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And but so: this is the 1st quarter of the 1st chapter of my 1st book yet to be published, polished and perfected.

Dark City at Sunrise
or: Satori over supper on West 59th

Lightning flashes,
Sparks shower.
In one blink of your eyes
You have missed seeing.
• Mumon

Written by c.a.maples

| Ah, but what is a poet but an anguished, conflicting mind who conceals his profound anguish, so that as he writes, the sighs and cries resemble beautiful music?
Life is like playing the violin in public and learning the instrument as one goes on.
|

Chapter One

"You actually think that I feel the sting of such pains?" Toshiko interjects ineffectually.
"I think...-yes. It's back to our last point, in which I clearly, his hands clasped, eyes officiously knowing, illuminated the basis upon which the very concept of the 'relationship' transforms those involved into empty machines, functioning with a series of self-abasement ego cleansing rituals...ya see-"
Dismissively, T rolls her eyes and shifts her pixie legs away from his body on the couch and: "-It's your attitude, hon. In a relationship, well, at least how I understand it, you willingly let go, am I right...?", eyes now drawn taut as she proves her point, "You've aquired your version of the very sexiest father-figure available, and you want to be with him forever...you understand, not temporarily, and not because you have some deep utter need to be-"
Daniel returns serve, "-Selfishness prevails, Toshi, as usual..because love, rather, the concept identified by the human race as love, doesn't exist. No love, no God, nothing but temporary happiness, in the now; the hedonistic imperative, you know? What's the point of hope in abstracts, of wishful thinking? This is the disease of the mind."
This is dismissed with a wave of her lithe arm.
"Nihilistic cliches...this amounts to depressing, prozac-clutching existentialism."
She laughs brightly at her summary through her soft mouth and teeth.
Daniel shakes his head and points to his heart as he says, "My philosophy notwithstanding, the bottom line is, you punished yourself for his decision to leave you. It's why any form of breaking up…from any array of quote-unquote relationships where this mythical concept of love is involved totally ****s with your childhood; your adolescence. You punish yourself unconsciously-"
Toshiko's delicate hands cover her ears and her eyes roam about the room, exaggerating true disinterest.
Daniel goes on: "-for not being good enough, for not putting on a good enough mask to navigate and propagate in this conventional social game called quote unquote the relationship consisting of and required by quote unquote love."
"Daniel, don't even. Just don't start with the masks. You should go out in the daylight more often, you know that?"
They're sitting on a teak green Japanese couch. The green is lightly contrasted with gold embroidered dragons and flames. She remembers despising and loving the couch simultaneously. Her father, a wealthy professor of history in Kyoto, Japan, had given the couch to her as a gift for graduation. It bore an inscription written in ancient Japanese Kanji, which read, near-literally in English:

"An almost impossible amount of impossible labor and ingenuity conquers fear and idleness."

