A man stumbles into a bar… (perhaps you’ve heard this one before)… truly more of a sauntering in seeming need of assistance… must be no stranger here, his drinks await him wherever he finds or chooses or results in sitting: a something-with-vodka, large glass of water, and occasionally a cup filled with coffee.
“You’re the one that always has books,” some say, “you some kind of writer or something?”
“I don’t know what I’m doing,” he mumbles. “I’m always tired, I feel ugly and old, I don’t like my body but don’t desire doing anything about it, perhaps I should, I’m sure to lose it someday…” (he isn’t talking to anyone). “Thank you, always, you’re ever so kind,” he says.
He says “My children seem to remember me,” shifting in his chair as if to leave, or relocate tables, “my children they seem to remember, and they hurt me, they have hurt me, my body hurts, mostly in sport, and what they do and don’t remember.” He opens a book, looks as if he’s reading, another round of drinks appears.
He writes and marks in many colors. He is dirty. He wears overalls and moccasins. He never seems cold. It is cold.
“I decided to shower today,” he mutters. “Some ladies still talk to me,” something-and-vodka drips through his beard, “some will even hug or hold me yet, even this way” (patting his belly, grimacing) “I guess I didn’t like my smell or simply thought it might change me, it’s awful hard to be alone with my body.” He moves, his drinks are waiting at another table, both fresh fills and half-drunks, and a sandwich of some kind. The cook passes and pats him on the shoulder, smiles, asks of how he’s doing. They hug. The man praises him and his eyes are moist. The man isn’t anyone in particular. He isn’t anyone.
“What you doing with all those books?” she asks, he thinks. Pretends that someone’s interested. “Not the young ones much anymore,” he says, “they are needing something else, they can tell I’m aged and tired, carrying the trouble of experiences, but a few, a few older ones will let me hug them, touch, perhaps a kiss, perhaps an accidental overnight, that strange collapse.”
“I have them to read,” he replies, “there’s always more to read,” he whimpers, “so much, so many, to read,” he sighs and smiles like a boy receiving toys, “if only people, my children, if, if they felt read this way by me, some women, some wonderful women, if I could delve, could attend, if others felt read this way, these books, I love them, I love and need them, their words, I love and need and want them…if others felt that way, I’d like to feel that way – loved, wanted, needed… sometimes my children…”
“Another?” she says so warmly with her tight and fast-moving body, lithe and breasted, friendly with its clothes. She has a fresh vodka-with-something, he says “no I shouldn’t, but sure, I guess, you’re so kind to me, why not? I will, yes” (wanting, loving, needing.. books scattered over the tabletop, all closed). He drinks.
“My children, my friends – so smart, so beautiful, with verve… so helpful… I did shower today,” he thinks, “maybe I’ll be useful to one or some of them, but probably not, what could they need or want of me,” he drinks. “Not the young ones, though, not anymore,” he thinks, “what could I offer – these worn experiences, these words and doubts, these lacks of memories, confusions, waking dreams, these wonders.”
“You’ll need to go soon,” she chides, “you can’t be staying here.” “But he’s the writer,” a boisterous drinker shouts, “he oughta tell a story, oughta earn his keep!” Drunk old friendly at two in the morning (bar time – it’s actually 1:35).
“Tell us something,” they gather, they prompt. “Say some of those words,” they prod.
So he opens his notebook and begins to write…
“…the contradiction which awaits the writer is great. There is no mission, he cannot undertake it and nobody has sent him on it, that is to say he will have to become nobody to accept it; a contradiction which he cannot survive. That is why no writer can hope to preserve his life’s freedom for the benefit of the work… everything takes place between the artist and himself; no one else can do anything about it; it is a mystery like love that no extraneous authority may judge or understand.”
– Maurice Blanchot-