Tuesday, January 29, 2013

City on a Hill (the show)

           Jeff was excited. It was morning and Jeff was excited. He had school today, and after school he would eat dinner but after dinner there would be two bands playing in his basement.
This was the fourth show he had organized and he was excited because one of the bands was from California and because before the show Charlie would be setting up some extra stage lights in the basement. Jeff had talked with a guy in one of the bands, a fairly well known underground punk group, a few weeks before. He had been friendly but aloof. Almost fifty people had said they would come. Jeff had been worried the band might not show up, until the day before  they had e-mailed asking for the address of his house. They hadn't planned on playing in Westham but had a show the day before in Seattle and the day after in Vancouver. They had been reluctant at first but Jeff had a certain charm and the band had eventually capitulated.        Jeff had dreamed of planning shows for years, used to have the habit of laying in bed as a teenager with his headphones on, the volume low and the bass turned high so the music sounded far off and interrupted by the bulk of walls. He would imagine he lived above a venue, in a crawlspace or extraroom, some sheltered nook, on a mattress on the floor with a long red Japanese festival lantern above him. In truth his situation now approximated this ideal fairly closely, though the thought had receded into the depths of his memory and he would never now make the connection between his teenage dream and its current realization. Even years from now when he would reflect back on the similarity between his fantasy and its occurrence the reality would seem slightly thinner, less real than that initial dream. 
        The fall rains had brought a notable change to Jeff's way of thinking, brought a change to everyone really. It was a hard shift to pin down, but a major one, and it resulted in strange alterations of personality. All day Jeff had had the feeling that he was seeing people people he knew. Would catch a face out of the corner of his eye and going to speak found it was a stranger, always and eternally. The previous Friday Jeff had presented the first piece in his creative writing class: 2000 words on a trip he had taken as a child to the east coast. He had put effort into it but had felt self conscious during the process, paralyzed mainly by a fear that he was unconsciously plagiarizing other writers. He constantly edited out sentences he felt too melodramatic or unrealistic. He felt a strong desire to present the events exactly as they had occurred, wanted his writing to become glass-like and weighty. He felt hindered by the gauze of his memory and the many tugs of creating. He leaned toward making the story more than the original events, but this was an unconscious urge. Slowly though he became conscious of it, of this urge, and began to feel a diffuse fear. He found himself routinely erasing one, two, three, hundred words at a time.
      That Friday morning Jeff blindly placed the finished work on the desk at the front of the class the same way he would have dropped a loved one off a cliff if it was his only choice: without looking, with regret and a deep sadness. Over the past weekend, and the events that had transpired then, the work had left his mind and now-stepping back into the classroom, crushing in its many wooden angles-the agony returned to him.
      The imminent judgment,
                   the glances and red pen.
     The removed authoritarian inspection.
     The 'brick' piece of a few weeks prior had been accepted without fanfare, a small note of tight cursive indicating 'Received' in the upper left corner. It was too neutral Jeff thought, not enough information from a source such as this.
     Once a week did anything approximating a lecture occur in the class, and then only for a short time. Fifteen, twenty minutes of speaking on average. These talks were intense and oblique, strictly prepared thoughts on a short story the professor had had them read. He delivered these talks off oversized blue notecards which he let fall to the floor one by one as he used them. The stories were from obscure authors (from the Midwest, France, North Africa, Australia) mostly from the 70's and 80's whom Jeff had never heard of before. The professor often alluded to knowing the writers personally, though always stopped sort of confirming this. No one ever asked. The stories more often than not seemed particularly mundane-an almost forced mundanity Jeff thought-and he often found them boring on the first read. Yet in his lectures the professor would always point out the magic things the authors did: a string of tricks, events and tones which Jeff would go back to the story to find, having missed them the first time through. He opened the stories up, always turning on a bright light as he spoke of them. Jeff often read the stories again, feeling them illuminated, after hearing the professor speak.
