Sunday 30 December 2012

The Toy Leopard

A vaguely exciting thing had happened to him en route to the chess club; he found a plastic animal on the street. He supposed it wasn't all that exciting, even deeming it vaguely so was likely an exaggeration. Yet still it inspired some kind of weird enthusiasm within him. He had little else to excite or inspire him these days it seemed; he was constantly arguing with his girlfriend and his job was at a dead end. His soul was almost surely deceased. And so he had to grasp at these moments of meaning and inspiration wherever he found them, no matter how irrelevant or inane they seemed. The thing he found was made from plastic moulded to resemble a leopard, he could not specify exactly how the thing inspired him and yet it did so he lifted it from the damp December pavement and hid it in the pocket of his parka. And continued on his way to the chess club meeting which was held at the university.
It being the end of term the club was understandably quiet. A trio of young men occupied one large table, one spectating as the others engaged in a frantic blitz battle. Present at the other table were the club president, captain and a couple of the stronger players in the team, all of whom were engaged in a heated analysis of a recent team match game.

He took a seat at the table with the three young men and set up a board with the guy who had been spectating the game of the other two, a lean and neurotic looking Scandinavian guy with watery eyes. They shook hands and he played 1.e4 which was met by c5 and after Nf3 followed by Nc6 they entered the main lines of the Sicilian defence.
Something was distracting him and this thing was the presence of an elderly lady sitting in the corner of the room, attending to her knitting. He asked his opponent who muttered about it being 'someone or other's mother' or words to that effect, he couldn't quite make the guy out, this guy being known for his habit of whispering meekly. With this distraction combined with his generally weary state of mind, he gradually entered a hopelessly lost position within an unknown variation. Without thinking too much about what he was doing, he reached into his pocket and nonchalantly dropped the plastic leopard onto the middle of the chess board. An apprehensive silence ensued by all who beheld this bizarre spectacle.

The old lady knitting grimaced and shook her head. The club captain sneered and averted his eyes. The club president looked totally aghast. The two guys playing next to them had ceased play and were marvelling at the wee plastic leopard poised in the middle of plastic rooks and pawns.

He stood up, an inane grin spread across his chapped and slack lips. Then, to the bemusement and disgust of all present, he exited the room in the manner of a professional wrestler.

Friday 14 December 2012

The Quiet Man

As he climbed the steps behind the two girls he contemplated a recent mystery. Scratches on the back of his neck had appeared quite suddenly the previous afternoon. First of all his neck had felt hot and itchy, he was aware it must have been red. Then later one of the girls had noticed what looked like scratches, as if a fine wire mesh had been dragged against his skin. There was no accounting for this strange phenomenon. Somehow it felt inexplicably tied in with another weird phenomenon. Sometimes, when he was on the cusp of sleep, he would find himself placing a hand around his neck in a gesture of self strangulation. His hand moved almost automatically, an inexplicable compulsion. And then there was a third phenomenon that he felt was somehow related; the voices. When lying down at night he sometimes heard slow motion voices murmuring rhythmically. He understood nothing of the syntax yet understood the rhythm intuitively, as the dreamer comprehends the absurd logic of a fever dream. How he loathed these voices! And yet there was something familiar about them... comforting, even. A difficult matter to explain.

To distract himself from these vexing matters he attempted to focus solely on the matter at hand; the ascent of the staircase. Approximately two thirds of the way up was a landing on which a window overlooked a melancholy garden. The walls were adorned with bleak oil portraits of aristocrats playing chess. He knew that the staircase led to a hallway and that the hallway led to a door. Whenever he passed the landing window it seemed to be late afternoon and he felt inexplicably sad. It was hard to convey how lethargic and morose he would begin to feel.

Once he had encountered one of the girls on the landing. She had asked him if he was okay. Her manner of asking was ambiguous; he had been unable to determine whether she was concerned or amused. This had angered him and he had repeated the question back to her, taking her shoulder and shaking her. She had grimaced and walked away. And that had been the end of that, he'd never seen her again. Another segment of the mystery. He smirked ruefully. He had arrived at the landing. He looked out the window at the sun smouldering faintly in an overcast sky. He knew that he was almost at the second floor and that there he would encounter a hallway which led to a door.

He was terribly quiet. His quietness was a terrible thing. In what sense? In the sense that it rendered others unnerved. Which others? Other persons, one is liable to encounter persons. A silent consensus seemed to have occurred, he had somehow been elected by the others wordlessly. One feels an obligation sometimes. To do what? Blethering again, silly stories, blethering away to himself. It was a quiet, overcast afternoon. His glass of whisky. His spectacles. The chess board. Everything seemed perfectly inert. Somehow objects drained him, hurt his arms and made him feel tired, different objects, what objects? Who objects? The others. But the silent consensus had occured nonetheless and there were these damn obligations fuck he couldn't find his slippers. Where had he put the damn things. One loses the slippers, the wife the mind. One blethers away, incomprehensible nonsense.

A sheepish grin occurs, automatically. Caught in the act, one assumes a pose to lend the whole debacle a theatrical aspect, an absurd aspect. Shuffling, dancing, an angry dance to mourn the lost slippers. Later on that same afternoon he designated further contemplation to this issue of his obligations. Did they exist? What were they? He felt stupid. He felt like he had to kid on he knew until he figured them out. Sometimes he liked to pretend that his plight was pitiful and pitiable to make light of it somehow.

He had stopped to appreciate one of the paintings. Except that before he had even began to examine it he felt very cold, tired and bored. His bones felt cold, and ancient, old before his time! He tried to look but his eyes couldn't really anything he was so bored and his mind already wandering. Murky meandering thoughts about nothing in particular. The girl was standing nearby he realised with a start. She was near the window. He had to climb farther to reach a hallway which led to a door.
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