The Aftermath of the Muse.
With his seatbelt fastened and his window wound down just enough to let in a little night air, Edgar Smith was almost home and really had to think carefully about what he was about to do. It had started at The You’ll Know Where Guest House. He had gone out there to write a report or rather a rant. He’d finished that but he still had the urge to bang out something else. It wasn’t writer’s block as such, he had a few ideas, yet all seemed so similar to everything else he’d done. If only he could be original. He felt he had always been writing the same old story. Albeit from different angels, it seemed like the same story. Why wasn’t this writing thing going to turn out to be like any of the other go nowhere projects and hobbies that he’d pursued? A lot of the time he didn’t even enjoy it. When he worked he’d just sit at that cursed machine and his hands would do the work. His hands were still sprained from the evening The Man From Montreal had passed by. The carpet was still burnt from that passing, the table still had knife marks in it and the tattoo was yet to fade. He doubted any of those things had anything to do with the way he wrote. Who was he kidding, he was practically dead anyway. And he still had so much that he wanted to bang out. Part of him wanted to crawl into that grave; finally rest his bones. But he told himself that he was Edgar Smith the greatest mildly crazy, aging, black, writer out there and he had a job to do.
It was about then that the strange things started to happen. She’d knocked on his door and asked to come in. There was something familiar about her; he’d had this same feeling with everyone he’d met in that place. But he ignored it, passing it off as the beginnings of some nostalgia trip. Looking somewhat shy she continued to stand in the doorway with her mousey coloured hair, tied back and a cute smile that revealed her dimples. Edgar remained silent, feeling like a shy schoolboy again.
“I’m sorry to bother you but are you Edgar Smith?” She asked softly.
“Yes, why?” Edgar replied. Usually when someone asked that it meant trouble.
“This will sound really strange, but you gave a reading a while back at the Scarred Tailor, some short story that you had published. Before your reading, a couple of us heard you screaming outside. We presumed it was some kind of pre show warm up.”
“Yes, a technique I picked up from someone else.” Edgar replied.
“Good, I thought it was you. It might sound strange but I was going to ask what other stuff you had? I don’t mind paying for something. I really want to see more.”
Edgar hadn’t been more surprised since he heard that a group of terrorists armed with nothing more than box cutters, had managed to overpower two huge commercial jets, amongst others. And fly them into two of the most famous buildings in the world, demolishing them, one after another. He didn’t expect that in his lifetime and he didn’t expect this. How should he act? If he acted surprised would that shatter her illusions of him? Still, it was all his Christmases at once; this goddess and a fan of his work. It was too good to be true.
“I’ve got a few things on the machine. Why don’t you come in?” Edgar said.
“Really? That’d be great.”
“So what’re you doing here?” Edgar asked.
“Oh, I’m working here actually… it’s a long story though.”
She sat down and the pair began to talk away the hours, as she interviewed him on everything. He’d previously thought that he’d have all these answers ready, he could roll with the punches and the critics but when it was the other way around, he felt stupid with everything he said. If he was around in a few years then maybe it would make more sense. But for now the whole show seemed rigged overrated and overanalyzed. Eventually Edgar relaxed and temptation got the better of him; Edgar stepped a closer and made a move. She did nothing.Edgar swiftly drew his hand back; there was suddenly something incredibly strange about the whole ordeal. A trip that even Edgar himself would find hard to express coherently.
“Who are you?” Edgar asked.
“You already know.”
“I don’t, I didn’t even get your name.”
“Anita, you named me Anita.”
“Or at least that was the first name you stored mentally. It’s alright though, I’m here to help you keep going, to give something back; I’m sorry about that whole act, but we all agreed it was the best way.”
“You’ve lost me.”
“I’m a character you created a while back. You’re about to use me again soon. When you wrote about me, you were in a cafe, a few minutes away from here. There was a girl that you’d seen there a couple of times before. You modeled my appearance on her. But that doesn’t matter now, as I said I’m here to help.”
