Posted on August 26, 2015August 26, 2015 by Patricia Ann McNair8.26.2015 Journal Prompt August 26, 2015: They were never really friends. Like this:Like Loading... Related
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I’m not sure how long I’d been asleep. Laying on the musty couch in the hotel lobby I somehow just nodded off. I’ve done that more recently. Not sure what it’s about but here I am again waking up in the middle of the day half awake half asleep.
Before I even opened my eyes I could hear their voices. They weren’t loud at all. I don’t think it was the sound that woke me up. Perhaps it was the long silences. A woman’s dulcet soprano, a silence, a man’s baritone response. Another silence. Then another almost muffled bass in resonance with the rest of the chorus. A second man?
Through half shut eyes I could see them, the three. A sweet woman keeping her eyes down working at knitting. The men with their quiet bantering, like a silent tennis match, back and forth, back and forth. They appear to have been playing this set for some time, familiar with the rules of the court. But they never could get to a Game-Set-Match from the referee. No final sigh of “well done,” or even “thank God that ones over with.” Just the quiet swoosh of the back and forth conversation.
The one man in the sweater leaning back in the rocker looked for all the world as if he were not engaged at all. His stretched out body announced that he wasn’t really there. The other, in the white shirt, was set back and appeared to analyze, like a philosophy prof with his college class. Each was engaged. Each was disconnected.
The woman seemed pleased with it all and kept her head down with a little smile, watching the rhythm of her knitting needles fly through their weaving ritual. She spoke infrequently, but it was clear that she was in control. Her flirtatious glances and quiet voice kept the two men playing, back and forth. “And what do you think, Joe?” she would say. “And Tom, could you say more about that?” and so it would go. Back and forth, back and forth.
It was only as I became more fully awake that I could hear the tension. The low hard pressure in speech that forms when all the muscles in the back of the neck tighten up. Joe would lean back and comment, a raspy whisper directed at the knitting needles. Then Tom’s voice would form a quiet echo off the wall as he tried to keep the peace with low soothing tones. A counterpoint to the soprano-baritone duet that began to swell in strength. “Is that what you’d like to do, Karen,” he would say.
Through my half shut eyes I cold feel the light streaming through the polished window panes. The afternoon sun was a searchlight on the trio highlighting the lines in their faces and the shadows in their eyes. The banter counterpoint continued relentlessly as Karen smiled without ceasing. Bound together captives of their company, they were never really friends.
I decided to lie there quietly so as not to disturb the developing chorus. Who wants to be the only one coughing in the theatre? With eyes still half shut I could hear Joe quietly promote his plans for the afternoon. They would go the three of them in his car, sightseeing followed by dinner. Tom interrupted that Karen might want to do something else. The tone became more intense. Karen insisting that she honestly didn’t care what they did together. Really. Joe and Tom’s voices each trying to quietly take control of the outcome.
Joe finally came forward dramatically from his looking at the ceiling.
“All right. I give up. Do you guys want to see the sights or not? I’m ready to go whenever you are. Karen? Tom?”
“I’d like to go with the both of you if you boys can just stop your silly arguing and Tom agrees.” The knitting needles came down and her eyes danced back and forth.
The low voice in the corner conceded defeat with a final flourish of resistance.
“It’ll be ok. I get to pick where we stop for dinner.”
Just as suddenly as the chorus had started it was over. The fugue ended in dissonance but at least it was done. The knitting needles vanished. The two men stood up and the threesome marched out arm in arm.
I was left to open my eyes finally in the brilliant sunlight. The sudden smell of bleach in housekeeper’s mop bucket wafted over the couch from behind me. I was definitely awake now. It was time to get up and move on.
“The low hard pressure in speech that forms when all the muscles in the back of the neck tighten up.” Nice work, David!
Thank you for the response. Playing with some ideas to see what happens next. So often the sentences I think are clever or well put together when written don’t look so great the morning after. More soon. Thanks again.
