I wonder what people did in New England before television and Facebook? I guess they read books to pass the slow winter hours… or wrote letters… or practiced the piano…
The terry-cloth towel hung from the hook to the left of the sink. It was stained with old blood that had dried and new blood that had not. The blade of the razor rested on a bar of soap and its handle rested on the sink. The basin was streaked with remnants of stubble and soap.
Nick returned to the kitchen when he heard the coffee. He turned off the flame and poured the thick liquid into a small cup. He added a teaspoon of sugar and stirred it with the spoon. He felt the salt air blow through the window. He could taste it on his lips.
Jim will be waiting, he thought, taking a sip from the cup. He was glad he had somewhere to go. Glad he had a reason to shave. He took another sip and picked at a crumb on the table. Any reason is enough, he thought.
Curse these clumsy hoofs! said Blurtso, kicking away his rubik’s cube and trying to fit two pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. They’re not good for anything! He looked at his hooves, then he looked at the puzzle, then he looked at his hooves. Well, he said, they have carried me down many roads and across many fields… maybe solving puzzles isn’t so important.
What are you looking at? said Harlan. There’s a knot in one of the roof boards, said Blurtso. Yes there is, said Harlan. I wonder how it grew that way? said Blurtso. I don’t know, said Harlan, the wood around it is smooth and symmetrical. A whirlpool in the stream, said Blurtso. Yes, said Harlan. I wonder if the roof is weaker or stronger where there is a knot? said Blurtso. I believe it’s weaker, said Harlan, because when the wood gets dry the knots can pop out. Yes, said Blurtso, now that you mention it, I’ve seen old boards with holes where the knots had been. I guess there’s no good reason, said Harlan, for a knot to remain in a board after it has already asserted its independence by going against the grain. Maybe this one, said Blurtso, asserted its independence by staying.
“Another day,” thought Blurtseau, “and another night. The king is dead, and those who killed the king are dead, and Napoleon consolidates his power while those who would kill him wait in the wings. And the once-full moon that illuminated my vainglorious victory now wanes with a warbling light. Tomorrow the fighting will begin anew, the British, French, Spanish, Dutch, German, Italian, Sardinian, Greek generals… and all the world spins with the bones of the living and the bones of the dead, so many dead, those who pursued a borrowed or inherited dream, white bones in the soil, white bones in the surf of the sea, bones as white as the flickering tail of the waning moon, sparking and submerging among the breakers, flickering water reflection of fleeting sun echoed upon half-eaten moon, half-eaten moon half-eclipsed by the globe it now reflects down upon… half-eaten glow that grows dimmer each day… until the moon, the day, the night, and all our blood-urgent exploits fall dark upon the darkness of the sea, and vanish in the low laving sound of the waves eating the rocks with their dance of disintegration.
“And when the moon goes black, the stars will mark my path to Montecristo where Echo, alone on her island, watches the same silver flicker on a different surface of the same sea. And the light that flickered in her heart? Has it fallen prey to the same dance of deterioration? Will I find the moon already extinguished in the sea of her breast? Eclipsed by the vainglorious sphere that was my haste to depart? The misguided course of this star-crossed corsaire pursuing a sinking star? Yesterday’s hero is the dark side of the earth facing the dark side of the moon, is darkness double, two-faced night’s faceless faces, an echo of existence which touches no ear, a shout across an infinite expanse, an unreciprocated smile, a source without destination, a word from the heart that never arrives.”
“My heart is an echo of the disintegration
of the heart of the universe
that penetrates and disintegrates my own heart.”