Monday, October 27, 2008

Excerpt from an Untitled Story

Authorial aside (haha, that just sounds pretentious): This may not make a whole lot of sense out of context, but at least the first section tells a little story, and the second section is a little bit philosophical, so I think we're good. Additionally, it has to do with vices, so it fits the theme, and I haven't posted in a long time because, well, I've been swamped with work and college. So, here is this for now, and if anyone is at all interested in the rest of the story (which is currently incomplete, as I am working on finishing it), please leave a comment and I can email it to you.

He started smoking cigarettes at a young age; he was thirteen. His father rolled his own, and one day he showed up at my house; papers in one hand, tobacco in the other, and a sly grin on his face. My parents did not smoke, or at least if they did I didn't know about it, so I initially tried to talk him out of it. But his enthusiasm was contagious, and shortly after, we were huddled in my basement, hacking up a storm. I decided I didn't like it; I felt my lungs were too weak. He, on the other hand, fell in love on the spot: he was made for it. He never looked so good as when exhaling a curling tendril of smoke. At the time, it was not terribly difficult for younger teenagers to get away with smoking in public. When we became old enough to frequent diners, he did not like to smoke if children were in the vicinity. 'Children are pure,' he would say. 'We all have a responsibility to keep them that way for as long as possible.' He would grow infuriated if he saw the smoking parents of babes, perhaps because his own parents always had. His preferred places to smoke were those marginal places of public use, areas no longer tended to, society's unpatrolled corridors, lost but then found, by us and other similar-minded people, policed by no one, places where a damn simply wasn't given whether you smoked or not: bathrooms in public parks, stairwells in concrete parking structures, run-down baseball diamonds in long-abandoned elementary schools. He didn't like to litter, either, so he developed the ostensibly disgusting habit of storing extinguished cigarette butts in his pockets until the appearance of trash cans. Later in life, I would watch a film in which an eccentric character had a similar habit, eliciting all sorts of sentimentality and nostalgia in me, to the point where I still have not been able to finish watching the damn movie.

Let's give it up for bad habits, shall we? He had his smoking, among other things. What about me? What are my bad habits? Well, I take pretty good care of myself physically. I don't smoke, I rarely drink, I go for long walks, I eat a lot of salad… my bad habits have more to do with the people I allow(ed) to become ingratiated into my life. I'm an enabler, I'm an over-analyzer, I'm far, far too loyal, and I want to save people. I'm not a humanitarian; I don't want to save everyone. But I wanted to save him, so badly. I wanted to be the light at the end of his tunnel. I wanted to be the silver living under his storm cloud. I wanted to make him believe in truth, loyalty, and trust. I wanted to show him that purity can exist beyond children, and I wanted to be pure for him, to be pure together. You shouldn't believe that you can save people. You shouldn't ever bring that burden onto yourself. People can only save themselves, and certain people have no desire to be saved. This is all very derivative, I understand, and abstract and vague and perhaps even a bit silly. But it's true, goddammit. We were both looking for something inexplicably indefinable, and I thought I found it in him, and now I know he never found it at all.

1 comment:

Erica said...

I would love to read all of this...