Loading...
Menu
Ebooks   ➡  Fiction  ➡  Literature  ➡  Literary

The Writer as a Man

 

The Writer As A Man

by David Halliday

Part Two of The Invisible Man

 

 

1. Harold Loom

My father was a wealthy man who made his fortune in real estate after World War Two. He was a dull man with a sharp mind focused on a simple plan. People needed some place to live after the war. He built the houses, the streets, the plazas, the churches, the golf course, the cemeteries that made up the expanded Six Points area. And then he had a massive stroke and he was buried in the graveyard he had built. They read his will the next Saturday. My mother was rich. I wanted to go out and celebrate. On that long weekend, I realized that I would never have to work another day for the rest of my life. I lay out on the back lawn with a bottle of scotch, stared up at the sky, and went mad.

My mother had other plans. Too much money was not healthy for a young man. Money like water would seep into the foundations and rot my ambition. The result – an indolent and degenerate life. And so mother set up an allowance for me. It was always enough money so that I could survive and never enough so that I could live. But I was content. I wanted to be a writer. All I needed was a keyboard and a place to flop. Someday a vast fortune would be mine. My mother could not live forever, an assumption still unproven.

And so I wrote. Not well, but often. First poetry and short stories. Serious minded work. No humor in my work. Did anyone ever laugh reading Ezra Pound? And I was published. And sometimes frequently. Especially in literary magazines that I subscribed to. And I did readings. Painful experiences in small coffee houses where those in attendance leaned forward and scratched their watches as my voice rambled on. After a decade of being in the poetry scene, workshops, readings, small anthologies, I gave up on poetry. And turned to novel writing. And by chance one night in the Zig Zag Tavern I overheard a story from the bartender about people disappearing down a mysterious black hole in someone’s backyard. I stretched the tale into a small book, submitted it to a publisher. It was accepted and published. I received a Canada Council Grant, went on a whirlwind book tour across the country, received glowing reviews and sold fifty copies of the book.

I started writing my second novel. I had a title – The Invisible Man. The first page is blank. The Invisible Man is there someplace. But, I have ideas. Ideas coming out of my ass but no story line. I took a job at Tim’s, a local coffee shop, hoping that I would overhear something that would spurn me on, some remark, some anecdote that would form the core of a new tale. I was looking for something original. What I discovered was that there were a handful of stories, told by one patron to another, each telling recreating the same story with different details. Some added, some subtracted. This is my version.

2. The Bench

I have a bench on the sidewalk in front of Millers Restaurant. I liked to stand behind it. Sometimes I would sit but mostly I liked to stand there. There is an empty lot across the street with a makeshift snow fence around it. There is nothing on the lot except weeds, some stones, and a scattering of bricks from the building that stood there. It had been a grocery store for fifty years but had recently been torn down. I love that description – a bench, Dundas Street, a large vacant lot, and the sky above. Occasionally a car, truck or bus would pass along Dundas Street but the scene was basically stark, the bare essentials. Which is the way I write. Which is the way I live. Which is the way I think. The bare essentials. Hopefully I will be able to pare everything down to two elements. Me and God. And then the real conversation would begin

It’s a good place to think. The bench. To mull over ideas. That’s my madness. Everywhere I look I see patterns. Patterns are someone’s idea, someone’s creation. Order is recklessly rearranging the furniture around us. Old buildings being replaced by new buildings. Old people dropping dead at the feet of children. Order giving birth in the ashes of death. Order is my God. Patterns are His skin. I need a universe in which everything makes sense. What else is consciousness for? We were put here as witnesses. But why does God need us as witnesses? Why does God need us at all? When I was a small boy I would wander out into the backyard of my parents suburban home and look up onto the night sky at the stars and ask what all this was about. And just as I finished asking the question, I discovered that I was an old man.

I took a seat on the bench.

“You look like a man whose been left behind,” a voice said.

I looked up. A thin young man, well dressed with a swath of wispy blonde hair that fell over his eyes, took a seat on the bench beside me. I looked at him suspiciously.

He smiled. “Supposed to be another hot one.”

He had an odd accent that I couldn’t place. American, I thought. Somewhere down south.

“Summer is going out with a bang,” I said.

The strange young man looked across the street at the empty lot.

“It was a grocery store,” I said anticipating his question.

“I was going to say that it looked peaceful in a odd way.”

“You’re from out of town,” I said, stating the obvious.

He nodded.

“A strange place for a tourist,” I said. “Not many people are attracted to the sights of the Six Points.”

“In town on business. Thought I’d go for a walk. Get a lay of the land.”

“What do you do for a living?”

He turned to me. “I’m a hired assassin.”

My mouth dropped.

He laughed. “You’ll have to forgive my sense of humour. I’m a professional photographer. Magazines. Fashion mostly. Looking for shooting locations. And new talent. Don’t like to use professional models. Their faces are boring. Manufactured. How do you turn a dollar?”

I hesitated for a minute. “A writer.”

The young man nodded. “Anything I would know?”

I shook my head.

“What do you write?”

“Murder mysteries,” I replied.

He laughed. “That’s certainly a popular genre these days.”

I turned to the young man. “What do you mean?”

“Murder mysteries all over the newsstands. Cheap novels written to scare the pants off middle-aged women. What do you figure is the attraction?”

I shook my head.

