Cordial Errand

Hello Everyone,

Well, this one is pretty messed up, but, ya know, it just came to me and I figured, why the heck not? Then, I cranked up the Mumford & Sons (thanks brother of mine).

This one was complete stream of consciousness with a once over speaking to work out a couple kinks. But, essentially, it is a first draft. 

These stories, and this kind of motif, has been done before, I know, but I’m just starting out, so, baby steps people. 

Again, please, let me know what you think, especially if it is critical. How else will I grow if you don’t eviscerate me on occasion?

Thank you for reading!

Sheridan A. Smith

Owner of no small metal rods, I swear.

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

 

Cordial Errand

“Have you tried the no pasta diet?” Said a slightly portly man in the front seat of a large car driving down an appropriately lit street.

“What’s those things? Carbs! Yeah. Have you tried the no carb diet?” His kindly squinting eyes were on the man in the back seat who seemed to be fiddling with a notebook. Carl, that was his name.

“Nah, I keep pretty fit, as you can see.” He playfully raps his stomach, which playfully repels his fist without absorbing nearly as much as the questioners would have. His name was Eugene.

Eugene turned his head, still cockeye in his seat, “What about you, Dan?” that was the driver. Dan, however, seemed in no mood to talk. He was concentrating and his jaw clenched a bit when Eugene posed the question.

A terse “no” was it.

“Nah, I didn’t think so. You know, I’m the only one with some paunch to me. Some fluff. My wife says she likes it. I dunno. Maybe it suits me.” Said Eugene with beaming smile. Carl couldn’t help but chuckle to himself in disbelief. Dan continued to look forward and drive without reaction. Eugene settled himself into the seat chuckling for quite a while at his perceived urbane wit.

Everyone was quiet for a little while. There wasn’t much to talk about, but Carl piped up with a question.

“How long is this gonna take? I mean, when will we get wherever we’re goin’?”

“Hard to tell, ya know. Not like we’re out this way all the time. Takes some navigatory hocus pocus. Whaddaya think, Dan? How long is it gonna take?” Eugene said disarmingly.

“Looks like rain. I hope it’s soon.” Added Carl.

Dan looked over at Eugene briefly. His face was lit partially by the dashboard and you could tell he hadn’t been sleeping well.

“C’mon Gene. We aren’t gonna keep this up, are we? I dunno where the hell we’re going?”

“Well that’s a relief.” Chortled Carl, and Eugene giggled near out of himself he was trying to keep his composure so helplessly.

Dan just sighed off the laughter and said, sullenly, “Alright, guys. I should be able to find it in the next hour. I’ll let you know, just stop pickin’ on me, okay? I need to concentrate.” He gave a quick glance over to Eugene, hoping his vulnerable expression wouldn’t be picked up. Eugene was already looking back at him. The look on his face was that of a Father telling his child, “Okay, we can be done for today, but tomorrow you’ll get right back up on that bike, right?”

This elicited another sigh from Dan.

Carl looked at Eugene mischievously, and gave a wink. Eugene smiled back at Carl.

“So, read any good books lately?”

Dan sighed again, in a heavier manor.

“What?!” exclaimed Eugene. “It’s a valid question. Don’t hold me accountable, Danny, just because it’s overused!”

Dan just gave a simple response, “Are we really going to do this again?”, and this seemed to turn the mischief into a sincere conversation, just to give the driver some time to drive.

“Yeah.” Said Carl.

“Whoa. Let’s not get to chatty, there, Carl!”

“Nah, I just didn’t wanna sound, you know, like a…you know.” Carl paused, “I’ve been reading a lot of poetry.”

Eugene put his left hand up to his chest, extended his right, as if holding a delicate flower and said, in as grand a voice as possible “What light, from yonder window breaks? It is the East and Juliette a fox!”

“Ya, see! That’s why I didn’t wanna say.” said Carl, barely hiding his hurt. Dan, in response, hit Eugene’s shoulder and gave a reproving look.

“What? I was just pickin’ on ya. Can’t take a joke? Alright, alright. I’ll give ya another chance. What is this poetry you’re reading?”

