(That’s It For) The Other One October 6, 2015Posted by The Typist in A Fiction, cryptical envelopment, The Narrative, The Typist, Toulouse Street.
He ends his day by slipping comfortably into the third person, as into a pair of slippers formed to his feet by long use. This shift is not among his many disorders, those of the mind, of the body, the derangement of his bookshelves or the irregular draping of his room in laundry. This narrative shift out of of day’s I shall, I must, I have forgotten, I must never into a comfortable distance quiets the incessant, neurotic scissoring of memory and its demon familiars, regret and doubt.
The plural simply won’t do. What shall we have for dinner evokes loneliness, the absence of so much as a cat. He had a cat once, his daughter’s, which he watched die, taking with it the last possibility of a plural innocence. His son, who loved the cat perhaps more than his daughter, assisted at the end, and by doing so helped erased their childhoods from his life.
He is incapable as that other, self-aware and self-centered person of meditation, of stilling the mind. The inexorable scissors, clattering from the moment he awakes–often bodily exhausted and short of sleep–that slice open the envelope of worry and empty its contents onto the bed. Then it is did I? Will I? How shall I and so on to coffee and a cigarette, his ego’s faithful companions in preparing to confront the mirror, his I standing their red-veined and unfocused, stumped by the choice between washcloth and toothbrush, the dangerous razor.
He lives to survive another day, his I fixed on the computer screen and the unending stream of work. To Them he is a third person, a distant figure time zones and plane changes away, a receptacle for tasks to be emptied every night, but this is not him, and evening’s distanced and remote person is his own creation, something beyond Their reach. He lights a cigarette and reaches for his book or his e-reader, ready to surrender to someone else’s story, allowing their omniscience to fill his world with hims and hers and them.
Later he will brush his teeth and wash up without reference to his tiny shaving mirror, the bathroom conveniently disarranged with a set of shelves before him and the mirror off to the side. He knows where his mouth is, the familiar shape of his face under the washcloth. The brush and rag are always in the same place, one bit of stability among all his disorders, the unstable arrangement of his unwashed dishes faintly rattling as he passes, the dishabille of his bedclothes, the absence of pajamas in his overstuffed drawers. When he is done he can pass through the house switch by switch, enveloping it in a comfortable darkness. There is no need for his I to guide him down his familiar path.
Sleep will come without too much difficulty as long as it is he and only he who climbs into bed, having closed his I hours ago.