Paper is for jotting down notes
Notebooks, reciepts, backs of envelopes
For phone numbers and reminders
But your stained, yellowing papers
Sit in organized piles, and I could never
Jot, tear, or even touch without kit gloves
No matter what was on them
They are relics of laughter and broken hearts
And my box of you is a museum
Paper is for jotting down notes
I want to sit at the edge of your petals
With my hands clasped around my knees
And breathe deep the nectar that pools in the center;
And when that bee comes
To drink what I’ll only regard
I’ll hop off, and walk away.
I want to sit at the edge of the pool of you
And dangle my feet just above the surface
Wanting just a little to give them a dip;
But the stillness is perfect
As is the reflected sky within
And I already know what it would feel like to disturb you.
I want to skirt around the stuff of you
Press my face against your glass and fog it up
To come so close to the electromagnetic boundaries
That holds you within you
And me within me
So desire floods again down these dry canals.
I want you to smile at me, then look away
Just to invite back the pangs of lost chances
And I would smile, knowing I could have smiled back;
Eventually you will wander and fade
Into the crowd, maybe disappointed,
But from your edges, I will puddle and bloom and be.
The breadth of time that began shortly after take-off and landing ended just moments ago was a complete blank. He couldn’t recall if he exited the cabin by steps or by dock, or how the outside world looked. The sleep that overtook him mid-flight was as clingy as first love and still refused to release its grip as he shambled through the dingy, cinder-block and cement airport (he was assuming this was an airport) that looked more like a soviet-bloc gulag. From all he knew of Imperial domestic policy, he guessed this building may well have functioned as both. The Steyr-bullpup-toting guards and iron bars that filled the role of walls here and there reinforced the notion.
The seconds he was losing between islands of lucidity combined with the after-nap cottonmouth was making him irritable, and perhaps it was irritability that caused him to assume the best way for a first-world westerner to behave around less-than first-world authorities was to scowl and look dangerous. The guards scowled back. His comrades ahead of him weren’t scowling. They were giddy, bordering on obnoxiously so. They were jostling each other and speaking in the carefree, first-world naivety he assumed he should avoid.
I’d like to thank you for coming in today. I hope your trip to our recruitment office was a pleasant one.
“Oh well, yeah. It was good. I, uh, hope this goes well, I spent most of the money I have left on the flight, aha ha…”
Goodness, well I apologize. We only have one recruitment office in the United States, and it does make things difficult for applicants. If it is of any consolation, I’ll make a note of your commitment to joining our company.
“Thanks, I appreciate it.”
Let’s start by getting to know you. Why don’t you tell me about yourself?
“Well, as you probably know, my name is Lester Biggs… I’m 26 years old, I’ve graduated high school, I have an associates in political studies… People tell me I’m a pretty good guy. I’m a big fan of cars. And Clint Eastwood movies. Um, I’m not sure what else to say… Sorry, I’m not that good at these things… Oh, I went through a couple years of ROTC; I’m sure that will help, right?”
I’m very sure it will, Mr. Biggs. Can you tell me about your employment history?
“Sure. I last worked for Titan Construction, for the last 2 years. Before that I was working at a car repair shop in my hometown. I did oil changes and stuff. I’ve been going to school off and on through it all.”
Okay. You said you had an associate’s degree in political science. Were you pursuing a bachelor’s degree in the same field?
“Yeah, I was – I am. I, uh, it’s been hard getting it done. It hasn’t been easy for me in the whole school thing. I feel like I make progress sometimes, but other times it seems I’m not going anywhere at all. I guess that’s what bring me here, huh?”
Many applicants come here with the same story. Bear in mind, that has neither a positive nor a negative effect on their placement, although a lack of attachment can be a healthy indicator for placement within our enlisted personnel. That is the depart your are applying for, correct.
Let’s move on. Can you tell me what you know about Interceptor?
“I know that it’s a private military company, or whatever. I know they’ve done good things, and I want to do good things too. They saved the Arabian Empire back in ’93, and they stopped the Brugaire Consortium and liberated the Phillipines from the pirate guys. I know it’s hard to get in, and that their commander is a hero that fights right alongside his men.”
Mister Cerregan is a unique man, to be sure. Many who have joined claim him as their inspiration. What is your reason for joining our company?
“I don’t know… I mean, I do know. I feel like I’d work out well. I feel like I can handle it. And I feel… I kinda just feel like… I can’t explain it. Doing anything else, getting a job, a career, getting a Ph.D. or anything… It’s seeming more and more pointless. Have you ever felt that way? I’ve been feeling more and more that way. Like there’s millions of people who are just cogs in the machine in the world, in business, in making money, and I think of becoming just one more of those cogs, and I’m like, why? What is my life going to matter? You know, I told my parents about me coming here. And of course, they were like, you’re going to get yourself killed. But so what? Not that I want to die. But I want to do something. I’m sure everyone says they want to change the world. But say I did graduate. Say I did become a political analyst or whatever. How many thousands of other kids graduated and became political analysts? How many political analysts are there already? Doing good jobs, doing bad jobs, doing nothing… what would I add to that?”
