And I wake up... But it is still dark; terrible nightmare! I can't see a thing. Surely it must be daylight by now; and about 8am. I can hear the roar of cars zooming by outside the window, and the impatient drivers honking mercilessly, and the continuous drone of the 'El' as it schleps about on the tracks, and a jack hammer pounding into concrete somewhere close, and Mrs. Bernstein yelling at Mr. Bernstein, and Mr. Bernstein bawling back, and Baby Bernstein wailing her lungs out, and Mutt Bernstein barking, and a tap, dripping, and dripping, and dripping, and...
Maybe if I rub my eyes a little, and shake the sleep off, maybe I'll see. I feel my fingers on the side of my body, and wiggle them. They are still there. I feel my biceps contract, and the elbow bend as the fingers, still wiggling, move up to the face. The fingers feel something unexpected. It is not flesh, but something that is coarse and crumples as the fingertips prod it. He grabs the book from his face, and the twilight glow of the dusk sky filters into his eyes. In the dying lights of the day, he sees a maniac surrounded by flames, shadows dancing on his body, laughing hysterically, screaming “ This belongs to me! ”. I am laughing, as I throw the comic aside. I pull my body out of bed and it trips over a bag lying around. What the hell is that doing here? And how the hell is she still asleep? He jumps emphatically out of bed, but the woman lies unperturbed. He can hear his footsteps, heavy, as he drags himself to the bathroom sink, finally awake, half-awake at least. The sink is dry, he watches as the fingers turn the tap, and nothing. He lets out a groan. It was dripping minutes ago!
A cloudy golden liquid pours out of the tap and I fill up my glass. The bartender is lying with his head on the bar. “Thanks for serving me, Jack!” I say slapping his head hard; he does not wake up.
“Do you want to hear a joke, Jack? Once this clown walks into a bar...”
He's sleeping like a corpse, with his mouth open drooling all over the bar. Fuck it! Shaking my head, I take my pint to the table. It is a thunder storm outside. He watches as the dark sky turn ghost white for a flash; a big crack and boom follows a few seconds later. He sits tapping a tune on the table, staring at his reflection in the window, planning his trip to the sea.
A large crack runs down the glass, from corner to corner behind which, an anaemic face stares back at me with bloodshot eyes. I run my fingertips over it, and feel its dry, calcareous texture. Maybe some skin cream will do me good. The blackness around its eyes, and the swollen lips make me wonder about last night. I can't recall anything. Maybe, a cold shower will do me good. I turn on the shower; nothing. Not a drop. Fuck it! Lets get out of here. Maybe, a walk in the morning sun will do me good. I peek out of the window, as the last remnants of sunlight disappear and the City compensates with fluorescent, artificial lights. Slowly, the sky turns into a characteristic red glow that is typical of the City and a cold breeze hits my face. Isn't it supposed to be snowing in February?
I carelessly slip my tie on around my shirt collar. It looks like a mess. Fuck it! I am in no mood to untie and tie it all over again. I leave my coat, but plant a hat on my head. Hats are out of style now, but I like them.
At the door, I look back at the woman still lying in bed. Goodbye Mrs. Bernstein. The man is still asleep on the couch. Goodbye Mr. Bernstein. I say nothing to the little girl and her dog lying in the corner. The Bernstein's were good hosts, though their place could use some cleaning. Specially the red stains on the carpet. They must have had too much wine last night; even spilled some. I almost forgot my bag. He grabs the bag and leaves closing the door as quietly as he can.
He finds himself out in a damp, dank street. He stares at the Tower, tall; in fact the tallest in this part of the world, and dark, with two pinnacles of light shining atop it, against the backdrop of a thunderstorm. Bolts of lightning strike the Tower, and it hardly flinches. A symbol of majesty, and elegance, and money, and power, and dominance. He quietly walks into the nearby coffee shop.
“We're closed mister...” says the guy behind the counter without bothering to even look up.
He calming walks up to the counter and the left hand grabs the man by his shirt collar and the other holds a knife to his throat.
“T-T-Take the money... d-d-don't h-hurt me!” he shrieks.
His eyes wander to the chest of the poor shivering man, and read the name tag. “No, Jack... ”, I hear the words come out of my mouth “ It's not about the money... ”
The man begins to shiver more, and fear oozes from his skin. I gently release him. “I just want an espresso.”