“It’s not like that stuff. I’ve been reading ‘Rhyme of the Ancient Mariner’, and there is no light breaking, nor fair maidens. It’s a story about an old man, he stops a guy, just to chat you know…”

“He tells the young man of his story, when he was sailing in better fortune and shot an albatross forgetting that it had brought him luck in the past. After that, ‘wata wata everywhere, and not a drop to drink. Wata wata everywhere, and all the boards did shrink.’” interrupted Eugene.

“You’ve read it!”

“Yeah, a long time ago.” Said Eugene. Something in the way Eugene said that made Carl uneasy. Eugene sat back down in his seat and was looking forward. He had briefly lost some of the normal joviality in his voice. It was a distant voice that sounded strange, but sounded like it was the one that was supposed to be there.

“Heavy stuff. I was reading it because someone said it was kinda spooky, but it really liked it.”

“Not enough people read. It’s a shame. Somethin’ like that can tell ya a lot about yourself. It can tell ya a lot about life.”

Eugene, turned back towards Carl, smiled.

“Speakin’ of books, I’m trying to redo my library. Well, a small bedroom we put alotta books in. Right now, there’s this raddy carpet that has been in the house since long before we moved in. Wife wants to take it out, ya know, get some hardwood in there. But, I like ta walk in there in the mornings to read the paper with my coffee, and, I dunno about you, but I can’t read the paper with socks on. A floor that cold just ain’t right for mornings.”

“Yeah? I like hardwood. Not sure how it would be in the mornings, though. I got slippers.” Said Carl.

Eugene just chortled. “Yeah? Well la-di-da!”

“Hey, I’m not the one fighting for the life of a carpet just because he hates taking his news with socks on. Who’s the weird one here?”

 Again, the conversation lapsed. Carl sat back in his seat, contentedly looking out the window. His notebook had all but been forgotten.

“It should only be a few more minutes fellas.”

“Thanks Dan.” Eugene said.

“Whatcha writing down?” he was looking at the notebook in Carl’s lap.

“Aw, nothin’ really.”

“Nah, if you’re writin’ it, it’s important. How many people take notebook with ‘em?”

“Reporters?” said Dan, hoping to avoid the question.

“Ya got me there. Seriously, what is it?”

“I’m trying to write a note to my girlfriend. I have to apologize.”

“I get it.” Said Eugene. “Regrets aren’t something easy. You’re compelled to make some sorta amends and God knows what that is. I won’t pry as to the note. You got alotta regrets?”

“Not too many.” Said Carl.

“You’re young, so I guess that makes sense. But I dunno. You haven’t made your share of enemies yet? You haven’t stabbed a few in the back?”

Carl looked up from the notebook as the car was coming to a stop. His eyes were wide and he seemed to shake from his toes in his nice shiny shoes up to his all to fashionable hat. He looked at Eugene, whose face had become, if not stern, then just stone. It was set, and you knew no matter what you did, it wasn’t gonna move.

Eugene turned in his seat and got out. Dan put the car into park and got out himself. For a brief moment, Carl thought about climbing into the front seat and turning the keys which were still in the ignition. He then, immediately, knew that he would have no place to go.

His hand grasped the door handle and slowly he rose from the car. Eugene just shook his head approvingly in an almost imperceptible motion. Dan was holding a gun. It wasn’t extended, as if he was going to shoot Carl, but it was out.

“I don’t wanna shoot you.” Said Eugene. “Or, more properly, I don’t want Daniel here to shoot you. He doesn’t like to, though, I assume, he might like it more than the alternative.”

From the pockets of his coat, Eugene pulled out a small rod. It was heavy, and you could see the weight of it pull his thick hand. With the rod up in front of his face, and his other hand searching in the other pocket, Eugene spoke to Carl calmly, without looking at him.

“You got regrets. I know you do. Like the albatross. It’s hangin’ around your neck, and you wanna get rid of it, yeah?”

Carl didn’t shake his head, but he wanted to.

“I got ‘em too.” Eugene continued. “We all do. Not one of us can say we ain’t screwed up a bit in life. Problem is of magnitude. Mostly we rectify the situation before it gets out of hand…like this.”

Eugene pulled a smallish garbage bag from his coat pocket and put it over the rod and his entire arm.

“You see, my wife hates gettin’ stains out, so I adapt.”

Dan piped up after this, “I’ll do it, Gene. Just stop talkin’. You’re not helpin’ anyone.”

