouth, took a deep, agonizingly deep breath. He looked around Bush-Wacked Pub with a certain curiosity until he, as the inevitability of this world would have it, spoke again.
“Which makes it good. But it’s billed as the same fuckin’ thing. All I’m saying, if you want something be like how you say you want it, then don’t write it how you think you want to write it. Because you’re wrong and with something like this, it has to be so out of the ordinary—novel, you know—that’s what we want right? — and you — the guy who is sitting in front of me at this fuckin’ measly bar can’t write it.” It was at that time, the unidentified waitress came strolling over, stopped to take offense, then moved forward to the next patrons with equal parts disgust and outrage. But, so wrapped up in the moment as he was, the young lad did not bother to check his voice but rather, and this is the part that really gets me, continued with the verbal assault on both his drinking partner and the fine establishment. “I’m not saying you can’t write it but the you, right now, can’t. The best thing you can do, right now, is get the fuck outa here.” Briefly, only so to wipe his parched mouth with the torn napkin, he stopped. His partner, now at one— finder of the great Qi, vessel of the Holy Spirit— with the Bush-Wacked Pub in an act of solidarity, sat back, comfortably so, in his chair in a raging act of defiance. This reincarnation of Zeno of Elea cared not what the low-tipper had to spew and paid no attention to the forthcoming words. “I’m serious about this, now. I want— listen to me— I want you to write this fuckin’ thing. I want you to do well, you know. In, in all of this. But. But I do think… Fuck, I don’t know. Do whatever the fuck you want.” With that, the low-tipper ceased to be and, for the sake of all readers, had no remaining lines of dialogue.
A glaze over the eyes of the writer could be seen now for all who chose to see. All in this daze of his, he refolded his dinky manuscript, all three pages, stuck it, ever so artfully into the coat that harbored it before. He lifted the pint just above his mouth (closer to his nose than where anyone would actually drink), and let out a petite, simple, yet utterly traceable sigh. The two would sit, stirring with absolute contempt, at the Bush-Wacked Pub.
It was not only until later that night the writer’s glaze fully solidified, then shattered. Giving way to a true and unrelenting vision. The writer, in what could be called a Period of Great Awakening, burned the manuscript. He placed his typewriter, inflictor of the great pain, inside an empty cardboard box. From there, the box, typewriter and all, was shoveled into a dumpster beyond the reach of the writer’s future.
As the boy reached his home, this time empty handed, he took off his shoes. They were thrown, with the blankest, most resolute of faces, into a corner. His socks, shirt, coat and pants would fallow, leaving the boy in only a stained pair of underwear and swollen face. From then on, he determined, to leave his city, country and, in a matter of philosophy, his world. He would travel to a place unknown by man. And in this place he would travel, so far in our own futures we dare not dream, the writer sits, patiently, unbending, with no equivocation of free mind or of trapped mind, waiting for the past to link, in one continuous stream of great awareness, with the future.