::: the novel written in seven hours :::
I am scrambling awkwardly to reach for three small sheets of paper that the wind has claimed. They are dividing and conquering me, and my insides are sticky and slowing me down and it's been awhile since I completed the physical education shuttle run picking up erasers to test my direction changing ability. I forgot my gym suit that day but I did have to come in for a make-up and run back and forth while everyone else got to walk slowly on the track and circle me in some ritualistic ceremony in little red shorts and watch me from the corners of their eyes. I haven't the time to make an ethical conclusion over which white gotten dirty sheet I value most. If all these papers were drowning on different sides of the dock, I would have to jump in and drown myself. Weather broke my concentration, and as I use my foot to hold down the first of three sheets, leaving a little impression that might be fixed by white out and a copy machine, sacrificing authenticity for perfection. I haven't decided that yet. I look up and see a man on the other side of the street staring at me with squinted eyes. He must be trying to make me look surreal. I watch myself picking up the other papers. I watch myself throw back my hair and I look up to the sky as though deep in thought. I imagine he appreciates my little dance, but when looking back across, the man is gone. I gather my papers together and stuff them in my pocket. It was a poem, and I wish I hadn't written it. It said something I had wanted to say but not all of it and now that part of its been said I can't say it again. You understand, don't you?
The man isn't across the street because he's standing behind the women who's facing me now. She speaks to me and shyly looks away but her words are muddled and maybe its the freezing rain but I can't hear her and I have a feeling she's said something of importance. Something about a control. Something Sweet and Sour. The man smiles and rests his head on her shoulder, showing his amusement with his partner and motioning with his eyes for me to dismiss her insane ramblings and move on.
"She was wondering if you would like to be a part of her experiment involving sexual perversities and Chinese food." he clasped his hands around her waist and looked directly at me. He wasn't afraid to be shocking.
"No, " I said.
It appears that's the end of the chapter, You see, when someone says no, its really the end of things. There's really nowhere you can go but back into your head.
The woman spoke to me again, but I couldn't really make out what she was saying. She flashed a smile at me and the three sheets of paper flew out of my pocket and scattered away again. Without hesitation they raced through the streets and collected them again, handing them to me. The woman reached out her hand and offered me the papers. She extended her invitation again, and I accepted. I know what wishes for nice days are worth.
We sat down at the white washed table cloth and were silent. I think she was talking, and I strained to listen, but I just smiled and nodded. The man and I spoke with passion about our placemats. This is what people do. I am a horse, popular and attractive to the opposite sex, most likely successful as an artist or a dentist. We talked about the other famous horses list. We laughed at his zodiac, the rat, and joked about how we were to stay away from one another. It was all so entertaining. So so happy to be there. The couple across from us were talking about the rooster. I would soon spill tea on my placemat, ruining our brilliant conversation piece.
Later this rat and I would secretly rig up a microphone near the woman's lips and reveal that her brilliant words that no one has heard were really an incessant rambling of watermelon watermelon watermelon. Sometimes she would substitute bubblegum and sometimes she would do combinations of the two.
I could feel her watching me, not the woman incomprehensibly droning on with the lazy eye and the body language that constantly shifted from seductive to passive, but woman who always struck the note of paranoia, reverberated from all the brown haired girls eating egg foo young at their respective tables. Jane Jane. The man handed me his poem that he had written for the woman adjacent to him who had refused as of yet to read it, and I wasn't listening but I sensed that by not responding I had agreed to read his work. I didn't let on that I had my own work of poetry in my pocket. They had picked it up from the rainy street and wiped it off on their pea coats. I'm sure they can figure it out.
I looked over the paper pretending to read but really looking for Jane while reading his unrhyming internal suffering and he was so deep I figured I wouldn't have gotten it anyway. This psuedo-intellectual prick with a vamp tendency and a hobby of collecting stickers at record stores for bands he doesn't know and then looking them up later was distracting but not quite enough. I was feeling rebellious. I put the chopsticks in my hair and ate with a fork. Disney Dinglehopper, I thought, lifting the fork to my mouth. I was truly rebellious, I was using my fork to eat soup.
Nothing has happened as of yet in this chapter. I told you, I was negative, I said "no" not so much because I was disinterested in sexual perversities and Chinese food but because I was so ashamed with this writer who has obviously copped out by combining these three characters the easy way by having two invite the other randomly to join them for sexual experimentation and moo shoo. That is not how things happen. In real life, we would pass by each other and maybe they would have helped me pick up my little poem but they wouldn't have crossed the street to do so. And they certainly would not have invited me. And, I wouldn't have been such a tool as to drop my papers twice. I would probably be at home right now looking for a fourth for Euchre because wasting time and waiting is a more likely distraction from paranoia of people watching, for people don't caught up watching midwestern card games. I like games.
So, lets play a little game. We've talked about the placemats and we've looked around for that Jane that's been on the paranoid edge of our thoughts. Choose your own Adventure. Ready? "I" and "Me" are now "You". The man across the table likes this game, he calls it postmodern. The woman looks at you and begins to speak, and you can't hear what she has to say, but you can tell by the raised voice at the end of her words that she's phrased a question. Do you answer "yes" or "no"?
She passes you the Soy Sauce.
She places the Soy Sauce next to her and sticks her chopsticks in her rice.
That was a practice one. You get more say than that. The women takes out a remote control and clicks it at you repeatedly. Do you change? Yes or No
It's a given. You've already changed, your sitting in a plastic restaurant with linoleum painted gold and little red tassels and an impatient overeager or maybe just lonely waitress who is terribly interested in how you are doing and also speaks in quiet tones. You've already changed because you're sitting with two freaks that are perfectly comfortable in their little world and still find the ability to talk placemats with them. Are you humoring them or are they humoring you? You squint your eyes and make it all so surreal.
You take the remote control from her hands and open the battery case revealing an empty compartment. "IMPOS-TOR!" you scream standing up and sitting down again, grabbing some tea in the most violent of tea-grabbing scenes. You chug the tea and continue your meal. The place is silent. You go back to your own thoughts, noting these external events but knowing nothing has changed. You still won't have a fourth for Euchre when you get back home.
Susan, as we know, is that woman across the table, and Susan has Bob right where she wants him. She has the subject, she has the control that stays the same even if it thinks it has changed. There were no batteries in that remote control, and therefore all changes would be psychosomatic. Susan is a brilliantly disturbed woman. Now she just needs a hypothesis. She intends to have one the romantic way, the flash of light that gives a brilliant thought in the flash of not-so-brilliant conversations about placemats. For the meantime, she says watermelon very quietly so as to appear personable without having to offer anything of herself. She will one day have that brilliant conjecture, and then she will speak up. Until then, she says cliches and watermelons and bubblegum. Let us all pray she forgets all her academic rationalizations of thinkers block and just consigns to a life of talking about backpacks. It's so much easier living in a bubble than living on the fringe.
...on to Chapter Fourteen...
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