8:12pm. Another long day. We begin to shut the place down, retrieve the odd voice mail message, take stock of last minute thoughts, and write all of it down in our planners, in our memories, or both, to be picked up tomorrow, or not. It depends on the day, the vibes of it, the demands of it, how loud the hollering is and who’s doing the hollering, on the phone, in person, in our heads. It depends on everything out of our control, the butcher, the baker, the candlestick maker.
Sasha finishes checking in all the fusion splicers, GPS backpacks and hand-helds. She says let’s stop at Russell’s Café for a drink and a bite, says she’ll wait while I finish. Sure, why not. I’m done…enough. It doesn’t matter anyway, there’s no catching up with it all. We head for the door. I flick the lights off and turn around to look at the sea of green and red dots on all the equipment, each computer, plotter, fax machine, copier letting us humans know it’s still alive and watching, waiting to devour another day of our lives.
We step out in silence. No need for more, we’ve known each other so long. I lock the door and turn to face the goings on. The street is not so busy for a Wednesday, hump day, the day people begin to slide off the week into another raucous weekend. The sidewalks are full, though, of the usual smoke and cologne and lack of cologne. The night is checking in and the slashes and curls and rectangles of neon are getting brighter, more garish with the passing of moments that seem like they should be used for something else. My spirit cools, dampens under the weight of the sinking night air, and it’s all done but the hoping that he’ll show up tonight.
Russell’s is glowing, buzzing with just the right number and sort of people, hip-looking people, some alone with their laptops or legal pads, others flirting, whispering to lovers, laughing softly, sweetly with friends. The lights are low and the atmosphere is rich with the warm invitation to dive into whatever’s going on in your mind, to roll with it to some unknown fruition, to discover the mystery of it, or not. It depends on her mood, her line of thinking, what she says about him.
We head to the back of the place, up a small, curved staircase to a loft of tables overlooking both bars and a Grand Ole Opry-looking stage. Our waitress shows up all aesthetic with her black and red cat’s eye glasses, tattoos, and a Garofalo flair. I order a shot of espresso and a pint of Old Peculiar. While we wait, Sasha brings up the whole scene today with Legal and ROW tag-teaming us on the Detroit job. Makes no never mind to me. It’s just another day, so I let her ramble. It seems to help her and that’s all I care about.
I down the espresso so I can go the long run then hit the pint to put me right. I work it down about three quarters of the way and let it work me down to a dull roar. Then I begin the thing with Sasha. I tell her she needs to go back to him. She already knows my interest is mostly selfish, but I prefaced with that anyway just to prove I’m aware of my faults and working on them. I tell her I need this guy but he’s no good to me, can’t inspire me unless he’s inspired by her. I tell her I can’t take another night of writing pure crap, which she also already knows, so really, this entire conversation is pointless reiteration, unless she’s changed her mind. She hasn’t. She no longer feels “that way” about him.
At this point I begin not to care about him either, begin to feel the edge of the coffee more than the soothing stroke of the beer. I order another pint and a quesadilla. I tell her heck, let’s just leave him out of it, skip the middleman, and she can be my muse. I rant that it’s ridiculous I’m in this position, that I was fine without him, that I wasn’t looking for a muse, that he found me! I rave on how I never knew how good it could be, how high I could get, the incredible stuff I could write! I tell her the miserable bastard showed me the good stuff, then split, that is, she split, and I can’t find another like him!
She just looked at me and no more needed to be said, ever. Neither of us felt “that way” about each other. She’s not inspired to inspire me nor do I feel particularly inspired by her presence. The two of us are for another purpose. We like the feeling of co-existing, filling each other’s surface cracks. We paid the bar tab and hugged on the doorstep of Russell’s before walking in opposite directions into the night and its beady chill. See you tomorrow, I say over my shoulder. You bet, she says.
10:47. I’m home. I can still get some time in. I feel excitement trying to stir within me based on the premise that there’s a chance he could show. I moderate it with the plain truth that there’s a chance a lot of stuff could happen. I grab a Coke and a handful of pretzels from the kitchen, fire up the laptop, and touch the keys. Nothing. I stare at the screen and write some crap hoping that even crap, if it’s dry enough, will catch fire. Forget it. It’s 12:32am and I have to deal with Legal and ROW at 9am.
