Cold rain falls in the river, flows down to the sea, gets into the skyline, circles endlessly. Same old rain on the wind, same old pain in my soul.

Sunday, August 2, 2009

The Power Of Suggestion

A man went for a walk one day. On his mind were the things which held title to his sleep, and chains upon his heart.
The walk took him past houses in smattered settlement, churches of ancient hollow ringing, and schools of broken promises.
His walk was deep-pockets down and fevered brow, and he tried to hide himself in shrunken mobility.
So many hopes in so many yesterdays now echoed in the wash of empty buildings and long ago schemes and they followed him in silent maniacal laughter.

To the children of chalk and jump rope, he smiled and gave way. To the bent, squat widow with an armload of store in paper, he nodded to her solitude and armored grief.
His slurred steps eventually led to a park, or so the sign said, but it was empty and un-peopled and that was enough.
He found a bench of carved graffiti and moldy bird shit and sat down to settle the noon squabble within. The pond was inviting, speaking in mist, “Come, drown here.” So he looked away. He looked to the sky, but the sky stared him down in folded shun, saying, “You’ll never know me.” He looked to the ground and the ground said hello.
It was here, bent sullen upon a beggar’s bench, that it came to him. At first, as just a shadow burying him deep, and then as voice.
“What troubles you, friend?” The voice prodded.
The man in the cage said nothing.
“Mind if I sit?” And the voice did.
“Perhaps things are not so bad as they seem,” the voice crossed it’s legs. “Perhaps I may even be of some assistance.”
The man glanced over but not up. “Oh, yeah. How do you figure?”
The voice shifted a bit closer and cleared it’s throat.
“Well, if it's money you need....”
For the first time, the man looked up, but only to the voices chin, and interrupted it.
“Well,” the man acquiesced, “money would help!”
“I see,” the voice straightened, “and how much money are we referring to?”
“Oh, I’d say a hundred thousand dollars would do quite nicely.” The man clucked in cynical fashion.
“I see,” the voice paused. “That is quite a sum, to be certain.”
The man looked away. “Tell me about it!”
After a period of silence, the man stretched to rise but the voice stopped him.
“What if I were to tell you, that I am prepared to give you the money. All of it.”
The man looked to the voices knees.
“Give, huh? Just give.” The man sneered and looked away.
“Yes, That’s quite correct. Just give. With just one condition.”
The man raised his head in mock agreement. “Ah, of course. A condition,” the man continued. “ Like seventy percent interest payable next week.”
The voice put it’s hands to it’s knees and rubbed.
“No, nothing like that. Just a verbal commitment.”
“I see,” the man in the cage replied. “And what is it you’d have me agree to.”
“It’s very simple really. You give me your soul. I give you one hundred thousand dollars. Deal done. You’ll not see me again.”
The man grinned and rubbed his chin. “Let me get this straight; I say, ‘here, have my soul’ and you give me a hundred thousand dollars, and I don’t have to pay it back, and you disappear. Is that right?”
The voice stood once more as shadow only. “Yes, that is correct, Sir.”
The man kicked at the dirt in amusement. “Well, OK, Partner-you can have my soul. Now where’s my money?”
The voice turned to leave. “You’ll find it on the table when you return home. Good day.”
And with that, the shadow gave way to light and the man was once more alone.
The man stood and looked about him. The pond and sky no longer spoke to him. The burden on his shoulders had shifted to the pit of his stomach, and the voice was nowhere to be seen. He walked home and smiled not to the children of chalk. He glared to the women of stoop and groceries and bitterness poured gravy on self pity and gorged itself fat.
There was, of course, money on the table, neat and to the penny. And he was never again to know the voice. And of what he had said, he had only said. Words of false alarm.
His problems abated, for a time. Then new problems came to fill the void. But the voice never again came in offer. Had it ever really been real?
Perhaps it had all been a dream.
But his thoughts changed. His heart changed. The sky changed. The moon turned to steel and the sun to molten hourglass.
Just saying something doesn’t make it so-does it?