by Matt Bohart
About a Very disturbed man. Excerpt from my novel. It's in "experimental prose."
After the meeting those called alcoholics would mingle and chat. They ranged from those only very recently off the booze to those with as many as thirty years. Jay had been perennially in the former and had come to feel humiliated upon his numerous, penitent returns, as though he were a poster boy for doing everything wrong. Nevertheless because he had resolved to, as they said in A.A., try something different he felt it incumbent upon him to walk up to someone, just about anyone, and engage in a conversation. He didnâ€™t want to. His skin was clammy and his knees felt weak, but since they had told him it would get worse before it got better he felt he should try.
About fifty people stood up from their chairs, formed a large circle around the edges of the room and held each otherâ€™s hands. All at once the entire group intoned the Serenity Prayer, as if they were one voice, one sentiment, one idea. â€śGod grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.â€ť
The group broke up as Jay stood by and watched. A number of individuals bee-lined out without a word, some lingered singly on the periphery of the crowd, and varieties of others clotted into small gatherings of no more than four. They were already smiling and shaking hands and laughing, undoubtedly feeling pleased and calmed to see each other after a long day at work, although Jay couldnâ€™t feel this because he hadnâ€™t been employed for eight years. Despite past experiences he felt hope he could laugh and talk with them. He jolted himself from his gazing and looked for a face he may have once shared a moment with, orâ€”even more. There were not many he could recognize. He had come to this meeting six, maybe seven times in the past year, but there were a few he had seenâ€”here, there. One encountered many people in New York, but you could feel you hadnâ€™t encountered just about anyone at all.
Now was the time to change all that so he stepped towards a clustering of three. He headed to a face without a name he had exchanged pleasantries with a few times over the past year, a good amount considering how little heâ€™d been there. He stood to the side and watched the profile of the manâ€™s face gab and take note of what the others said. He watched the set of three as it spoke and gesticulated: serious, pleasant or laughing in turn. The conversation clipped ahead, like a sailboat scudding in awesome communion with the wind. His chest started burning, his eyes horizontal knives, but he drew it off beforeâ€¦theyâ€¦could â€¦discern. Resentment, he knew, would lead him backâ€”to drink. From their experiences they had said it over and over throughout the years. He recalled, most suddenly, Psychology 101: Smiling, choosing to do so--even when down low--would release the neuro-chemicals that are acknowledged by the medical authorities, far, far and wide, to induce a feeling of true, and even actual: Happinessâ€”and he hoped this would happen to him if he smiled. He smiled but nothing happened. He felt stiff, coerced by self consciousness and was sure they knew and wanted him gone. He didnâ€™t know whether he should continue standing by like a silent sentinel. Should he talk? That might be taken as interrupting. And what would he say? His mother had said to just be polite. But would it be polite to interrupt no matter how politely he did so?
He felt his torso turn to wiry copper and his eyes consolidate into stones of ice. His mindâ€™s flesh fixed upon the side view of this fuckheadâ€™s mask as he saw it blather on like some kind of pale and yammering dummy made of dangerous, forbidding, threatening flesh, plus constructed, assembled and conceived most supernaturally, uncannily and cosmically by a dodgy, dangerous and quite-malevolent God (who as legend and myth would have it is unforgivingly omnipotent and omniscient but is in truth and in fact merely and only a nefarious and quite malignant deity, and only a deityâ€”and deities, as just about everyone knows, do not necessarily and automatically possess a superlative, unique, Most unprecedentedly absolute and undeniably categorically unequivocally absolutely ever-so-utterly uncategorically and most absolutistly-absolute Power to do this, that, and other things, whatever else those other things may and/or might and/or mayen't and/or mighten't happen or not happen to be).
But at the moment Jay was not thinking of these things. Rather, He knew he must unstuck himself. He quiveringly particulated into black scattering dots who and which immediately recognized and understood each other, cognizant of their mutual mission, and imploded into a cloud of black static and then exploded out and away like bird-dots reaching and touching and then feeling the impermeable perimeter, the smooth, more-or-less infinitely thick and towering pitch-black totally unrevealing opaque diamond Wall, The, but managing nevertheless with determination and grit to seep andor bleed themselves osmotically through the unprecedented-barricade-of-a-Wallâ€™s perfect, unparticled and unparticulated, and most uncompromising and yes, quite stubborn, as well as brutal, plus brutally rigid and rigid epitomizingly, definitionally, utterly, entirely, of course absolutely, and unyieldingly and most bullyingly, plus ut and ut ut ut utteringly flawless, entirely and unreservedly and thoroughgoingly most unblemished,
And the dots gained the outside beyond, beyond the latticework, the crisscrossing crisscrossings that cross and criss each other most perpendicularlyâ€”the grating, the grid, the rigid in- and un-human, yet human, all-too human graph of nonsensical catechism endorsing and inspiring with great, and most unadulteratedly great,
sterility, as well as a most and even more most, most acerbic, sour, and caustically insipid,
dullness, an earthly as well as most celestially celestial utterly moorless and most tangentially groundless, non-sequituredly unfounded and most, most grimly-beside-the-point and therefore iniquitously irrelevant but not irrelevantly iniquitous (which doesnâ€™t bode well for us), out of whack, disconnected, discombobulated, not-functioning-quite-right, stunted and unfortunately most stunting, as well as clownishly clownish,
dogmaâ€”Space-dots now so-called, at long last liberated and reaching far beyond now, beyond the His-Majestyâ€™s ruling rule and imposing Rules and most, most sovereign plus quite-in-charge,
Coordinates: fixed and stucked but nevertheless quite-empty-and-meaningless coordinates that managed, controlled and navigated the dotsâ€™ previously Walled-in isolated condition where they had been lorded over and virtually entombed by certain Ideas and Notions most self-importantly beginning and leading with Upper-Case letter characters and then our amigos, these dots, dots, and more dots, finally and at long last felt able to, as well as capable of, laughing, playing, and soaring and flying just about everywhere and all because they had made it through The Wall into one reality among others with lower-case â€śrâ€™s,â€ť thus having liberated and excavated themselves from the boxed-in and stagnant and most existentially with a lower-case â€śeâ€ť almost absolutely and quite unremunerative upper-case and quite self-important space, into a most pleasurable way of life (and yes, even the space-dots recognized that there are means, policies, methods and ways, but you donâ€™t follow these, these follow you, and these will accommodate you if you have just cause and correct thinking, with a lower-case â€ścâ€ť that is) without Position, Place, or Order, outside and way, way far clear of the matrix, the matrix of what passes for The Meaning and what passes for The Truth (but of course this begs the question: Who will be in charge? And, â€śWhoâ€™s in charge here? Iâ€™ve got a complaint. Let me speak to whoever it is right now.â€ť A perfectly reasonable position when youâ€™re dealing with a bunch of assholes who like to say theyâ€™re helping us out. Right.)
arrived backâ€”the church, the suit of pale armor corroding perpendicularly in the roomâ€”re-entering into the marrow of shapeâ€”Homo sapien, human being, person now so-called.
three-strong cluster, gab, talk, curling lips to laughter, tooth tooth, eyes of gratitudeâ€”lookedâ€”at themâ€”they persisted nevertheless in ignoring him. He couldnâ€™t be sure if he was there at all.
a few steps up now. door further. up up. thereâ€”
â€”he turned around and looked down at the assorted crowd. A lot of talk, the purr of a group. They looked at each other with interest and with mirth, and he extracted his body from this (to-him)--deadly space of a place.