I hit the sack. My brain spins, begs, prepares a petition to the gods, composes the same desperate letter every night under my breath, under my radar like malware that’s infested my system. And I send it off into my dreams, into my night after night to the Apsaras, to the Valkyries, whatever it takes to revive my muse, my fallen hero, if not for me, for someone, anyone.
Click here for more on prompt “#114 – My Nights” from other Sunday Scribblings participants.
Whoo…you’re turning into the SS expert, aren’t you? :)
Which reminds me of this flash writing contest organized by my blog-friend Vesper, check it out, you might want to participate: http://www.glossolalia7.com
Strangely, your story reminded me of The Streets’ lyrics, that’s a british artist with very descriptive lyrics, similar to what you wrote. I could really see the images that you described. It scared me that the narrator had so much caffeine before going to bed though lol
Ms. Mood: Expert? Pfft! Don’t tell Paschal I said this but it’s all I have time for these days. Thanks for the link. I’ll check it out and The Streets as well. You’re the lyrics major! About the caffeine, fret not! I’m able to drink the stuff right up until the time my head hits the pillow. But this night’s example is about right on with it. I have it if I have to have my wits about me after I’m whipped from work but generally my last coffee’s in the late afternoon. And for being the first commenter, you win… Tell ‘er what’s she’s won, Miss A! Ahhh, my undying appreciation, that’s what :-D
It must be that Sunday Scribblings is the best inspirer of all, because this is a truly great read! Coffee helps, too. I’ve said that I need a cup at bedtime just so that I will wake up in the morning.
I was in your tale, surprised as it spun this way and that.
I might have to try espresso before my wine, sometime…..
Hi Granny S! I think you’re right about SS. I know I’m focused on it right now, as Devil Mood noticed! When I first started SS I went about it half-heartedly, but now I’m making the time to look at a large number of offerings and I’m finding so many great writers out there, which in turn is extremely inspiring! I’d still like my muse back, though… I can’t live on coffee alone! I loved your comment about coffee, btw. I’d not heard that said before. It’s hilarious :-D
Hi Tammie! Yes, it’s worth a try if you’ve had a long day and have to attend something where one or two social drinks would be nice, then espresso or coffee first is a great way to keep you from getting too goofy!
I love the line “Garafalo flair” too!
DJPare: Thanks, man! I do love Janeane Garofalo, always have. I’ve seen her in so many self-deprecating, desperate, depressing roles that her name to me is almost synonymous with “suicidal,” the degree of suicidal that just always thinks about it, acts like it, and brings other people down with talk like it. And the waitress had that devil-may-care, who-gives-a-flying-fuck aura. So anyway, a Meg Ryan welcome to you instead, and I hope to see you again here!
I love to read your posts. You are focussed in your writings!
Thank you, Gautami! That means a lot :-)
There was a great intensity about this piece. Questioning. Gripping.
I’m with Devil Mood and her earlier comments about your novelistic inclinations. They are definitely there, whether you’re able to let them run or not: I think that’s what drives, at least in part, the intensity and the depth of your Scribbles: novelist will run to the mountains with any opening you’re able to give her.
I understand the need to write, as it wrestles with the rest of one’s day and all the other chitterings in the way. We all go after it differently: some with the monastic and/or Shavian daily disciplines, X number of pages/words a day, same time, same pen, blah blah blah. For others, for me, it’s a question of space and the sense of crowding. Too much crowds in during my school months, so the writing is shorter, poetry and flash fictions, often written alongside my scribbling urchins. Blogging, despite all who fret about its tendencies to water us down or drain us away, is a wonderful venue for flash-writing, poetry (since my poetry always comes in flashes, anyway), and lovely graffiti (or rants de la couture). I need more of a sense of space around me for the longer fiction I write. It’s not just the time: I could make the time: it’s the space that summer offers, as well as the time – that’s when the novels get writ.
This piece, with its wonderful illustrations, is not tightly stitched, or at least it does not seem so to me, after a number of readings. It pulls me in with its rich descriptions, the sense of the narrator’s innards and her/his interactions with the world, but as it pulls me in, it also drops me off in spaces, trying to pull together things out of an intense conversation, but a conversation intensely whispered: the final stitches are missed in the whispers, the private knowledge between narrator and Sasha, but not necessarily given to the reader. Narrator sometimes seems a ghost, sometimes another side of Sasha, sometimes another altogether. I don’t think that the narrator is a ghost or another side of Sasha, but I like the possibilities. And, of course, the triangulation of muse-ing is a very interesting conceit, something vampiric in the triangulated sustenance.
