I’ve been reading more lately, though I don’t know if I’m the better for it. I certainly feel more aware and awake, my mind is definitely at work - scratching at surfaces, applying itself.
Maybe that’s the problem. I keep imagining better endings for the books I read, and I keep seeing these endings played out. For real.
Just the other day I was finishing a book about a detective. I didn’t like the ending at all. I thought about all the ways it could have ended better - in particular, how the crime was solved had bugged me. I wanted more build up.
Throughout the day, I saw crimes solved in different ways; small crimes mostly, though some were big. They played out on the street, in the cafe; wherever I was. It made me uncomfortable, all the crimes. They were mine. They were almost all small, sure, but someone was hurt each time. Many people, if you considered that the guilty party wasn’t really guilty - me having dreamed their part for them. At least it wasn’t as bad as with the war books. I’ve tried to stop reading the war books.
I can’t stop reading all together, though. People tell me it’s good for me, and I haven’t been good to myself much. It’s a habit. I let things go. I wouldn’t brush my teeth or exercise if people didn’t tell me it was good for me.
At night, I shiver when it comes reading time. I brush my teeth real slow, I take extra time with my sit-ups. Eventually though, always, I’m in bed, ready to go, and I can’t help but relate the stack of books on my bedside table to an ammunition depot.
I went back, or at least I tried. It was strange to see the place, distorted like that. No one there seemed to notice. They didn’t remember the way it was, or, more importantly probably, the way it would be. Was it me?
Everything was at an angle, and I could see all the wires stretching forward and back - saw my own. I questioned cutting it for a second, but then I thought about things too complex even for me, and left it as it was.
Into the mountains they drove. The plants were changing all around them, and now there were animals; living, not infected. The road was no longer the arrow leading straight across the flats, but a continuous curl, a question mark urging them on, around and around. Boulders marked the path, but each was the same as the next and each was as same as the last until they had to wonder if they’d entered some closed loop somehow, been trapped by the mountain - clearly some foreign thing, living, hungry.
They hadn’t spoken since sunrise, another world ago. When first light had sent away the black and was raising it’s drowsy head above the far off hills, she’d turned to him and asked, “where are we headed?” He’d shrugged, surprised by the question. It hadn’t occurred to him to ask where the arrow pointed. The thought made him nervous, and he glanced in the rear view. Still empty. “Over the mountain.” He coughed out the answer, surprising himself. There were mountains this way, yes?
It was getting dark now; he turned the headlights on. Moths and dust became clear in the space ahead. They were moving slowly now between the trees, the bends coming like a flurry of tiny punches, the fatigue of their navigation weighing on their speed. The road became more gravel than asphalt. There was a sharp bend to their left and suddenly, they were there. Somewhere. A town - if it was large enough to call it that.
They both looked spent and used, like toothpaste tubes - squeezed out and near empty. You could maybe take a guess at what had eaten them, but not me. In the wrinkles I wager I could have seen life lived, but all I saw were bones and possibly heroin. They didn’t look made for one another, but they look like they’d made due - they’d arrived at the same point at some point; immediately, obviously closer than I’d ever been to any other thing ever.
I never knew a man like him, which was strange, because he was me, and I knew everyone I knew pretty damn well. He was elusive, and I only got the thought of him once he’d left. Goddamn, I’d think. Duh.
“Imagine you and I and a bunch of our friends are seven years old. We’re playing the rough game “King of the Mountain” on a huge pile of dirt. Since there are some girls among us, we’ve changed the name of the game to “Awesome Magic Boss of the Mountain.” Today, you’re the strongest one, warding off all challenges to your authority, pushing away everyone who tries to knock you off your place at the top. It’s like you have extra power you’ve never displayed before; as if you’re drawing on reserves of determination and stamina that were previously unavailable. I believe this is a metaphorically accurate portrayal of your actual life right now.”— Scorpio Horoscope for week of August 5, 2010 (http://www.freewillastrology.com)