Category: fiction prose
01/24/06 08:16 - 35ºF - ID#22032
The Odd Story Of Bryan Green: Part II
"Hey, Whatchya doing?" Bryan looked up from his laptop to find the kid had come to hang on the armrest next to him.
"I am working on a sales pitch for a client in Buffalo, I sell insurance." He had hoped that boring the kid would help him get back to work.
"It's..." He looked across the car at the kids' mother, stretched out over two seats, sleeping. How did it always work out this way? Why couldn't this kid just leave him alone? "I have work to do." He said stoically to the kid.
"Because I want my paycheck, so that I can buy food to eat."
"What's a pay-check?"
"It's...Why don't you go sit with your mommy?"
"She's sleeping." The kid said, with a tone that really said isn't that obvious mister? Why else would I be running around unchecked? Bryan was beginning to hate that woman. She seemed like the kind of person who would unload her problems on the world, or in this case, unload her child on him. The kid grabbed Bryans digital voice recorder from his open luggage, and began to press buttons. "Sweet!" the kid giggled, as Bryans voice began to play:
We can expect to have a real risk of about...
Bryan stood up, and took the recorder. "That's not a toy," The kid's eyes were beginning to squint, but before he could so much as whimper, Bryan had packed all his work into his luggage, and made his way to the door that would take him to another car, far away from the disaster waiting to happen.
Pressing his hand on the push-pad that opened the door between the passenger cars. The door opened with technological precision allowing Bryan passage into the poorly lit causeway that was sealed in by a flexible tunnel. He could still feel the winter breeze blowing gentle in the passage. The sound of the train on the tracks was much louder in the passage between, and for a brief moment his mind wondered what it would sound like if he were to accidentally slip beyond all the safety measures; would anyone hear that brief pause in the offbeat rhythm of the train? He pressed his hand on the push-pad to regain his hold on himself. The door slid open and he walked into the next car thinking that the passage had taken entirely too long to accomplish.
The next car was almost completely full. A sign above every seat indicated that electricity and Internet access was available along the outside walls. Bryan nervously sat down next to a man checking his mail on a laptop. The whole car was a murmur of independent cell phone conversations, the sound of keys being pushed, and newspapers being rustled with precision - one page at a time.
He pulled down the tray table, and began to work again. This time as he poured over the numbers he began to notice that there were a few mistakes. He looked over at the man next to him, and self-consciously covered the spreadsheet in front of him when the man looked over. Bryan hated the mistakes he often made on the spreadsheets. The sheets always made him look bad in front of Knights of Business like the man sitting next to him. Another part of dealing with the job he hated, which included never seeming to fit in with those types.
He began to adjust the spreadsheet in his laptop so that it would have the correct amounts. As he worked out the mistakes that he had made, the man next to him pulled out a copy of The Economist, and began to read. Bryan looked over at the magazine headline, Technology: New Frontiers in International Finance. Bryan always enjoyed technology columns; they were like reading about humanities dreams for tomorrow. The possibilities were exciting to imagine. He wondered if the accountant-looking fellow next to him was seeing the possibilities for new adventures, as Bryan saw them. No, it was more likely, Bryan thought, that his seatmate found adventure in the business of technology, the new frontiers of finance.
He looked down at his spreadsheet again, and came to a sudden realization. Perhaps business was not his type of adventure? Could that be why he found the numbers in front of him so depressing? What was his type of adventure, he wondered?
The sight of a man coming into the passenger car from the forward car that Bryan had come from interrupted his pondering. The man was a well dressed businessman, and would not have stood out in the carload of business people had he not been wearing clothes that were two centuries out of date. Bryan openly stared at the anachronistic man who, after taking a step into the car, stood off to one side to let a woman pass in the other direction, and then broke the time bubble he seemed to be standing in by clicking open a can of Dr. Pepper.
No one seemed to notice the white haired, dark eyed, man dressed like a nineteenth century railroad baron. No one, except Bryan, who continued to stare, and periodically look about to see if others had noticed yet. No one had.
"Are you alright, buddy?" The accountant-looking fellow had noticed his rapid head movements.
"What? Oh...yeah." Bryan looked back at the strange man at the front of the passenger car. The woman who had gone forward to the next car had returned, and she was placing her bag into the overhead no more than six inches from the odd old fellow, who seemed to be delighted to take the opportunity to peek down her shirt. "Hey!" Bryan almost shouted at the man no one could see, but he stopped himself by directing the word towards the accountant-looking fellow. "Do you see anything odd up there?" He whispered to the man next to him, only adding contrast to the previously shouted word.
The accountant-looking fellow peered forward at the woman stowing her second piece of luggage. "Just that woman putting her bag in the overhead. Do you know her?"