My sense of a loosely stitched quality is not a critique, but simply a description of my interaction with the piece. From your end, it may be very tightly stitched, perfectly obvious in all it sez, but I don’t think so: I think you want your reader to wander around a bit perplexed in that menage.
The last paragraph, the desperate letters: I like the idea of blog-scribbles as desperate letters, for all of us caught in life’s webs, working to set the writers free.
Peace/out, Miss A: I am off to the Texas hinterlands for the next week: too soon, methinks, to write my own scribble for this week. We’ll see.
I LOVE this lyrical, almost rambling voice. My goodness, it’s been awhile since I’ve seen one this good. It reminds me of my grad school days, only this is stronger, it’s less angsty and more matter-of-fact, and that is what makes it so strong. And this triangle?
Neat stuff. Really well-envisioned.
Paschal: Wow. My first inclination is to thank you for taking what might have been your only window to scribble down some stuff for us sunday writers…must be your teaching instinct, seeing a need and being fully present in filling it. And I do need the help that your perspective offers. Not just because you’re an accomplished individual do I highly value your opinion. I value it, perhaps most importantly, from the perception I’ve formed of you from everything I’ve read that you’ve written. I get the feeling you now think you have to pussyfoot a bit, maybe from the Tammie comment and my clipped response? Maybe not. Anyway, it is true I can be a reed flattened by the mighty windstorm, but I know I need both the wind and the rain and am bent to rise to all occasions!
So! I really appreciated this feast of a comment. The third paragraph is packed splendidly solid with right-on and brilliant observations that I’ve happily internalized. In this case I do want the reader to wander around a bit perplexed but a more controlled-by-the-writer perplexed. You’ve given me the Aha! thing. Stitching is required and I’m excited I see ways to do it and excited to break out the No. 2 surgical gut going forward!
On going forward, I have no inclinations regarding writing since I have no confirmed idea yet who I am that way. This whole blog thing is about finding that out, the end goal is about becoming one who writes deeply, intuitively and with quality of craft, the kind of thing that I’d love to read, that blows me away when I do. Like I mentioned on my About page, for various reasons it’s a tall order and I’m all over the map right now, but I do see signs of hope, and if you and Ms. Mood notice “novely” tendencies, well alright, cool!
Back to the beginning, the scribbling window… I see you’ve posted your Sunday oblation and I’m glad you did have the time. At a glance, it looks like a yummy sacrament that deities couldn’t possibly refuse. I’ll be over in a bit to really dig into it.
Thanks again, my friend :-)
Susan G!!! For the same reasons I’m glad to have Paschal’s opinion, I’m glad for yours and appreciate it like you have no idea…well, actually, you probably do, like when you were out getting that big fat MFA! That’s some tough stuff. Anyone who gets through that after already having done time for four years has my highest respects! So your all-caps here is a big deal. Feel free to rip stuff up, too, when you see it needs remodeling, alright? :-)
Mr. North! As with Paschal and SHG, I value your opinion, so again, I’ll take the Excellent, grin and run!
“Our waitress shows up all aesthetic with her black and red cat’s eye glasses, tattoos, and a Garofalo flair. ”
I love that line. Instant, clear vision of the waitress. Very good piece; I’ve read it 3 times!
This sounds like an excerpt from something, like you took it out of a bigger story you had going on. But then I guess everything is taken out of a bigger story, when you think about it. I like to read the newspaper reports about crimes that go on around town and then I make up my own beginnings and endings to go along with them. Sometimes they’re funny, or sad, or crazy. Sometimes they’re just true. But I couldn’t do that to your story, it’s too real.
Very nice piece. I enjoyed the idea of you being stuck with a muse who is stuck on someone else. What a great statement about the struggles of writer.
Thanks for the kind comment left on my blog.
memory has ingrained and defined the who and the what of us and bases our creativity, i think, and so!!! – for whatever that may be worth — i hear, feel, find a quality of desperation in your pieces and your characters, not all to the same degree, some oh sooooo subtle and some over the top and after the jack’s – no negativity here, all enjoyment and admiration — but hafta wonder if you’re not the muse yourself — you’re never ho-hum, and i look forward each week to find out what you’re all about and read this style of yours that i so enjoy – maybe the reader needs to take a loose piece and stitch it in tight to make the piece a custom fit???