“You really expect me to believe that…”
“Of course, it’s the part that can’t let go. It’s not just me though, there’s a few of us. Different parts of you. Downstairs earlier that professor you talked to, didn’t you hear him repeating a few lines of a recent work? I can also tell you that the first thing you remember is going to the stock car races with your dad.The cars ripped around the course, crashing into each; spraying gravel and twisted metal everywhere. It seemed so primitive. You thought it was great. I know you might bang your head against the wall and stay away in that flat of yours but I also know that just like the characters you create. You have a faith for the good in people. For all the beautiful things. I’m the distant memories of every woman you’ve loved. Every person you know and all those that didn’t stick. I too know that after growing tired of your antics and ways, you’ve recently lost all friends. We’re your closest link to who you are.You’re just fighting yourself. As I said I’m also the part of you that wants to get work done. It’s already falling into place.” Anita continued.
Edgar shook his head, finally he had a fan; and she was a pretty too. Even though Edgar fell in love shamelessly and constantly, unfortunately she’d obviously lost the plot and had no idea what she was saying; at least her enthusiasm was inspiring. Though he considered that she was some kind of stalker and had somehow managed to go through material that even he could only just remember. At the same time it did seem to stir something unusual in him. But what if through some vastly freak occurrence this really was happening? Either way he wanted out and he thought he knew a way he could solve this. Grabbing his machine he sprinted to the car. He didn’t have time to look back on the room or her pretty face.
He shoved the machine onto the passenger seat and sped off, stick shifting his way across town until he’d eventually reached his block of flats. And slamming the car into the curb, he wound up his window and stared outside as he noticed Johnson the caretaker in his large jacket. Did that man not sleep? Edgar considered. It looked so tiring, even to Edgar, who experienced enough sleep deprivation himself. The man simply had a knack at turning up at the worst moments, continually hassling Edgar with bizarre forms he wanted filled in. Edgar snuck behind the thorn bush and managed to sneak inside running all the way up to his floor. He reached his flat and pulled back the door, locking it behind him. Suddenly he had the feeling that there was someone else there and he swiftly moved towards his kitchen and pulled out his reduced set of kitchen knives; he knew he was going to finally find a use for them. He checked behind the doors, under the bed, tore one of the things through his curtain and scanned the balcony. It was hardly a palatial abode, but once he was sure there were no unwanted guests, he moved his table next to the door for extra security and went over to the machine. Once he’d got rid of all he could there, he went to his drawers and gathered all his old notes, manuscripts, self published pieces, drawings, rough copies, walked onto the balcony and shoved them all in a large metallic bin.
Whoever Anita, or any other of them were for that matter; she’d done a good enough job of showing him a glimpse of who he really was. And he hadn’t liked it one bit. He flicked through the pages. His friends had read into it too much. Don’t believe everything you read he’d told them. But there they were, all his characters, those emotions all flashing before him on the pages and the state of mind he’d been in when he’d put his hands to the machine. It was a long shot and there were still pieces out there. However, it was the bulk of it. He rarely could recall what he’d written and with his work gone, maybe he’d be able to start afresh. He didn’t want any more characters cropping up again. And with that he showed them no mercy and doused the thing in lighter fluid and set it alight. The burning pieces of paper flew into the night like chinese lanterns.
“Burn motherfuckers!” He said to the waste bin.
Once he’d successfully destroyed his life’s work; he congratulated himself and grabbed a beer. It was thirsty work. The next morning he woke up feeling completely refreshed. Maybe it had worked? He still had a nights stay left in the You’ll Know Where Guest House. Edgar rummaged through his fridge, he had half a block of butter and some homemade hummus. He remembered having to make the stuff at the latest job he’d had. It hadn’t been one of the bad ones either. Yet, dipping his finger into the stuff he knew why it had ended. He looked across at the machine. He’d battle with the thing, and was sure it was against him at times, but maybe he really was there to write? To bang out a few stories. He couldn’t help but think that some people were born to put something onto the page, the vinyl, the canvas; with the hope that someone else could gain something from it all. He was done with his downtime. He reached across to the machine. He didn’t need anyone else to show him who he was. He was Edgar Smith. And he had an idea now and with that he began to type away madly. It didn’t seem like the greatest idea for a piece, but at least it was something new. And like that, it had all fallen into place.
words Gwil James Thomas.