I posted the below this morning in a fit of procrastination, trying to avoid the mundane parts (which is all of them) of my job. I thought I would re-post it, as I had a read and quite like it, not sure what the rest of y’all think. Total stream of consciousness material, bit scattered, but maybe possibly there’s some heart in here.
Tow Trucks and Other Stuff
Here’s a room. That’s two people over there, that’s not one.
I saw a star. It’s still shining somewhere.
The star doesn’t change, does it?
It’s only me. You know who I am. You’ve talked to me so many times. We have had conversations and we have exchanged promises. We have sat under trees and remained quiet. We have run through storms and outscreamed skies.
So there’s two people in the room. They’re looking at each other and sometimes they’re looking at the walls. There’s no paintings, no rolling hills or grass-strewn valleys or rivers running into the horizon. I can’t see any fields golden with charm, nor even oceans opening chasms in the face of our lands.
I can imagine them there. Maybe those two people in the room can, too.
She offers up a song to the emptiness, as though the words are nothing more than the medium for the music. They are together, looking and then looking away. They can read each other’s minds. But they don’t ever say anything.
So it’s music. I wonder.
I really wonder sometimes.
What has become of the child that once held together these bones? What happened to his ability to strive? Is there somewhere in this world a burial ground where when we grow old we send all the remains of our past? Is there some psychic pool of memory dwindling and recharging at the frayed edges of our perceptions? Maybe so. I think I might just have seen it.
It all comes from music, of course.
He gets up and listens to her song. Do you know what I think? I think that he has never heard anything so beautiful in all his life. He’s tried to search for such things, he’s failed, he’s kept going without even knowing it. The asphalt of the road is his beacon; he’s followed its rigours, watching suns rise from behind different mountains. Waters have sprung golden from his fingers, if he is to be believed, that have run into the deep-dug wells from which we all drink. The captain of his ideas is a strange master, taking to the sea when the need is real, aching for the land when the ocean is too lonely and the cry of the gulls is not enough for human ears.
But perhaps he’s never really seen anything beautiful.
Is that because he’s always been looking and never listening?
She sings so wonderfully. That note there recalls a kiss, while that other one, a bloody sunset. There’s a star, and there’s the moon. There’s my heart, all wrapped in silver.
Here’s a tale.
He’s sitting down, looking at the floor. His lips move, and nothing comes out. He doesn’t want to interrupt her.
“The other day,” he begins, and she stops, “I was driving my car down this hill. I think I was wondering if that hill were natural or just made up because of the road, for some reason that I couldn’t understand. It was about eight o’clock. July, in the heat. Remember those days?”
She just looks at him, smiling, frowning, screaming, drowning.
“When I was going down that hill, the car just stopped. I don’t know what happened. One moment, I had gas. The next, I had nothing. I guess I kind of hoped that the car might roll down the hill itself. But it didn’t, and I was stuck. So I got out and tried to dance. But that didn’t work either.
“So I walked to the next gas station. I asked the attendant if he had a gasoline container. He gave me one and about three bucks worth of gas. Enough to keep going, he said. I believed him. Why wouldn’t I? So I went back to the car and put the gas in, turned her over, listened to her purr back to life, and felt myself shrivel when the engine died. I’d moved three or four inches. I remember that, because I got out and measured the distance that I had moved. Fortunately, I had a little measuring tape in the tool box, and it was just right for the job.
“3.43 inches. That’s what I figured. So I tried to dance. But I don’t know how to dance. I called a tow truck and waited on the grass to the side of the road. There was the car, with its four-way flashers blinking away. I put my head back and relaxed. I watched the stars come on out. Then I imagined that if I really thought hard enough about one of them, a star might just notice me and drop down to the earth to chat with me. We’d talk, we’d play. And when the morning started to come by, the star would jump back into the sky, with all that silver dust and those diamond reflections. We’d be friends forever. I promise. Forever.
“That’s when the tow truck came by. A man climbed out of it, looked at me, and jumped right into the sky. I never saw him again. He didn’t even say goodbye. He didn’t even say hello. I’d never seen anything like that. Just before morning, another tow truck guy came by. He didn’t disappear.
“He did something to the engine, something very quick and treacherous. The car started up, and he patiently explained to me that it was a characteristic of the asphalt, of the road itself, that those who travelled it should every now and then stop to understand that they are indeed moving. He explained it very well. I don’t remember his words. But I remember what he said.
“‘Get yourself home, before you really hurt yourself,’ he said. Then he shot straight up into the sky, and I never saw him again. He never said goodbye. He never even said hello.