This is great stuff miss Alister, your writing is poetic and insightful and oh so relatable. err if such word exists. a regular day from a writers point of view where even the simpler things are brouoght to life with such finesse. Thanks for this and for reading my poetry too! :)
It flows with the ease of thought, and that makes it most appealing to me.
Welcome Sarah! LOL! That seems to be a stand-out line for sure! It flew in from “out there” as I like to say. Perhaps it’s the same for you with your poetry, reviews, and such, that some of your best stuff is not what you wrangled with, but what comes from nowhere in an instant and surprises the dickens out of you, yes? I’m glad you stopped by and enjoyed this post :-) I enjoyed “meeting” your family in your Sunday Salon post. The picture of your 15 year old, the posture, the expression, speaks volumes upon volumes!
Hi Bass, good to see you again! I agree. All the talking and writing that comes out of a person, all human expression, is an excerpt from life, from the bigger story called Life. missmays has got the drift of this piece. It’s a magnified view of a conglomeration of my days and nights that hints at how it came to be that I see them that way which chases the tail of why I live them that way.
Your crimes-in-the-newspaper idea is fantastic! I’d not thought of that before, but really, what a great place for a writer to go for material, for an excerpt from someone else’s life that is guaranteed not to bore?! LOL!
Welcome Pam! The triangle’s a riot, isn’t it?! Like I wrote to Sarah, that “flew in” and spun off my thoughts about the muse—basically, Everything, you name it, is sidelining the guy right now, but the idea to contain that Everything in the form of another person, and a muse at that, was the gift that dropped into my lap. Glad you enjoyed it. I’ve been enjoying your inspired word combinations—just got done with Erosion Control—sun crashing, light-shadows lingering, angular… Be still my heart. Thanks for stopping by!
Hi danni! Hear, hear! to your first sentence…that is, if you’re using the word memory to mean what I call childhood and societal conditioning. In that context, I’d say DNA is the base of our creativity in determining the level of our capacity to create, from moderate to masterpiece, and our memory/conditioning flavors our creativity. Even if I haven’t got your exact meaning, I think I have it enough to address what you’re detecting in what I post here. There are varying shades of darkness throughout, for sure, and that does come from DNA and my growing up process from birth to now. And I hope it’s darkness on the brink of dawn, lostness on the path to being found. But even if it’s not, I’m enjoying the expression of it, and you know there’ll always be another human on the planet that can relate to it and enjoy it in some way! There’s something for everyone out there! I’m glad you’re enjoying this stuff. I’m certainly enjoying hearing what you think about it.
About the muse…well, in terms of Eastern spiritual teachings I am the muse, the muse is me, but in this piece the muse is the miserable muse!
And the loose pieces…yeah, I’ve been thinking about that. This piece is loose and the reader can do all kinds of things with it. One thing is, as Paschal suggested, Sasha could be me and I could be in Russell’s in the loft with the muse writing this very piece. After all, the atmosphere in Russell’s that night was rich with the warm invitation to dive into whatever was going on in my mind… And obviously the piece was meant to be loose because that’s exactly how it got dumped out. But how cool would it be, I’m thinking, to be able (keys words, as in to be that good at the craft) to take in the ideas floating in the ether and to solidly, supremely skillfully mastermind them. That’s power on top of power, you know? Exciting!
missmays, welcome, welcome! Thanks so much for stopping by. I’ve been loving your words in In Wait for Freedom! Blood, veins, patina of rust, bronze of early centuries. Lucious!
Glad you liked this piece here! As I wrote in Bass’s comment you nailed the drift of it. And you lucked out, relatable’s real! LOL! But you know lately I’ve been taking extreme liberties with the English language, pushing my luck way out like a wayward juvenile—been using words like mindblowingness, happenstancely, matteroffactly, happilyish. The rebellion gives me a rush that trumps guilt!
Welcome, Aareet! Thank you for visiting and telling me what you thought! I was at your site earlier and loved Slither. Left you a one-liner! :-)
Well, Miss A, the clock’s ticking on Scribble #115: your readership needs your guide-ance / guide-dance. Guy/dance? We need sumthin’, cher.
What day is this??? What time is it??????? Oh shit, I’m sorry Paschal! OK, OK, ok, o…k… Lemme see what I can whip up real quick. Just for you, mon ami. Un moment, svp.