Thursday, June 05, 2008

Cavity

The blinds were still up, letting the dark in. This was deliberate. I lay there, watching the blue flame lick the kettle in the next room, humming, singing, sometimes shifting to favour the other ear. The stereo was telling me repeatedly to Hold it. Being so enticingly put together, I would have done just that, had I anything to hold. (Initially, I thought the insistent, harmonised command signalled a halt of sorts; only later did I discover it was a determined plea.) Gathering my thoughts into a neat, alphabetised pile, I said (to myself), Here I am, in the bounds of Experience; and though it is mine alone [still in quotes, mind you], it shall soon be the newest addition to that great communal work, What We Know (vol. MMMMCMXCIX or something). Altered, of course [still quoting...]; not merely a retelling, or this-then-this account; a bold new shape, almost irrecognisable, but unmistakably borne from Experience. [End quote.] I paused, suddenly becoming self-conscious. Did I just say that? Did I just say that out loud? The kettle bubbled. I walked over to it in something of a daze, recalling my strange outburst like a drunk recalls some hideous deed. Irrecognisable?

So no one told you that was gonna be this way... [clap, clap, clap, clap]. I frowned, my timing just right. How depressing. The blinds were still up but the effort was beyond me. I fidgeted, like a suspect. Next week's assignment is to have dinner together e-every night and see what changes in your life. I left the room to inspect my bookcase. Standing a half-metre back, not feeling the floor, I watched as titles and authors raced by, sometimes splashing me with recognition, sometimes hurling a crunched can of the altogether unfamiliar. They were eating all 52 of my bookmarks. Suddenly feeling ill, I woozed my way outside, wading through small, hyperactive dogs until I reached an aged bench in the middle of the garden. I half fell onto it, recovering only with some effort. The stars were out, of course. I couldn't resist a peek. As usual, they had nothing important to tell me, but they sure looked pretty. One even seemed to wink at me. I winked back, just in case. Feeling unaccountably motivated, I pulled my weakening body up again and pushed further outside, towards a park. I was careless; the littler dog followed me. Fearing an escape, I swiftly whisked her off her little paws and brought her to my chest. In the soft moonlight we had a moment, and I think it answered my question. She wriggled out of my hands and scurried off (back to the garden, thankfully). I laughed cornily and followed her, a little more grounded. Oo oo oo oo-oo oo oo-oo oo, said the television. Falling back on the couch, I suddenly wished I was drunk.

I slept instead.

48 comments:

Not Quite Yoda said...

Um, the MMMM should be an MV, with a line above the V.
Just sayin'.

Hugh said...

That's what most places list as the Roman numeral for 4,999. You can re-edit it here.

Not Quite Yoda said...

Well, I can't deny that Matt LeBlanc is an improvement on my photogenic crotch, but... Joey? Why couldn't I have got Lisa Kudrow or someone?

Hugh said...

Nah, I'd take your crotch over LeBleh anyday. As for Lisa, she Kudrow, but she sure couldn't act. AM I RIGHT.

Ahem.

So what's up with the numeral?

Kathryn said...

Toothache?

More evidence to weaken the argument that there's "nothing of much worth to share".

Your Friends should cheer you up, and I don't mean the small screen fountain-frolicking variety.

P.S. Joeyben and Monica raised a chuckle. Joey has the whitest teeth I've ever seen.

Not Quite Yoda said...

If it's a mug-shot she's being used for, I'm not too fussed about her acting ability.
Re. The numeral thing, that's just how it is.

Kathryn said...

YES, YOU ARE.

Not Quite Yoda said...

Okay, you got me. I'm so fussed that I literally cannot comprehend it, for the same reason that people couldn't comprehend that they were on a ball until they got a reasonable distance from it.

Hugh said...

Re. The numeral thing, that's just how it is.

I literally just did a couple of rudimentary Google searches and all told me MMMMCMXCIX — are you saying the internet lied to me?

"More evidence to weaken the argument that there's "nothing of much worth to share"."

I didn't say that, did I?

"Your Friends should cheer you up, and I don't mean the small screen fountain-frolicking variety."

Cheer me up? Good grimace! Have I somehow implied angst? I thought this post was, ultimately, happy, not to mention essentially untrue. Let it be said that I keep sadness forever at arm's length. Sure, we fondle occasionally, but we've never been close. I am the anti-nihilistic and I shall reign again.

Not Quite Yoda said...

I thought this post was, ultimately, happy, not to mention essentially untrue.

I didn't realise you were so depressed. We must fix this somehow.

Hugh said...

Stop stop stop stop stop!

I have not a depressed molecule in my entire teeny-tot body, Mr. Pot. Though I appreciate the concern, my frog-eyed outlook negates the need for any sympathy. Ever. My mood shall never bring another's down. I shall be the anti-ice cube of certainty in a warm sea of doubt.

Not Quite Yoda said...

The hot water bottle of warmth in the wintery bed of realism? And flowers?

Kathryn said...

Don't forget butterflies.

Kathryn said...

I didn't say that, did I?

You did, in this thread.

I thought this post was, ultimately, happy, not to mention essentially untrue.

My mistake, O Benevolent Anti-Ice Cube of Certainty.

Hugh said...

"You did, in this thread."

So I did. However, it was in the context of non-blog short fiction — i.e. "nothing of much worth to share in that department". Which is still very much true (as Ben so evilly proved).

I wouldn't necessarily say I was benevolent, just not a grouser. You know, fierce in the face of fear, determined in the direction of dejection, steadfast in the sway of sorrow, composed in the company of calamity, glowing in the glue of gloom, mellow in the mire of misery, jolly in the jizz of jeopardy, gay in the grime of grief, chirpy in the chains of chagrin, tranquil in the tide of turmoil, witty in the washroom of woe, that sort of thing. A rock in a hard place. Only not heroic. As Harry would have it, a closed book.

