…if you only do it in your head?
I haven’t had much time to sit down and write much this week. Things are a little crazy at work, and overtime is very likely. But the story is growing.
So is that writing, or is it imagination without form? Whatever, it makes the work days more tolerable.
Jonathan locked himself in the basement. He wanted to examine his gun and sit in the darkness. He didn’t intend to lock himself in, but he forgot to check the handle when he went down. Stupid.
There was a small and sparse wooden table that held an old can of yellow paint, a handful of petrified paint brushes, and an empty box of Cheer detergent; no, not empty, it was filled with spider webs.
There was a wooden chair that he bought second-hand (he thought he might stain it and put it in the hallway), a scattering of mice turds, and an old rake. It was a small basement, but its emptiness made it huge. The overhead 40 watt bulb tossed shadows, elongating the brush handles and giving the rake dangerous broken teeth.
“Well, I’m here,” he said to no one. He sat in the wooden chair and stared into the corner. His head was aching from a restless night. He slept – or whatever version of sleep the night gave him – with the gun still in its cardboard box on his dresser. His eyes were drawn to it. The street light pried through the curtains and shone on the box like some fantastic secret talisman.
“There are no heroes,” said his father. “Only men who do the best they can in a bad situation. Real heroes have shit running down their leg after they do what no one else wants to.”
Was that true? Do men do things they have to — because they have to? There’s no forethought in heroism, just jump right in and save the day. Was that true? Or can you plan to be a hero? Can you sketch it out in your head and wait for that moment, that spectacular moment, when the world smiles and the girl kisses your mouth?
His head ached. He looked up at the door. It was locked, but it wasn’t hard to jimmy, he’d done it before. But it was better to rest and be still, alone in the semi-transparent darkness.
The best conversations were those he had in his head. There was no stutter or stammer, no mangled words, no broken thoughts.
“Heroes,” said Jonathan.
“Heroes do what most men won’t. They become better than themselves, not out of choice, but out of need. A coward can become a hero, but a hero can never become a coward. It’s backwards.” So philosophized his old man, who was awarded a Purple Heart back in the good old days when everyone went to war.
Jonathan wanted to tell him, “Daddy, you were shot in the goddamn leg.”
“I did it for my country.”
“You died choking on a pork chop bone.”
“I died for my country. Not like you. You’re going to die from a stroke or a heart attack because you sit behind a desk and don’t challenge yourself.”
“I’m good at what I do.”
“As any sheep would say. ‘I’m good at what I do… I shit in the field and eat the grass. There are none better.’” (more…)