Friday, August 14, 2009

"The Respect in Names"

This is something I've been toying around with since I wrote my book in November. Some guy just got named James Bond. This is an excerpt from what would eventually be a novel or novella about how he went from everyman to Bond-like character that would tightrope the fourth wall like a skirtchaser following your sister.

Apologies to what may end up being self-plagiarism--this post is a return of sorts to the blog and I'm just sort of writing out this fiction without a strong amount of planning. What I'm worried about is that this story could end up similar to another I write here someday, with some character names swapped. Of course, with that typed up I can't see any similarities between the story I'm thinking of in my mind and the one I'm writing now, but there might be, and I thought there were when I turned it a certain way at some point.

And now without further interruption, the feature presentation:


People put too much respect into names. I think I'm living testament to that. You introduce yourself as James Bond and people laugh and when they take you seriously, when you show your ID, and then on top of that you've been friends for three and a half weeks, they look at you differently than they do say the Brads or the Phillips, the everyday John Smiths and Does, even though these days those everyman tales of unoriginality draw semi-laughing stares too.

I mean, it's not like I'm mad at anyone, but I think it really lessens the believability of everything I say, everything I've done is endlessly called into question, and the problem I have is gaining any sort of real respect that isn't just formed by the fakeness that comes in my signature. I'm not out here making jokes, not introducing myself last name first, it's always "James..." and a belabored muffled "Bond" to people who keep my gaze, who make it apparent that they know too many Jameses and need me to distinguish more.

I've had reprieves, ten years ago, I moved west under the moniker of James Ballard, a private in-joke for me, that would inevitably bring about the end of my paradise. I'm not looking for pity here, that's not my point, I just mean to put out here the concept that I am telling the truth, not uncoloring and presenting you a G-rated black and white version of my life. If I'm going to actually get into any sort of confession, recollection of what my life has been, I do need to know that it will be believed. I offer this as a way of setting your minds, while I also know that it will inevitably fall through. Like I said, people put too much respect into names, I think it's something we picked up when we invented language, the whole idea that what the name of something tells you has to be true--more contemporarily we see this in radio, print, television, the internet, people like to make assumptions and like to be told things. I'm okay with that.

From that preface, I'd like to move on to what you will see as an unlikely situation, what you will assume is me hiding behind some sort of modesty, putting on the mask of a lesser man. Perhaps what you don't understand is that false respect wears a man down, causes him to eventually question all compliments, all support offered.

Anyway, we get out of the country, across the pond, and I have this odd feeling the entire time that I've forgotten something behind, in my apartment, something important. She's an interesting girl, pushy, and I'm her employee for this little trip, so it goes to say bossy. Asleep on the plane, in a dream, it occurs to me that what I'm leaving behind is not just something semi-important like a suit or a particular brand of cologne, my dress shoes, or anything tangible. What I'm leaving behind is the man I've been all my life, the man who's been forced to be going through the motions, some secret agent man so deceptive he doesn't even know who he really is.

I think the part of me that was gone was the one that at least subscribed to a reasonable facsimilie of some sort of free will. This was a woman who had found me and paid me to come out here and play Sherlock Holmes, something I was unused to. James Bond wasn't known for his paid exploits but rather his comradery. I've at least picked up enough faked stories to keep the water cooler boys happy when we're out on the town playing Bateman. But stories of my skills of detection, I'm especially lacking on those.

In my mind, the memory is fresh, she's opening the box and it's full of Benjamin Franklin, his many crispy faces glimpsing up at me, a man that looks weird in any color other than green. What I warn you to remember about me is that I can be bought, I'm Casey at the bat, easily willing to take a fall if you can give me enough funds.

You don't know what life I've been living, spending more than I have night in, night out, this was an escape route that presented itself to me without any coaxing and now I will have to solve this mystery, put together this puzzle. I didn't ask questions, I don't know what I'm going to be doing, this was a Bobbie Sue course of action, this was just taking the money and run.

Now we're in some luxury hotel listed as a married couple, "undercover," she mouthed to me as we checked in and right now I'm lying on the bed momentarily, before I move myself down to the floor--a transition I plan on making of my own accord--looking up at the fan above me attempting to see one of the blades made distinguishable from the others, but like everything lately, this attempt falls fruitless.

And then I hear her in the shower calling back to me, "Ugh, I can't use this soap, the smell reminds me of my father, a man I'd much rather forget. I have a bar in my bag, could you get it for me?" I get up and walk over to her bag unsure of what to do. "It should be the third flap on the front side," she says. I locate this pocket and pull out exactly, a bar of expensive soap. And I think, do I want to find out more about this woman? Am I coming apart at the seams because of how little consistency my life has had lately?

Suddenly something catches my eye and I look up through the window at the night sky, bar of soap in my hand, and I watch a star shoot quickly across. Normally I'm not one for hocus pocus, but normally I'm not one for business trips out of country with strange women. And so I wish.

2:35AM Wed 8/19/09
Def: 4pp

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