I'm No-Risk-Of-Suicide Man.

Hugh said...

(Incidentally, why are you digging around the archives, Benoint?)

Not Quite Yoda said...

Oh, it's not digging in so much as making a beeline through.

Hugh said...

Checking the earlier Ben encounters?

Not Quite Yoda said...

Just avoiding exam study, little buddy.

Kathryn said...

However, it was in the context of non-blog short fiction...Which is still very much true (as Ben so evilly proved).

Hmm. I still don't see why there should be any difference in quality. (Dipped into the Casebook today - what's so bad about it?)

I wouldn't necessarily say I was benevolent, just not a grouser. You know, fierce in the face of fear, determined in the direction of dejection, steadfast in the sway of sorrow, composed in the company of calamity, glowing in the glue of gloom, mellow in the mire of misery, jolly in the jizz of jeopardy, gay in the grime of grief, chirpy in the chains of chagrin, tranquil in the tide of turmoil, witty in the washroom of woe, that sort of thing. A rock in a hard place. Only not heroic. As Harry would have it, a closed book.

You could talk your way out of anything.

Not Quite Yoda said...

Mostly by quantity.

The bad thing about the B&H Casebook is it contains us just irritating each other as much as we could, not to mention that at the start (before we got into the swing of our respective styles) it's not something either of us can bear to view our own hand in.

I do still quite like Hugh's stuff in there, though.

Hugh said...

"Hmm. I still don't see why there should be any difference in quality. (Dipped into the Casebook today - what's so bad about it?)"

The difference in quality is down to the fact that most of it was written some years ago now, and pretty much none of it is a properly sat-down-and-written piece of fiction.

As for that silly detective nonsense, I should point out that while much of it is unfit for human eye (my parts, at least), being one of the people actually involved, I'm undeniably fond of it. What Ben said holds, except I will say that to my eyes, he had, from the start, an intrinsic grasp of language, rhythm and flow that I still haven't quite tamed. There are some extraordinary clunky bits of overambitious guff from me in there. But again, I'm nostalgic about the whole thing. (Even had a disastrous stab at making a text-based adventure game out of it.)

Get Ben to write the next part, please.

"You could talk your way out of anything."

I'm not quite sure it ever actually succeeds, though. Sometimes it seems about as useful as the 'keep digging' approach to getting out of a hole.

Kathryn said...

Lucky you kept the shovel.

I'll keep reading the Casebook and see for myself; the opening few instalments were enough to keep me interested.

Hugh said...

The opening few of the newest one or the very first one?

I'm quite enjoying the new one. Well, it's not so much new as two years old. Maybe even three.

Get Ben to write the next part, please.

Not Quite Yoda said...

Oh, you old flatterer - My parts were as sterile as writing could be. It was all "Ben stabbed Hugh. It hurt a lot." Gets the point across, sure, but is it worth reading in far enough for the point to be got?
You, meanwhile, had a fine grasp of the rhythm and language, plus you were capable of infusing it with a sense of life. Yours are far superior.

Hugh said...

All right, this is the worst debate to have publicly. And there's no solution, just two different viewpoints.

Nonetheless, I'm right.

Not Quite Yoda said...

Same conclusion you came to last night, with the power debate.

Hugh said...

This argument's a little worse, though.

Not Quite Yoda said...

I'm... uncomfortable looking at the quality of our arguments. None of them are really above mediocre at best.

Hugh said...

Well, I mean this argument, in terms of content, is somewhat less rational. The other at least allowed a little room for logic.

Hugh said...

(Now we're arguing about arguments.)

Not Quite Yoda said...

You're right. Nothing's more logical than "Which of two physically impossible powers would you subjectively select?"

But let's not get into that. Or, for that matter, anything else. In fact, with a little effort, perhaps we could agree.
So, uh, isn't that Mish guy a prick?

Hugh said...

Christ.

Kathryn said...

You guys are funny.

I've been reading the Ming Poodle.

Get Ben to write the next part, please.

Master Ben, please indulge us by writing the next part.

Hugh said...

"I've been reading the Ming Poodle."

And you're still functioning?

(Thanks. Could I also trouble you to convince Ben to write the next parts of the three other ones?)

Kathryn said...

Functioning as well as I was prior to commencing Ming Poodle. Thank you kindly for asking.

Ben, would you be so kind as to write the next instalments for the other three Cases, too? We'll make it worth your while.

Hugh said...

"Functioning as well as I was prior to commencing Ming Poodle. Thank you kindly for asking."

Nevertheless, I think you should go for a check-up, just to be on the safe side.

I think we've forgotten the other cases, if there were any — I meant the other, criminally neglected serials I deviously affixed to the bottom of Ben's legendary to-do list in a somewhat counter-intuitive attempt to provoke activity.

Kathryn said...

Correction:

Ben, would you be so kind as to write the next instalments for the other three criminally-neglected serials, too?

Not Quite Yoda said...

It's only criminal negligence if it causes some form of detriment to society. And, really, my refusal to continue that piddle can only benefit the world.

Kathryn said...

Damn. Polite words and gentle bribery didn't work.

Hugh said...

Time for Plan B.

Not Quite Yoda said...

Oh gods, not the finger again.

Kathryn said...

Who said that was Plan B?

Not Quite Yoda said...

That was Plan A.

Kathryn said...

No, it wasn't. Should it have been? :p

Not Quite Yoda said...

Ahh, but it was. This being back in the day when there was still some uncertainty over whether I'd ever write again, see.

Kathryn said...

You've lost me now.

Kathryn said...

I know!

I'll give you $25 if you write the next instalments. Surely an offer you can't refuse.

[Still functioning.]