      The rest of the time the class spent writing, the professor up front reading quietly. During the the first class meeting he had said that if they chose they could sleep, do other work, or simply leave, go home, write there if they felt like it. It was a strange break then, when during the second week of class Jeff heard the awkward scrape of a chair and turned to see a student, a male sweating and hesitant, get up and approach the professor. He leaned in close and asked a question in a voice straining hard to crawl in quiet under the scratch of the class's pencils. The man pulled out his chair and motioned the student out of the room, elegantly closing the door behind them with a soft click. Looking around Jeff noticed that every one in the class had been watching, confused, at this apparent breach of character. The two were gone for some time and Jeff did not notice when they returned-it had been noiseless-though when he looked up a few minutes later both the student and the teacher had returned to their places. After that day at least once a meeting a student would approach the professor, they would leave, then a few minutes later return, always silent. Jeff began to wonder what happened on these outings but as of yet had not ventured up himself.
      He sat now, fidgeting endlessly, stoned seconds passing by as his journeyed creation sat on the distance, changed even by the professor's gaze, not to mention his pen. As the last student entered the man stood up, grabbed the stack of papers and came before them holding the combined packet of works in his hand, swishing the edges back and forth over his outspread fingers the lazy flick of a tiger's tail.
      "There was a time in my life where i believed, I sincerely believed every person had a story to tell. That every man woman and child had a unique experience which transcended this dirty world and could provide a certain salvation for the rest of us. I believed all one had to do was...put in the time, put in the effort and an undeniable gem would form, and if not that? Then at least an honest record of life would be produced, which can be a thing of beauty in itself.
     I sincerely believed this for some time and at a few points I found a large amount of evidence, or at least what seemed to me evidence, to support my view. It was a nice view to have. It fit in well with my general view of the universe at the time: very nice. My pride still hesitates to label this as naivete, but I was misguided surely. After I started teaching I tried to hold on to this view, I really did, but...alas." He shifts his weight, looks slowly down at the stack, then walks over to a front row desk and gently placs a paper face down. "It has, through many hard, unlistening years dawned on me that this attitude is truly, unmistakably, and utterly incorrect. In time I have come to believe the very opposite: that the ability write effectively is a gift delivered at birth which one either possesses or does not possess and which very few do. I have come to realize as well that, while many of you may adore literature and its process of creation very few, if any of you should ever put pen to paper again. Now i do realize you are taking this class for credit and all that and it would be such a shame to fail those of you who cannot write which..." he looks over his glasses at the tops of the remaining papers, presumably at his comments "is a great deal of you. But please, if you are sincerely considering creative writing as a career in the future please take my comments to heart, it is not too late to switch to a major in literary studies or psychology or recreation science. Please. For your own good. We need more psychologists in this world: the world is going insane. But we do not need more lousy writers. There are only so many stories to be told and you may not be the one to tell them."
    Once he finished passing back the papers he returned to his desk. "The rest of the day is yours, please, again, read what I wrote and understand what I am trying to convey. I only speak the truth." With this he grabbed his things: a coat, a case for his glasses and walked out. Jeff looked down at the overturned stapled sheets before him then around the room. A few students had looked at the comments on their pieces, their faces betraying the professor's comments. A few got up and left immediately, many without looking at their papers. Jeff was one of them.
          Outside Jeff buys an americano and sits in main square. Jeff sips his coffee but it is too hot so he sets it down on the bench next to him. He had folded the paper in half so as not to see what had been written and briefly considered dropping the paper in a trashcan or lighting it on fire. He is arrested though, perhaps by curiosity perhaps by an intellectual masochism. He watches people pass by and criticizes them them in his head. He thinks about girls. He grabs the coffee, still too hot, drinks some anyways and pulls out the paper. On the top margin, in red pen the words "could use a little work" are written in the same tight script. Jeff flips through the pages, three of them in total and double spaced. There are hardly any marks. For a moment he feels a wash of vomit swirl in his throat. Jeff puts the paper down and looks around. The world seems swirled a bit. The ground moist and impalpable. A coruscating host of bismuth crystal ladyfish rise through his vision tunnel and swallowed his seeing ground

        Psychology was hard. Freud was a dick. He made things difficult. Now psychology is out. Which is good.
      -Lets' go to the dining hall
 Its always busy here between classes. There are a lot of these girls with half a haircut. They're pretty hot, I guess. But probably into weird stuff. Like feminism and stuff. It's raining a little bit. Some upperclassman is sitting on a bench, leaning forward, a cup slipping out of his hand onto the ground.
      -Hey look at that guy. He looks like a white lil' Wayne...
      -Huh, huh huh. He's probably wasted, I hear all the upperclassmen come to school high, like on adderall and xanax or shrooms.