That’s an interesting take. If you were to be accepted into the training academy, the experience would be stressful and rigorous, to say the least. The failure rate is around 90%, and most of those candidates are military veterans. Are you willing accept the odds that you will very likely not pass?
“Yes, I am.”
And you are aware that if you do succeed as a candidate, you will be relocated to Trebizonde, and will very likely have little contact with your family and friends back home?
“Yep. I’m kinda excited about seeing that place, actually.”
And that during your enlistment, you will have no pay, save a very small monthly stipend, and a discharge bonus of twenty-thousand dollars per year of enlistment upon the termination of your contract?
“As long as I get fed, hahah!”
And you will be spending the entirety of your time on company property, in a very strict environment? Many recruits find that they have a hard time with the lack of freedom they experience.
“I’m ready for it.”
Alright then, Mr. Biggs. We will notify you of the results of this interview within 48 hours. I hope you have accomodations?
“I’ve got a hotel for a couple of days on the east side of town. How long will I need it?”
If you are selected, you will be asked to proceed on the following day to the UC Berkeley campus for entrance examinations and a fitness assessment. You should plan to be there the full day. Lunch will be provided, of course. Bear in mind, if you fail the preliminaries, you will be on your own, unfortunately.
“Thanks, I guess that’s it then, huh?”
Unless you have any further questions.
“Nope, I guess I’m set. Thanks for your time, I’m pretty nervous.”
Don’t worry, we all were. Good luck to you Mr. Biggs, and make sure you get some rest in the next two days. If you want some off-the-record advice, go to the beach. Often. It’s really nice out here, and it’ll be a good opportunity for you to think about things. You might not get the opportunity again.
“I think I’ll do just that. Thanks again.”
INTERVIEW EXIT NOTES: positive attitude and motivation. less experience than the average applicant, but appears psychologically and physically capable.
INTERVIEWER’S RECOMMENDATION: Candidate.
Thank you, God.
Thank you for allowing me to be here today,
And thank you for the question of whether you were ever here at all.
Thank you for this sanctuary, and thank you for doubt, whichever way it leans.
Thank you for matter, and thank you for energy.
Thank you for the pond and the rock that disturbs it, sending silt in unpredictable and violent trajectories.
Thank you for breath, and thank you for death.
Thank you for all the pain I’ve ever felt, and the few joys that momentarily helped me to forget.
Thank you for all the dissapointment that certainly lies ahead of me, and the comfort I may never receive.
Thank you for meaninglessness that creates meaning that creates meaninglessness again.
Thank you for experience.
Thank you for listening, or if not, thank you for letting me hear myself speak these silly, important words into the void.
I had quite the SXSW experience in the summer of 2013, which included running into a stranger so bewitching that I did something unprecedented: I walked right up to her and told her so. I was rewarded with a surreal night as her escort, and we parted laughing at the assumption that we’d never see each other again. I was desperate to find some scheme to chance another rendezvous. The ploy: an old-fashioned love letter.
It was campy. It was ridiculous. It ran a high chance of freaking her right the fuck out. I knew all these things, but I executed the plot anyways with full knowledge that the chances of success were slimmer than successfully navigating an asteroid field. Here it is, in all it’s blissfully foolish glory.
…And if you’re wondering if she wrote back, she didn’t.
I hope this letter finds you well and refreshed from the craziness that was South-by. I particularly remember you telling me that you held a special place in your heart for things which are under the threat of being lost to time, a sentiment you share with me. Aside from our acquaintanceship, there’s another vanishing treasure I’ve spent some time thinking about lately. It might be all the French literature I’ve been having to read lately, but what happened to the times when courtship was more than “heaven must be missing an angel”, and “oh hey, here’s a drink”? Not that I’m courting you. That would be silly.
But seriously, when was the last time you heard of something so silly as someone writing a love letter to a complete stranger? Who does that anymore? What silly, silly things love letters are, and how equally silly those who write them must be. I certainly feel silly writing this one. What could I possibly expect to come of it? I expect you might be flattered and think me silly, but I also expect that part of the universe which witnesses and appreciates silly things will be glad for this silly gesture which would otherwise pass unnoticed in the grand history of everything.
It has to be more than silly; interesting is an appellation that comes to mind. How many opportunities do we get to do something really interesting in life? How ashamed should we be to pass the opportunity up? Therefore, even though resurrecting the dead art of writing love-letters may be silly, I feel you’ve presented an extraordinary opportunity. Who better to dedicate such endeavors than you? I pray you don’t mistake this dedication as a fool’s whim or convenience for the sake of artistry; shortly I hope to present you with sufficient proofs to convince you of my conviction.
