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Little Did I Know





   Death, on my mind, don’t be dramatic, I don’t mean I want to, die, but death has been on my mind, not all at once, there’s fiction for you, there are innumerable ways to die, a little bit at a time, a little bit each time. We know many of them, usually, before we are through and finally give up, all together, the skin, muscles, the tendons, the ligaments, etc., I could make you an all-inclusive list, but I know, told a thousand times, no one likes a smarty pants, until there isn’t one around and monotony sets in, freedom, no, no, move on, you can come back to this later, the night is young, no, the morning is still far from dawn, my fingers are still strong, my brain is swimming, it’s broken, but don’t stop now, did you hear me, don’t stop until you are really finished. Keep silent, listen, listen downstairs, I wait and wait for you to come down and speak to me, to me, to talk to me, was she trying to tell me something, no, nothing, yes, of course, nothing and something, all at once. To float, in a dream, and who knows how long these fingers might hold out, or my strength, my resolve, my courage, but it would be folly to underestimate.
  Okay, to get back, yes, a picture, let me describe it, I’m playing, alone, content, (Once in a sycamore I was glad, all at the top, and I sang, then came a departure), and you, behind me, looking stern, maybe sad, maybe near anger, always near anger, always angry, wishing you too knew how to play, to float, in a dream. Yet, I am unknown, I’m a ghost, I resemble something you think you recognize, but really, I’m a ghost, and the resemblance is only mistaken identity, the resemblance is only the work of mirrors, mirrors turned the wrong direction. It’s deceptive, and only the most skilled, like Sam Spade, could ever hope to solve the mystery. This evening the session is calm, there are long silences when all fix their eyes on me, that’s to make me fly off my hinges, I feel on the brink of shrieks, it’s noted.
  Shall I never see the sky again, never be free again to come and go, in sunshine and in rain, the answer is no, all answer no, I am hated, demonized, it’s well I didn’t ask anything, that kind extravagance I envy them, till the echoes die away, till the echoes die away. It’s tiring, very tiring, in the same breath to win and lose, one’s heart is not made of stone, to record the doom, don the black cap and collapse on the dock, very tiring, in the long run, I’m tired of it, I’d be tired of it, if I were me.
  How many hours to go, before the next silence, they are not hours, it will not be silence. How many hours still, ah, to know for sure, to know that this thing has no end. What words shall I use, with what words shall I name my unnamable words, and yet I have high hopes, I give you my word, high hopes, that one day I may tell a story, no, not like now, hear a story, yet another, but first stop talking and get on with your weeping, with eyes wide open that the precious liquid may spill freely, without burning the lids. But, yes, a story, in the true sense of the words, I have high hopes, a little story, a brief story, with night and day coming and going above, if they stretch that far, they that remain, and I’ve high hopes, I give you my word. High hopes, not today, not tomorrow, but one day, if the deep black cloud will stay away. Evil, should I say, that may be going too far, it sounds silly. But it’s there, I’ve seen it, tasted it, felt it, with my hands, my eyes, my lips, my tongue, my glans, the sensitive portion, my heart. That’s just stupid. Why do they always talk about the heart, as if that’s where things hurt, as if that were the source, actually, I know exactly why, but no one likes a smarty pants, but, why do I even need to say this, it’s the brain, that’s what gets broken, my brain is broken, and the brain, it’s in the head, a hand, with a straight razor dragged, slowly, powerfully, deliberately, horribly across the neck, until, they relented, each in their own time, the skin, the muscles, the tendons and ligaments, the veins, the arteries, free now.
   But wait, again, this is getting ridiculous, of course I did, no question about it, never any questions, but did I try everything, ferret in every hold, secretly, silently, patiently, listening, yes, of course, I listen too well, remember, you remember too much. I’m in earnest so often, I’d like to be sure I left no stone unturned before reporting me missing and giving up. Once, I mean in the days when I still could move, and feel myself moving, painfully, trees were witness, the sands, the air of the ocean, the sea, this tone is promising, it’s more like that of old, of the days and nights when, in spite of all, I was calm, treading back and forth the futile road. My question, I had a question, ah yes, did I try everything, I can see it still, but it’s passing, lighter than air, like a cloud, not a black one, in moonlight, before the skylight, before the moon, like the moon, before the skylight. But I was also talking about a story, a little story, and the words, what words to use, five of them, only five, a very little story, five words, a straight razor dragged, slowly, powerfully, deliberately, horribly across the neck, until, wait a minute, stop repeating yourself, and you are anything but, free now, anyway. Friends, yes, absolutely, lets talk of a friend, I’ll help you, I’ll be your fool, once more, I plead guilty and accept my sentence with bravery that would make you proud, but, with only five words with which to work, which ones to choose, which ones will serve us best, a little story, how can we make them cry and sob and wring their hands, if we only have five to work with, I’m sure a solution will be found, to the problem, of anger, and mythic retribution, and blindness, willful blindness, cruelty, and ignorance, is that all, well, it’s enough, that’s for sure, for now. I’ve used too many, words, but once I got started I couldn’t stop. Words are like that. I’ve said it a million times, no point in apologizing again, for talking of me, when there’s X, what else to call the demon, X, like checking a box, or like crossing something, completely, out, as painfully as you’re capable, by all means, to destroy is to be powerful, that paradigm of human kind, moving at will, complete with joys and sorrows, perhaps even a wife and a kid, forebears most certainly, a carcass in God’s image, did I say God, don’t be ridiculous, move on, do you want to finish this or not. Yes, to talk of one’s self as X, no, what a blessing I’m not talking of myself, enough vile parrot, I’ll kill you, as slowly and painfully as possible. I’ll show you.
