Tuesday, November 16, 2010

The Beautiful Third Act

Description in R-Sharp of A Beautiful
Girl Whom I Will Most Likely Never
Meet (or: Exorcism in the Key of Be)

Very similar to a song sung slightly off key by a man who’s dreaming, conjuring and predicting through the veil of loneliness confused Muses have thrown into his eyes. Muses which force him (who in certain dreams becomes her) to confront the glaring white fields of chaos and fashion for them the explanations of things. They are like children, which is just as well. It affords him a sigh of relief that they won’t immediately see through his high-thrown hopes and prayers.

This is as personal as it may ever get because reality has forced its dreams on him. He chews the inside of his left cheek and stares at existence, rather rudely, for when it notices him he doesn’t look away. Stares off within a sphere of (what is it called, so pert and quaint?) personal space. Personal space. Inner space. The final frontier. His name is Simon Templar, just like the Saint’s of that old TV show. Those old stories. He is a thief and liar, noble and honest in his vocation. He knows one day he will be married. The world is full of foolish people and poor decisions. He longs for simplicity. Wife. Friend. Home. Happiness. There certainly must be a reserved space of time and place for these. Somewhere in the future.

“There are places you’ll never see. They exist only within me. No one there is free. Because it’s my reality.”

The stigma associated with a (and again, how is it known?) tortured soul precludes and denies those who whisper from all angles, “We need to help you; here comes the normal life.” What makes their lives so easy, he wonders, disregarding obvious answers, that his should be thought of as tortured and difficult? They called him an artist. How he hated the convenience of that word. Artist! Difficult! Perhaps quite strange but certainly unusual.

Jimi Hendrix was an artist. He died trying to face the strain. Died young.

Simon Templar, the above by way of explanation, knew he couldn’t possibly have much longer to go; if he was going to dream it’d have to be quick and constantly, using whatever, whichever, whyever and whoever was available before his time ran out. Which to those outside made him appear unable to commit, unprepared to acknowledge that level of seriousness which human emotions are due if they are to mean anything. From woman to woman he seemed to go, although to any who’d have bothered to follow they’d have seen he went nowhere, and thus “womanizer” was hardly earned, accurate-- and to be honest--more than a little embarrassing. Failed expectations and such.

Thus by now it should be known that every artist’s greatest dream is of a beach to walk on, a home with a yard, buying forks and spoons, and sharing a meal hands to mouth without being afraid to smile. Which is of course far less than the impossible dream. Foolishness--no, not that; takes very little imagination to be foolish, and even less thought. Folly, much better, should also be known to be a necessary necessity, crucial in maintaining any semblance of life in one’s daily motions.

“God help me! I love it so! I am not looking for love. Love is everywhere. Who needs look for it? There’re over four point five billion kinds of it floating around all over this globe! What I’m after is ROMANCE in all caps. Talk to me, dance with me, trust me with a secret-- Just allow me to gaze at you. I’ll make a wish.”

Somewhere in the future the wish will be. Not certain who she is but her essence remains the same.

You are cordially invited to attend the most joyous celebration this century has to offer. The marriage of damn lucky Simon Templar to (your name here), to take place October twenty-seventh, 2310, 6:30 p.m., on the easternmost tip of K’laui beach. Attire of choice. No gifts allowed. If you want to smile feel free.

Could be you. Or you. But it’s definitely her. Up there ahead. The indistinct one. Yeah, that one, the collage. The knockout stream of sensory input.

Who would he marry? Given the go it’s a good bet he’d have married the old high school sweetheart. Which leads inexorably to divorce.

