by Mark Ulyseas
From The Seductive Avatars of Maya – Anthology of Dystopian Lives – book available HERE
It is crowded at Joe’s. In the far corner sits Maria with Shirley waiting for the man to arrive. One is sipping tequila and the other, absinthe.
It is a warm night and the air is filled with smoke and verbosity.
Maria is holding a book in her hand…grubby and dog-eared…it is her blackboard on which she writes about her unknown life.
He walks in, looks around and then, noticing them, moves to their table.
“Hi” says Shirley and kisses him, “This is Marie, she wants to show you her writing. Maybe you can guide her. I don’t know. I am too tired. After this drink, I’m off”.
“Hello” she replies shyly and gives him her book as if in offering.
“Keep it with you. First I need a drink, then you can read me a passage”.
His absinthe arrives and after a few sips he reaches out for Shirley’s hand.
“You have to go?”
“Yes, I have my monthly instalments…came here to introduce Maria to you. Be gentle with her.”
He smiles and turns to Maria who is wearing an ill-fitting black dress that makes her look like a matron, but she is only in her early twenties with her unkempt hair and apparent nervousness
Shirley gets up, kisses him on the shoulder, and leaves without looking back.
“Shall I read a passage?” asks Maria, hesitantly.
“Yes, please do”.
And in a voice that sounds like a mother comforting her baby, she begins…
“A warm day visiting a tiger petting tourist attraction…a snake farm and a crocodile zoo. All animals in cages, a wretched existence being mauled by the paws of tourists eager to touch the exotic.
A day in purgatory…sharing it with a man who has Crohn’s disease. He talks of his death…and I think of mine in a manner that rejoices it…
Continuity of thought and action is essential to surviving life. But the lucky number at the Buddhist temple says something else…it announces a life of shifting between time zones, of discontinuity of work and circumstance and a warning that all is not well.
How does it all end? How will one know the substance and meaning to one’s life when all round the cacophony of ‘I want, I need, I must have’ rises to a crescendo.
Today shall remain a temporary existence till another one rises to the whine of jet engines that takes me to yet another place in the firmament.
I suppose one will have to bid adieu to the here and now.
On the morrow I shall visit a butterfly park… wild butterflies are caught and entombed in a large netted area where people go to see them…numbskulls who are too lazy to walk the untraveled pathways in the forest to discover for themselves the beauty and sanctity of Nature.
Some call me mad…others the joker. I don’t care for I know who I am…I am the music maker…perhaps someday someone will hear my music and be enchanted by the essence of a life lived in celebration of the sacredness of living beings that offer us everything and yet lose their lives in doing so.
I leave you now to dream your dreams…wonderful and blessed. And I shall dream tonight of companionship, of love that I lost or left behind or didn’t recognise until I had lost it…a solitary existence that sometimes craves for a settled life…yet resisting the temptations of belonging to someone else without the fanfare of marriage or children.
Life, I suppose, is just a dream and death, a reality.”
She puts the book on the table and with a nervous twitch picks up the glass of tequila, her eyes looking straight at him like an animal in oestrus.
“You are living in a world I wish I could visit. Could you read me another extract?”
“The place is too noisy. Can we go somewhere else, please?” she asks.
They leave for his home…a hole in the wall spiced by characters of his world, a world that exists only in the lexicon.
Maria searches for his hand and holds on to it as they walk down the street. She is happy, for tonight she will carry him away into her world…the tablets in her pocket will help them journey into the light, never to return.
© Mark Ulyseas, May 05, 2015