Eugene sighed and looked back at Dan. Dan was holding the gun, trained on the downward gazing head of Carl.

Turning back to Carl, Eugene said, “Did you have a good night tonight? Did we have some laughs?”

Carl raised his head and looked completely puzzled.

“I mean to say, before all this, did we have some good conversation? We were bonding, right? And there’s nothing worse than a horrible car ride. No way to end a life, is it?”

Carl started to sob at this, but he tried to grimace and stop himself.

“How can you ask him that?! He doesn’t have enough on his mind? You gotta send him to his maker by mockin’ him? I never understood you.” Protested Dan.

“Yer right. Sorry.” He turned to Carl and said, again, “sorry.”

Carl looked up at Eugene who had a piteous smile on his face. Carl straightened himself up.

“You had yer times to come clean, and we thought you were a good kid. Really, we did. Just got too greedy is all, and that’s yer Albatross. You thought it was just fun, but this is what comes of it.”

He stepped closer to Carl. There was no menace in his eyes, but it was just as if Eugene were hauling firewood. Not easy, but not hard either. When he got to Carl, he smiled again patted him on the shoulder. Carl’s shoulder collapsed under the weight of this gesture.

“Look at it this way, this is the end of yer Albatross. Ya don’t have to carry it anymore.”

Looking out, past Eugene and past Dan, Carl saw a few stars peeking through the clouds. They were out by some railroad tracks. There were no other lights around, and he saw mountains in the distance. It was a pretty place.

Turning his eyes back to a sympathetic Eugene, he saw a slight reassuring nod. Just after that, that face, so round and unassuming, turned into a twisted picture filled with hate and malice. His arm raised. Dan closed his eyes but didn’t move but to lower his gun. The rod came down with such force that Carl’s body dropped limp.

Raising his arm again, blood flew from the plastic as it came back down. He hit, with uncommon ferocity, this limp shadow until, instead of a dull thud, you could hear gravel and dirt hit the metal in Eugene’s weighty hand.

He stood upright and removed the plastic bag. Shoving the rod back down his deep coat pocket, Eugene turned around. He was breathing heavily and his face looked tired and drained. Dan was standing near the car, as he hadn’t moved since leaving the car. His gun was raised. His left hand trembled with the weight of it, so his right came to its assistance.

He cocked the gun as Eugene rotated his shoulder, massaging it as he did.

“I gave him a good night. We had some laughs. Isn’t that a better way to go?”

“It’s monstrous! You trick them, make them think you’re their friend and then…do that!!” Dan looked at the body that once was Carl. Carl with the trouble with his girlfriend, the Carl who wore slippers so his feet didn’t get cold in the morning. The Carl that was fit and didn’t mess around with diets.

“Nothing against them. He was a good kid, really, but I gotta do for mine.”

Dan adjusted his stance. He was now standing square with his feet a little ways apart.

“You won’t do it. You’re not that good a guy.” Said Eugene as he turned back to look at Carl.

“I’ll get mine kid, don’t worry.”

Dan put his gun down. Eugene walked back to the car and got in. Dan stood outside in the slight sprinkle. He put his hand on the hood of the car and felt the warmth. That was contrasted with the cold of the water hitting his head. The combination of the two seemed to, for the time being, sooth him into motion again.

Dan got into the car and turned the keys. Turning the steering wheel to turn around the headlights showed him some small trees that were growing near where the body that was Carl lay. His blood had reached them and stopped to saturate the soil around them. Dan’s chest sunk. He pressed his foot down on the gas, trying to leave as quickly as possible.

Eugene sat in the seat next to him, seeming to be a shorter man that he had been just moments before. He was dozing against the window already.

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Long Walks, Great Talks

Hello Everyone,

This next is a personal essay, and, as such, it doesn’t need so much introduction. However, I do want to plead again, for all of you to comment. I am trying to grow as a writer, and this piece really stinks, so please help!

Well, it is a first draft, and mostly stream of thought, but I am tired of working on it, and I would like to know how many of my first instincts are right and how many off mark. 

Thank you all for your help. You have such wonderful hearts, walked all over the world…

 

 

Long Walks, Great Talks

One of my favorite books has always been (well, always been since college) The Razor’s Edge by W. Somerset Maugham. It looks at a person’s spiritual Journey from the outside.