He scribbles: “Expect I’d divorce and remarry after the bitter aftershock faded. While I am searching for the ‘perfect love,’ that which survives, I am also quite aware that I need another drink, nor will I find it, or would not recognize it if I found it--” and with every word tacks a Muse upon the wall, until the walls of his mind are completely lined and the Muses see all that goes on within and stop their baffled frowning, content for a moment but absolutely no longer. “So yes, I will remarry should another beautiful, intelligent, creative, responsible, indulgent, thinking, creamy kind of dreamy babe happen to think it’s cool. Oh, and she simply must know how to properly appreciate a funky beat. Not watered down, weak funk, not no-talent divas, not the latest piece of bland R&B pap, nor the top 40 radio stagnation rotation. It must be uncut funk. Funk is transcendental, just as is the Rock. Gimme funk/rock and there’s a good bet that I will make love to you in the farthest flungest reaches of your mind.”

And now it comes to the fact that he was not thinking of the sea. The sea is a poem containing living rainbows. He was hardly a poem. He was a funky, cruddy beast, all gray and near dead. His thoughts were of a flower which was dying in a slim white vase she’d loaned him months ago. It might have been a carnation, memory’s unclear, might have been pink. Metaphors were everywhere, even down to the bag of two-day-old sunflower seeds he coddled in his lap. Both left and right corners of it had been opened, respectively he’d torn open the right and she (equals gone equals heavy equals forever) the left. He was commenting aloud to himself on the differences between them in an act so insignificant as the opening of a small bag of seeds. Her side was clean and precise; his was just a big rip.

He was not thinking of the sea.

So why then should the sensations of a beach possess him? A slow transformation from the heaviness of gray to the (if he might steal a moment from Kundera) UNBEARABLE LIGHTNESS of the deep blue sea. He was the water seeping with rhythm into already moist sand, and he was sound: the calls of gulls skip-flying atop the sand, leaving shell-like prints to mark their flirtations with the earth. He was froth on someone’s toes. Those feet left prints as well, a single set weaving out and in with the surf. They were his. He tried to shake these sensations off because they felt bone-crushingly lonely. But the damage was done and pretty quickly melancholic lamentations wafted throughout all conscious lands.

Well. . . He could start singing Michael Jackson songs and find himself in need of tissue, y’know, like, She’s out of my liiiiife. . . (sniffle). Out of my--


Louder, say it. ‘Cause ther ain’t no wasy (Look, can’t spell. Whoa, is this a sign or what?! Always happens when the game’s afoot. A ray. Of truth.)

Consider him guilty.

“Do you understand, sir, the import of this trial?”

“Sir, I do not,” came his reply.

“Witches are a fancy. What say you to that?”

Templar’s grin: “I’d have to agree there,” he answers, picturing her laughing silhouette. She danced upon the wharf in the night and shined brighter than the Northern Star.

“It is the impression of we assembled that you make light, heretic.”

“Bloody objection! He’s already got me guilty!” protests Templar. Unmoved craggy faces stared down on him like stone in high places. He glanced at each fop’s face in their balcony roost. “I see,” he says.

“Do you? Pray tell us, what do you see?”

“I could’ve done things the primal male but I didn’t. Could’ve done it through a gauzy haze. But I didn’t. The opportunity was there but I. Did. Not. Do. It.”

“We’ve witnesses.”

“Look, maybe I wanted to, OK, and Heaven knows I’ve been held sway by temptation more than once, but in this case I swear my innocence!”

“Yer lying through yer teeth!”

“All right! Maybe I am! You’re of flesh and bone, man, how can you blame me? You weren’t there, you don’t know. . .”

“You admit your crime,” the foppish barrister sniffed.

“I admit nothing. And further state that no crime has been committed. I concede to the dreams, but have you yourself not dreamt? Have you not known the stabbing pangs which fuel all life? Do you not know how often a man is driven by thoughts of all things female? You’ve not even faced me with a binding motive! Motivation? Her simple existence alone is motivation, and if we’re to go by that then I should definitely have some company on this stand. Oh, you hypocrites. You fearful heathen. Sin just short of selling your souls and still think you’re fit for saving. Have you never known a sensuality so seductive that sex was an afterthought to orgasm? I’m talking about more than temptation. I’m talking about, I’m talking about , yes, you understand, the airy feeling you get behind your eyes that’s always a sigh or the cusp of a thigh--”