“So I kept going, and a few minutes later I saw it. There were trees everywhere, crowding against each other and throwing shadows around as though they didn’t weigh a thing. The ground was all wrecked with life, with life. Booming echoes coursed about, singing. When the nights fell, I danced; when the dawns came, I leapt. That might have been the first time I’d ever sang anything, because that was simply the first time I’d ever made a song. ”
So he looks up and takes down the description and the disease, the corruption of his tale. I didn’t see anything dark there, not in that room. But you know what’s going to come next. It has to. Here it comes. Here’s a tale.
He looks at her.
“But you were the most beautiful sight of all.”
If you jump ahead a few thousand years, you’ll see him driving down a hill on a layer of asphalt, and you’ll see her sitting next to him. They’ll be talking or they’ll be quiet, but they can’t do either one of them alone.
The like of the spring turns to the love of the summer. Then the leaves turn, and it’s all uneasy. Love turns to the snows of winter. Then perhaps it’s all lost. Then it’s time to decide.
Is it worth it to pull down two stars from the sky just so that we may talk with them and understand something of what it might mean to watch every human heart revealed from birth to death? Do we need to know where the race starts and where it ends? Should we be given the privilege of intellect, or is that simply an eternal birthright of our species? Pull down the stars, dear lover. Better yet, let me do it for you.
“Here it is,” he says. “A gap in time. Shouldn’t there be a bridge here? Where did it go?” The skies open, and down it all comes. “Maybe just lost in the snow.”
So it all comes down to a matter of the elements. But nature is treachery and it is from its many traitorous acts that we have learned much of our barbarous craft. We have nothing in that statement of which to be ashamed. We have had only the one teacher. Let the tale continue. It never does end.
“It’s too far,” he says.
But then he hears the music, and he’s back in that room with her.
“Five or six feet,” he says to her. “I’m sure of it. It’s not that far.”
She’s singing, and in a way, she’s dancing. “No, she says, “no it’s not that far after all.”
Here’s a glimpse, and not a tale. Here are those two driving along in that car, coming down that hill, laughing and talking and feeling something that I won’t bother to name. It’s not worth it. The car just falls apart and takes to the sky while those two people lie upon the grass and wait for some tow truck person to come by. But night falls first, and the stars come out. A couple of them dance with a nearby tree. The two people watch carefully, learning all the steps. He can’t dance but do you know what – she’ll teach him.
This might be their conversation.
“I heard once that it’s not the stars dancing, it’s the tree moving,” he says. She seems to agree. The tow truck driver comes by, sees that he can’t tell them anything anymore, and erupts into a brilliant streak of colour that just about drowns out the grime that we’ve accumulated over the centuries. He’d clean it all away, if even for just a few seconds. He’d clean it all away and give those two people a hint of the things that we only have the chance to dream about. Do you see tranquillity anywhere, really, except in those rare and very exceptional dreams that you somehow horde up enough living life to purchase every now and then? Do you see it, and when you answer, do you know if you’re honest or not? I wish I could help you with it all. I wish you could help me with it all.
So that’s the glimpse.
Here’s a tale. Here’s an ending.
Here’s a room. That’s two people over there. That’s not one.
He can hear the music, and can love it, and can feel it so deeply that he thinks he’ll sink into the ground with delight. He would try to explain, but doesn’t have the words. He leaves it up to me.
She sings. He listens. It’s his first dose of loveliness. He takes it in, and for a moment, we all think that it’s going to be okay.
But if we look more deeply into the tale, we know it’s not. Don’t you remember the chasm? He was standing there, looking for a bridge, but there wasn’t one. He should have climbed down to the bottom, even if he couldn’t see it, and then up the other side.
But he didn’t. Remember those words?
“It’s too far.”
Five or six feet. It turns into a chasm without a bridge. The snows fall. Blame the elements. Darling, I’ve seen nothing better in this world than you. Throw away the sentiments and the dreams and the visions and the half-meanings, and that’s what you have.
But it’s failure you’re expecting now, isn’t it? This all isn’t enough for you. The desire for something final is what you want. I hope you’ve heard now or before about the beauty of it all, the running pace of this tale that isn’t going to end, not really. Too much music has been shed and shared for the meanderings of some unlucky road to take it apart.
But here’s an ending. The words have to stop somewhere. Take it for what it’s worth. I hope you realize that this ending doesn’t mean much.
So five or six feet split asunder. Then there’s a chasm. She’s on one side, he’s on the other. She’s singing. But he can’t get across.
It’s too far.