No story lives unless someone wants to listen. – J.K. Rowling, b. July 31, 1965
A delightful thing happens every now and again: I get a comment posted on my blog by someone who was inspired by the journal prompts and photos I post daily. Of particular note are a number of these that come from a reader in the UK, someone who only identifies herself (I believe it is a woman) as “Lindsay.” She is a fabulous writer, full of haunting stories that are always filled with longing and wonder. Her brief responses are short-short prose pieces that make a reader consider and question, make a reader eager to see what she will write next. So here is another of her prose pieces, pulled from Journal Prompt #185. The photo is above; the writing prompt was:
He was a good man. Helped old ladies cross the road and women with prams up stairs. He was quiet and did not draw attention to himself. He just went about his day, looking for ways to help, small ways to make the world a better place with him in it. He was a good listener, too. All the troubles of the city were delivered to him across cups of coffee or glasses of beer and he nodded his head and was sympathetic to all sides and careful not to offer advice, only comfort.
He was an angel, someone said, and the papers got a hold of that and it helped them sell a few more copies: ‘The Angel of Barstow’. And maybe he was an angel. In a way he was: all the good that he did and everyone in need turning to him for kind words.
His name was John. I never knew more than that. He had a second floor apartment on Maydew Drive, out by Pilling. I went there once. He asked me. He apologized for the mess. There were old take-out boxes stacked in the corners of his front room and the place smelled of stale food and farts. There was a desk in the room and he was in the middle of writing a letter. I noticed there were dollar bills folded into the envelope, like he was doing some good even then.
We’d been drinking and I’d told him about Brewer and how he was bastard for what he done and I was crying and John just reached out to me and laid one hand on top of mine, gentle as a girl. I didn’t want to be alone and so he’d said I should go back with him. And that’s how we were together in his apartment. Soon as the door was closed he was kissing me and I let him, and his hands were rough under my clothes and we fucked there on the floor of his front room and he called me such names as made me think he was not a nice man.
Afterwards he said he was sorry and he pressed money into my hands and he was the one that was crying then. He said he hadn’t meant for to hurt me and he stroked my hair and said again how he was sorry.
I don’t think that was why he jumped from the roof of the City Bank. Me and John was way back. I saw him sometimes being nice to other women, in cafés and bars, and I wondered if he took them home too and was sorry afterwards. Anyways, the papers got to calling him the Angel of Barstow and I didn’t hear anyone say otherwise so I think maybe he was in his own way.
→Thanks again, Lindsay, for the very fine writing. And whenever you are ready to tell us more about yourself and your work, perhaps through a View From the Keyboard, we are ready to know. Thanks for reading! ~PMc←