The protagonist, Larry, is on a quest to make sense of his life after being a pilot in WWI and having his life saved by a fellow soldier. The voice of the novel, not Larry, is sitting in a café with him, talking about his journey, and Larry says something peculiar.

“I like manual labor. Whenever I’ve got waterlogged with study, I’ve taken a spell of it and found it spiritually invigorating.”

That really struck me quite a bit. This is something that most have known throughout history. There is a common Zen adage that goes something like; no work for a day, no food for a day. I think that, aside from the obvious “food”, it could also mean that one gets spiritual sustenance. One builds the clear direct mind with which one can search out meaning, through this work.

I had known this for quite a while. Not directly, but I seem to be smarter than I often think, but stupid enough not to know it.

How have I known? I’ve always loved walks. Long walks.

The ones that leave you in a part of town you’ve never seen. Walks that make you look at your watch, realizing how late it is, and know that you have to walk just as far to get home as you had walked to get where you are. Walks that leave, in the best possible way, your breath intact for a conversation that gets to your heart better than you could have ever done sitting in one place.

With your legs moving, it distracts just enough for you not to feel as if you should be doing something, and walking gives you sights that seem to come from inside. Each tree, lit by a streetlamp, had popped out of a memory, something unfinished that comes back up, spilling out of your mouth, somehow becoming resolved by the silent attention given by those who listened.

These were the walks that I liked.

I say “were” the walks I liked because I don’t really have any opportunity to take them anymore. Life has become busy, and I can’t seem to find the time to walk, the time to talk, like that. I have to be up in the morning, or I don’t feel quite well, or I am in the middle of a really good show on Netflix with my wife.

Why haven’t I had chance to walk like that in so terribly long?

There must be a reason. Something that has given so much, created so many memories of deep moments with friends, and jokes that made me gasp for air from laughing; there must be a reason I don’t do it anymore, right?

Nope. There isn’t a good one.

Maybe that’s just how youth works itself out. But I would like to continue walking, as long as I can.

There was one particular walk, taken when I was a few years less close to “get your life sorted” than I am now, that I remember. One of my best friends was living in a house his cousin had bought for a marriage that was, rudely and unfairly, short-lived. It wasn’t a great house, but his cousin was slowly, and skillfully, remedying that.

Another of my best friends was there too. To tell the truth, there were a lot of people there, but I can’t really remember who, because the three of us left; My friends Kipp, Ange and myself. We were just going to step out for a walk.

During this time, Kipp was filming a movie with us all. He was someone who knew his dreams, and I was someone that loved to experience passion for art. This was, probably, the reason that we had gathered, but it’s hard to remember at this point. We just bristled with excitement for this movie, all movies made, movies yet to be made, and bristled with an excitement for life.

We must have started talking about some of the people that were gathered at the house we had left behind. It was easy to get started this way. We were walking away from that world, something just on the outside, and transitioning to something that had more depth.

This was always how the conversations started.   

It was always pretty interesting to know who was doing what, and why. But the conversation would start to turn from there. Why was the question that did it.

I was once told, in my first philosophy class, that “why” was the most important question to ask. Not because “why” is particularly filled with content, but because it can be asked almost forever. And, even more importantly, when it is used to full effect, it eventually turns itself back onto you.

This is what we did. Asked the deepest “why” we could at the time.

This “why” would go on for hours. That night, we walked past schools, with playgrounds almost completely obscured by fog. We balanced on rail-road tracks. We paused to lean against an old building from our town’s industrial past, and then tried out our newfound (railroad built) balancing skills on the guardrail on the side of the road.

We all had our own questions, but we all cared about what the others had to say. There was no stated purpose for any of these walks, but it was just a time to connect. It was a time to get things straightened out.

Something of this has been lost for me recently. My life has become a parade of shoulds. How things should be, what I should be doing right now, and how many things should be done before I focus on what the heart needs. The focus, as one gets older, shifts to the practicalities of life and dreams diminish, and with them, passion for life.

This may be a common tragedy, but it is still a tragedy. Recently my life, yes the practicalities, have been troubling me. There are too many things up in the air, and there are too many opportunities to just put my head down, keep working, and forget all the incredible dreams I used to have. The longings that would work their way to the surface after an hour or two of walking.

