Friday, August 31, 2012

He Fell From a Czech Window

He fell from a window in Prague way down onto the Czech cobblestones below.

The Czech people didn’t know if he fell by accident, was pushed or jumped out of his own accord.  Regardless, his body lay dismembered all over the ground below and onlookers from the surrounding buildings gathered at their windows and watched as his many pieces were gathered by the Czech authorities.  The man had, apparently, become unusually severed upon impact.

Somehow he had not splattered, like, say, a chicken or dog might have; but rather had split into fragments.  Not like anything brittle, though; the breaks were not clean, the fragments not completely separate, for he had been pulled and yanked apart when he had hit the ground.  Some of the parts were still connected by various organic threads and lines, in some places just by patchy trails of torn skin and blood.  One could, however, still make out a man down there on the street.  Albeit a broken one.

The characters picking up the pieces did so with expressions of cold indifference, gazing occasionally at the faces in the windows as if to reproach them for some immoral curiosity.  What are you people looking at?  There’s nothing to see here.  Go back inside; this is our business now, not yours.  As they continued to impassively gather the man up.

The man who fell, however, of course felt nothing about all this, for no longer was he anything at all.  In a linguistic sense, anyhow.  In other senses he is likely many things, part of the bigger one thing.  Words begin to streak at this point.

An investigation into the fall was already underway, though it made no real difference.  The man was dead.  No one knew the details of the incident and nothing anyone knew of could bring him back.  Not much, if anything at all, could as yet be said about dying in general, either, so the whole thing was, practically speaking, infinitely mysterious.  This kind of mystery is not uncommon, but this does not unjustify the Czech peoples’ curiosity into the enigma.  It was not just their curiosity, anyhow.

The main piece of evidence, if one can deem it such, was an etching done by the man on the windowsill.  It was presumably written the night of the fall and read: ‘I’ll miss you, man.’  This was all anyone could find regarding his final sentiments, which in any case seemed unusual in the context of his life.  For those whose responsibility lay in investigating his death, this made absolutely no difference at all.  Perhaps it was something they could tell his family and friends, when they asked how their son/brother/sister/friend was before he died.  Something to provide some explanation, despite it being no explanation at all.

I’ll miss you, man.  And the world flies away.

It was three stories that he fell—though only one story came of it.  No one saw what happened, but there seemed to be no lack of witnesses who could testify to the disturbing sound of the body falling and hitting the ground.  A beer can fell first, its tinny crash attracting little attention; this was followed by a few split seconds of humming, followed then by a large, bone-crunching thud.

And that was that.

His friends could no more explain the incident than himself, for they sat sleeping that night in sodden, green haze while he stayed conscious, alone; the night had been good-natured, they’d said­—­­no one was to blame for anything.  ‘Blame’, they said defensively to their interrogators, did not apply here.

But why did he fall? the authorities consistently replied.  For what reason?

The many pieces that once comprised the entire being were transported to a Czech police station, where examinations were underway in order to determine exactly how he landed and thus the ‘cause’ of the fatality.  This is where, apparently, the latter was to be found­: that is, in determining the angle at which the body hit the cobblestones, the points most effected.  Here the notion of cause becomes like a piece of paper, folded over and over and over; when they can fold no more, the cause is found.

It became apparent to these investigators that the legs had been first, snapping and then compacting into the body.  From there, parts simply became crushed and mashed and strewn, leaving an inelegant scene for Czech walkers and their rather sedated Czech canine acquaintances. 

All on a fresh Czech morning, this occurred; the early hours, when the sky was just becoming light.  

Just as the people emerged from their caves, to begin a brand new Czech day.

Sunday, August 12, 2012

The Awkward Walker

There is a type, in many cities­—­an archetypal form, if you will—whose prime existential challenge is that of walking.  This figure is an anxious, meandering thing, quite unsure of itself and even more so of the external world.  He or she tries menacingly hard to see into the future, to gather at least approximate (if not precise) insights into the movements of the world and its diverse beings.

The particular of this type is akin to all others of this type, formally speaking­­.  His being here a man is a purely literary aspect; in reality, both unfortunate men and unfortunate women play this role, or perhaps more correctly, partake in it.  Though their misfortune, it is arguable, is purely relative.

The Awkward Walker darts always in the wrong direction.  He shuffles to the right to make way for another, oncoming walker, but the latter has already made the move counter-wise and so leaves the former starting back to his original path, but fumbling in confusion, starting this way and then that, his concern for being in the way growing exponentially along with his general lack of orientation.  Beads of sweat appear instantaneously.

Soon the sweat begins to pour out and it is not long before the Awkward Walker looks more like a runner, patches of wet having formed around his armpits and back.  With no real choice now that he is in the thick of it, he continues his way through the crowded streets, anxiety working harder now at toying with his space-time perceptions.

The Awkward Walker cannot stop; this would only worsen his case.  He cannot stand aside, for he would not move and would starve in his relief.  He has tried, but cannot “better” his predictions; as has been stated, the more he tries, the more he fails.  This does not apply only to walking, nor only to the Awkward Walker.

He does not really look about him, at his surroundings and the generally fluid dynamics of the masses of other walkers.  Too determined is this being to be leagues ahead of the game, he more often finds himself far behind; too sure, to be sure, that the physical space he occupies at any given time does not impede on the paths of others.

But in doing so he leaves himself open.  The Awkward walker always tries to assure clear passage, and in doing so creates none.

