Staring at the blank screen, he sought the steady flow of words from his brain to his hands. Sometimes the words caused his fingers to grip the pen, and he watched, each time, fascinated, as the words appeared on the piece of paper. Other times, the words caused his fingers to tap on the keys, until the blank screen was no longer a blank screen.
But it did not matter.
The truth was, there really wasn't anything that mattered, and the realization of that, grasping that concept for once and for all was possibly the most unsettling moment in a life that had produced a great many unsettling moments. But he now understood that to be true, and it was chilling, even on a balmy June day. He was audacious enough to imagine that the knowledge that nothing mattered was what Hemingway arrived at when he put the gun in his mouth, but then remembered something that Buk wrote once about Papa just being sad because he could no longer write as he once did. So maybe it was just anger, and not knowledge, that did him in.
And the list of "I'm sorrys", as he traced the contours of it in his head, well that list could easily stretch to the moon, come back again to earth, stretch back out to the moon, re-enter the atmosphere a second time without burning up, come into the room, wrap itself around his neck as he typed, and strangle him as his fingers struggled to finish the sentence describing his own demise.
So making a list was out.
Part of the trouble with a list of apologies was not simply that there were so damned many things for which to apologize, but there were so damned many people to whom an apology was owed. Like most failures, he had failed in exactly the same way with many different people, so the same apology might be owed a dozen times, to a dozen different people. Or a hundred times, to a hundred different people.
So apologizing all at once, for everything, to everyone, seemed to be the way to go.
Because the truth of it was that he really did not want to stay any longer, and even though he had struggled mightily to come up with reasons to stay, and a couple that had considerable appeal, in the end, none of the reasons were good enough, none of the reasons strong enough, and no one still listening as he insisted that it was time to go, drumming his fingers incessantly on the keyboard, the words flying faster than ever.
Probably entirely fitting that the last words be a poem.
But then maybe poetry was too simplistic an art form for consideration of such supposedly weighty philosophical matters as life and death. Maybe that sort of inquiry could only be done with acre after acre of words, words so dense that you had trouble reading them on a page, words so profound that you had to struggle to pronounce them, words so rare that you found it pointless to close the dictionary and put it back on the shelf, opting for just keeping it open in front of you, saving time.
Like time meant anything either.
They say that the line between genius and madness is a very fine one. It may be, although even at this eleventh hour, he was still not sure about the idea. He wondered if he had long ago crossed that line, wondered if he had been insane for quite some time without fully appreciating the fact, a little like his daydream where he fails to realize his own death, where everyone around him acts and speaks as if he is not there, not in the room, talking about him like he is already gone, and then he looks at his own daydream and tries desperately to find some hard proof that he is still alive.
Usually the proof arrives in the form of some physical pain.
And of course consideration of his ability as a writer of anything was always morbidly fascinating as well. Was he a good journalist? Was he a good fiction writer, or even passable? Was he a good poet, or just some self-proclaimed hack? More of the questions that you really never want to seriously ask yourself, because you probably are not going to like the answers you give any more than you are going to like the questions that prompt those answers.
Looking in the mirror can scare you to death.
So a poem, then, what the hell, since he had already established the meaninglessness of everything, the uselessness of all effort, however nobly imagined or cast. To be or not to be was not even a question worth asking, but it was quoted for hundreds of years as the art of self-deception became a central human enterprise, and the propagation of the species became a mindless, meaningless drill done by rote, generation after generation.
death can come in here
anytime he damned well pleases
since I've got Buk's bluebird
hidden so well that even
that mournful Devil
won't be able to find him here
amid the wilted flowers,
broken coffee cups,
and stolen moments
that still jump up in the dark
in front of me
as I wobble off to pee
at 3 a.m.
That ought to do it well enough, he thought. No need for any sort of long, convoluted ramble, since producing one would not matter even a tiny bit. Better to be concise, and let the strength of brevity carry the day.
Sorry to have wasted your time.
June 8, 2009.
Copyright © 2009, Ricky A. Pursley. All rights reserved.