It seems, at this point, that I should make a grand statement about life.

I could, you know. I’ve got ‘em stored in my head, and this story lends itself to a grand point about not losing that dreamy innocence of youth, even into old age. Practical things may work themselves out, and they may not, but what is a dream or two in between? Something for the heart?

See that was a good one.

Or, maybe, I should tell you all the content of the talk. Frankly, I can’t remember. If I could, I wouldn’t tell you anyway. When we took these walks, even though it wouldn’t have been hard to listen to us if someone had wanted, what we said was for those people, at that time, and no one else.

So, no, there isn’t great point I’m going to make. No revealing bit of information that I should probably give to make this a good bit of reading. There is just my own little reality, right now.

I miss these walks.

I miss these talks.

I miss my heart beating, passionately, through my chest just expecting life to be an adventure.

Order is overrated. And no service is done through the denial of your childlike wonder. People gravitate towards those who bring excitement, wonder, caring, and love to life. No one really wants to listen to someone talking about how they have seen it all and nothing really excites them anymore. People even less want to be that person, a person I fear I am becoming.

In writing this, I’ve had an urge to walk. Obvious I know. My wonderful wife obliged. It was a small walk, weaving in and out of streets so we weren’t so far from home if we got caught in rain. We talked, and our hearts started to open.

We disagree, we don’t have the same view of the world all the time, but it is good to talk. We have a great marriage, but we aren’t copies of each other, so there is friction.

However, that night, we were joking around, and I can’t remember us laughing so hard in a while.

Maybe we’ll walk again tonight.

Love,

Sheridan A. Smith

Walker of the World (a few short blocks from my house)

Eddy’s Edification

Alright, well, I do have a story. It is something that I had been writing with my good friend Kipp (Kippar, Kipparpoo, The Captain). It has been a while since I have looked at this, but these are characters very close to my heart. Eddy, a very sour, serious person, and Percy, light and lively.

Any credit for these characters and this story belong to myself and Kipp equally. It is a slow, dream project for us, but something that I need to become more disciplined with. Alright, here it is! The first chapter in my little story of the travels of these two, entitled “Eddy’s Edification”:

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~Break-up to seperate story from intro~~~~~~~~~~~~

Eddy’s Edification

“So you know me, right?”

It was cold, and we were standing outside work talking late at night.  Working with him for six months, and being so cold, the question seemed a little ridiculous and I answered yes, in the flattest and most unfriendly way I could.

“What would you think of me if I were to tell you that I was an assassin.”

“Are you an assassin?”

“No.”

“Then why ask the question?” I asked very rightfully.

“Just wondering.  Sometimes I wonder what people would think of me if I just came out with something crazy like that.  You know, like if I were a vigilante, fighting outside of the law for justice, but hunted by the powers that be…”

I looked straight forward, trying not to react or make eye contact.  The rain kept pounding down and I wished, like I hadn’t since I was a kid, that the bus would come as soon as possible.  Grilling burgers all day doesn’t really allow one to enjoy conversations with the strange and unerringly infuriating co-workers one has to deal with in the fast food service industry.

“With a super-secret dark past, of course…”

How freakin’ ridiculous was that?  At this point, I was almost ready to start running in the opposite direction after showing him the extension power of a very particular finger.  There was no cause, I thought to myself, for his existence!  To me, he was someone that should wear a sign, making sure that all those that came near him would know to avoid at all costs!

“You know who you remind me of?”

“Who?”  I said expecting the same kind of random idiocy that had been pulsing through the conversation so far.

“The Melancholy Dane…yeah, you remind me of him.”

“What?”   I mean to say, what the F…

“You know, Hamlet.”

“Yeah, I know.”  I said looking up at him as if he had suddenly transformed, miraculously, his uniform into a tweed jacket with leather elbow covers.  Where did he come up with Hamlet?  Did he watch the freaking Mel Gibson movie?

“I don’t know why, really, but you just do.  Maybe it’s the face, or the fact that you’re always locked inside your head, almost completely oblivious to anything and anyone…I dunno.”

“Hey.  Did I do something to you to deserve this?  The unflattering comparison to the Melancholy Dane aside, I’m just trying to get home without having to be…”

“Do you Soliloquize?  Soliloquate?  What’s the level of your Soliloquacity?”