"The daytime has too many sharp edges. I prefer the night in which I can creep amidst the shadows wraith-ninja style and pick up chicks and avoid the cops with my powers of invisibility."
The three room downtown apartment is near Fall Creek and Downtown Ithaca with good proximity to Cornell University, the Commons, bus service, the Farmer's Market, etc. It's a quiet environment, plush with amenities, ---Mostly grad students, and a few professors on the 18th floor, quiet, far and away another dimension than the seedy urbanic hysteria of on-campus living.
Daniel's pessimism dims the room as he says something else psychobabble-driven that Toshiko refuses to consciously acknowledge. Her memory has shifted the gears to the look on her father's face, three years prior, when she ran from the mailbox outside into their modest family kitchen back home, joyfully clutching the Cornell acceptance letter: his look is nothing more than expressionless. She sometimes sees that same face in dreams, but morphed into a huge head's face looming over her dream-self, which looks like an anime-her, her eyes all big and wide clear and happy, and his eyes hard, small and unsupportive.
"You and Rimbaud been dating?" T asks accusingly with one eyebrow raised, snapping the memory-image as she rises from the couch.
D sighs and says at the same time, "rimbaud sucks." as he leans over to pick up a copy of Maxim off of the coffee table. T passes Dark's room on the way to the kitchen, and hears Japanese dialouge at a volume just above comfortable. She knows what they're saying because her father taught her.
In the kitchen the sound from the tv is inaudible as she looks out the window onto the silhouette of the city, thinking of her father, so far away but so near in his brutal coldness. The snowfall is intense and looks silky, transparent. In direct view is the Fall Creek's East pavillion, and there is a figure on a bench near it, barely observable from her perspective. He/she is not under the shelter of the pavillion's high ceilings but exposed to the bitter white torrent, leaning almost supine, head lolled back and elbows propping up his body. Toshiko studies the figure further, squinting with real and earnest interest, fingers white knuckled gripping the counter. Via further inspection that the ghostlike figure could quite possibly be dead, there, in his puffy coat, getting buried by the snow, just sitting there, head limp and hanging unnaturally. The pavillion's roof was darkening as the sky lightened behind it. To her memory, it had never snowed like this in early november.
In another room, "Lan Feng Zheng" is playing on an old 80's big screen Magnavox, being viewed by Dark and Len.
"I would say, in those days, he was a tough guy cowpoke style dude, in every sense of the stereotype, with all the cinematic nonchalant "thing in itself-ness", if I may borrow from Buddhism, of someone like Big Burt Lancaster, but also endowed with the pimp daddy with and wisdom to give him an intangible magnetism that all the ladies fall over, like a Brad Pitt."
"You can't compare Newman to Pitt, you no-acting-knowledge *******, and don't abuse trainspotting dialouge ever again."
Len and Dark look like young Siskel and young Ebert in the dark, a couple of film majors at NYU, incessant in their film geekyness, bathed by the light of the vintage cathode-ray-tube's brilliance. Yanjin Liu has just slapped Uncle Li, and Len is comparing 1963's Hud's Newman to 1998's Meet Joe Black's' Pitt.
"Abstract association. This is an apples and oranges deal, my friend."
"..."
"I'm serious."
"...You're smoking crack with your whole generalization there."
"I don't think I am in the mood for this movie, Dark-ness. The damn kid dies for chrissakes. I mean, well yeah, I appreciate the scope and timbre of a project like this-"
"Political repression...denial of credit where credit is due..."
"-yeah, yeah, but **** all that. It's just depressing. It's a fact."
"So grim reality is not your cup of tea? ...Cartoon network more of your type of reality anyway, right? A little Animaniacs for the jaded auteur living inside your mind?
"Animaniacs isn't even on at eight, you dyslexic monkey's arse."
Len, the current gaurdian of the remote, fips the channel without moving any part of his body but a single digit on his right hand. Bikini Summer 3: South beach Heat on Cinemax takes over.
"There you go, my ill-witted droog, leave it here."
The scene of a police woman who is far too beautiful to be a member of any police department real or imagined is conversing with a largish handsome evil looking fellow on the porch of some elaborately expensive house. There are even double ionic columns.
"I say they will be fully and operationally horizontal, sweaty and panting with lust in their star-cross'd eyes in..." Len glances at his watch and squints to make out the time in the darkness, "T-minus 2 minutes."
"You're being far too simplistic in your deduction. Modern sex scenes are far more elaborate that that which you describe. We've got the horizontal, vertical, diagonal, and the backwards anti-gravity coitus…. wake up and smell the coffee of contemporary erotica, bee-atch!"
"It was a simple metaphor, i just want to see boobies" Len explains, watching intently, ogling the shape of the cop on screen.
"Can I please speed down the interstate and be pulled over by her!"
"She can't act."
"Do you always miss the point?"
"eXistenZ is on Sundance, fool, change the station. Jennifer Jason Leigh looks better anyway." Dark is squinting at the TV guide to read as he sets his sights, out of the corner of his eye, on the remote contol in Len's hand.
Len laughs, because he's about to see some nudity primarily, and won't change the channel, and also because he hates the movie Dark wants to watch. He adjusts his glasses and leans forward, "patted down by 'er...".
With one quick move, Dark is lunging for the remote in Len's pudgy hand, trying in vain to wrestle it away from the remote guardian of the moment when:
Toshiko's voice is heard, with a definite touch of apprehension over the surround-sound in Dark's room: almost a yell: "I think there's a dead guy out here!!"

