Sunday, October 5, 2014
In death by the River
Darby was a square-faced man. You’ve seen the kind, cheek-bones wide, stretched outward with the square jaw; and the nose, more alkaline than not, put right into the center of the face, like a parrot. He was lying on his back, looking up towards the moon, one might say, in a painful way, at the wrong time. Watching the past and forgoing the future in a death drift.
Things are not clear at night, Darby was repressed, bottled-up, sinking into a dream state, and out, seeing things in the near dark, if indeed they were things or dreams, which one he couldn’t tell. Was it last night or this night, he was dreaming, and was he seeing what he was seeing, or dreaming what he was seeing? In either case, obscure. At the end of the dream, or obscure sight—it was as if he was on stage then off stage, it all was a guess of course.
It all was overhang, an extension of something, the dream, the obscureness. His mind was telling him in several different voices, this and that, as if crisscrossing the same spot, with different plots and themes, in different ways, and he wasn’t schizophrenic, that he knew of. And with all these voices coming and going, came names, names that abruptly changed as did the location of the spot, and the details of the spot change, as one would expect in dreams, or perhaps in the gray night with shadows and in particular looking up at the moon, although that didn’t seem to Darby all that significant, what it was! Why didn’t he just get up and move, leave, go.
Be that as it may, he hated. Not that anyone had done him what people would consider a harsh wrong. Far from it, he did as he pleased most of his life. The wound was the intangible kind. Somewhat elusive if you were to ask the common Joe. As to define this clearer, it would be an infinite analysis. Many of us experience such feelings in life, that life itself has done us wrong. And when our minds meet this moment, we may even say: “I do not like that person, never have…” or “I wish I would have but…” or “If only…” (if’s and but’s) whomever for whatever purpose. Why does that person bother you, we can’t quite put our finger on it, but nonetheless, we have taken an aversion to it, and all that comes to our mind, is that we do, and we do not like even having that aversion for: person, place or thing: but we got it all the same.
The dim past now resurrects, his lifecycle confronts him: birth, guilt, judgment, sex, and family, social, ritual, and even death. These are the names of the voices, along with, sleep and working, rise and fall, sin, conflict, redemption, all running a close race behind one another, across the fields of his mind.
“What,” he asked himself, “what are they trying to tell me?”
It’s in a different language, or are they trying to create a new language, and trying at the same time to put the puzzle together for me?
So he is thinking all this.
Point of fact: “Who is the dreamer?” He asked himself.
I mean, isn’t he doing all the thinking for all the voices? A question for himself; and I can assure you, he has asked that question, to no avail.
Was it him, or one of those voices running this mute commentary?
A voice said, or so he translated it as having said, as a suggestion to pondering, “If you are dreaming, move about more freely.”
At times he thought he was moving about, but was he?
Then a voice said, as if he thought it, “What right have they to be happy?” Whoever they were he couldn’t guess. It was as if his subconscious knew something he had hidden, as if there was a pretense alive, and someone, or thing wanted to blow out the candle of that con we carry to the grave.
Then he told the voice, with his original voice, in mute language, “He was always an optimist; he was always gleeful and laughing.”
But it hurt his soul that all those who he was thinking about, should be so happy! But who was he thinking about? That bothered him. And he told all the voices in his original mute voice, and in the English language, “I even used to laugh myself—before!” Before what?
And one of the voices had a face, and his laugh, it irritated him, maddened him, as nothing else under the moon could irritate or madden him. This moment haunted him, gripped him like iron, and he couldn’t move, he tried, if he was sleeping he wanted to wake up. But waking up would be like a break of day, and he knew that, gravity was crushing him, he wasn’t going to move. He clenched his nails into the grass, he felt the wetness from the river; his palms got damp.
Now he knew what happened, he fell to his death, climbing a wall, no, it wasn’t that, walking along the edge of a cliff and he fell; for now he remembered he saw the wall of the cliff it was to his side of him when he fell: in the clap of an eye he saw it, and he was now having episodic recall vignettes running through his mind: these voices were trying to tell him, he was dead! He was a splashed corpse along that side of the wall that his soul was crying for healing, release: drunken from whiskey he had fallen off the edge of the cliff, yes that’s it in a nutshell! now on his back, like a rat, lying down along the shoreline of the Mississippi, only thing left was to have a coffin made, a wake, a burial; it would appear these voices, whomever they were, really were, were going to some courtroom to win a reprieve for a continued life, or was it a pardon for him, or to convict him, one or the other, or some amalgamation.