Against all that I was feeling, against the fists that I wanted to hurl at him, I laughed.  This kid, was actually funny.  And, for whatever his normal conversational impression, he was actually an intelligent person.  Well, at least he knew two things from Shakespeare.

“Maybe internal Soliloquization.  I think that would be what you do.  Every day, in your head, you’re having your own little Soliloquies…”

“Okay, would you stop butchering that word?”

“I’m not butchering…I’m versitalizing.”

“You’re insane.”

“And you’re a bastard.”

“What?!”

The bravado and his way with saying horrible things with the most sincere smile was enough to take a horrible insult as a great joke!  His words didn’t seem malicious at all.  He seemed a toddler swearing at the moment.  You know that it isn’t right, but you chuckle and know that they don’t really mean anything malicious.

“It isn’t really hard to figure you out, you know.  Always in your head.  You really, and truly, think that you’re better than everybody else.”

“I don’t.  I’m just…”

“A bastard.” His smile widened as he said this: stated, like it was a fact.

“Harsh words from someone who is calling another human being a bastard.”

“Whoa, he has awareness of others as people too!  But still, you’re only a bastard.”

“Repetition is sort of your thing isn’t it?”

“Is it?”

I flashed back to his question from the beginning-So you know me, right?-and I realized that I didn’t.  There was very little I did know about him, though he was an active participant in the continuous and lively conversations that whirled around me every day.

“It would seem that you’ve got some serious trouble getting out of your head, and that often means that you value what is in your head more than what is going on around that gigantic thing…You know, when you’re not paying attention, you’ll sneer at us.”

“I do?”

He shrugged.  “You’re a bastard.”

“So I’ve been told.”

He seemed to be elated, puffed up, at having won this little exchange.  I hadn’t known that there was a competition, but somehow, I knew instinctively that he had won and I had lost.

“Percy, by the way.  Now, I know, it’s been on my nametag for months, but I figured, ‘Hey, this kid might be the kind that doesn’t learn well by reading…one word…for six months…’ so that’s for your information.”

The widest grin I had ever seen was set upon his face.  He pulled his hood up over his head, clasped his hands in front of him and looked out into the street.  Satisfaction was written large there.  My frustration had made his night.  I could not remember being that happy in my life.

“So, where are you going?” I asked, trying not to sound sullen and defeated.

“Um, home.  Where else would one go?  It’s 2AM!”  He seemed incredulous, almost wondering if I came from a different planet.  I was out of touch.  To me, people were mysteries that I had let stay that way, outside my own questions and my little inquiries.

“Yeah, that’s right.  I was just wondering what you did, you know, kinda who you were.”

“That takes a lot to know…for now, the interest is enough…”

That smile had returned to his face and we waited as the bus came down the street.  I chuckled to myself.  This kid was smarter than he looked, but he didn’t have to flaunt it.  He was just having some fun.  It was alien, but interesting.

Beginning

Hello Everyone,

You may be able to see, in my description, what this blog is all about, but I figured that I would explain further.

Hi, my name is Sheridan, however, if you’re visiting my blog, you probably know that already. My life has been terribly haphazard and, up until now, that has been somewhat fine. Everything that crosses my path has resulted in a passionate urge to understand it and immerse myself in it. But, regarding a viable life, this isn’t something that can really lead me to having a stable career that would allow me to be passionate about what I do and able to support a wonderful, understanding, terribly pretty, patient…etc., wife.

In light of this, it seems prudent to try and develop a skill…right? Something that would lead to a job? Where I could not complain about work every day?

Yeah.

So, here I sit, listening to Sigur Ros, writing away. Eventually I hope to be able to write coherent essays on the state of the world and politics; this being my goal as a writer. For now, however, I will attempt to write creatively and tell a story with point and to interest an audience not made up entirely of dry scholars who are interested in every detail. My usual crowd, and what I usually like to read.

Please, read my blog as much as you can, and feel free to critique, as critically as you can, but make sure you tell me why you like or, more likely, vomit upon reading something.

Thank you so much for keeping with me this long, at least. All of you are precious to me, and I know that if anything ever happens in my dreadful career, it will be because of you.

So be proud if you ever read my filth in any major publication!

Sincerely,

Sheridan A. Smith

Supplicant to the Masses