      -Really? That's awesome.
      -Yeah especially the english majors, they're fucked up all the time. He's totally an english major, he's a total hipster look at him.
Didn't have hipsters in Pacific Crest. Heard about them, saw pictures of them. Like they live in Seattle but not Pacific Crest.
      Practically empty here, between lunch and dinner. She's small, lots of acne, ponytail, horseface, lower jaw's too big, won't even look at us from under that Aramark visor. Practically empty inside too, sweet. Fuckin casserole looks bomb, meaty and shit.
       Who is this fucker? Out of my way.
       Hella window, hella bright -Yeah we can sit over there
Hella hot over here, can't even see any girls.
-This casserole tastes like shit.
        -Yeah, it's nasty
eating, eating, eating, eating
        -What's going on tonight?
        -Uhh...Cassie says there is like a band playing. Down at some house. I donno sounds like it might be tight.
        -Tight. We gonna get some beer or whatever?
        -Yeah I can call Ted.
eating, eating, eating, eat -Ted.
 -Ted. Buy me some beer.
 -Dude, just go to the store and...
 -Shut up, buy me some beer! Yes I'll pay you back, just... No! Now! Just buy me some Natty.
-Dude, fuck you. Uhhhh....
Spencer puts the phone down, we better be able to get some beer.
        -My brother's such a twat.
        -Whatever, we can probably just steal some at the party.
        Fucking busses. Not even any hot girls on this bus, bumpy as fuck too. It's cold, cold on my hands, too much vodka but coke covers it up mostly, but still tastes like vodka. Makes me want to squint every time i drink but can't squint, pussies squint, Spencer'll think I'm a pussy. Fucking bumpy as SHIT.
       -What stop we gettin off at?
Spencer's staring at his phone
-Yo, what stop we getting off at Spencer?
       -Uh...the first one...uh in Peabody
       -What near the corner store?
Cold as shit outside, and this wind.
everything sucks, not even drunk yet.
       -Yo was that...
-Yo was that our stop!?
       -Fuck! What the fuck dude!?
       -What? Yo hold on! Let us off! We missed our stop!
       -What the fuck? Asshole...won't even stop the bus
So what? middle of intersection, plenty of people walking in the intersection...
       Bell rings.
        Light flashes
         Doors whisk
       -Come on dude
Fucking raining out now? Goddammit and now we have to walk an extra two blocks because Spencer is a dumb-ass
       -Yo why you gotta be such a dumb-ass?
       -Wha?...Fuck you dude! You could been watching too!
       -Whatever dude, you're a fucking dumbass...Where is this house?
       -Uh...just like...1412...uh so that's 1410 so it should be... Are the numbers going up or down?
       -Fucking...just give me your phone...
       -DUDE! Be careful, the fucking back is loose!
       -It says 1417, idiot. It's that one up there, with all the people standing outside.
Looks like a bunch of lame ass hipsters, probably kick one of their asses later or something. Girls aren't even that hot,
      couch is all wobbly and shit...
     whatever just sit here and drink and shit and like think about this.
   So here's what's going on: so there's like a bunch of people standing in the middle of this basement, drinking tallcans, and then there is like a drumset at the front and then these dudes bringing in guitars and the boxes and stuff and they all have black shirts on. Every single one of them has a black shirt on and they all look hella serious and this basement is fucking dusty as shit and i almost hit my head on the like rafters...or whatever, basement rafters down here because the ceiling is so low, and it's pretty dark down here except for maybe one or two light bulbs but then in the front there are all these lights like that they have during plays, like when my sister did plays and stuff they had all these lights except they are here in this basement and pointing toward the front, to the musicians. And nothing is really happening and I'm finally getting drunk sort of, probably need to get some more beer in a minute. 
    Now there is this big group of people coming down the stairs, they look a little different from everyone else, like a little more normal. Now this chick is coming to sit on the couch next to me and...
   -I haven't seen you here before, my name's Penny
   -Um...what's your name?
   -I said what's your name?
   -Cool! Have you seen Stark before?
   -Oh man they are really tight! I saw them in Anacortes a few months ago and they were amazing: everyone took off their shirts and like made this huge pile of people the everyone was just jumping on top of this pile then like crawling out from underneath and...
    then she like pulls up her sleeve so i can see her her back near her shoulder
-i think i got caught on someone's stud cause i got this huge rip in my skin and now I have this scar!
jesus what a fucking freak
   -Yeah they don't come up here very often but it's awesome that they do. Did you know they all have day jobs and stuff? And only tour what they can all get time off at the same time? I think that's so cool that guys like this can keep kicking ass into their late thirties and stuff...