"But..." Bryan's social-awareness stopped him from uttering the rest of the sentence about the odd old man in nineteenth century clothing looking down the woman's shirt, effectively preserving the outward appearance of sanity. "But...man I wish I did," he congratulated himself on the save.
"Yeah," the man agreed, "she's nice looking, but she looks like a lawyer, be careful." He went back to reading his magazine, and was completely oblivious as Bryan watched the odd old fellow walk down the center isle towards the back of the train, and disappear through the doorway between cars.
Bryan's mind snapped out of shock when the door closed behind the odd white haired old man. He was immediately thrown into conflict with himself. He wanted to find out where the old man was going, and who he was, and why. More than anything right now he wanted to know, why couldn't anyone else see him? Yet, he scolded himself, you can't just jump up and chase after any strange thing that you see. What if...
He didn't allow his fears to complete the statement; he tossed his work into his luggage, and unceremoniously took off after the odd old man. He paused only briefly in front of the push-pad, but he didn't let the voice of what-if say a word, he punched the pad with his right hand, and plunged through the doorway.
Halfway through the third step into the darkness he knew that something was terribly wrong. The sound of the train wheels on the tacks was loud to either side of him, and there was no light between the cars. More frightening was that he knew three steps was one too far to not have found the other door.
He held his place clutching his luggage to his chest, in fear of the paradox of it all. Though before he could even ask how it was possible someone collided with him bodily, knocking the luggage from his arms. The other man shouted in surprise, and Bryan watched the shadow of his luggage disappear, falling too far out into the darkness to still be on the train.
The other man opened his bull's-eye lantern, and shined it at Bryan. "What are you doing out here?"
"I was..." Bryan stammered in shock and confusion. It had happened too quickly for him to come up with a better answer.
"Not going to kill yourself by jumping off the train, are you?" The other man asked with a suspicious voice of authority, but a serious voice by Bryan's estimation.
"Uh... no, sir?"
"Good, we brakeman have a hard enough time without your corpse stuck in the wheels."
"Can you show me where the door is please?" Bryan could feel himself shaking. He was too afraid to look down to see how close to falling off the causeway his collision had brought him.
"Oh, certainly," The bull's-eye lantern spun around, momentarily shining on the face of the man holding it. His face was covered in grease and soot; he wore a blue cloth cap, and sported a mustache that was waxed to a curl on either end. "There it is," the door had only been two steps away.
"Thank you," Bryan whispered shakily before quickly stepping past the man. He turned the doorknob, and made his way into the dining car beyond. He was closing the door behind him when he realized that it had a doorknob, and was made of wood. Then in a sudden rush of logic he blurted out, "There are not brakemen on modern trains!" The gentle murmur of the dining car died out, and he froze with his back to them. Bryan looked down at the bare wooden floor he was standing on. The voice of what-if quietly wondered in the back of his mind what would happen if he never turned around. On the upside, he might never have to deal with the impossibility of what was behind him. On the downside, he would have to leave his back to a room full of people who were obviously staring at him.
To Be Continued...
Location: Buffalo, NY
01/24/06 04:35 - 36ºF - ID#22031
Thoughts On Swearing
If you take some time to think about what you're swearing you'll find that the number of things that you have to say are few if you exclude words having to do with sex. In fact it would all of the following out of your vocabulary: Cunt, Slut, Motherfucker, Cocksucker, most to all usages of the word fuck, Wanker (for the British), Bastard, Bollocks (for the British), Loose, whore, dick, cock, etc.
The sheer number of words that aim to defame someone's character by making reference to their sexual practices and sexual organs leaves one with the sense that sex is supposed to be this evil thing. Now, anyone with an elementary understanding of history might say, "Well duh! The Puritans were English for the love of Dog! And practically every church taught that sex was a necessary evil." It certainly did, but I am sure few of you have taken a look at how these puritanical ideas are still reaching us today through language.
If you believe that sex is a good thing, or at least a neutral thing, then you must ask yourself if you can honestly defame it with your choice of swear words? (You and I will of course continue to use the same swear words, it's not likely that we will be able to do anything about it, but something for you to think on.) Who cares if someone has sex a lot? Why do we think that is a bad thing? Envious Perhaps?
Yet to further push my point, try to think of swear words that have something to do with things other than sex. What have you got left? Words relating to three topics: various types of excrement (shit), praying that other people go to a fiery hole where they will be tortured (damning people to hell), and Angrily shaking your fist at the universe (damning god).
It is little wonder that we stick to the sex swears in English. Shit is a childish topic to speak on, prayer rarely gets you the results you require, and shaking your fist at the universe is... well just stupid, because if you're a theist because God will get you, and if you're an atheist you don't believe anyone is up there listening anyways.
