The Writer: Chapter 2

Octavio Paz once said that solitude is the profoundest fact of the human condition. Sometimes I think this is how Hell is supposed to be. A dark, empty room. Or a huge city with no one but yourself for company.

I know that you’re here just because you want to find out what really happened to Oscar, but I’m afraid I’m going to disappoint you. I am going to read you one of my stories instead.

Why? Because every writer wants to be read, every storyteller wants to be heard.

 

Crossroads

 

“El sueño de la razón produce monstruos.” – Francisco Goya

His chest felt heavy, his legs tired. Dead leaves rustled under his feet. Nailed to the sky, the moon’s sardonic smile quivered among a cluster of cold stars. His body just a coffin for his soul, Robert seemed to take every footstep with infinite precaution, as if fearing that the dirt road would swallow his feet.

On each side, pine trees stood tall. Ancient guardians.

“Though I walk through the Valley of the Shadow of-” he tried to recite, but was interrupted by hounds barking somewhere in the distance. Long, reverberating shivers of sounds that seemed to had spawned from hell itself bashed against his ears. His black skin glistened with sweat; droplets shuddered down from his hairline to his eyebrows, down his temples. The skin of his neck burned, hot. His eyes glimmered in the dark void, hopelessly trying to peer through that endless ocean of fear and agony. He pressed the guitar to his chest, his long arms forming a desperate embrace around the black wood. The sharp smell of lacquer flooded his nose.

Robert was so young. He would have liked to believe that all this was just the terrible lethargy of a nightmare, but it wasn’t because he could smell the fresh and clean scent the trees around him emanated.

When he reached the spot where the road that led to Dockery Plantation and the one that led to Clarksdale met, he sighed. A small lamp hung from a wooden street sign, and a bench overlooked both roads. He turned around – a sinuous and dark pathway slowly dissolved into the night.

He stood there for a long time. Then he began to stagger his way toward the bench.

With his guitar resting in his lap, he took a deep breath, the cool air making its way down his throat with a prolonged hiss, and then he began to sing a lullaby, his hands drumming on the guitar. Above, a comet was cutting through the black sky like a knife, its bluish tail shining bright.

His singing was cut short by hounds barking. He gulped. His heart throbbing inside his chest, he rummaged through his mind for a bit of clarity, for a bit of strength, but couldn’t find any. It was as if someone was walking toward him, a vague perception hinted by the shadows that danced on the ground around him. His body froze as he could now clearly hear footsteps, growing stronger and stronger. A gust of wind rattled all the ghosts that resided inside his soul. Twigs fluttered spasmodically and screeched as if possessed by a demon.

“Where are the others?” A deep voice killed the silence and shattered into a million pieces inside his head. Robert closed his eyes. His shoulders shuddered. This was all just a dream.

When he opened them, he saw a puny man sitting beside him on the bench. The man’s eyes were a strange grey, a color he had seen many times before in his nightmare. He wore a black trench coat that came all the way down to his knees.

“Where are the others?” the man repeated, staring intensely back at Robert.

“What others?”

A frown flickered across the man’s pale face. “Others. Like you. There should have been more tonight.”

Robert rubbed the sweat off his eyebrows and forehead.

The man leaned forward and fixed his gaze on Robert’s eyes. Deep wrinkles traversed his forehead. He caressed his chin with his tiny fingers.

“Can you see my soul?” Words struggled to come out of Robert’s mouth.

The man didn’t bother to answer. He pointed toward the guitar. “This is what you want?”

Robert nodded.

The man took the guitar from his shaking hands and placed it on his lap. A lifetime of agony passed between two heartbeats. The man tuned the guitar with care, and then he began to play. His hands were performing such an intricate choreography, making the chords cry underneath his small, white as bone fingers that a tear formed in the corner of Robert’s eye and lingered there for a moment.

As the painful melody sent ripples through the night, the man stared hollowly at the dirt road that stretched toward Clarksdale. A long time passed, with Robert hopelessly rubbing life back into his arms and shoulders.

Then the song stopped. The man glanced at Robert with his ash colored eyes and smiled.