Often he will try, the poor soul, to see many steps ahead, to read a busy street like a newspaper, blindly accepting the facts as they’re given, without considering them as part of a more important whole. He tries hard to predict the movement of traffic and the undulating throngs of pedestrians, but this confounds his cause further.  In doing so, he procures his own misjudgement, tries too hard to move correctly—whatever this might be; he concentrates on the wrong things, overlooks the city’s sharp drops and rises, so far away in his mind that he occasionally even trips and stumbles.  Other walkers scoff inwardly; some laugh.  The Awkward Walker perspires constantly; sees them seeing him; further even: sees them seeing him seeing them, like a terrible loop.  Thus he is distracted further.

Oftentimes there will be a kind of awkward stand-off between himself and a regular walker; a strange situation in which he draws an unfortunate into his miserable confusion, namely by continually stepping in the direction they choose to step.  This creates a rather absurd spectacle, whereby one aisle of pavement will be occupied by the Awkward Walker and his victim, each repeatedly stepping into one another.  And somehow onlookers know, and so too does the Walker himself, that it is his own fault and not that of the other.  He is the one who is making the wrong decision, over and over and over again.  Not the other.

This is why he mumbles apologetically the majority of his outings, does the Awkward Walker.  He must repent, despite his vast efforts to conform.  He reproaches himself constantly, unaware that his failure is relative and that this may mean something, may have a bearing on the way things are in a greater sense.  But then again, this troublesome fact may not matter, out there, in that town; the relativity of things is perhaps immaterial in a place ill-considerate of such things, where one must either walk in such a way, or be a nuisance to those who do by failing to adhere.

And so not only must this man endure his own disoriented and misled faculties, he must also accept being the clown of the streets, a subject of amusement for children and adults alike as he rough-and-tumbles his way across town, dropping papers, bumping into people, stopping too suddenly in all the wrong places and failing to keep pace with the organism-like masses of pedestrians that wobble across busy intersections, into and out of shopping centres, office buildings and the like.  This walker, being as he is, disrupts the ever-increasing flow of the larger, more organised groups, without knowing why or how his actions fall short of what is acceptable and accepted.

Reaching home for this miserable case is a most heavenly relief.  Through the building’s ground level, up several flights of stairs which, if he is lucky, are not occupied by coming or going tenants, and into the safe-box that is his apartment.  Always locked, curtains drawn, for this man does not wish the world to see him any longer.  One day at a time is more than enough to repel such a creature.
One room, one window and one man; alone.

From here he can watch the world, safely, without having to participate in it.  Here there are no others, no calculations to be made.  This is the place he continues walking for, despite the stress, despite the embarrassment and humiliation.  What makes it all worth it.

But there is always, the Awkward Walker well knows, a world of walkers waiting for him on the outside.  A city of streets which he cannot, will never be able to, navigate with ease.  A world of people which he will forever be a bother to, a joke, an amusing nuisance.  Forever waiting to be disrupted, as though foreordained.

The Awkward Walker peers across the town, trembling with fear and relief.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

A Letter (un-fin)

I got a letter in the mail this morning.  It was an invitation, sealed by wax.  There were no specifications: no time, no date; not even the name of the person who sent it.  Despite omitting these seemingly essential details, it did state quite candidly that if I do not accept the invitation, I would soon die.  The only specific information detailed in the letter was the destination.  This destination was quite descriptive, however—and quite familiar.  Perhaps more interestingly, the latter was not actually a physical place.

It was a place I had dreamt about the previous night, or perhaps during this morning’s sleep.  The dream had been quite vivid and particularly memorable.  I was in Amsterdam, where I have been once before, albeit briefly.  The dreamscape was not from my memory, however; I don’t know how I even knew it was Amsterdam, but it was.  I am sure of that.

I am with a girl in the street.  Everything is picturesquely suburban in a way akin to my real memories of Amsterdam.  The girl, apparently, is going to show me where a money exchange is, as I have only currency from my home country—no Euros.  She tells me her name, which is something along the lines of Kalialeah.  I ask whether I can just call her “Kali”, to which she giggles and says yes.  She is a very enigmatic and persuasive girl, with a lot of charm.  We hurry through the streets in such a way that it doesn’t seem like a hurry.

The most significant part of the dream occurs next, to which the invitation alludes in quite more detail than I will write here.

Kali and I, after roaming through some fairly labyrinthine streets, which seem to be covered up above like leafy bowers, come to a large landing—a kind of huge balcony.  At this point, Kali trips and breaks her shoe; the sole is torn from the bottom and hangs on only just.  She looks sad and shows me the sole, flopped away from the bottom of her foot.  I feel slightly blameworthy.  At the edge of this large balcony I see, many miles below, a huge graveyard which stretches right across my field of vision, from each side of my peripheral to the other.  It is the largest graveyard I have ever seen and lays across an expanse of green field.  It is breathtaking.

Later on, I make it to an exchange.  It is in an arcade-type area, very sterile and cold.  Kali is still with me.  My recollection ends here, and so does the letter’s description.

It is now the evening of the day in which I received the letter.  The letter, it is to be noted, was not delivered by the regular postal authorities—I confirmed this not long after reading it.  The regular mail, you see, was delivered after I had retrieved the strange letter from the mailbox.  Things like this do not regularly occur.  It is a thing that only some may take note of, or even keep an eye out for; my sagacity is something I pride myself on, especially in matters such as this.

For some reason I am not baffled and plan, somehow, to make my way back to this psychical destination.  I don’t know exactly how I am going to do this, but I feel that there must be a way.  Besides, if I fail to arrive there at some point, I will die.  The authority of this letter is strong; I have no reason to believe its content, but nonetheless I do.  I must get back to the pinnacle overlooking the graveyard; it is the only way I can avoid death.

The irony here suggests that the author of the letter may have a playful sense of humour, similar to my own.  With this humour in mind, I have chosen to take the challenge; and thus, my quest begins.

(Perhaps to be continued…)