Fishing in Beirut

May 16, 2010

Part 8: Te Quiero (scene 19)

Filed under: Character : Frank, Part 8 : Te Quiero — fishinginbeirut @ 10:35

Frank put the gathered nail clippings in the bin by the door. His fingertips tingled, and he ran them under warm water, a post-cutting trick. He always kept his nails so short people asked him did he bite them, but he didn’t, never had. He looked at his fingers, the right middle one bearing a scar.
On Pont de Bercy the world had been frozen. Sculpted, hardened, and left hanging for him. A gap in the chaos he had left and the girl he was going to.
He sat down and stared at his manuscript. It was growing – moving and shifting, the relevant and less so pushing for space. Is a person on a page automatically a character, immediately imbued with this status, and changed. Can writing about something alter it, make it less real?
He wasn’t equal to these questions.
He made a sentence and deleted it. Various alternative constructions began swimming in his brain. He had cleaned his room thoroughly in the morning, getting up early to do it. Now, at the stroke of twelve, he was rooted to the desk.
A glass of hour-old water sat beside him. Tiny bubbles floated toward the top, but slowly, ponderously. He saw the smudged imprint of his lips in two different spots.
He went to the window and leaned out. Writing is unconscious exercise, because any movement will do. Stretch, yawn, jump up to do nothing, or walk around. Anything but force those words on that mocking blankness.
One of those sci-fi cleaning vans arrived, scuttling down the road with a hose attached. There was a man attached to the hose, walking along the path spraying the ground, and from Frank’s position it looked like this man was leading the van. His green and yellow dog, out in the fresh midday.
The picture grew more detailed as they approached. The hose, the umbilical cleaning apparatus, writhed and rolled from the vehicle to the man. The water cracked and splashed on the butt-strewn pavement. Frank could still not make out the van’s driver, and he tried not to look, lest he shatter the illusion. Pedestrians took refuge on the street to avoid getting soaked.
Frank went back to his desk. He fiddled with an odd piece of string protruding from his wallet, a straggly end where the lining had come loose. He looked at a picture of himself on a piece of ID.
It was what to say, it was how to say it. It was letters in lines that might hopefully touch someone else. The facilitation of eye movement across static words on a page. The endless belief that it was good, and then it wasn’t, and then it was.
He rotated his ankle. Muscles were caught, and there was clicking, and pain. He rubbed it slowly, methodically.
The sound of a circular saw skewered the silence. A pinpoint sound, like an opera singer in a bad mood. It darted out, finding Frank in his room. A swordfish vibration, a prickly, stabbing, blast.
He tried to describe it accurately. Even if it didn’t make the scene it would be useful to do. Take the senses and filter them through the fingers, put down what is heard, what’s seen.
He wanted clarity. Precision, lucidity, economy of expression. Words on the page because they’d staked a claim to be there.
The wind blew the curtain and the camera drifted out of the bedroom. This is what could happen, a handsome young actor playing Frank. We leave him with his writing, and move maybe skyward, or fade to black.


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