“Thank you,” Robert whispered as the man handed him the guitar back. “How’s this going to…” he muttered, his fingers caressing the chords. A sharp pain pierced through his fingers and travelled upward through every fiber of his body. His soul fell into a deep abyss, and his heart began to boil inside his chest. He felt that he couldn’t breathe, that air couldn’t make its way down to his lungs. He closed his eyes and began to play vividly, his hands shaking in despair. Soon the fire in his body and limps dissolved, and he opened his eyes, his eyes as black as tar – they were void of any light. Empty and cold.

The other man stood on the street a few feet away from him, with his hands tucked in his pockets. “What’s your name?” he asked and grinned, revealing yellow, crooked teeth. His grey eyes shone bright.

A faint breeze quivered around their bodies. The two dirt roads that collided underneath their feet glowed in the shy light of the lamp. A weak heartbeat tried to keep an empty body alive.

And the black man said, “Robert, sir. Robert Johnson.”


I have always been fascinated by so called faustian myths or tales: sell your soul to the devil in exchange for being granted one wish. 

What would one wish for? What is one’s soul worth? What could you possibly want that such a trade would be worth it? What would you sell your soul for?

What about talent? Not success. Not money. But talent. It does feel like selling your soul, right? Art. Writing your heart out, for all the strangers in the world to read about your most intimate thoughts and emotions. 


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My first novel, an unrequited love story. Classic. I set out to write Jazz, owning nothing more than a few scattered images and the desire to write about Paris. I built my beautiful and mysterious woman, my young and naïve writer, and all the other characters in my story. And brick after brick I built my melancholic city.

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The Writer – Read reviews on Goodreads here.

The Writer is a novel about a guy, Jonathan Fisher. It’s a first person account of how he became a writer.

The Writer is also what some people might call Literary Fiction. With a touch of Magical Realism.

The Writer is Metafiction, meaning that it’s a novel about a writer writing a story.

The Writer is a frame-story. Jonathan Fisher somehow decides, on a mostly random basis, that he wants to read a story to the audience. Well, it’s not precisely the audience, because Jonathan Fisher is actually addressing a certain someone. Anyway, he still insists on reading from his short story collection.

And then there’s this guy, Jonathan Fisher. There’s something broken about him. He’s just an observer. That’s what makes him so frightening. He’s the kind of guy who’ll walk right past a woman getting mugged. He never intervenes. He’s happy to be a shadow. I know there are far worse people (and fictional characters) out there, but…

Dream City and Other Stories – Read reviews on Goodreads here.

A magnificent painting, a few memories in a notebook, a letter to his son. Paul is dying, and he wants one thing and one thing only: he wants to feel he’s in control. He doesn’t feel free anymore, just because a disease is eating away his life, so every morning when he wakes up he puts a gun to his temple and closes his eyes.

Like he says, “True freedom comes from the realization that you can kill yourself at any time.”

 

 

2:22 AM – Read reviews on Goodreads here.

“Where have you been all my life?” you once asked her. You stared her in the eyes and smiled and she smiled back, a bit scared by what you just said.

You told her that you’d like to hold her hand.

“Why?” she asked.

“Because I could conquer the world… if only you’d hold my hand.”

She lay down her cup. She put it to the side of the table, then moved the ashtray next to it. Then she did the same with your cup. She put her hand on the table, palm up. And she said, “You’re brave, you know? To think that you can conquer the world with just one hand.”

2:22 AM is a short novel written from the perspective of two people who break up. They don’t want to, but it happens. The days go by, they both struggling to find comfort in the fact that the other one is never coming back.

”I was drawn in after reading the first page. Being a “hopeless” romantic I could empathize with both characters but I felt a connection with “him”. The authors description of loneliness, excitement, regret and pain is so intense, I became emotional while reading. It is gripping, honest and touching. Beautiful story…” – Melanie Lawson, praise for 2:22 AM.

closer is the story of a man who is so seduced by the desire to get rich that he becomes involved in a world where anything is permitted. His journey to the top is interrupted by the consequences of his past actions. Things become darker, more violent and more sexually disturbing than he could ever have imagined as he tries to break himself free from his past.

Deft, shocking and unforgettable, this gripping tale about risk, consequence and the treacherous balance between the two reveals a world where there’s nothing to separate right from wrong.


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