Monday, April 26, 2010


tap tap tap

He looked up from the notebook he was scribbling in. The pen jerked across the paper, a deep gash marring the pristine page.

Pretty fucking jumpy eh Gary?

Just writing.

Yeah that much is obvious.

The other man stepped into the enclosed porch and shut the screen door behind him. Mosquito season and the bloodsuckers where sieging the sagging old manse. It had survived a civil war it would survive another summer surely.

Gary cracked open the notebook again, the tattered spine creaking as the glue stretched. The faint sound of wind in the grass, the insect army outside, and the sound of a book straining to be opened. Quiet didn’t begin to suffice.

Good day?

The other man settled into the chair.

Gary clicked his pen. The retort was answer enough. He began to scribble silently again on the paper. The ink was laid down in deep channels cut into a new world by the metal nib. The page beside it bore all the scars of a thousand other like tattoos scratched into it.

Barbara told me I could find you here. Said you were finally working on your book again. Glad to see she wasnt mistaken. You have an obligation Henry or did you forget?

Gary didn’t stop writing. His hand was tight and savage, choking curls of Es and As and Os like strangulated gasps. Ts and Is with all the subtlety of a stabbing victim. It was a mess to read, put down at the blood screaming speed of newborn thought. The dry sound of the nib digging into the paper was uncomfortably loud. 

You know after such a long time this is going to be an event. You could get interviews. Maybe some TV spots. People will want to know where Gary has been these past long years and whats so special about this notebook full of chicken scratches that came unexpected in the eleventh hour of an authors decline.

The pen hesitated on the page, the writing stopping mid-sentence. Gary set the pen down and reached over for the tall glass of tea. He took a long drink and set it down again, hand wet from condensation wiping against his pants before he picked up his pen again. The ice, melting in the heat, clinked softly on its own accord in the glass.

Yeah I know I wasnt invited. What do you want from me? Its my job to check in on you from time to time. I just had to make sure the rumors were true. It was starting to spread and if you werent here to do this I needed to be able to cut them off at the knees before people were expectin something you never meant to produce.

tap tap tap

Gary tapped the back of the bed against the notebook. Far away, the wind carried the sound of a truck driving along the road a quarter mile distant. The sound of gravel crunching and a motor revving was jarring in this natural quiet. Gary stopped tapping. 

“I’m writing something. When it’s done, if it’s done, you’ll be the first to know. I can’t give you any more assurance than that.”

He clicked the pen open again and began to write in his same hurried, haggard hand. The other man waited for more, but when it wasn’t forthcoming and the scratching of the pen seemed to sink into the ambient noise along with the insects at the screen, he seemed to give up.

Well thats all right. Ill try to downplay the excitement a little. Keep it at a simmer. I dont suppose you know how long thisll take?

The sounds of this place, insistent and unrelenting, crashed around him with a tranquil road. 

No I suppose you wouldnt. Ill check back in a month say and see how far its come. Dont worry about anything We take care of those who do right by us. And you certainly have.

He stood up, making to leave. He extended his hand in farewell. Gary glanced up, just for a second, but didn’t make to move. Instead he just kept writing. The other man shifted uncomfortably, wiping his hand against his shirt where it left a faint sweat stain. This accursed place was getting to him. He was leaking like a sieve here away from temperature controlled rooms where he dwelt.

Um all right I guess Ill be going.

The other man turned and walked back to the door. It squeaked loudly when it opened, thudded back into place softly right behind him. The bugs swarmed over him as though he were a sacrifice meant to appease them. He swore loudly, slapping his own skin, as he hurried back to his car.

Gary watched him go. The engine started. Tires spun on gravel and soon the car was headed back down the dirt path that made up his driveway. When they finally hit the distant gravel and the sounds of the world around him drowned out the other man’s retreat, Gary allowed himself a long sigh.

He took another sip of his iced tea. It was delicious, painfully cold in this heat. It was all the fuel he needed. Bending his neck to one side until it gave out a crack of protest, he began to write again, the nib tearing its manic path across the page.

The mosquito siege continued.

The day wore on.

The ice cubes melted away.

And the write wrote.

1 comment:

Dan said...

Nicely done, sir.

Those italics are quite annoying...they should mind their own business.