Wednesday, August 1, 2007

Wordsmiths for August

Francis pointed to a dark section of the square. “see it? Harrison Ford’s face, the one he’s making when he says ‘we are going to die.’ Get some more dark colors in there.” “I don’t see it,” mumbled Henry. He shuffled the brightly colored pieces like an expert poker hustler, twirling 3, sometimes 4 pieces in one hand, over and through his long fingers. His left hand trembled slightly as he reached for a dark green, his cigarette barely holding onto a long snake of quivering ash. “It’s right in front of your face, idiot!” Francis practically screamed. Henry was becoming irritated at Francis’ constant niggling insistence. And the rudeness was getting out of hand. He put on what he thought was his strongest voice, and quavered, “You stop talking to me like that. You don’t want me to get my stick out again, do you?” Francis didn’t. He was suddenly quiet, remembering the last beating. He had gone unconscious for three days, and while things were always strained between Francis and Henry, the tension was noticeably worse since then. Henry’s face softened. “I think I see it! There, right?” he said, pointing with the dark green. Francis nodded, a manic smile appearing briefly. He placed the piece and filled in the details with blues, browns, and yellows. Satisfied, he leaned back and took a last puff on his cigarette, ash dropping onto his rumpled shirt. It was all he could see anymore. Not just that corner, but the matrix had taken over his little apartment. He didn’t even notice the boxes stacked up in every corner of the small room, crowding his kitchen, desk, closets, floor. He found them at garage sales, EBay, toy stores, pawn shops. What started as a hobby had silently slipped into an addiction, an obsession that cost him his job and his girlfriend. Everywhere he looked, he saw patterns – and had to capture them in light. Hot glue dribbled from the gun, which was always plugged in and ready to add the next panel. He had the colored pegs sorted in trays at his fingertips, ready to express the pictures that were so obviously there. Francis wasn’t helping. In fact, it was Francis who turned this into his life’s work. Nothing was as important as spotting the next pattern to Francis. It was he who insisted on the 2nd, then 3rd, then 120th Lite Brite set, and his idea to cover the walls with them. Lots of people talk to themselves. Not everybody gives a name to their alter egos. When they get a name, sometimes they get their own personality. Henry was aware of Francis’ growing control and autonomy, and he didn’t like it. Beating his own head with a stick brought brief relief, but he always came back. And this wall is what he had to show for it. It could be worse, Henry thought as he inserted the final peg.


Skully said...

Cool story, there are lots of people in the world; I imagine there are several doing exactly that.

kenju said...

oooh, if you had not told me there were not two distinct people, I would never have known. Good one, Biff!

Kingfisher said...

Strength: the voices of different characters eventually leading to the knowledge that they are the same person. "Beating his own head with a stick" is a peg upon which you can hang the whole story.

Weakness: "explaining" the alter egos. Instead of telling us, dialogue could lead us, instead of telling us. The nature of the story is confusion of self, so how could s/he explain anything approaching rational? Avoid describing, and let the characters of the mind expose themselves in dialogue.

Anonymous said...

This is a cool hook. I like the dual personalities.

I like the OCD nature of the Francis character.

I think that the reveal of Francis as in Henry's head could have been more subtle. HOWEVER! Tough to get too subtle when you only have 500 words :)

I like how you slowly reveal what the boards are... starting with the pegs, etc.

Good story!