   And what if all this time I had not stirred from that bench at the train station, Gare de Lyon, there you go again, you were expressly forbidden, no one, no one likes a smarty pants, everyone hates you, you just don’t listen, aucun Français, you just don’t listen, you vile, despicable, crazy, hated, loathed, there, I think that’s enough, I used five words, a different five, but who’s counting or keeping track, all of them, of every delicious word, all five of them. That train station, I won’t use French Mommy, I promise, I’ll be a good boy, I’ll just sit here, silently, I’ll do as I’m told, so you won’t give your love to another, leaving me alone, and broken, silent, but the last train went at twenty-three thirty, then they closed the station for the night. What thronging memories, that’s to make me think I’m dead, I’ve said it a million times. But I wanted to teach you French, so, then, I’d be okay, a good boy, with you, speaking French, in France, where they speak French, mostly. I’ve the whole day before me, to go wrong, to go right, to calm down, to give up, I’ve nothing to fear, my ticket is good for life. Whence it should follow, but does not, that Gare de Lyon, sorry, must be struck from the list of places to visit, if only that were the only one, then the warming sun would cradle me in it’s glorious golden arms, give me new life, lift me gently and with indescribable kindness, above all the words, and I could be silent, it would be silent, never broken for an instant, broken the like of this deafening silence, the station in ruins where I sit waiting. The End. Wait, not so fast, I’m still strong, I know they don’t think so, but what they think can not be allowed to be of consequence, it’s only me, continue, you’ve much more to say before you are silent. Only the words break the silence, those five words, all other sounds have ceased. But nothing of the kind, that’s not how it is, it’s for ever the same murmur, flowing unbroken, like a single endless word and therefore meaningless, for it’s the end gives the meaning to words. Or, if I’m guilty let me be forgiven and graciously authorized to expiate, coming and going in passing time, every day a little purer, a little deader. But whom can I have offended so grievously, to be punished in this inexplicable way, all is inexplicable, space and time, false and inexplicable, suffering and tears, and even the old convulsive cry, it’s not me, it can’t be me. But I’m in pain, whether it’s me or not, frankly now, there is pain, here I’m a mere ventriloquist’s dummy, I feel nothing, say nothing, he holds me in his arms and moves my lips with a string.
   Who is this man who would pretend to be me, but there are four million possible, nay probable, according to Aristotle, who knew everything. But here’s another joke for you all, I love. In spite of all, I can still love. And the yeses and noes mean nothing in this mouth, no more than sighs it sighs in its toil, or answers to a question not understood, a question unspoken, in the eyes of a mute, a sad fool, who doesn't understand, never understood, who stares at herself in a glass, stares before her in the desert, sighing yes, sighing no, on and off. Such is my conviction, for I have convictions. What variety and at the same time what monotony, how varied it is and at the same time how, what’s the word, how monotonous.
   But we were talking of demons, were we not, no, I’ll ask for nothing, I’ll receive nothing, whether I ask or don’t. There’s a way out, demon, me, and her’s, there are so many, they come marching down the beach, in perfect step, I can see them coming, their armor gleaming in the rose-red rays of the late afternoon autumn sun, the gently waving sea reflected in their shields, swords brutally unsheathed, striking paralyzing fear, such brilliance, such savage beauty, but I can’t stop them, I am powerless. But there’s a way out somewhere, then all would be said, it would be the first time, the first step on the long travellable road, paved in black ashes, to be trod without a word, through the days and nights, faster and faster, no, slower and slower, for obvious reasons. If there was a way out, make me say it, no, I’ll ask for nothing, unperceived, all this time, and yet you wouldn’t have thought so, that I’d go unperceived. There’s a way out, there’s a way out somewhere, the rest would come, the other words, sooner or later, and the power to get there, and the way to get there, and pass out, and see the beauties of the skies, and see the stars again. Because to destroy is but one manner of power, the power of self-hatred, the power of those who know not how to build, how to grow, to nurture, but only destroy and then cry over the ruins as if they’d had no part, no, not cry, never for these ruins, they have been discarded, already forgotten, the quest begins anew. So I’ll just sit here, that thought in mind, silent, trying to build, something, beauty out of destruction, love out of hate, forgiveness out of accusation, to see the beauties of the skies, and see the stars again. Ah, so there was something once, I had something once, but the head’s not in it anymore, nor is the appetite what it was, are you certain, who knows, we’re certainly not speaking of me. But the little story, speaking of the passing moment, that worse have been known to pass, that it will pass in time, a mere moment of respite which but for the secret first aid, yes, secret, so many secrets, might have proved fatal, and that one day I shall know again that I once was, and roughly who, and how to go on, and speak unaided, nicely, about number one and his pale imitations.
   When I think, no, that won’t work, when come those who knew me, perhaps even know me still, by sight of course, or by smell, yes that’s it, by smell, someone must have told me, once, it’s as though, it’s as if, come on, I don’t know, I shouldn’t have begun. Oh, I know, it’s not me, it’s a veteran, inured to days and nights, but she forgets, she thinks of me, more than is wise, and it’s a far cry, yes a cry, to morning, perhaps it has time never to dawn again. Here, nothing will happen here, no one will be here, for many a long day. Departures, stories, they are not for tomorrow, and the voices, wherever they come from, have no life in them.

San Francisco, 4:19 a.m., November 7