Friday, July 29, 2011

What Follows a Long Day at the Office

Autopsy isn't dead. The body still isn't buried. A word I've taken to pronouncing with the "u." "Burr," like I'm cold, "eed." It's interesting to say the least. This story, however, isn't, so much. It's a sequel of sorts to our first cadaver in this morgue, Tempest. It's... I don't know how else to explain it. There's an odd feel about it. I guess it's about the self-awareness in a marriage. Trying to get what you want, but still make it easy on those you care about who are involved. That of course makes it sound better than it is. Typing it up, I considered not throwing it up online, but since I have it stapled into my pamphlet, I felt I didn't have an awful lot of choice.

Well at least it's five o'clock traffic and not eight AM--I could not take five more minutes of work in this state! Someone spilled coffee on me back at 2:30 and since then people have been giving me the "You're wearing that stained piece of garbage stare?" stare. But--oh shit!--it's Wednesday and Joe's mother is going to call...

This has been going on for a month or so now. Joe's mother calls at five-thirty and I politely decline her mention of coming down to say with us for a month or so. I don't feel any regrets for such actions--you hate your mother-in-law, don't you?--but it has become a nuisance. And I know when I don't get home, she'll leave a message and then Joe'll have to to hear about how ole mummy wants to see her boy again for a few days.

But...maybe I could just erase the message. Even if I don't get home till six, he works till seven; maybe I could just--No! I won't stand for that. Not telling someone that their mother, who they know you don't like, wants to visit isn't a lie. Erasing a phone message is.

And even if I did erase it--next time they talked, she would ask him if he got her message and I'm found out--or worse, he checks the caller ID and wonders what his mother wanted. I'm a terrible liar, but a great omitter.  When I've actually talked to Susan then I can say easily to Joe what we've talked about and not mention her begging to visit, but creating an entire conversation? I would be stumbling and stuttering and Joe would get mad at me or rather frustrated until I admitted the truth and then mad and, knowing him, he'd probably take the couch for the night because he "wants the space" and never throws me out of our bedroom, which I'm of course somewhat grateful for, but then again I don't enjoy spending nights alone, regardless of what I am.

I honk my horn--it's 5:28 and I'm still five minutes from the house even without the traffic jam. My mother-in-law is very prompt and I just know she watching a clock right now, waiting to call at 5:30, probably staring at the VCR over a rerun of Wheel of Fortune playing on the TV.

The minute hand clicks over but I catch a string of luck--three lights stay green and I catch sight of the accident, a huge hulk of a wreck, the kind of scene that makes you fear for the driver as you would yourself. Past it, traffic thins. I fly home at 15 over the speed limit and walk into the house at 5:37. Maybe she took a nap...maybe she just didn't call?

Keys, door, lock the car over my shoulder as I walk in, all of this orchestrated and calming, until--the blinking red light on the answering machine.

And so my inner monologues of ethics begin once again.

This is typed fairly verbatim. The story is sort of an undoing of Machiavelli. Our narrator devises the (somewhat self-serving) noble lie and then devastates it. Destroys it. I was very much in the character's head for this one--the way I think you can only be with a pen. It's just a different way of writing. Typing here, there's actually less delay, I can type faster than write, but perhaps because I've been writing for so much longer than I've been consistently typing, it's very different to longhand a story. I would wonder how this one would look typed. It probably wouldn't. Chances are good it wouldn't exist. Writing now, these notes, I feel myself falling into a bit of a Nicholson Baker groove. I'm reading A Box of Matches. It's a collection of dispatches from the narrator over a period of time, waking up each morning and rustling up a flame in the fireplace with a match from a box. You could maybe see my two stories as something like that. Just not nearly as good.

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