Location: Buffalo, NY
Category: fiction prose
01/23/06 10:56 - 32ºF - ID#22030
The Odd Story Of Bryan Green: Part I
Bryan Green stood sipping his hot chocolate, as the blustery frost bits tapped against the glass of the train station window. It was the kind of half-rain, not-quite sleet, that bounces once before sticking to every surface and freezing solid. The makings of an ice storm that might have sent other cities into a panic, but in Boston it only resulted in a delay in traffic, and train schedules. Bryan's train was two hours late.
The city might not have launched into a panic, but Bryan could feel the rise of anxiety in his stomach with each passing minute. He was running behind again for the millionth time in his life. Perhaps he was cursed, he mused, the world conspired against his best-laid plans, and there was nothing he could do about it. The great weight of futility pushed the air out of his lungs in a sigh, and he nervously rubbed his chin.
He had an appointment at noon on the next day in Buffalo. It would be a very important meeting, the kind that can make or break a man's income for the year, and he was woefully unprepared. With all the end of year work he had not been given enough time to prepare for the meeting, and had nearly forgotten he had to go at all. Now his train was late, and his hot chocolate had gotten cold too as he stood brooding, he tossed it out.
He paced absent-mindedly before coming to a sudden stop, at that moment it occurred to him that he could drive to Buffalo. It was only about a ten-hour drive. Doing the math he realized he could get in his car, and get to the other city with time enough to plan for the meeting. No, he thought, he already had a train ticket, and it was too risky.
"What if..." he spoke aloud, startling himself. He did not finish the statement. The words hung there in the air, and echoed in his mind. What if - a thousand times over he had said those words in fear, and then moved on, deciding to do nothing. He chose not to think of it. Introspection was too harsh for him to bear under the circumstances, and the sound of the arriving train gave him excuse enough to pick up his luggage, and stop thinking.
He held back next to the door to avoid the crowd of people rushing out of the heated station onto the boarding platform. A few people stood behind him for a few seconds thinking there was a line before angrily walking around him. He apologized under his breath, and wondered why things always happened to him.
Standing next to the large glass window, near the door, he could see down the length of the train. Looking towards the end of the train his brooding thoughts were interrupted by the sight of something odd. No, but for a moment he could have sworn he had seen two ancient passenger cars attached to the end of the modern train, yet they clearly could not be there.
He made his way to the train, and quickly boarded without taking the offer of help from the assistant conductor. Once in his seat he was relieved to find he could sit alone; he placed his luggage on the seat next to him to discourage others from trying. Then, unfolding the tray table, he set about his work with earnest. On the train, he no longer felt the grave responsibility of having to travel in a timely manner resting in the pit of his stomach.
At the station in Worcester, more people boarded and took seats in his car. He looked up from his work to watch the people. One at a time they took up the remaining seats in the car until only a woman and her child remained standing next to the seat where he had rested his luggage. He moved it quickly to the overhead before she could ask him to move it.
Preparing for the meeting would be simple enough. He knew what they wanted, how much it would cost, and that his company could give it to them the cheapest. Compiling the information into a sales pitch would only take a few hours, or so he consoled himself. His last pitch had taken five grueling hours, and by the end he had hated everything about it.
The woman was not bad looking, perhaps a few years younger than Bryan. He could not help but notice that she was not wearing a wedding ring. This was because she had conquered their shared armrest, and was tapping a beat with her fingers. It did not bother him too much, he pretended, just another sound on rhythm with the sway of the train. Her child quickly fell asleep in her arms, and before long Bryan was working diligently.
As he ran the numbers and created the presentation on his laptop, his mind began to drift. It usually did this when he worked. He would think about how boring his life was, and how much he hated his job. Then his mind would inevitably drift back to a novel he was reading. He preferred to read about great explorers, and people who sought adventure and new frontiers. Which frontiers mattered very little to him; a barbaric land, a new planet, the wild west, all just as exciting to discover as the next. He didn't own a television. When he was not working, he was reading a new novel. That was how he maintained his sanity while wallowing in the series of tragedies that he called his life.
In the past five years of his life nothing had gone the way that he wished. In his work he had become stuck as a traveling salesman, while most of his college classmates have gone on to higher places in the world. The only thing that had gone remotely well for any length of time was a brief period in his love life. He could say that he had met a woman that he had truly loved, though he never did say it.
Lisa was adventurous, quick witted, and funny. Her dream was to travel through the southwest, explore the old towns, and see the Sierra Mountains. He loved to talk about her dream with her, because it was invigorating. To him she was perfect in everyway, and that, Bryan believed, was why it had not work out.
One morning, when he had come out of the bathroom ready to go to work, he had found her standing in the living room with the luggage. She had packed both her bags and his, and had the look of determination in her eyes that he had always loved.
"I can't keep living this way, Bryan," she had said. "The stifling, oppressive routines, and mediocre monotony; it's killing me." She pointed out the living room window at the primly manicured lawns of the housing development where Bryan lived. "The choice is a simple one for me, this is not the type of life I want to live. I am going out west to live my dream. I will not continue to wait for my wishing to come true. I am going to make it come true, and I want you to come with me." Bryan had just stared in wonderment at her strength and bravery, but his appreciation was short lived as he realized what her strength meant for him.
"How could you do this to me?" he had nearly screamed at her hysterically, "I have a job here!" Lisa's answer did not come immediately. She picked up her bags with determination, and made for the door, leaving his in the middle of the room.
"Where are you going?" he pleaded, "Don't leave me here..."
She opened the door, and looked back only once to say, "You hate your job. You hate the life that you're living here. More than anything in the world, I know that you want to go out there and explore. Why do you think you read so many of those novels? I am not leaving you here, Bryan. I packed your bags. You are leaving yourself here." She closed the door with Bryan on his knees. The scent of jasmine was all that she had left him. For weeks afterwards he would turn quickly in the market when he caught her scent of jasmine, but she was never there.
To Bryan it was another potential happiness in his life that was fated to tragedy. What he wished for more than anything in the world was to be brave like her, and that was why it had not worked out. Bravery is not granted to cowards who wish.
to be continued...
Location: Buffalo, NY
01/23/06 08:32 - 34ºF - ID#22029
He wrote the following in responce to my "We Only Have Each Other" Post:
Respect everyone's life and how they want to live it! Oh, and if you believe in God, I am going to do exactly the opposite of what I just proclaimed in statement one.
By what authority do you speak, sir? Is the Government our God?
The argument that you attribute to me in your response is not the argument I set forward in the two paragraphs of my post. I will explain where perhaps my clumsy use of language might has lead you astray. First, your second sentence because it corresponds with what I said first.
You wrote: "Oh, and if you believe in God, I am going to do exactly the opposite of what I just proclaimed in statement one."
My first point is that we only have each other. That is to say that all that there is, at this point, is we humans on planet earth. My second point is that we often use creations like God, Groups, and Government to justify our infringements on each other's right to life. That is, we say things like, "They do not believe in The God, Our God, A God, so we are justified in killing them." "We are in the majority so we can take away the rights of the minority." Things like God, Groups, and Government, have become tools for attacking and justifying the attacks on individual rights. This is usually because there is an inherent belief that individuals are the property of these things. That is, that you belong to God, the group, or the government, and that you should therefore do as they wish. You do not belong to any of those three, individuals belong to themselves. You own you, and only you. My last point in the first paragraph is that taking into account that you own yourself, and realizing that we only have each other here on earth to trade with, and so on, is the foundation of any real social order. That is to say that we need to work from the basic building block of a society to create order, which is the individual, not god, the group, or the government.
Secondly, your first sentence, in which you wrote: "Respect everyone's life and how they want to live it!"
I would like to point out that I did not say what you said above. I said that we should respect each other's right to live our lives. You added on the "and how they want to live it!" The difference between what I said and what you said is vast.
What I said is that we should respect the idea that "you own yourself, and only yourself" as the basis of the social order. What I said is that you cannot justify making slaves of others through God, Groups, or Government, because to do so would presume that the lives of those people belong to something other than themselves.
What you said is that we should respect everyone's life and how they want to live it. This would mean that if someone chose to live their life by making slaves of others, that we would have to say "Oh, but how unfortunate they are a tyrant, we must respect their choice to enslave though." That is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that if you do not respect the idea that a person belongs to themselves, and only themselves. You cannot truly expect others to do the same for you. That is, if you choose to become a tyrant, or a murderer, you should not expect people to extend you the respect of the social order. Why? Because your actions are not in line with the basis of the social order.
Now I would like to address what I believe you see as the implication of my writing. As I am an atheist you might think that I believe that if you believe in God that you should be refused the respect of the social order, or killed. That is not what I am putting forward in my two paragraphs.
If you choose to believe in God, Goblins, or Green Men of Mars, I would not care. I would not agree with you. I would argue that you were absurd. But I would never argue that you should be killed, because that would not respect the basis of the social order, the idea that you own yourself. If you used your belief in God to enslave or otherwise infringe upon others right to the same thing... then, as I said above, you cannot expect the same respect.
Location: Buffalo, NY
01/21/06 10:55 - 29ºF - ID#22028
We Only Have Each Other
Ignoring other individual's right to live their life, by believing that they are a slave for you, God, or Society; is believing that there is ground where there is only air. It is most likely that you will hit the ground one day soon, and as you lay dying by the hands of your former slaves, you will open your willfully ignorant eyes to find that you have actually been falling for some many years. You might ask, "Where have I gone wrong?" The answer is that you have forgotten the simple truth, that we only have each other, and that we only have that much so long as we prudently respect each others lives.
Location: Buffalo, NY
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