   -Oh jesus look...
Jeff points over to the couch, Penny is talking with this bro. He's dazed and staring at nothing. She's into him, or something, and he is totally uninterested.
Keith laughs a little bit.
   -I wonder how he heard about this... Keith shakes his head and shrugs -Whatever i hope he doesn't try to start a fight or anything.
   -Yeah. Jeff swigs from his can and looks around. There's a good turnout tonight, looks like most of the regulars but also a lot of people he hasn't seen before. Not sure who most of these people are but it feels good. The guys from the band showed up right on time, older than he had thought.
   It had been a rough day what with almost passing out in main square and all. Things had only been going up since then however: Jeff had made it home and taken a nap, then when Charlie came over he helped him move things around and set up the lights in the basement. The day had moved slowly from then on, very few people showing up early, Jeff had worried about whether the show was going to happen. Then in waves: more and more people started coming, hanging out in the back yard. It always happens like this: the anxiety that no one will show up, the deep feeling that his time will be different from all the times before, that the trend of increasing attendance will be broken tonight. Then, every time, every time up till now anyways, more and more have come with little input from Jeff, by word of mouth and growing reputation.
   Jeff hears Keely call,
   "Hey" and he turns to her. She's coming down the stairs along with a few other people. She's smiling. The word that comes to Jeff's mind is 'beaming' which is not a word that he would usually use but it seems to describe her aptly. It is odd because beaming isn't something Keely regularly does, not that she is a particularly dour person but it is a feature that seems beautifully out of place on her. "What's up?"
Most of the backed up group push past Keely into the basement.
  "Not much" Jeff burps "The band is setting up and Charlie's got all the lights in, they look really good." Keely nods. It is hard to see her eyes: she's wearing a beanie pulled low which cast a broad shadow on her face by the lights above. She turns and points as a tall guy next to her, long haired and scraggly,
  "This is Steven" Jeff nods. Steven smiles, very slowly puts out his hand and says
  "Hello" Jeff feels confused about the hand but puts his out, Steven slips his fingers into the spaces between Jeff's fingers and holds his hand firmly for a second then pulls away in a fluid motion. The whole movement seems affected to Jeff yet leaves a deep impression: it feels as if they had just spoken for some time. He feels nervous and giddy and tries hard to stifle the laugh or cry that is welling up in his stomach. He hates people 'like this', who create their little identity and try and connect and make you their friend without even getting to know you. He wants Steven to be his best friend. He doesn't know what to say to him, he wants to tell him his life story.
   Keely and Steven stand there for a moment and Jeff says "I have to go help these guys out with their stuff" and walks over to the drummer of the band. Once Jeff is out of earshot Keely says,
  "He's kind of awkward but then, you get to know him and he's alright". Steven smiles.
  "I can understand that. He seems afraid of something, you know what I mean."
  "Oh my gosh yes. I've always thought something like that, you are absolutely right.". They move further into the basement as the first band starts checking their microphones.
  "I guess I've never really been to a concert like this before." Steven says.
  "Really!? Oh they are pretty fun, we've had them a few times here, Jeff organizes them, they are a lot of fun. What kind of music do you listen to usually?"
  "Ahm...classical mostly, Bach" he pronounces the name gutturally, Keely assumes he has something in his throat "Liszt, Schumann. Some 20th century composers like Cage and Stockhausen and Reich. I enjoy listening..." he pauses while the kick drum goes off a number of times "...but I think I more enjoy the cerebral aspect of music, learning how it was made and the tricks the composers used. You know Bach put his name into one of his songs? One of his themes. And I'm sure you're aware of the mathematical component of music?"
  "No, not really..."
  "Oh it's huge. Music is all math, it's very beautiful." Though Keely's eyes are locked on Steven he can tell her attention is flagging. "Tell me about this band" he says after a moment's hesitation.
