Thursday, September 14, 2017


Thursday September 14, 2017 6:22 pm

(What follows is an excerpt from one of several short stories I have started... with no intention of ever finishing.)

     The room is somewhat dark, and with night soon falling the only light is from the small television setting in a far corner. The voice sort of startles him as he had temporarily forgotten he wasn't alone. She said, "You are doing it again."
     "Doing what," he asked?
     "Looking back," she said. This was stated as a fact rather than her asking him a question: he supposed there was no since in denying.
     Sighing deeply before answering he asked, "How can you tell?"
     "It is because you are here, but you aren't."
     That seemed to be a fair assessment so he only nodded his assent. He wasn't sure in the ever darkening room if she saw this or not? He waited quietly... feeling more was to follow, he was right.
     "Does it help," she asked?
     "Help how?"
     "Do you feel better after you are done?"
     He paused before answering, but not because he was trying to gather his thoughts or hadn't understand her question, but the word 'done' seemed so subjective; when was he ever done? Finally he answered, "No... no, not really."
     "Then why in the world do you do it?" He could feel more than just hear the exasperation in her voice.
     Suddenly feeling bad but not sure why, he softly said, "Habit... perhaps?" The room was quiet for a full minute, or a bit more, then he said, "Maybe one other reason. I might be like the guy who repeatedly hits himself in the head with his own hammer." With the remaining light in the room he thought he saw her smile, even if ever so briefly: he knew she had always liked his stories.
     In spite of herself she grinned, she knew he was going to tell a story and she loved his stories. "Pray tell," she said.
     He began, "A man had been sitting on a park bench all morning enjoying the brisk fall morning. He had brought several small bags and they were full of nuts and crusty bread and he was liking the morning air and the small wildlife which had gathered nearby waiting to be fed.
     "Out of the corner of his eye he saw a man downhill walk into his field of vision. At first he didn't pay a lot of attention. The only unusual thing he saw was how the man was dressed: shorts, sandals and a tee shirt: far too casual for such a cool morning.
     "One other thing: he had a small object in his hand: was it a hammer? Quickly the guy sat down... crossed his legs in the Lotus Position and immediately cracked himself in the head with his hammer... right between the eyes! THWACK! There was a loud crack and the man grimaced, cried out in pain and shook his head. Then, a small smile crept onto his face.
     "The voyeur to this act was almost in shock... what should he do? Maybe, at this distance he did not actually see what he thought he did? That was it, he must have seen something else.
     "Suddenly, THWACK! He did it again! Again it was followed by a grimace and a cry of pain... then, as unexplainable as the first time there was that same small smile beginning to form!
     "A couple of seconds passed and he saw the man start to move his arm again, and he wasn't sure he could stand to see the man repeat the act so he leapt to his feet spilling all the goodies he held and screamed, 'Wait!'
     "He half ran, half tripped rushing down the hill to get where the man sat, questioningly he looked up at him.
     "Sir," he began, "I was sitting on the bench up there..." and he pointed, "And I saw what you were doing, hitting yourself in your head with that hammer!" He pointed at the hammer as if he could not quite believe what he had witnessed. "Why... why did you do that?" The man looked genuinely puzzled, maybe, it was from the sudden encounter?
     The young man dressed in the causal clothes finally replied, "I guess I do it because it feels so good when I stop."
     She couldn't help herself, she had to laugh.
     The now fully dark room fell silent again, except for the low volume on the television. There was really nothing else to say so she quietly turned to see what was playing on the set? She supposed she was glad the room was now too dark too see clearly the other side: for she was sure he was already looking back again.