The fop tried to assert himself, having lost a measure of control, which fact did little for his consternation, beginning, “I hardly--”

“Definitely moving towards something, do you mind! Risk, ladies and gentlemen, take that risk even if you’ve got to whittle it down to its most nominal before you do so. You’ve already pegged me as a heretic so I’ll prophesy this much for you: I’ve seen the future and it will be long. Pack a lunch. But there are no guarantees. So much beauty but that doesn’t mean love. And love doesn’t mean last. Ah, but lips are a joy especially when their little corners turn up, which forces the eyes and cheeks to light up, and just seeing that sight fills all the shadows with such a powerful glow that you have to restrain yourself from jeopardizing that joy. Gentlemen, if you’re wanting a crime then I present you with this: she smiled at me and I dared think of kissing her--yes, merely a smile. Simple yet eloquent and always close to something wonderful. As for the other, she’s no more a witch than I am a saint, and I should be more suspect had I not been seized heart and soul to commit that rash fancy. There’s the more cause for worry. That was all to it; just a kiss. On the cheek, for God’s sake. The rest I swear I know nothing about.”

“You swear that was the extent of it?”

“Am I to be held guilty, sir, for what goes on in my mind?” Templar asks wearily.

The Muses clapped. When that wasn’t enough they rose to their feet. White and red roses rained about him center stage. Sweat dripped from his forehead from the exertions of the play and unbeknownst to the cheering throng he wished they’d bloody well sit down so he could get out from under that damned spotlight and head for the mountains. Go somewhere and think about the trivia of circumstance. Templar looked off the to side, moving only his eyes, to see the stage manager enthusiastically giving the signal for encore. What more was there to do!? Mephistopheles was not his name; he had no more tales to tell. He could dredge up this or that but surely they’d seen it all before?

Then the idea hit. After the curtain fell Templar motioned the prop man to his side and instructed him to gather together a perfectly mathematical white board, one inch thick by three feet wide by nine feet long, some paints, and a stark black tripod.

When the curtain rose to a hush the stage was clear of everything save the performer, who stood just outside of and to the side of the spotlight’s circle as if waiting. As if not quite ready. A second spot then shot through the darkened theatre, landing in the wings, stage left, illuminating the frightened prop man, signal that he should move. He wheeled the tripod across the lonely stage, the spot on him and him alone all the way, Simon Templar still off in the darkness, and when he reached the midpoint between stage left and Templar he stopped and stood to one side of the board, revealing the multi-colored message painted across its length:


The spotlight stayed on the sign. The prop man walked to the front of the stage, climbed down into the orchestra pit, went up the steps to the right, then walked straight up the center aisle way all the way to the theatre doors, which he opened, stepped through, and closed without once uttering a sound.

“Or perhaps as part of a design,” Simon Templar said when the click of the doors faded, his voice carrying through the hush. He did not step into the light; rather, the light moved to envelop him. “Fancied I’d be devastating, and prithee listen, I was. Fancied a song. Or even a Bogart send off for some future goodbye. Me with my roguish grin and soulful eyes, her with her heart in hand and a stiff upper lip. No rampant, rhapsodic emotionalism. Just a touch of honesty behind whatever words there were. Fog would roll in through an open window. The lights would be dim. Inside I’d be screaming, ‘I could make you happy every goddamn single day of your life!’ but on the outside she’d hear something wistful, something unthreatening and meaningless: ‘We’ll always have Paris,’ he said. His hand wavered, hesitant. Should he touch her?” asked Templar of the audience. “Would she know what that touch meant? But there, it was done. The back of a finger brushed against her cheek. It moved--” His hand fluttered to his chin and stroked lovingly-- “to her chin and rested a second as if it meant to linger. Too soon it was gone. And all the while her eyes had been on him though he could not (though he burned to!) look into hers. ‘C’est la vie,’ she answers. Around them, out the window, a slow rain mists.”

His hands had moved to caress one another without actually touching, more like caressing the air contoured between them. This was done intensely and feverishly, always a different motion, a different position, a varying speed, single-minded, self-centered-- His breathing became quicker and quicker, sweat again trickled his brow-- so absorbed and delicious, and... and...

“Oh, God! I see stars!”

The audience jumped.

“It’s full of stars. That’s what I told her but she didn’t quite understand. You’ve got to have patience if you’re going to count the stars. I told them that. Why the fuck didn’t they understand!? Why walk away looking over your shoulder like I was a stranger, convincing yourself that a stranger’s tears are nothing but water? I wish I was a whirlwind so I could smash up my room and be unafraid of the true function of anger. Oh, like a vessel I burst; like a vampire I thirst, Oh, definitely moving towards something. Landing flaps are down and I must ask you to remain awake until the aircraft has come to a complete stop. Now it can be told: the meaning not Of but IN life.

“I watched a man once beating himself with a switch. He had no clothes on. This was in a lavatory. This wasn’t very long after I’d ended something quite unique with the only one who fascinated me, so I wasn’t very tolerant. I took the switch away and broke it. He looked at me as though I’d dared slap him. He was crying. Trapped like amber in each tear I saw the tiny image of what he had lost: his wife to the dreaded disease indifference. ‘Well, you get no sympathy from me, mister, and I’m damn well not going to take responsibility for you. Get your ass dressed.’ As he fumbled about I told him to stop acting like there’s no tomorrow; Use his pain and sorrow to fill him up with power. Jabbing him in the chest with my finger I said, ‘If you’re going to partake of it then herein’s the sweet and sour, herein’s the only worthwhile endeavor. The heart. The beat of the heart, mister. If you want punishment just count the beats, ‘cause it’s ticking down and life doesn’t get any more painful than that.’ He started asking me stupid questions and I asked him just what his name was. He said Picasso. Might’ve been Van Gogh. ‘What’s it all for?’ he says, ‘What does it mean that I am here?’

“ ‘Art is in the doing of the thing, not the thing itself! Hell, man, even I know that. It is not something to be discussed or imparted, not something to be explained. Why else an artist demurs if a work is praised? He knows that the important part has been done, that the artistry in the work has been selfishly consumed. What’s it all for? Well, hell, asshole, it’s for you!’ And I kicked him out of the lavatory for interfering with me pee.”

Templar stepped out of the one spotlight, which remained lit but did not follow, and went to the sign on its tripod. Standing in front of it, arms akimbo, the dreaming man’s shadow fell across the quickly written directive.

“I suppose you can’t separate one from the other. Like juggling, isn’t it? They think you’re juggling three balls when you’ve only got one. Love is God. God is love. Art is life. Aye. Love’s more sweet than sour, nothing weird about that, even if, damn, you don’t even know my name. Even if she can think up at any impromptu moment a thousand reasons to be contrary, or why flowers shouldn’t be picked, or why sugar shouldn’t be licked. . .or why, why, Why must I be the one you run to? I don’t know but I, I think I--” He gave a little twirl and soft shoe. “Can dance if I want to. Oh, to be able to dance. To express with body as mind. Wonderful! To twirl and shake and fall and slide and twist and glide, all with you in my arms anticipating my every move. Dancers fascinate me, the ones who create. I like watching them. Emotion is art. Art is emotion. Ability to feel is the greatest gift humankind has to offer humanity. Dance with me into the essential void, the light fantastic. Emotion through movement logically obtained. Dance with me-- Oh. Wait.” He stopped, dropping to his knees and seeming a little embarrassed.

“Look at the time. I am sorry but. . .” he paused, he shrugged, and the one spotlight went off. “I’m free.” Then he dropped prostrate to the stage floor, below the light so that the Muses were left with nothing to look at but the large spot lit sign on an otherwise darkened stage, very colorful but simply not that interesting that they would sit there for very long.

The very final dream. As if he expected them to believe that. Perhaps for now. Perhaps for the night. But there’s always tomorrow. The room clears after this one.

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