Friday, June 24, 2011

Ghosts in their early twenties

Yes, "autopsy" was not a one-off crapshoot. Name is an added bonus--I've been trying to come up with something to title with this. Reference to both age (either of the person who died or the ghost...making sense?) and the middle bit of Ghosts I-IV. I'll edit in an afterward with a few keys bits of contention and editing. One of my better efforts for this class, this story came effortlessly, but unfortunately I think it shows; it's all froth and little beverage. Story starts just after the jump...

The language was a hybrid mix of Spanish, French, and Portuguese, which threw her off because she had not known her late father to have been a man of many words, much less entire dictionaries and vocabularies that were just all Greek to her. Even odder, she had thought, upon finding the manuscript, was that the letters used were the sorts of things you would expect in those very countries: accents, diereses, and tildes galore; for a man who wrote, when he did, as if he were a character in a Cormac McCarthy novel, she was thrown off by the apparent attention to detail.

The issue, then, became the fact that upon looking up a few words and attempting to decode the purpose of her father's document, she realized that the phrases sentences, paragraphs, and individual pages all eventually careened into gibberish: the language would start out tight, grammar appeared to her always successfully enacted, but the actual lines would not make sense. Perhaps the phrases were idioms? she began to wonder, with a somewhat negative feeling in her heart. Perhaps, but did it matter? Because her father was dead, her brother had read the eulogy weeks before, only slightly smashed, and she had only found this book because she had, like she always did, poked her nose into things that were not her business.

So far in life this had been quite successful: she had gained a husband through her nosiness, a good paying job, and had also been able to bring up children that could not truly consider the fact that they even could lie to her or keep any secrets. All of these benefits however seemed somewhat trumped in this text of her father's, a book she knew she was making too big a deal out of, but was unable to stop herself. Memories of her father were few and far between; she could recall him pushing her on a swing in her youth, a few rebellious teenage dates brought home to dinner, a road-trip across the country with the family, and then...well then all it had been was phone calls and holidays, which wasn't supposed to be something you felt bad about because you were supposed to be able to continue that part of the relationship until your parents were in their sixties and then you'd reconsider it, yourself now arriving on the shores of middle age.

Now, there was this growing feeling inside her that the manuscript was either an accusation or a pardon and the potential for the latter outweighed the former. She felt that if she had nothing done with the text, it would feel like an accusation no matter what, so, looking for a translator, transliterator, transmuter of tongues (she didn't know what to call someone who would have to work from different languages and tie them all back into English) seemed like a win-win scenario. And it was, in many ways.

The man she got a hold of explained himself to her: he would do this free of charge, because, although he had not known her father, he had known of her father, but how was that possible?, she wondered, it wasn't like the man got out that much. It wasn't like he had any friends. But then again, a new voice in her head, it wasn't like you knew him very well, now, was it? This scared her enough to get out of the house and let the man work. He eventually called out the front door to her, explaining that she was right, there was a large degree of idiom, but she was wrong about the language: this was not a Franishoguese, but rather a lingo spoken by a small sect in a town about thirty miles from the house her father had lived for fifty years in. They were weird  people there.

Disturbed, she watched the ground, and noticed there--pulsating, moving--an earthworm. She considered the various letters it looked like in her mind. The man called out to her that the last part of the manuscript was a translation of the shortest verse of the King James Bible. Staring at the worm, feeling the language of the letters it spelled out burning in her head, she realized something. The document was something along the lines of one long prose poem, and, working backwards on it, the translator, whatever he was, would eventually construct a few pages that looked remarkably similar to the ones in your hand at the moment. Jesus wept.


This was the first homework assignment in my writing class. I've forgotten what the assignment itself entailed, but I liked the idea that I was writing a very condensed narrative. Upon becoming self-reflexive, the piece comments on this condensing as "prose poe[try]" which is very much what I was interested in writing in every work I turned in for the class. The only major edit I truly recall from typing it up a few days back is that I changed the references to the "book" to "manuscript" in at least one place. I had used "text" and "manuscript" in the original, but also, as I have noted, "book." I felt this inappropriate on account of the fact that I would like the eventual reveal of the piece to be that you are in fact reading the entire document. Which, I guess, in a way, would make me the main character's famous father. And I had thought my writing so modest!

Speaking of modesty, I must admit that I am unimpressed with the amount of information that I can give without stimulus on this story. In the perfect world, of course, someone reading this with a question in mind regarding the tale could always comment on it and allow me a bit of a theme to rap on for a few words. But then again, no one is reading this. And I'm sorry to that no one for boring nobody.

Wait...that didn't sound all that humble.


I can mention a slight rift to write on: the "Jesus wept" part is simply the first thought that occurred to me. My mother mentioned this to me when I was young and it has stayed with me. Of course, anyone willing to do the most minimal research will know that this isn't even the shortest verse in the original writings, so its notoriety is simply the creation of translation, but I think that's quite cool in itself.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thanks for reading and/or commenting. Anything you have to say is especially appreciated.