Sun Sep 18, 2022 12:13

He felt a sudden need to make a change, to jump on a plane, to change his name, his town, his life. He had stalemated himself, backed himself into a corner by agreeing to Heaven’s proposal. He knew he would be unable to complete the manuscript. The text he had buried deep in his past, well beyond psychological roadsigns declaring ‘abandon all hope, ye who enter,’ now demanded to be completed. What the ...! This was the text that had nearly destroyed him, the text that he thought he had killed off and left by the side of the highway. This half-formed “thing” he banished to the recesses of his imagination was back for more and demanded revenge for this act of attempted murder and creative annihilation. A piece of fiction is alive in some sense. He understood this on the level of metaphor but it also frightened him with a dull inexplicable terror that held real existential weight like the sound of a wounded animal crying out for life.

Could he still write? The act of creation would necessitate an act of recollection. His life had taken on an out-of-focus quality as he aged. People, places and things seemed to come in and out of the frame of his mind’s eye, shadowy and amorphous, incongruous and lacking distinction. His thoughts also lacked distinction. This worried him. It was quite possible that he had slipped entirely into a purely physical routine, had tuned out all higher-order fantasizing. After all, what else is philosophical introspection but daydreaming compared to the concrete order of routine? Routine impresses itself into the grid of the mind, optimizing thoughts to suit its needs, crushing the deeper longings of the soul. Reflecting back on the places and events of his life, they were a scattered jigsaw puzzle with pieces that refused to fit together neatly. He was painfully ill-equipped to assemble this puzzle that lay in front of him. The pieces disappeared as soon as he attempted to grasp them.

His old restless energy had been tamed gradually over time. It’s ironic that in our youth we want to set the world on fire and in adulthood we prefer to put out the flames. Reflecting on these themes, abstractly, staring at a blank page on a glowing monitor, he recalled dreams of unquestionable light from the night before. They were so ecstatic that he could still experience their spark and after-burn. The vaulted ceilings of his inner-temple were animated by lasso beams of energy that danced with laser-like precision. Friends that he hadn't seen in years took him into their inner-confidences as he was feted in exclusive restaurants and palatial hotels. We are always treated like a VIP in our dreams. Dreams like these felt like blessings to him. Oddly, though, he dreaded sleep. His breathing would only settle into a smooth pattern after a few erratic hours. Chuck loved this life of the mind. This is what ‘being alive,’ in the purest sense, meant to him. At the centre of the event itself or watching from the margins, in a crowded market or in a field, the whole narrative arc of life resembling a vista or panorama. The intensity of youth, the calmness of middle-age, the serenity of old-age. The pain of youth, the doubt of middle-age, the paranoia of old-age. All of it. Being alive was all that mattered. He knew this better than anyone. For if anyone had lived hard and rough, indulged in too much of a good thing, gave into every temptation and excess, it was him.

Physical changes precipitated changes in his personality. He had started losing his hair in early twenties and now it was nearly gone. Why complain about the inadequacies of appearance? This is one of the few things that we don't have ourselves to blame for. The formula is not our own but that doesn’t stop us from attempting to deduce its shortcomings, without the possibility of any real solution. Secretly, he felt that he was immortal, a miraculous long-liver, for if you are suffer your entire life—wrestle with angels, take on torment and oppression—in some way, you live forever. Yet, this trait has its drawbacks. There were those that envied his suffering. It was not enough that he should suffer, they wanted him to go mad as well. That is why he chose to conceal his true nature by hiding his loneliness and his brilliance or by expressing it in fiction as surreal visions of fantasy and horror instead of autobiography.

After all that had happened, or not happened, Heaven and her various accomplices were on to him again, out for blood or worse—pages of exposition, dialogue, and plot. He needed to end this once and for all by meeting the challenge head on. There would be no more running from Frankenstein. He never had the heart to face him until now. But before he could write a satisfying ending in glorious Technicolor that familiar foe would have to be destroyed—chaos. It was chaos that prevented him from working. Chaos was the reason that recent efforts had been rejected by editors, publishers, and friends. Chaos with a little help from alcohol. It was not chance, not randomness, but a palpable force. It was the universe's schizoid voice, a hostile consciousness unwilling to let go. Pandora’s precious box had made his personal life unbearable before that bitch had contaminated his work. To beat chaos, he would need to be clever. Success is a chess game that one plays with the devil and wins. Patience is necessary.

Reality had come crashing down on him just when his confidence was at its peak. His hard-drive and all his backups were smashed and destroyed by Heaven in a momentary lapse of jealousy, anger and insanity. Experts claimed that they were beyond repair. How many words had she cost him? How many had he lost? Half-a million at least, which was the approximate advance that he would need repay if he failed to deliver the book to his publisher. Heaven held his backup copies and she wanted a king’s ransom for them. For years, their relationship had been strained and then it frayed and severed completely. The situation had been messy with lawsuits and media coverage so he did the only thing that came naturally to him, he vanished, becoming one more obscure author swept up into the dustbin of the publishing business. His only real impulse was to move back to the city of his childhood, the dark kingdom of his memory, a thin film on his perception as fleeting and tenuous as the spectral crumbs of light before nightfall.

  • Cont. Redjeans, Sun Sep 18 12:12
    In retrospect, when thinking about his former life, it was as if he had been beamed up into a giant television screen like the ones on Broadway. In some existential sense, he had been transformed,... more
    • Cont. Redjeans, Sun Sep 18 12:13
      • Cont. Redjeans, Sun Sep 18 12:15
        Gradually, over several months and with increasing intensity over the course of a week before the phone call, his dream, his only dream, repeated itself endlessly, even while he was awake. In an... more
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