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“Blurtso parrots Papa” (VII)

The side of the mountain was covered with snow. Nick could see the team on the ridge, but he couldn’t see Jim. Jim was at the back, anchoring the line. Nick heard a pop and a sheet of snow slid from the ridge. The sheet was sawed into strips by the pines on the hill. Nick heard another pop and saw another sheet break loose. He saw the sheet move before he heard the pop.

At the lodge they sat in silence.
“I’d give anything to have been up there,” said Nick.
“It was something,” said Jim.
“This damn leg,” said Nick.
“Sure,” said Jim.
“You never know,” said Nick, “what you’re doing for the last time.”
“We had some times,” said Jim.
Jim looked at the glass in his hand then looked at Nick. Nick looked at Jim.
“My stomach’s still good,” said Nick.
“I’ll get another bottle,” said Jim.

“Blurtso parrots Papa” (VI)

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“Time is running away”

“Again?” said Jim.
“Oh yes!” she said. “I never get tired of hearing it!”
“I love you forever,” said Jim.
“And ever and ever?” she said.
“And ever and ever,” said Jim.

“Blurtso parrots Papa” (V)

 

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“Here we are,” she thought, and looked out the window. The brown water of the river fanned into the bay. The water of the river after the rain was brown and stained the blue of the bay.

The tables and chairs were arranged on the boardwalk and the waiters were crossing from the cafés carrying coffee and bread to the tables. The clients who weren’t tourists were reading newspapers and smoking. Some of the tables had parasols that wouldn’t shade the tables until the sun was higher on the horizon.

“I’m going for a walk,” said Peggy, looking out the window.

“Wait and I’ll join you,” said George.

The sun reflected brightly on the tables without tablecloths and the legs of the tables were black against the water. The tiles of the boardwalk were smooth. Some of them were cracked and some were wet from the rain. The ones that were wet were darker than the others and the dark ones were slippery.

Peggy and George walked until they passed beyond the tables and chairs. They found an empty bench and sat down. The sun across the water was low and bright in their eyes. It didn’t bother them if they looked up or down the coast. A jogger passed in front of them and Peggy followed him with her eyes until the man and the boardwalk disappeared around the cape.

“I wonder if I’ll ever be back here,” said Peggy.

“Of course we will,” said George.

“Blurtso parrots Papa” (IV)

 

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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.

“Blurtso parrots Papa” (III)

 

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The sun after the rain dried the rain into steam and the steam drenched the street and the bay. Jim’s shirt clung to his neck and his arms beaded with sweat. His arms beaded and his eyebrows glistened with sweat.

In the dark his eyebrows still glistened and from his bed he heard the late voices rise from the bay. He heard a door open and he heard a door close and a streetlight cast a shadow on the wall. The streetlight cast the shadow of the window shutter on the wall. The mattress grew damp where his body touched the mattress and he shifted from where his body touched the mattress. Sweat beaded at the creases of his arms at his elbows and ran to his elbows. Sweat beaded on his neck and ran along the creases and ran behind his ears. “When this is over,” he said, “thirty nights will be remembered as one.”

The shadow of the shutter in the lamplight grew dim in the brightness when the late voices became early voices rising from the bay.

“Blurtso parrots Papa” (II)

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The people were standing until they sat down. The sunlight through the window was bright on the floor. It fell on the side of Jim’s shoe and cast a shadow on his other shoe.

A bell rang and a person he couldn’t see went somewhere he couldn’t see.

The dust on the floor remained on the floor and didn’t hang in the air. The people that were sitting began to lie down. The shadow from Jim’s shoe stretched to the cuff of his other leg.

A bell rang and a person he couldn’t see went somewhere he couldn’t see.

“Blurtso parrots Papa” (I)

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What’s that? said Alex. It’s something I wrote for my Literature class. Your literature class? said Alex. Yes, said Blurtso, the assignment was to imitate a twentieth century American author. Who did you choose? I chose Hemingway, would you like to hear what I wrote? I’d love to, said Alex.