Who would find him, came to his mind. Or had he already been found?
Now he remembered clearer, he went scaling the bluff in the nighttime, and a voice told him running across his frontal lobe as if leaping from one canyon to another, “This is nothing,” so he scaled the edge even closer, “You poor dumb fool,” said another, a different voice running across an open pasture inside his head, his cerebellum, he guessed. He heard a dog, a brute of a dog, bloodhound, and he turned about to see, and he fell; drunk yes, he was tipsy, that is, slightly intoxicated, but the dog startled him, and the voice, that voice, no matter how lightly, in truth, was a bungling stab to distract him, a hateful brutality of a voice, more akin to an imp, so was his suspicion, but if it was a scheme hatched by the devilish imp, it was the dog that set in motion his fall. But who’s to say, it was all conjecture: trying to put the puzzle together, the paroxysms that his mind was having, and perhaps along with his body, his damnable situation in any case, hugging himself with a fibrous kind of blankness, that he was trying to shake off.
Now one day and two nights he bided his time, waiting for opportunity to rise, but no one came near him, no person he could think of, but he did lure some creepy animals, rats, and perhaps they saw him as a beefsteak. But that was yesterday, today, this evening none of this made any positive impression on him, so he must be dead.
“Was there ever such an impossible situation?” questioned Darby to one of the character voices running to and fro, inside his head. The face of the voice beamed like the glow of a gibbous moon, yet gave no answer.
“Someone will come and rescue me,” was his ongoing chatter with a woman across the river; now his backbone was hurting.
“Focus,” a voice said, a voice that didn’t belong to the woman across the river or the mute voices, it was a real voice. “Pantomime,” the voice said, as if he was resting on his back for a joke.
Now he heard a radio.
“He is not dead!”
“No, he’s half dead, I can smell him; and he was dead drunk, I bet, when he fell off that cliff!” (pointing to the cliff to his right side).
“Here comes a policeman.”
“He must have had some crazy dreams!”
“Don’t insult him, we all have crazy dreams, you’re a little loaded yourself!”
“Why can’t I insult him?”
“I don’t see any laugh to it! And if you weren’t half loaded yourself, you’d not ask such a stupid question!”
“Can’t they figure this out, I’m a death in progress. Focus, I’m returning to normality, but it’s been two days, and nights! These guys are daydreaming, where’s the cop? Here I’m dying, dreaming, going through my lifecycle, and these two guys are woolgathering. I must be paralyzed, I can’t get up; you mean to tell me, two drunks are debating if I’m alive or dead, or worth rescue, God forbid!
“I see a fourth man, he’s in the distance, spying! You always get those kind, who want a show. I must have been talking in my sleep, talking to those goofy voices with faces. I can even see down the river some, there’s a barrel. I made it to sunrise.”
The second man, more alert, than the other, tries to wake him, “If he was alive, he’s dead now! Let’s get the hell out of here and get a latte! Before we’re accused of any ill-doings!”
The first man replies: “Latte!”
It was as if Darby was run through the length of the river, to its very end, and he was simply taking a blurred inventory, as he fell in and out of a coma; and alas, we are not always rescued, is that not a fact!...
In any case, Darby laid there, no longer trying to outfox the world around him, nor himself, with his interstellar sorrows of belief, and convictions, and the delirious acknowledgement of human motivation and character of those who loved not to die, he was like everyone else, lost to death. Best of all, he had not even known that he had beaten death, and had taken the applause, not with mockery, but as good-natured a man could, for the gift of life. And he wept with joy at the recollection; it was as if he had found his hidden spirit at the very last minute, as the beast inside him that bared its fangs, perished. Then a slumberous quiet fell over him.
Not ten feet away, anchored steadily in some squelchy grass, overlooking the body, said the policeman, “Death from an accident I suppose, while engaged in drunkenness, that’s my verdict anyhow Doc…”; and so it was the verdict of the coroner’s jury likewise.
No: 1023/October, 2 thru 4, 2014
Note: This story was done in a stream of consciousness style, with literary allusions, free dream associations, abandonment of character construction, yet plot is maintained. I do believe despite these obstacles, the reader can reach the key details that could or may remain elusive. Thus, somewhat done in an unorthodox fashion, yet it should hold some aesthetic merit, especially to the chaos of the mind, in such situations.