(Forbidden Place, 2016)
“How got your what?” I hollered down the basement stairs, completely without regard for the process of stringing together English words to form a coherent thought. The confusion from those below bubbled to the top of the stairs, not necessarily in words but in exploratory psychic tendrils. No vocalizations were needed. Those emanating from my mouth did not hold significance or sense. After a few seconds I could hear someone unmute the television and the sounds of the Atari 2600 resume. No one consciously responded.
“When the hassle hits the hustle” I bellowed down a long, dark hallway stretching from one end of the estate to the other, for no other reason than that I thought it was a clever thing to say. “Hassle” and “Hustle” cleave to one another phonetically, with nothing but a vowel and silent “T” delineating their pronunciation to something just other than a homonym pair. I had to admit, the echoes of sound in that passage caused me to think twice about what I had done; the ghosts of residents past flocked to the sound and hovered motionless at the very edge of perception.
“Can’t stop won’t!” I screamed from my bicycle as I careened around the corner on Christmas Day, visions of the Christ child born 2000-odd years earlier flickering through my mind as I avoided black ice patches and the certain catastrophe that accompanied them were I to brake or turn hard while riding over them. Cold wind in my face, snow flurries disturbed by my passing, I closed my eyes and braced myself as the hill became steeper and steeper and stopping became less and less likely. The agitation resulting from the fear and exhilaration combining within me was palpable but made little sense as I ruminated on my own death and the Advent season and bicycle maintenance. Couldn’t stop wouldn’t. Never.
I had no more words, and none were forthcoming, but the message was clear. I had many words, but in no discernible order – they made sense only in the desperate abstract where the brain scrabbles for a foothold from which to balance on meaning. The faultline where the two met was terrifying in its unpredictability. Whether the sound spattering from the collision was in my head our outside of it was impossible to determine. I looked around to see if anyone else heard it. I was alone. So the answer didn’t matter. What did matter was this: it truly was The Greatest Story Ever Told.
You know Bob. You know Matt. They improvise.