It was a pleasant Sunday evening, and I had expected neither to be enjoying it nor, least of all, to be meeting you. To digress, I was trying my absolute hardest to appear to be enjoying myself on our nation’s most revered holiday, but for the first half-hour my tired smile was beleaguered by a terrible hangover and slight boredom. Happily, this wasn’t the case for long as, whether by chance or by design, I idly swung my shoulders and swept my gaze around the bar at just the right time.
What filled my vision was a page from Balzac, Henri just catching sight of Paquita for the first time. You had just appeared at the top of the stairs, and the first thing I beheld was your bouquet of hair, more beautiful in its natural state than others have attempted to achieve with ribbons and braids and dyes. I had never been so overwhelmed by a profound sense of presence that enslaved my continued attention. I was well rewarded for it: in reality you only took two steps across the stage of my vision, but in perception you were a meteor shooting across the night sky. At the end of that second step, your gaze locked with mine.
Well, it wasn’t so simple as ‘your gaze locked with mine’. When your head turned, your hair laughed in defiance of the wind, and rays of sunlight dimmed in humility rather than compete with the radiance of your face. The sleek lines of your cheeks and chin were nothing less than regal. Your very existence proves the age-old hypothesis that Aphrodite owned a time machine, as she certainly patterned her nose after your own. Your lips spoke all at once of innocence, experience, familiarity, reservation, and a smile just waiting for the season that would give it cause to bloom.
Thus, with you sitting a temptation’s breadth away, myself a fleeting hour from fading from the city’s memory, and the each of us purloining glances from the other like duelists exchanging blows, I resolved to take the only course of action available to me. Oh, I pretended to internally debate for a brief second. I had nothing to gain yet nothing to lose; however, I couldn’t stand the thought of depriving you of vital information about the arcane powers you wield over men.
It is a rare thing when someone stops another’s heart mid-beat, as you did me, and it would be no small crime to withhold the truth from you; in fact, it would have been nothing less than lying to your face. If I was ever struck dead by beauty before, you must have erased it from my memory. If such a thing has ever happened before, whoever caused it certainly lacked the magnitude to compel me to act.
Now here I am at the conceivable end of this letter wondering if anything I wrote did either you or myself justice. I don’t think I’ve ever been so doubtful of any of my compositions as this one, but here goes.
Dear beautiful, mysterious, bewitching A—–, or A—, or whatever your name is: if it seems quaint, quixotic, or even questionable that someone who standing at your side was as a foreigner in strange port should be pursuing a rapport where the common wisdom would decline, I assure you it is twice so to me. I hope you find the notion absurd and pointless, for if you find it serious and completely unamusing, then I will have failed my purpose.
I didn’t get into this with any expectations of writing a second letter, so if you respond with silence, I will take your silence as a tacit appreciation of this gesture and I in turn will have a tacit appreciation for having the opportunity to write such a grandiose, ridiculous thing. If you respond with U.S. Marshals and a restraining order on my doorstep, I will understand immediately why no one writes love letters anymore. If you respond with a letter of your own, my ego will joyously swell, and I’d suggest we become pen-pals. I’ve never had a pen-pal before, and honestly never felt the need for one, but for you I think I could make an exception.
So, once again, thanks for this opportunity to stretch my artistic wings, and thank you much more for giving me an awesome memory of an unforgettable stranger.
Best regards, R—–.
“She herself is a haunted house. She does not possess herself; her ancestors sometimes come and peer out of the windows of her eyes, and that is frightening. She has the mysterious solitude of ambiguous states; she hovers in a no-man’s land between life and death, sleeping and waking…”
I wasn’t sure how much more of this senile prattling I could take. He surely must have thought he was being eloquent, but I saw it for the long-winded self-indulgence it was. These types are always so full of themselves. They fancy themselves poets and philosophers, justifying their mundane trade by elevating it to art.
“…behind the hedge of spiked flowers, Nosferatu’s sanguinary rosebud…”
No, you could never be simply a lonely old tinkerer who spends entirely too much time with his dolls, could you? Not when Allah gave you a burlap sack filled with chatter-birds in place of lungs, it seems. Still… there was no denying this one had a certain sort of beauty to her – a sort of pride in form. The polished bronze castings, the neatly welded seams, the petit, gilded rivets…
“…served before she was even born. And she’ll serve you, oh yes, but you and how many others? Who could dare know…”
Prophet’s sake, the old man was still babbling on. His back was to me now, his hands gesturing wildly around the automaton. I seized the chance to slip out of the workshop and back into the sales floor. The young man minding the front might have looked a bit disaffected, but he also looked infinitely more capable of concluding the sale than the wild-eyed, wispy-haired craftsman.
“I’ll take it.” Continue reading