((a small piece about subtle influences, coping, and trying to see things differently. It stars a very peculiar character I created in mid 2015, and whose other strange literary exploits can be found in the tales Adjustments, Retribution, The Catterpilar and the Butterfly and Slavery Night. They’re all pretty much standalone entries, but the first three refer to one another in some way, and one of them is also briefly alluded to, in here. “Mind Control” in this particular sense is a very loose and ambiguous term, though I believe that anything that disrupts an established way of thinking, and brings about a different reaction with influences in subsequent thought patterns qualifies as such. Enjoy.))
Let’s talk about shit. Yes, you read that first sentence correctly. This writing will deal with shit and I’m going to be using that word a lot in what’s to follow. Consider this little preamble your warning, because I’m not excusing myself when things start to stink.
Just to set the record straight though, I won’t be referring to kinky shit because I don’t do scatology, no sir, but rather the proverbial one, the nastiness in everyone’s lives and how it affects us in various degrees. Before we get to that, however…
Hi, it’s me again, your favorite information expert. At least, I hope I’m your favorite, seeing I’m such a nice gal and all. I don’t recall the last time we were together like this because things have been somewhat hectic in my world, but it’s good to be doing this again, that’s for sure, even if the subject matter is shit.
In my line of business, I have to deal with a lot of it. Sometimes, I have to dig it, sometimes, I have to plant it. There are plenty of opportunities for unpleasantness either way, but I’m usually good at letting things pass me by. Not everyone is like me though. Not everyone can think of rainbows and fluffy kittens and automatically feel a smile blossoming upon their lips. We’re all different as human beings. Though similar in many regards, we’re all engineered in different ways. We see different shit, live different shit, deal differently with said differences no matter what.
There’s big shit and small shit. The latter can be quite microscopic, easy to ignore to some extent even until it starts to pile up. For a pipe, as well as for a human mind, it makes no difference if the shit clogging it is one big, solid chunk, or a conglomerate of small bits that became attracted to one another because misery loves company and things like that. The pressure inside builds nonetheless, and the risk of rupture follows suit, which is why it’s important to vent, to clear the way, whether by the use of drain cleaners, words, music, pirouettes on the street, whatever…
It should also be said that shit also comes in a different name: defense mechanisms. Now, these don’t have to be rational (and, often, they aren’t) but they’re easy to rationalize, to turn into almost unbreakable dogmas due to our need for constancy, that ultimate quest for meaning that pervades our existence and… wow, I’m veering too dangerously to some deep shit myself so I think I should stop and move on to the next paragraph, don’t you agree?
Phew… that was a lot of shit, indeed. How many times have I used the word already? Holy hell, twelve? Superstition says thirteen is an unlucky number, and I don’t feel like tempting fate, today. No more of that word then, for I think I already made my point.
With this context in mind, let me take you through what happened to me last night. Here I was, coming back to my beautiful home at Silver Bell Towers after a very long tour across some Asian countries (maybe I’ll tell you that story one day…), when I saw him, sitting on a bench, eyes cast down.
What can I say about him? Hmmm, a lot if I wanted to, actually, but I don’t, so I’ll just paint a brief sketch and let you fill in the blanks. He had a beautiful face hidden away by a neverending mass of ginger, scruffy beard, broad shoulders but not big enough to stand all the weight pushing them down, and he was sad. Just from a quick glance, I could see a cathartic ache waiting to be expelled, but his tongue was tied by a desire to not be a burden to anyone else. I was intrigued and had to do something about it.
What I did was saunter to his side and take a seat myself. I half expected him to turn tail and flee like a wounded animal as I did that, but he simply ignored me, taking no notice of the physical proximity because of the mental distance he had already created for himself. I dangled my feet, looked up at the night sky, and began to hum.
When I hum, I never go for a known melody, I don’t repeat notes on a pattern. If there’s a sequence in the sounds I produce, it’s created by the sounds themselves, and I like to be surprised by the sudden shifts in tempo. Freedom of music is also freedom of speech, information at his finest without excessive theoretical filters. In a nutshell, Impromptus are cool, okay?
Soaking in the atmosphere brought about by a free display such as this one is also cool. Unbound by my lips, I allowed my eyes to rest for a brief moment on the starry fragments above us, cradling the moment and hoping for a reaction from my disheartened companion sooner than later.
I got one in the form of shifty eyes and a small mumble. No actual words were spoken but the translation was clear: what are you doing and do you have to do it here?
“It feels so good to relax and unwind for a bit, doesn’t it?” I sang in reply. He looked the other way, but didn’t stand up. The tiredness was simply too much for him to look for another spot so he gave in to the spirit of tolerance for a bit. I thanked him with yet another improvised hum and then I laughed. Hard.
The conflict in his droopy body was more than evident. What was that all about? Was I laughing at him? If so, why? Why couldn’t I just leave him alone? What was I doing there anyway, and…
“What a beautiful sight!” I interjected before he had the time to have another thought. His eyes immediately darted in the direction mine were facing. “A shooting star just went right past the Big Dipper, did you see it?” I continued.
No, he hadn’t but wished he had. In that fraction of a second, a reflection of its light shone in his eyes.
“Do you know a lot about stars?” he asked, trembling, as he sought for something bright to hold on to.
“Not really, I just know how they make me feel,” I replied, feet still dangling, arms stretched out.
“Is this the part where you say free?” I heard him mumble.
“Why would I when you did just that for me?”
“Are you some kind of motivational therapist or something? If so, I’m not interested,” he attacked with a wave of cold cynicism.
“I’m not something, but I like being someone. Someone that’s just glad to have that chance of being, if you know what I mean.”
“You know nothing about me.”
“I never said I did. Still, you already told me enough.”
“Really, what did I say?”
“That you prefer to be talking to me even if you don’t see the point of the conversation, than to be alone, thinking about the issues that brought you to the verge of tears.”
“No, I don’t. You’re…” he faltered.
“I’m what?” I asked, softly.
“Pushing your luck.”
“And you’re making yours as you speak,” I retorted as I got up and started walking home.
His bewildered lips immediately called out to me.
“You’re leaving just like that?”
“You just said you don’t want my company, didn’t you?” I inquired, sternly.
“I… yeah, but…”
Ah, the word I wanted to hear, those three letters that open the possibility for something else. Sometimes it’s doubt, but it can also be an opportunity for a rightful affirmation of something that needs to be changed or conveyed in a different way.
“… but I think I would prefer to hear you hum again,” he replied, dreamily. “I’ve been going through some shit and…”
“Same time tomorrow, then.”
I continued to walk away, for the reaction was already in progress and I knew how things would play out. The proof of that lies in the fact that I’m watching him right now through my binoculars. Twenty-four hours have gone by and he’s waiting for me, waiting to hear me again, waiting to relax in-between the spaces of my improvised musical cues, and find that valve that releases the stress once and for all. The true extent of his problems is still unbeknownst to me, yet it doesn’t really matter. The important thing is to listen, and he’s already doing that. I will not stop until I can see he’s more than a shooting star that fades into nothingness.
Why you ask? Because of what I mentioned early on. Because we’re all different, and react to things differently. Because he needs help to cope, and I’m more than capable of doing that like I did before. Caterpillars, butterflies, two strangers in the night… it’s familiar ground, but oh so new, so many things to explore, so much new information to uncover, but doing so surrounded by joy instead of mountains upon mountains of s…
Ah, I almost broke my promise of not typing that dreadful word again. There are so many beautiful combinations of sounds that begin with the letter S, so why insist on the same four letters over and over again? I choose sanctity, serenity, satisfaction, seduction, spellbound… see you soon, sweeties!