Sunday, July 06, 2003

My cabin was 7x7 foot square. People in jail get more room. It was empty of anything and the walls were pink. If that wouldn’t make me nuts, nothing would. I was allowed a cup for water, a cup for pencils and pens, paper, and the like. There was a desk and a chair with wheels. There was a ceiling fan with a bare bulb, a brown earthen jug of water. There was an outhouse out back. That was about it.

The whole idea was to lock us in, deliver food to us when necessary along with a basin of water every day for general clean up. We were allowed to leave for a one-hour walk down to the shore. We would set our dirty dishes outside the curtains of our front door when we were done with them. Oh, there was a rug on the floor for sleeping. And we were allowed one suitcase (or cardboard box in my case) with reference books in our native language.

I had brought my laptop, a small cheep, outdated thing that had been a backhanded love token. It wasn’t really mine, but it was acquired with me in mind, not so much with thoughts of my well being, but with the idea that a mollified girlfriend makes a happy boyfriend. Funny, we use to not think of each other in those terms. Where we were sweethearts…

Yes, well, the laptop. They wanted to take it, “they” being two large piles of tannish flesh with beady eyes, huge biceps and laser guns at their belts. They said that I was to write longhand. “I work better on the computer,” I countered, “I need to create with both hands.” Then they were going to wipe the computer of everything but the very barest of word processing programs. That one was a little tougher to counter. “I have research and a dictionary and a thesaurus on there. Please, take any other programs you need off it, but I need the dictionary.” They agreed, but said I had to leave my little cardboard box of stuff behind then. Since the dictionary feature was built into my favorite word processor, I agreed. I could come and get it later anyway.

When I stepped into the cabin, I realized I had a problem. There was no electricity, no place to plug in the laptop. It had a battery but it had a finite amount of power, say three hours or so. My escorts started laughing uproariously at my plight and broke a few pencils in half before they left. I tried my best to look crestfallen.

Of course when the curtains fell shut behind them, I immediately set to work. My eyes unfocused – actually, they were focused on something passed the point in the air before me. I saw the drawstring with the back reflection of my eye and reached out. My hands disappeared into space for a second as I turned that small bit of air inside out to reveal the bottomless backpack. It appeared to be made of brown canvas but there were no stitches visible on its pockets, straps or body. It was a medium sized pack, just right to contain a black hole.

I opened it up and started taking out my things. Books including the Dakotah Sioux Indian Dictionary by Paul War Cloud, The New Goat Handbook by Ulrich Jaudas, Byron’s selected poems, and Michael Ende’s Never-ending Story (which, though only 377 pages long, goes on forever starting on page 27). Pictures by Van Gogh, a diagram of the Amistad, photos by my sister and movie stills of Wayne’s World and My Neighbor Totoro. It began to thunder outside as I brought in files and stamps and Buddhist statues and a telephone table, Christmas lights and the United States flag. Other comforting memorabilia added to the coziness of the place – an old stuffed dog named Cocoa, a mobile, candles, incense, a hammock, and a box of chocolates. Finally, I pulled my cardboard box out and the end of an extension cord. I plugged in my laptop and popped in a DVD of Japanese Animation.

Just in time, my breakfast arrived. It was a mushroom and cheese French omelet with one slice of toast slathered in butter. I pulled a coffee maker from my backpack and set it to perking a cup of Organic Peruvian. I settled back in the rolling chair and watched an episode of Gate Keepers.

When it actually was time to get to work, at around 1:10 p.m. I put in a CD of Andreas Vollenweider. My first assignment was a pirate yarn. I also was expected to finish a children’s story about a tree, another about my friend Coyote, and polish up the second draft of a humor essay I had written in desperation a while back.

I started to do my research, pawing through the old files of notebook paper, drawings torn from sketchbooks, and broken glass from, I supposed, when the cover fell off the bare bulb of the ceiling fan whirring above my head. I didn’t suppose, I knew, actually. The rain outside came and left again.

It was two o’clock when he arrived. He appeared behind me, his bright blue eyes gnawing into the back of my neck. His arms were folded over his beautiful soft white vest, which fit tightly over his slender chest. I didn’t need to turn around to know this detail, he was my creation. He always looked exactly as I envisioned him.

“So, are you killing me again,” he asked. His tone was smooth, and not at all as accusing as it should have been. I had killed him a number of times. I threw him into the Impasse, the chasm between the Unknown and the dream country of Ambrosia. I had locked him away in a dungeon, and then confronted him with his highly successful younger brother. If anybody does, writers believe in reincarnation, we do it all the time. And when he was reincarnated in the form of Kabris, I killed him again, trapping him with the mold spores in an underground cave, and again when Match Firelight, Our Dark Prince, used the lessons he learned from Kabris against him.

Jael wasn’t his first incantation – there had been Jonathan and Ligion and Clutch and Ghelic before him – but he was by far my favorite.

“Nope, I’m working on a pirate story.” I said, typing away furiously as if to kill the keys.

No comments: