Laramie and Alias play ball. Laramie or Alias. Alias, Laramie. What game are we playing?
Riven, desiccated, they lag. Every day there is more to it. More and less to them. Laramie, Alias, friends as long as they can remember, or markers of memory and experience for one another that initiated chronos, now an aeon, now all of what they know.
Laramie falls behind. Laramie, a little hoarse from laughing, spits out a “hold back!”
“C’mon you little horse,” Alias decries.
What are they playing at?
Long enough that when Laramie commands “Alias Harlequin!,” at this age, the same mixture of guilt and fear, defensiveness and shame, defiance and harshly judged helplessness Alias feels when seriously called out by parents or lovers shivers his body. Occupies his mind. Why? Why are these things in me, Alias looks down and away.
There is no ball. It wasn’t a game. Laramie and Alias walk and wander. In woods, on paths, through fields. They try to think together. Alias has always wondered who he was, or is, or might be. Laramie never knew, but did it anyway. Somehow together they were themselves, or felt that way, felt like nothing at all, just present and curious and comforted. Like learning, Alias thought. I feel like I’m learning with Laramie. Always learning something neither of us know. They talk together. They call this thinking. Many refer to it as a game.
Laramie’s butt is on a bench. He is smoking. He doesn’t smoke. His wife doesn’t like it. His kids don’t like it. His body, even, has begun to finally recoil. Alias takes a drink. Leans against the bench, still guilty, still staring into the trees. He doesn’t want Laramie to die. He doesn’t like death much. It scares him, and it seems simple and true – unavoidable – simply ruinous.
Alias Harlequin sighs.
And Laramie asks what he is thinking. Or feeling. Or what is going on, at that moment, for him.
Alias is silent. How could he know? If he reaches in, or pays attention to any part – a limb, his gut, the sithering language slithering in what seems like his head – he’ll be inaccurate. He can only tend to fragments. Figments of experiencing. But he doesn’t want the game to be like that. He’d always hoped someone might know. Like maybe Laramie knows and is just waiting to see what aspect Alias would select. Might know something else about Alias’s present that comes from outside of him, that can observe him as a whole, that looks in another direction.
“What do you think?” Alias says.
“Nostalgic,” Laramie reports. “Some sort of melancholy in lots of places at once.” “A wend, a bundle, an amorphous pool of forms.” “This is how it comes and goes at our age,” he breathes.
Nothing. No response. Not now. But it’s an infinite conversation.