  "Oh they are these crusties that live in a squat on the other side of town. They're called 'Elmo Fuckers'. They're hilarious." Steven smiles politely at the name. A person, ostensibly the singer gets up to the microphone and starts yelling,
   "BEER AND PUSSY, BEER AND PUSSY..." over and over. People by the speakers back away or cover their ears, a few girls walk upstairs. Whether out of disgust or coincidence it isn't clear. The singer laughs as the rest of the band gets their instruments on.
  Their songs are short and fast and mostly the audience stands watching as the singer grabs his crotch and stumbles around. At first he seems oblivious to the crowd but after major inactivity he becomes visually disturbed that the crowd is unresponsive. Keely and Steven, well in the back of the room, notice a constant  stream of watchers exiting up the basement stairs. Keely begins to feel embarrassed by what she had said earlier about the band, feeling as if Steven will judge her based on the assessment. Every few minutes she glances at him to gauge his attitude. He appears interested, in the band or perhaps the crowd, his eyes scanning constantly. She finds even this watching in a way mysterious and beautiful.
  Keely firmly knows that, while she finds many things about Steven beautiful, or at least admirable, she does not find him as a person terribly beautiful. That is, she finds him beautiful, but not HIM beautiful, or at least the things he does are beautiful but as a whole he is not. Especially beautiful. Or something. It is hard to tell. She feels confused but knows that by being around him, just the knowledge that he is near her (and not near anyone else) she feels different, augmented, like he brings out traits in her that she was not aware of before.
  The set lasts only 15 minutes, the singer has become extremely perturbed (the rest of the band though seems to be having a pretty fun time) and he drops the mike, screams something into the audience and storms through the crowd to the door outside. The few people he knocks out of the way seem irked but most of the audience (and the bassist and drummer) laugh at him. The guitarist says something like
  "Well there he goes, thanks" with a wide smile and they put their instruments away. Keely looks at Steven nervously then around the room then back at Steven. They catch eyes for a second but she doesn't know what to say.
  "Here I should give you a tour of my house" she says. Steven nods and they walk upstairs. There is a thin crowd in the living room, people sitting on couches talking, one guy intently sketching a girl across the room. Keely and Steven walk into the kitchen and up the stairs, girl in a leather skirt smoking on one of the steps beside a coffee can full of cigarette butts. Keely and Steven squeeze by and come to the top.
  "So this is my room" Keely turns to the left, pulls up on the loose doorknob and pushes the door in, its bottom edge drags on the carpet . She flips on the light and they step inside. The room is good sized, a large bed neatly made in the corner atop which lay a few magazines. A row of books lines the floor along one long wall and there is a heavy wooden desk on another. Two guitars in stands have an entire wall to themselves. There are a few music posters here, all of them bands Steven does not know.
  Steven smiles, looks around. He places his weight on the desk for a moment then he whips around and points a finger to one corner of the room. He closes one eye and rotates his body so that his finger traces the air in line with a short edge of the room, then he traces his finger along one long edge of the room. Keely watches him perplexed.
  "Hmm...very pleasing. Your room, the ratio between the long wall and the short wall is pretty close to phi. I'd have to measure it but it looks about right." Keely smiles. Looks at the walls. Doesn't see anything.
 "What's that mean?"
 "The length of this wall" he points to the long wall "divided by the length of this wall" he points to the short wall "should be close to 1.618...oh-three. It could be really helpful" Keely smiles.
  "Oh, yeah I've heard about that, with plants and skeletons and that number is all over the place in nature?"
  "Mmm hmm, well not as much as people like to say it is but phi is pretty interesting and helpful when you break it down."
There is a knock and Jeff peeks in,
  "Oh sorry!" and his head drops back out.
  "No, it cool, come on in" Keely says. Jeff pushes the door open and steps in timidly.
  "What's up? What are you guys doing?"
  "We were just talking about numbers..." Keely says, proud and with a little irony.
  "A huh...Wait what?" Jeff says. Steven is sitting on the floor now and he looks up, brushes some hair out of his eyes,
  "This room is a golden rectangle"
Jeff stares at him for a few seconds.
  "No...it's not. Its like, beige." Jeff points to the wall. Steven smiles a little and shifts his body to face Jeff.
  "No the ratio of the length of the walls is close to the golden ratio."
 Jeff stares at him again.
  "What?" Jeff says,
  Keely says "It's this number that is supposed to be really appealing and you can find it in nature and art and buildings."