“I suppose that’s that, said Nick.
“I suppose so,” said Jim.
“I would have thought it would be longer,” said Nick.
“Or shorter,” said Jim.
The wind was in the trees and the wind was on the roof and Nick slumped in his chair and Jim slumped in his chair. The darkness grew until the voices were only two dark chairs talking. The voice of Nick’s chair said, “I suppose this is what the room sounds like when no one’s here.”
“Yes,” said the voice from Jim’s chair, “the sound of the wind on the walls of an empty room.”
“Do you suppose this is what death is like?” said the voice from Nick’s chair.
“Two voices in an empty room?” said Jim’s chair.
“Two voices,” said Nick’s chair, “with no objects to distract them.”
“And no words,” said Jim’s chair.
“Two voices and the wind,” said Nick’s chair.
“Two voices and the wind,” said Jim’s chair.
“Or just the wind?” said Nick’s chair.
“Or just the wind,” said Jim’s chair.
The dark chairs sat in the sound of the wind and were dark.

“Blurtso gets a gift”

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I brought you a book, said Pablo. A book? said Blurtso. Yes, said Pablo, Walt Whitman’s Leaves of Grass. Oh boy! said Blurtso. A Cookbook!

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These are the longest recipes I’ve ever seen!

“Weohryant University” (XXII) – What 101

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The question for today’s class, said Blurtso, is: “What is the difference between sympathy and empathy?”
Sympathy and empathy? said Morton.
“Sympathy,” said Glouster, “is a relationship between persons or things wherein whatever affects one similarly affects the other.”
And empathy? said Chelsea.
“Empathy,” said Glouster, “is the capacity for experiencing as one’s own the feelings of another.”
That sounds like the same thing, said Frank.
Both words, said Glouster, come from the Greek word, “pathos,” meaning, “suffering, emotion, passion.” In Greek “sym” means “with” and “em” means “in.” So sympathy is “suffering with” another, while empathy is “suffering in” another.
I still don’t understand, said Morton.
Isn’t that the same as compassion? said Emma Lou.
“Compassion,” said Glouster, is “sorrow or pity aroused by the suffering of another.” It is derived from the Latin words “com” or “with” and “passion” or “suffering.”
So “compassion,” said Emma Lou, is the Latin equivalent of the Greek word “sympathy.”
Exactly, said Glouster.
That still doesn’t tell me, said Morton, the difference between sympathy and empathy.
Both words, said Glouster, imply a relationship, or “oneness” between the subject and object, between the “sympathizer” and the other.
Just like in the Upanishads, said Emma Lou, and the Tao Te Ching. Both books talk about the oneness of all things, that separation is just an illusion.
The gospel of Matthew, said Glouster, says “love your enemies.”
Does it say you and your enemies are one? said Emma Lou.
Not exactly, said Glouster, but it goes on to say, “I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.”
That’s pretty much the same thing, said Chelsea.
The gospel of John, said Glouster, says, “do unto others as you would have them do unto you.”
Isn’t that compassion? said Chelsea.
“Compassion,” said Emma Lou, is feeling someone else’s pain as your own. The way to do that is not to see others as separate from you.
One hundred fourteen of the one hundred fifteen verses of the Quran, said Frank, begin with “In the name of Allah the compassionate, the merciful…”
Ommmm, said moose.
What? said Glouster.
I think he said “Ommmm,” said Frank.
Ommmm (phonetically “aum”), said Emma Lou, is from the Upanishads, it is the monosyllable which contains all syllables and all sounds. It represents the oneness underlying multiplicity—the non-duality of “Brahman” beneath the dualism and illusion of “Maya.”
The illusion of Maya? said Morton.
The illusion that we are not all one, said Emma Lou.
So compassion, said Frank, is recognizing—beyond the illusion of separation—that we are all one?
Exactly, said Emma Lou.
I still don’t understand, said Morton, the difference between sympathy and empathy.
Think of it this way, said Glouster. When someone is suffering because of a specific situation, but you have not experienced that situation yourself, you can only sympathize with them, but if you have experienced that same situation, you can empathize.
That’s very confusing, said Chelsea.
Yes, said Morton, I feel exactly the same way.