I wrote this one day in the Chicago’s downtown library. I found it in my files tonight. I never gave it much thought, but it’s kind of interesting. Comments and suggestions welcome.
At a timid time of day, just half past a shadow with no function, he tells a secret to no one in particular. There is no canon and I forgot the function long ago.
No canon, he says. No emotion either. He lost that too.
If I tilt the arm with the shadow twelve degrees to my left, I may shift said shadow and find a new answer (if answers are what I’m seeking).
So he protractors the appendage and finds, not an answer, but a question, not in words, but in a careening spasm in his filium terminale where before all was calm.
The question vaults along the spinal chord to the Medulla omblongato, causing an upset in the synaptic equations occurring along dendritic arbours.
In his fourth ventricle, a longing develops, defined in certain mathematical values, obscuring the longing so that the man senses only the logic.
The longing passes to the third ventricle without the man’s knowledge or consent and he thinks, whatever the time, he should be leaving now.
Using that same arm priorly tilted to disseminate shadows, he adjusts the angle so that the rim of his hat obscures his visage. He had allowed for his forehead to show for a moment while that longing crept inside him, but the longing causes a discernible chill; he thinks it best to cloak all he can.
Today he is walking down one of those sidewalks that no one sees anymore—cobbled stone and it is wet so there is a slick scraping of rubber sole and stone creating a sound that pleases him, lack of canon and all. A bit of gravel crunches under his feet and though it is a simple sensation, he thinks of destruction and smiles. These little acts keep him going. There is nothing else.
Home. An archaic idea. Number 172 East Rommely. More accurate, locative. One can’t locate home. He hates that. It won’t be home for anyone after tonight.
His key unlocks the door. He waits for the day when it won’t. He always expected her to change the locks on him. He wouldn’t have minded. He’d like a new address.
Through the foyer and down the hall, he sees her legs. They are bare save for two mismatched socks that bunch around her ankles. The left foot taps to an unknown and nervous rhythm. The left foot always does that. He’s tried to still it to no avail.
He walks down the right side of the hallway, so he will see more of her sooner. He stops when her elbows and forearms come into view. One elbow is leaning on the kitchen table. He can’t see the hand yet, but imagines it is acting as a cradle for her head. He allows his eyes to rest at the wrist of her other arm. It falls lank across the table, completely still, seemingly dead. No discernible pulse. He’s sought it out before. It was the only thing about her that ever gave him pleasure. There’s still something beautiful about that wrist. Maybe he should stay just for the bones in that one forearm. It might be worth it. He’ll know the answer to the question marinating inside of him once he enters the kitchen.
Her foot has stopped tapping; that’s new. Welcome.
She looks at him without smiling. Exhales the smoke from a cigarette.
We never needed a canon, she says.
He decides 172 isn’t a horrible number and throws his hat on the table.