  "Uh," Jeff pushes his brows together "but if it's a number...wait I don't see any numbers." he chuckles a little, nervous at his perceived ignorance. "Anyways I just wanted to make sue there was no one up here stealing your stuff or anything. Also Stark is gonna start in a minute if you want to see that." Keely and Steven say 'Okay' and Jeff leaves.
  "These guys are better than the last band. Really they are." Keely says, but Steven is entranced drawing circles in the carpet. Without looking at her he says,
  "If it's okay I'd like to try something in here, later. After the show?" For the first time being around him Keely feels a sort of fear. Steven seems distant, different. He looks up at her and the feeling dissipates "I want to see if I can do a math experiment, with your room. You can join it should be pretty interesting." He smiles at her.
  "Yeah, for sure."
   They descend.

As Steven and Keely reach the basement the band is just starting up. The singer, a bearded guy in his late thirties is pacing back and forth in front of the audience over the four or five feet he has as a stage.
    "POSITIVITYYYYYY" he roars into the microphone. Keely has seen this before, each time it strikes her a totally corny but it immediately make her smile
"PRODUCTIVITYY!" he yells this time. Part of the audience laugh and clap, the others seem dumbstruck.
"RES-PECT!" this comes out as two barks, literally like a dog signifying an idea. The bass player begins to thrum his insturment repeatedly, providing a pulsing back bone to the singer.
"GROOOOOOWTH!" this time a guttural black metal howl, the drummer begins a slowly crescendoing roll and a feeling builds up in Keely's chest, similar to the one she gets while ascending a rollercoaster's first rise. In a completely unconscious movement she sticks up a  fist and yells, along with a chunk of the rest of the audience. The band falls silent for two beats then kicks in with the first song. Keely immediately makes her way to the front, her small stature and frail body possessed by an abundant ferociousness, she throws fists and elbows and feels nothing. She is consumed by the music and it moves her, literally moves her hands and her head. She sees flashes of light and bodies in snatches but it is not until the song ends (a minute and a half later, though time seems to have taken on entirely different qualities in the space between entering the crowd and the end of the song) that her senses recongeal into a working whole and she stands (already a layer of sweat around her) in the center of the crowd, panting, dazed, and elated.
    Looking around she can see Jeff and Keith nearby, in the crowd as well, along with 10 to 15 other people she has never seen before. The instruments are silent though their amplifiers fill the air still with a series of drones which play around eachother in the dead air. The singer is standing with his top half hanging down, catching his breath, arms dangling as if shot. He pops up, gives the crowd a wide eyed stare, and growls out "Right! Nowwwwww...." and the band kicks in again.

    After the set the basement and it's soft warm center are a spent shell, hundreds of thousands of joules expended in only a few minutes: moving bodies, voices, clangor, drone and hammering equivalent to six pounds the electric instruments two pounds of TNT released during the twenty minute set. Keith and two overweight and extremely hairy men have their arms around each other's necks and are still swinging back and forth in the midst of the crowd, fist pumping and chanting what they seem to believe was the chorus to the last song (though each of the three are singing radically different things). Keely wanders to the back of the crowd and sits down, in a daze almost.
        Exercised she thinks
She wipes her face and she feels Steven sit down next to her.
        "That was really good", he says. "I've never really been to anything like that before." Earlier in the night he had seemed stoic to Keely, the show seeming to have activated him somewhat.
        "I'm gonna get some water, do you want some?" Keely asks
        "Yeah sure"
     They walk upstairs, the cooler, drier air on the main level washing over them most pleasantly. Keely opens the cupboard but it is empty. She pulls two glasses off the counter (strewn with cans and plates and grease soaked cardboard and dust and shriveled green things) washes them out with her hand and fills them. They drink deeply together, and quietly. Keely feels filled with the water, like taking a breath, it slides into her and provides her cells a strong foothold in the world. People filter out of the basement, some go to smoke outside. One group sits on the couches in the living room. Keely hears them riffing on each other in  hick accents exaggerated for effect:
     One in canvas overalls, with a handful of dreads jutting out from the back of his head says
    "You skunk-drunk father-puncher!"
     Across the room another with a dirty ripped bandanna around his neck looks over in mock fury,
     "Well you're a cross-eyes, stub-toed, sister-fucker!"
