The Writer

The writer sat there, knuckles balled up and all white, no blood left in the veins. He was ancient, a fossilized glint in the eye of his bastard son, the son he never knew or would never know. The writer had ordinary eyes. Nothing was special, there was nothing inside them, brown, maybe some black, no beauty. His body was scrawny and frail. It was broken many times throughout his life and it never healed. He had a beard that he grew for many years. Its tobacco stains and smell told stories that even he couldn’t remember. But the beard had stopped growing. It remained even with his bare ribs. He too had stopped growing. He was the same person standing on that shitty altar thirty five years ago, only now, the writer combed a beard and dipped Copenhagen.

His house was still, it was always still. It was circular, not a single corner showed promise of change and the writer took to no notice to the lack of the light and the dust that sucked the paint and lacquer off the deteriorated walls. His studio sat at the top of the house in the attic. The stairs leading to the room were damp and the wood boards soft and caved from the years. A metal lamp hanging from a rusty hooked cracked in the ceiling dimly lighting the scarcely traveled staircase. Crows would circle the address for days and their wings would tire. Eventually they fell dead in their puddles on the writer’s lawn of overgrown dandelions and mustard weed. Air inside the house was scarce and when one found a patch, it was dry and fowl and hurt the back of the throat like the hurt of burning tobacco. The only decoration in the house was a cracked vase perched on the table. It had been purchased years ago from a pawn shop. The price tag was still attached, 6.99. Dandelions and tap water were added to the vase once a week and for two days those flowers shown a brilliant yellow attacking the terrible vagueness of the structure. Then, those flowers died and the water mucked up with blue bottle flies. The water and flowers putrefied for a week and everyday, the writer would look at the vase and smile at the flies bobbing up in down, stressing their wings. He enjoyed studying those flies.

There were no stories or thoughts left in his head.

His wife had passed on years ago. Leukemia maybe, or possibly lung cancer, she did smoke a lot. There were still Black and Mild butts lying around the rotten porch. That was all the writer had to remember her by, cigar butts. He didn’t pick them up or didn’t smoke their wet tobacco, they were left out on the porch, some days they were there, others, they disappeared. The wife’s face never appeared in pictures or movies or TV. She never talked on the radio, she was no one and some days, the writer wondered what she was, why he married her, what she had for him. But the only words that ever came out were on paper and they ended up in loose balls floating softly in the trash bin. Eventually they gave birth to a son. They never named him, never said a word to him. He never saw them, never knew them. The kid knew one thing, the inside of his mother’s womb. Maybe he knew the streets of Manhattan, that’s were the couple left him two days after his mother’s water broke.
The pencil he held hovered over his paper but it would never touch. His mind was flayed, his thoughts, shattered. Every inch of him was dead yet his heart was pumping blood, just enough blood.

The writer was once a man. His parents named him Robert Owen but he took the name of Harvey in his beginning years. Harvey began writing romantic stories at a young age. Short stories, novels, essays, his pencil was his mouth and his mouth was beautiful and filled with stories he would never write again. Having no friends, he began to isolate himself, he killed himself. His thoughts warped, his mind twisted to dread and despair. Nobody wanted his stories; his stories were true, true to the unwanted, true to the retarded child stuck in the corner, true to the beaten dog living off street garbage. His books never sold. The hundreds of copies pressed, sat restless in his attic, rotting and decaying somewhat like his life. He was no longer Harvey, no longer Robert.

Knuckles were still white, still clenched. The pencil still lingered above the paper. The writer drew a blank ten years ago, he hadn’t written since. But the pencil hovered there every day taking breaks at noon and dusk for the usual peanut butter sandwich and water.

Harvey tried various times to save himself. He wrote romantics for a time after his transformation but the beauty wasn’t the kind he once had. He now knew the beauty of death and anguish. He pursued photography and failed. He didn’t quit, he failed. Harvey took one last step before accepting death, he pursued god. There was an old building down the road, rotting, torn with moss and the dead wind that passed through the town of Malta once a week. During his years of despair, Harvey watched the edifice decay into a church. He spent days studying the people moving in and out of the stained glass doors, they were all smiling. He wanted to smile but he couldn’t, it was too hard. He entered the church one day, it smelled wonderful. His house smelled like misery and decay. The room was lighted and figures nailed to crosses were displayed everywhere. Water was decanted over his head. The spine in his back shivered and his skinned crawled. He spent months at the church confessing sins praying to his holy savior Jesus Christ. The writer sat, transfixed in blank devotion as his leader spoke to him looking down at his crumpled face with a great raging eye. He hit himself and hurt himself when he sinned, god became his only hope. His only hope failed him. Once, Harvey spent an hour or two at the market buying peanut butter, Wonderbread and milk. He might have bought cereal as well but he was only there for 2 hours. The money was on the bread, a 5 dollar bill and three 1 dollar bills. He went for the milk and returned. The money was gone, stolen, put in the hands of a drug dealer or maybe a hooker. Harvey sat down on that market floor; the dirt and hairs clung to him. He prayed to Jesus and to Mary and to God all asking for the return of his stained, torn, and crinkled bills. They never answered, those dollars never returned to Harvey. He sat there and wept and grew a beard and chewed tobacco. He lost his name; he lost hope and lost faith. God didn’t exist, god never had, those months, that water, that wine and bread, all waist.
The writer held the pencil tight. It hurt to think. But he thought anyway. He could remember now, the despair, the loss, the waste. He put the ideas into a story and brought the pencil close to his paper and stopped. He got up to make a peanut butter sandwich. He was nervous. God didn’t exist. This might be the last story he ever wrote. Was it worth it?

He sat back down chewing, thinking, dying. He put the pencil to the paper and his heart hurt. He wrote the first 3 words.


2 more words.


He stopped and put the pencil at the top to write his name.

The lead snapped in two.