I like the girl being quietly in control here. That’s a neat idea, that she’s knitting the whole thing – and it does create a sort of tension when that happens. Enjoyed this.
Thank you for this Lindsay. The entire dialogue hit me as soon as I saw the girl knitting away. It was enjoyable to write, but I kept trying to play with the musical image and had to stop….
I belong to Zig. Let’s just make that clear at the start. We is almost married and he gave me a ring so that feels like something. I know it aint official and there’s been no announcement to no one, but it’s understood. I belong to Zig and he belongs to me and our names run together like they’ve made a new word – Catandzig, and everyone knows.
Kirsty says it’s like destiny and stars and shit, and she says we just fit so snug together and she says we’re like two interlocked pieces of a jigsaw puzzle. It aint as perfect as all that; we has our moments when the air is stiff between us and doors slam hard as thrown fists and we don’t talk to each other for a whole day or a whole weekend. But mostly Kirsty’s right.
Zig says Kirsty’s ok and like that my friends is his friends. And it works the other way, too. His best mate’s called Capstan and they go way back and Zig says he’d die for Cap and Zig says he loves him more than a brother, and so I say I love him, too.
But all that was before. And now things is different, all stood on their head, and I don’t know what to do with what happened.
We was all up at Zig’s uncle’s cabin, see. We was there for the week and there was nothing and no one for miles and it was like we was the only people left in the whole world. We took supplies up there and enough beer and wine to float a ship and we just lay about and did nothing. Zig and Cap had plans for fishing but the first few days they was just drinking and chewing the fat.
The cabin was on the side of this lake and there weren’t no electricity or running water, so it was real basic and that made it a sort of adventure. Cap had some weed with him and we sat out front smoking and watching the sun playing on the surface of the water. And Kirsty kept flirting with Cap, and me and Zig just looked at each other and we smiled like the day couldn’t get any better.
We went swimming in the lake, just when we had a fancy. The water was cold as fridges and we kept the beer and woine tied up in a bag and sitting in the water so it was always cool to drink. And we just stripped down to nothing and threw ourselves into the lake – it was so cold there was no other way. And we surfaced, blowing air like seals and shrieking against the cold that it was.
Anyway, I caught Cap looking at me this one time – I mean really looking at me, like he was imagining his hands on my tits and running between my legs. I was sort of flattered, at first, and I smiled to myself and felt good – and I didn’t tell Zig, for where was the good in that?
Then that night I was out at the lake fetching beer and the stars were all wond’rous and the air was crisp as biscuits and I just stood there looking up. And I didn’t hear Cap come up behind me and he put his arms around me and he held my breasts in his hands and he kissed my neck. I swear I thought it was Zig and I made the sound of a puppy dreaming and I put my hands over his.
Zig had said he would die for Cap and he loved him more than he could ever love a brother and here was Cap kissing my neck and touching me like no friend of Zig’s ever should and making me want to fuck him – fuck Zig, that is, ‘cept it wasn’t Zig, and now I’m all confused, and I’ve got Zig’s ring in my finger and it feels like it don’t belong there no more and nothing belongs.
Aren’t triangles fun to explore! Very nicely pieced together soliloquy of the mental chaos within. I liked the piece, and wonder where you find the names of your characters. Good fun.
Thanks, Dave. Thanks for reading and liking and commenting. As to where I get the names from – the simple answer is all over. If I am really stuck I do an internet search for names… there are a lot of sites for this and you can narrow your search to country specific if you want or unusual names or popular names. Zig – I made that one up, though I suspect David Bowie might have helped in my creative subconscious. Capstan was a search on a site giving unusual boys’ names and I just shortened it to Cap cos it felt right. Kirsty is the name of a girl I should have dated when I was fifteen. The names somehow have to feel right to me and once they do then it is not easy to change the name in a piece if ever I rewrite it. Hope that helps.