“Es-Espresso...!” He seems confused. He screams, and his eyes roll back, shadows cross over his eyes. “I'll make it myself then...” Everything is blurred, coloured lights are dancing. His head is spinning.
The world is spinning. I see stars, and the sea, and lights, and people, and stars, and the sea, and lights... lots of lights, people, lots of shadows. The world is spinning. Stars. And fog. My sight is blurred. It is the fog. But I can see the stars. And the Pier floating on the lake, people down below, walking through their own shadows. The world is spinning. Then, it stops. The world is spinning. Again. And it stops. Again.
There is a tap on my hand. I look down and my eyes see a little young face staring back. “Get off mister, it is my turn now!” he says. My hands hold his chin, and he smiles widely at the kid.
“Enjoy, the ride.”
He gets off the big wheel and walks away. Eyes follow him as he wades through the crowd.
“Say Cheese!” There is a flash in my face, I hold my hat and walk by the camera. I think I forgot my bag on the Ferris wheel! Fuck it! I don't want to stop the thing; the kids seem to be having a blast! I grab a newspaper for the ride home.
I turn the page as the 'El' trudges along the the turn. Massive walls of glass and steel pass by outside. I see the lights and shadows of the City shimmer in through the window, and reflect off of my paper. I keep my head down and continue reading. There is no one else but me on this train.
The train rocks slightly before it crawls to a halt. “Last stop bro! You getting off or what?” comes a shout from the driver. He folds his paper and tucks it under his arms, walking to the front.
“Hey, you're that clown that blew up the Pier!” He does a quick turn, and the knife sinks deep into a throat. He holds the quivering bus driver tenderly in his arms, and caresses his bald head, and twists the knife deeper.
“Nighty night!”, he says as he forces the gaping eyes shut. “Sleep well! You'll have a long day cleaning this sticky mess up.” An apparition steps of the taxi, and slams the doors shut. The street is deserted, not a soul around, not a light flickers; yet the shadows of the City dance in the alley.
The big neon glow sign reads 'The Real Ale'. The bright orange lights bounce off my green tie, fluttering in the wind that starts to pick up. A gloved hand knocks on the door. “We're closed!”
I knock again on the door. There is a lot of shouting and howling in there. 'Bernsteins' says the name.
“Knock, knock!” I scream.
That's not what you're supposed to say! I am pissed. I knock again on the door; harder this time. The hand goes back to playing with the knife, as the noises behind the door pause awkwardly. I glance back at the newspaper. There is a photo of a maniac surrounded by flames, laughing. Next to it, a familiar face stares back at me. As if from a broken mirror. The door opens slowly, and my mind goes back to the bus driver outside. “I'm not a clown.”
the switch from first to second person and then back and forth is supposed to convey the short burst of imagery of a dream or a recollection of it, but while reading it doesn’t feel like it.
if it’s recalling, then there has to be coherence. if the actual dream is being described…the switch has to be a cornerstone moment.
there is no such thing as a image to image description of a dream, we always complete the missing parts. anything out of order attracts the mind and immediately a cure is dreamt/imagined.
my main gripe, is that i am jolted out by the perspectives each time i try to immerse myself in the story. unless that was the intention, i’d rather you improvise on the perspectives, so that there is a small amount of closure before the next thread picks up.
the writing style and use of phrases portray a very intriguing imagery which i much enjoyed.
I loved this. The way you used the switch from first to third person to reflect conflicting persona inside the guy was nicely done. Reminded me of Miller’s first few pages of ‘The Dark Knight Returns’.
To come up with an analogy, the first person is in the driver’s seat, but he is held at knife-point by the other guy, who can stop the car and do whatever he feels like while the driver can just watch and let him be.
What I didn’t like was the verbosity of detail. For a narrative like this, I’m sure you can convey just as much with fewer words. Has a better punch, according to me.
This was an episode, where with one phrase, you looped back to the start, and that was nice. The scattered description was good enough for the reader to fill in the blanks of the narrator’s psyche.
I have no gripe as HellFragger mentioned before me, since the closure he speaks of is better at the end, when you piece it all together, than try to complete even the smaller bits.