Len and Dark look at each other quizzically in mid wrestle. Len has Dark in a full nelson and he's about to apply the people's elbow when Dark says, panting and defiantly "And Newman could have played as the Grim Reaper alongside Tony Hopkins in in Joe Black. You know it and I know it. And when they get to that scene where Pitt gets creamed by that car, if it was Newman there...that car would've stopped dead in it's tracks." Len releases him and stares out the doorway dumbfoundedly.
"... lets go see the dead guy out there."
"Oh come on man," Dark says, raising and stretching, "there is no dead guy, but lets check it out anyway."
Dark exits, and Len atempts to get up, yet gravity has the best of him on his first try. Simple physics and the weight he carries around, coupled by the intense comfort and sinking quality of the futon in his room sucks him back down. Gripping the arm rest, he finally creates enough leverage to raise his huge and well-fed frame up and out of the room. He yawns as he exits, tottering.
They're all four huddled around the sink of the kitchen, silent and motionless, peering outside the window. Toshiko is wide-eyed with terror, her hand over her mouth. The rising moon outside the window is blurry and the stars are winking. The sky looks very ill, as does the figure on the bench. Len is the first to break the collective concentration as he walks to the refridgerator and produces a Kirin Lager, imported from Japan. He begins drinking heartily.
"What the hell can we do?," Toshiko says, rushing to the cordless phone lying on it's side on the far counter's surface, under the hanging toaster.
"Don't bother," Len replies, between huge gulps of drink. "It's the crazy meditation dude."
Len produces a resounding belch.
"The what?" Daniel asks, mouth agape, as he looks from the window to Len.
"Oh it's just this dude who lives under the overpass of the interstate. He's like invincible or something. A college area pest. Eveybody knows of this guy."
"Yeah," Dark adds, "Chris has talked to him a few times, as crazy as Chris is ya know. He said that the guy has like this immense knowledge of life and wisdom and stuff."
Len adds, "He's got a great ability to withstand temperatures, as I hear he sleeps under that bridge, in the winter, with no blanket."
"Yeah, well that's all well and grand, guys, but this time maybe the cold got to him and he's dead!" says Toshiko, her finger on the pre-set emergency 911 button. "He looks dead to me!"
Daniel grabs a pair of binoculars he usually uses from the privacy of his own room as Toshiko dials emergency.
"Nah...He's just meditating, Toshi. He always meditates. He's probably spirit-walking the summer sun-skissed great plains of pre-colinized Tibet or something," says Len, confidently.
Daniel is watching Toshiko, unsure of the situation, adrenaline pumping now.
Dark joins Len at the table in the dining area, adjacent to the kitchen.
"911 Emergency, what is your location?"
Nervously, "1381 West 59th street..."
"What is the situation please?
Toshiko rushes over to the window as she says, "Well um, there is this guy, and he is...I think he's passed out or worse, and he's-
"Is he in your house?"
"Apartment...no, i mean no he's not here, he right outside.."and she trails off as she looks back outside.
The previously almost supine figure has vanished from the bench he was resting on. She looks around the area, looks hard through the falling snow.
"He's gone now, she gasps.
Len pipes up, "See, he probably dematerialized all of his atoms and reconfigured them back under the bridge. He had to have warped clear out of there."
"It's probably his bedtime." says Dark. They smirk at one another.
Daniel walks out of the kitchen and goes outside to the cigarette-butt infested balcony and looks for any sign of the figure. "Nowhere!" He calls back in though the crack of the open sliding door.
"I'm sorry, ma'am? Gone?" The emergency operator says sorry like Canadians do.
"Yeah, I thought he was hurt, or dead.." Toshiko is obviously flabergasted."
Well, we've sent out a patrol to your area anyway. Just sit tight and be calm."
"Yes, yes. Thank you. Goodbye."
Toshiko hangs the phone on the phone-jack and looks back out to the bench again. Snow is piling up on it. Snow is everywhere, painting the whole outside world a dusty off-white.
Dark proffers a half eaten piece of cake to Len as Toshiko sits down on the couch in thought in the living room.
"Another piece of pre-tested Red Velvet?"
"Can't consume anything else…stuffed. I will not decline another beer, however."
Dark begins on the cake, picking off small parts and putting them gracefully in his mouth. He eats gracefully, for someone who has no plate or napkin. This grace is one of those idiosyncracies that make up Dark's uncountable contradictions in behavior.
"..."
"Where's my beer that I will not decline?"
"Go get it yourself, lazy ***." Dark says after fully chewing and swallowing.

Daniel and Toshiko are seated on the expensive teak couch looking straight ahead. Toshiko has her hands together in her lap. Daniel is playing with a pencil, twirling it through his fingers while he stares ahead nervously. After a long pause and silence, Daniel speaks up, shaking his head back and forth.
"That guy…that guy probably is okay, Toshiko, like the guys say." He looks at her, first peripherally, then turns his head to face her. He puts a hand on her small shoulder, reassuringly.
She ***** her head a little to left as in thought, and shrugs, but says nothing in reply. They resume silence, uncomfortably. The digital alarm clock rests atop the television and says 11:43, in red. Toshiko looks at her hands and makes concerned faces while Daniel continuously twirls the pencil through his thick fingers. Len and Dark are squabbling about something but it's inaudible. The air conditioning unit for the apartment isn't working properly, so they all feel unpleasantly cold at the moment.

The phone rings in Toshiko's room and she draws silently from the couch to answer it. Daniel watches her go off into her room and he rises as well. He checks the thrmostat on the way to his room. He locks the door after shutting it behind him.
And here's Daniel safely locked away from the world now. He stands in the middle of his room staring at a desk drawer. He's already forgotten about the figure outside because he's thinking of cocaine. He thinking that he's going to start cutting up this gram right now, right before he goes out bravely into the night.

:cig :cig
 
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