It’s Storytime Children!Posted: May 13, 2008
If he didn’t sell something, anything, (and soon!) the beautiful Kohler Performance Class Six Power Lite toilet in the magnificently sparkling bathroom with the window overlooking the park would become a dream long forgotten, gone in a flash of energy saving fluorescents. He would be kicked out of his apartment. He was already two months overdue on the rent and his landlord was hardly feeling lenient this month—what with her botched plastic surgery incident two weeks ago and all.
And yet still nothing came to him. His fingers refused to tango with his typewriter, his mind refused to spin with clever phrases and witty character sketches. His creativity had flown the coop; his inspiration had fled in a fit of rage; whatever talent he may have once had wished no longer to be connected with his now sullied name. For the 8 days he had sat down at his desk, expecting brilliance to pour forth from his mind as it had in days long past. Still nothing. His fingers lay dormant, pencil tangled between them. The faint blue lines on the blank page danced before him, blurring together and then separating again to become a jail cell ensnaring him.
When an old friend from college called him Tuesday morning and offered to buy him a cup of coffee, he quickly abandoned his pathetic attempts at a story, which had dissolved into a page which read “Nothing. Nothing nothing nothing nothing. Nothing.” The idea was that at some point nothing would turn into something, that the mere movement of his hand would somehow jerk his mind into creation mode and he would be saved. It didn’t. So off he went to the Latte Palace on 23rd and Brooks to make small talk with Rebecca Saunders, with little remorse.
Over the whirl of blenders Will and Rebecca attempted to exchange pleasantries.
“How’s John?” he asked.
“Alive, I guess. Haven’t heard from him in a few months. He got to keep the apartment uptown. I got the dog,” Rebecca shrugged. “You still living on Top Ramen and Heineken?”
“I mix it up occasionally. You know, a little Campbell’s here and there, sometimes a pizza. But yeah, mostly.”
“How’s the writing?” she finally asked.
“Fine,” he replied automatically. Backtracking, he admitted “Well, okay, it’s actually not so hot. I mean, things haven’t really been flowing the same lately. Actually mostly I’ve just sort of…stopped. Bad case of the block, I guess.”
“Yeah, I don’t really know how to make it happen again. You’d think it would be like riding a bike, you know, you never forget? Not so much, no. It’s like, I can’t even remember a point where I had talent any more. I haven’t sold anything in months. Rent’s due in two weeks. Had anything interesting happen lately? Something I could shamelessly steal out of your life story and market to the New Yorker?”
“The most exciting thing that happened to me all week was my dog taking a piss on my favorite armchair. Sell that.” She replied.
“Can’t. No talent.”
“Shit. I need a drink.” She tossed her bangs out of her face.
“A drink? It’s 11:30.”
“So? I didn’t say it was a good idea. What have you got to do today, anyway, pack up your living room set?”
“Fair enough.” He conceded. “I don’t do this much, you know of any bars open this early?”
“Uh, I don’t actually. Isn’t your place a few blocks from here?”
“Yeah, I guess so.”
She raised her eyebrows. “Whatcha got?”
“Not much,” he shrugged. “Well, no. I take that back. My friend George brought me back from absinthe from his trip to Mexico a couple weeks back. Still haven’t cracked it open. How do you feel about absinthe?”
A few hours and several drinks later, the door slammed behind her. He lay back on the couch, a little dizzy. He closed his eyes for a moment. A moment turned into 20 and he woke up to honking down below on the street. He sat up. Something smelled rank, and that something was him. He scratched what would be his pot belly like a seasoned alcoholic. He forgot to shower this morning. Typical. You would think that with all the empty space in his brain right now he could remember simple things like that, but no. He rolled off the couch and padded down the hallway towards his bathroom, still not walking straight. The black and white photographs hanging on the walls looked very nice in sets of two. He turned on the shower, wincing as the scalding water berated his back. He let it wash over him, steam rising to fog his mirror. He would miss this bathroom. The water began to swirl around him, and suddenly he felt rather nauseous. Blinking, he sat down in the middle of the shower, water pouring over his head down his face. The droplets on the wall streamed down one after another after another in rivelets, and he sat there watching them for a full minute. He reached out his finger towards the tile, catching one before it hit the floor, instead forcing it to change its course and run over his hand. He blinked the water out of his already blurry sight. He frowned, made a half assed attempt at focusing his vision.
In the glass he drew circles, spirals, tracing his finger along the cold surface through the moisture, watching pictures appear. He giggled. Suddenly he felt inspiration strike, felt the need to write. Impulsively, his swirls and circles in the glass became letters and words and lines, drawn with his finger skidding along the shower door: lines of a poem he barely knew he was writing. He tried to write in the water, write of the water, but it didn’t work. He was too excited to consider why it wasn’t working. He only that something was getting in his way. The letters got washed away by splashes, slowly eroding from the glass back into clear nothingness.
He threw a towel around himself hastily threw open the bathroom door, steam fleeing upward into the cold apartment air. “Oh, right,” he muttered as he marched back and turned the shower off. With no time for nonsense, he strode still dripping into his living room. He sat down at his typewriter, the word suddenly cascading out of him once more. It was 11:30 am on a Tuesday when they met for a drink.