The first hears this and leans forward like a cowboy preparing for a gunfight
     "You would say that you sewer mouthed,
                                            rubber-sucker!" he separates each expression by a beat and swivels his head on an intimidating angle each time. Everyone in the room is watching, the expressions on their collective faces somewhere between that of an audience at a comedy show and a chess match between grandmasters
     "Well at least I ain't no grub-rubbing, hot-tubbing, baby-porkin, dick torqueing, ass chappin, nut-rapping, philandering hessian"
     Dreads stands up. All eyes are on him and in complete silence, he crosses points menacingly and says
     "You kiss your grandmother with that mouth?" 'bandanna' stands up at this, places his fists on his hips, leans forward a few degrees, the air between them shimmering with waves of manufactured tension
     "No," he says waiting for just the right moment to draw, letting it grow and grow in the space between them "...I kiss yours"
     Everyone cracks up, dreads jumps over the table and tackles bandanna onto the couch where they wrestle for a minute. Keely and Steven watch, amused and only a little concerned.
     Being a Monday night the crowd begins to clear out fairly quickly and for the most part silently. The band had left early in an attempt to get to Vancouver before too late, the absence of the major 'force' of the night causing the usual after-party to diminish in size quickly. Within a half-hour the only ones left are Jeff, Keely, Keith, Steven and a handful of their friends. They are sitting in the living room listening to an obscure 80's British electropop album on an all-in-one record player. Over the course of the night Steven had become the unmovable center of attention. Jeff had innocently enough asked him what he did in school and Steven had begun to talk, simple as that. The members of the house, and those that remained after the show began, one by one, to stop by the conversation, listening as Steven (becoming more and more passionate, entranced by his own words) explained to Jeff the basics of his area of research. Steven stopped once or twice to say,
     "Look, this is really boring, you guys don't want to listen to this stuff right now, do you?" and inevitably someone would say
     "No! No it's really interesting, keep talking." So, a little confused at this uncharacteristic display of layman's interest he continued. They rarely ask him questions which he finds to be a sure sign of misunderstanding, but they watch him, rapt, regardless. Almost an hour into his lecture Keely brings up the experiment he had mentioned earlier.
     "Yeah, when can we do it?" she asks
     "The experiment. That you mentioned earlier, in my room."
     "Oh, oh! I had forgotten. We can do it now. I...we need a few people, but it should be interesting."
     "Well what do you need" Keely asks.
     "What experiment?" some one else asks.
     "Um...okay well so with this stuff I've been looking into seems to map out to 'appropriate degrees' in a nontrivial way." without waiting for the cocked heads and queries he continues "So...you can take these concepts that I study and sort of apply them to the real world. It looks like. I think, I'm not sure but I want to give it a shot." A few people are visibly skeptical, but Keely is wide eyed. Keith breaks in,
     "Well it's math right so...What? You use it to like launch rockets and build bridges and stuff?" Keith has his legs slung over the arms of a sofa chair, he's running one hand through his hair while the other, holding an empty magnum of cheap wine, hangs elegantly over his knee as in a renaissance sketch.
     "Uh, no. So because of the very basic it level at which it operates it can sort of get around" he looks embarrassed almost "certain very basic rules...of reality. Maybe."
     "Dude." Keith drops the bottle, and stands up "I can't believe I've been listening to this for an an hour, you're totally full of shit." Keith walks out of the room. His disbelief breaks the spell holding the rest of the listeners like the last drop on a falling meniscus. One person chuckles, a couple begin to talk to each other immediately after Keith leaves. Steven watches him go, and rubs his face. He looks dejected. Keely is still staring at him.
    "What do you need? Let's do it now." Keely says in an obvious attempt to return Steven to his former state. She gets up and walks toward the stairs waving him over. Keith gets up, appearing more embarrassed still as he follows her. As they ascend the stairs he says,
   "Uh, I guess I just need a pen and some paper and, like some string maybe? Um and if you have marbles of some sort, small spherical objects would be optimal." They step into her room and Keely rifles through a pile of paper, fabric and small pieces of wood at the back of her closet (her anger at Keith apparent in the force and dedication of her movements, as if she will spite him by facilitating Steven's experiment). She removes a yellow legal pad, rips off the first doodled sheet and hands the blanks to Steven. She pulls a pen off her desk, tests it out throws it in the trash, grabs another which she hands to Steven. He sits down on the floor, wipes off his hands and begins to write.

No comments:

Post a Comment