The stranger smiled. “I think everyone wants to be murdered. And survive to talk about it.”

 

3. Cards

These are the cards you were dealt. How many times had I heard my mother say that when I was a kid? You weren’t as good looking as some movie idol. One card dealt. You weren’t as cool as that rock star. Another card dealt. You couldn’t have a car like those rich kids from the Kingsway. Another card dealt. You came down with the flu on the evening of your graduation. Someone stole your wallet at the movie theatre. You weren’t smart enough to get that scholarship. Your father wasn’t a lawyer. Your mother was fat. That pretty girl in pink only had eyes for your best friend. Your best friend turned out to be gay. Every disappointment in life was the luck of the draw. And the luck of the draw had nothing to do with your personal accomplishments or efforts. The luck of the draw didn’t have anything to do with anything. You’ve got to play the cards you were dealt. The universe, this order that I cherished, had a flaw. It was unfair. Plato was deluded. The highest form was injustice.

The hand you were dealt, the cards from birth to death, were absolute. Unchangeable. I couldn’t accept that. Was there an alternative theory? Maybe, I thought, the cards do not fall randomly. Sequentiality, if I may coin a new word, may be an illusion. Our lives may not unfold from birth, through childhood and adolescence to adulthood to death. Perhaps the cards are not dealt randomly but in order of importance. Perhaps the ace in our hand is the last card dealt. The last card we are dealt is the absolute moment of our lives, the pinnacle of our conscious existence. And that moment could come at any point in our lives. We could be going through those terrible teenage years long after we had married and had children of our own. Or we could be on death’s door before we had passed through the birth canal. We remember the future. And what was important in life was how we dealt with that absolute moment. I knew that absolute moment for me. I have seen it like a dream. I am sitting in my parked car near a fire hydrant watching one of my friend’s lives being saved, only to see another of my friends crushed on the grill of a black sedan. The sky opens up. And then I watch my friend miraculously ascend into heaven. And there are angels singing like a choir. Death and salvation are the same. That is the ending of my life. The high point. But where does it begin? In a bar I think, drinking a beer with my old friend Frank Craven.

 

4. The Zig Zag Tavern

“Listen, Frank. I read about this new theory.”

Frank Craven and I were sitting at the bar in the Zig Zag having a couple of beers. Frank and I had known each other since we were kids. We had long ago run out of original things to talk about. Now our talk had become comfort food, warm but tasteless.

“No more theories, Harry.”

“Listen, Frank. You’ll like this one. There is only one atom in the universe. One atom. Let’s call him Dan. Dan the atom.”

“You told me this one before,” Frank interrupted.

“I did?”

Frank put down his beer.

“Harry, you’re crazy. You know that? You can’t build a life out of the theories about the origins of life. It doesn’t work. Even St. Augustine enjoyed the pleasures of the flesh. You’ve got to get real. Couldn’t we talk about something else?”

“Like sports?” I laughed and took a swallow of beer. God, I felt like one of those pickled eggs. Not to eat. I actually felt like a pickled egg. Maybe it was the smell of stale beer in the bar. Or the fragrance of the urinals that wafted out into the bar every time someone opened the washroom doors. Or maybe it was my hands. I’d been cleaning my mother’s windows all afternoon. I turned to Frank.

“What is it with the male sex that he feels compelled to gather in herds… to cheer on gangs of other males… in their pursuit of some vacuous triumph? I’ll tell you what it is, Frank. It’s latent homosexuality.”

Frank laughed. “You think that jocks have a secret urge to bugger their mates?”

“Why do they call them mates, Frank? You don’t see men crowding around television screens to watch women play, do you?”

I thought about that for a moment.

“Except to leer,” I added.

Frank waved at me contemptuously.

“You’re not going to piss me off today, Harry.” Frank sighed, glancing around the bar. Two young women sat at a table in the corner laughing. “When was the last time you got laid, Harry?”

“Why would that be of any interest to you, Frank?”

Frank finished his beer. “Maybe I just want to make sure that an old friend still has some fire in him. For all I know you could have gone over to the other team.”

I laughed. “You think I’m gay!”

“I wouldn’t hold it against you, Harry.”

The bartender came over. Her name was Despina. She had a terrific rack on her that Frank couldn’t keep his eyes off. Despina dropped another round in front of us. After chatting her up for several minutes, Harry ordered a couple pickled eggs and a pepperoni stick. I ordered some cheese corn. Harry watched Despina move back down the bar.

***

Visit: http://www.Shakespir.com/books/view/655926 to purchase this book to continue reading. Show the author you appreciate their work!


The Writer as a Man

It’s a good place to think. The bench. To mull over ideas. That’s my madness. Everywhere I look I see patterns. Patterns are someone’s idea, someone’s creation. Order is recklessly rearranging the furniture around us. Old buildings being replaced by new buildings. Old people dropping dead at the feet of children. Order giving birth in the ashes of death. Order is my God. Patterns are His skin. I need a universe in which everything makes sense. What else is consciousness for? We were put here as witnesses. But why does God need us as witnesses? Why does God need us at all? When I was a small boy I would wander out into the backyard of my parents suburban home and look up onto the night sky at the stars and ask what all this was about. And just as I finished asking the question, I discovered that I was an old man.

  • Author: David Halliday
  • Published: 2016-08-04 15:20:11
  • Words: 9606
The Writer as a Man The Writer as a Man