Friday, 15 March 2013

And Let That Be A Lesson To You

“…and let that be a lesson to you.”

After being asked to leave at least three establishments due to completely unrelated disagreements with either members of staff or patrons, I decided to retire quietly to The Pilgrim and blend in.
I took up my usual booth, occupying all seats with bags, hat, coat and laptop. I dabbed a bad scratch I’d received on the forehead with some toilet roll before scraping under the velour in the same place I’d found George’s letter.
There was an air of danger in the bar, but the patrons were nondescript in their "out-there" appearance.
But still, a sense of foreboding.

A couple of weeks after finding George's letter, I had discovered that there was a rip in the upholstery. When sitting upon the rip, one’s mind would be largely occupied by two brief moments of Epiphany drawn from past experience, each caught in spiral flux and colliding sporadically with the other causing them to occupy space both within and without the vacuum of the rip.
These moments could prove providential to the occupant if correctly interpreted, but also, the unstable state of matter in the unpinned foam rubber beneath, meant that occasionally a physical object could be thrown forth from the fractal, usually in some form of Art. To the ignorant and uninformed, the twin experiences would simply dance around the mind for a moment before being disregarded when the instinct to drink or empty the bladder overshadowed them. To the über-astute however, these moments could be recognized, isolated and turned to good use.

The first psychic imprint to manifest itself in my mind that evening was of my old English teacher giving feedback on an essay I’d written as a kid. My story relayed an unlikely sequence of events which had transpired after the protagonist spat on a magic packet of pickled-onion crisps. The essay contained random, unconnected statements and attempted to foray into the realms of stream-of-consciousness, comic incongruity and the philosophical value of a concept of social anarchy. The teacher was particularly disparaging, discouraging, disdainful and disinterested. He had to walk home unexpectedly that evening.

The second floating scroll from my history was an argument I had with another teacher - woodwork – and the Great Safety Poster Competition Fiasco. I was by far the best artist in the class and spent hours on the study of an image of Satan as the centerpiece of the composition. Teach told me I did not draw it. I told teach I did. He then told me that tracing was not drawing. I told him that I had spent hours drawing it freehand. Mr Shit then told me I was a liar. I agreed with him but told him I had drawn the picture freehand. Neither of us could back down at that point and I had to be removed from the class before the bell rang.
The winning poster, which was copied and adorned the tech-sheds shortly after, was one of a hammer and a sore, red thumb, complete with wavy throb-lines and “attention” spelt with one “t”. I was assured by a colleague of Mr Shit that the spelling mistake was deliberate and a cleverly measured ploy to draw attention to the poster.
Where did all this anger come from?
I made a mental note of the similarities and subtle differences between the two incidents and consigned them to the vault before faking around for any physical prize from the Rip. A small bundle of letters was presented to my hand; they were bound loosely with medium-wide, red, silk ribbon.
On the top of the pile was a card with a hand-written disclaimer:
“All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental, except for ______.”

I went to the toilet before continuing and there read at eye-level black ink on white tile, while the intermittent noise of flushing and smell of rancid urine did its best to distract me:
“No,” said George. “No, Lennie. I ain’t mad. I’ve never been mad, an I ain’t now. That’s the thing I want ya to know.”
Another George. A different George.

I thought of Steinbeck and how HST really wanted to be him.
I pictured Bush choking on a pretzel.
I pictured the scene of George murdering Lennie in cold blood.
I shook, spat and got out.

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