shut up and write: my first short story (or essay) 11-13-13


For some reason I failed to understand I was John Wilkes Booth. Except I wasn’t. I could view my grizzled, wild eyed visage as if I were on top of this crazed killer of our President, holding him down so he could not escape. But then, I felt my own body, pinned tightly to my bed, frozen and heavy. I had surrendered to my fate, a grim smile crossed my face.

I knew I had to get up. I could imagine myself, awake and alert, and ready to fly out the door. I had promised to be somewhere. Perhaps to meet with my fellow conspirators. My body felt as though it had been beaten. Of course, it had been beaten, you idiot, you shot Abraham Lincoln! Don’t you remember? Remember? I am lying in bed. I had been tossing and turning all night. Even though I’d committed no crime, I felt like a fugitive. I’ll be late. I hate to get up now.

I sprang to my feet, and once erect, I felt fresh and alert, ready for the day, 8:25 am. Holy crap! Just enough time to dress and go, except I need to shave, and I need to clean out the cat box, and I should…..just go…Go!

So, here I was, desperately walking as rapidly as I could, down Valencia St. I knew it wouldn’t be long, perhaps even this sunny morning, that my fate would catch up with me. I had killed the President. My mind had failed to sort out the conflicting data swirling around my sleep deprived brain. I still felt as though I were John Wilkes Booth, a well known actor, who had made his escape to San Francisco, after depriving a much despised Lincoln of his life, and for just cause, I grant you. ‘Enough of this shit!’ I thought. This is not a day in which to be anyone other than myself.

As if to remind me of my true identity, I felt pain in my upper chest as I walked towards Borderlands. Is it my heart? I thought, idly. Such pains have so many origins. If I die, I die, I thought. For Booth life is but a brief affair, a Borderlands. Where else might I be heading in this odd place between sleeping and waking. Am I truly sitting here in a well-lit, comfortable coffee shop, writing much as John Wilkes Booth would have written, ink upon page, albeit with a quill and not a Bic.

Why would I think that I, an obscure fellow at best (still with the nineteenth century prose style, I see), but why consider myself to be a killer of Presidents? For the fame? the recognition, for the purpose of saying things are not as they seem, or maybe as a desperate attempt to alter the course of history. But then, it struck me as certainly as the hammer pounding in my head, I was also Booth’s captor. I held him down, with a grim determination. Damn you! and Damn what you’ve done! At the same time, I recognized that all of this was my brain’s attempt to make sense of the sleep paralysis which kept me pinned to my bed, seemingly unable to move.

There are so many inputs, so many possibilities, some leading to precious or not so precious insights, others leading to a one way ticket to the looney bin. It is hard to get my brain to work properly at times like these. I feel as though my brain is like a typewriter missing a few keys, leaving the reader to guess the intent, filling the gaps with their own narrative. That might be an interesting project for someone with absolutely nothing else to do, I thought.

You see, I am a writer, as you might have guessed by the meandering nature of the previous prose. I am never at a loss for words. My only restraint being the merit of the words. Does anyone benefit in any way, from adding my words to a brain already filled with useless junk?

Whoever said, “Don’t let the bedbugs bite.” clearly had no experience with bedbugs. As a longtime resident of San Francisco, I had more than enough experience with the little bloodsuckers. They were the cause of my sleeplessness. In a demented sort of way, I admired these bugs. They were damn near impossible to eliminate. I could kill them by the millions, the trillions, and no matter, they still would find……but enough about bedbugs. That is not a fit subject for man nor beast. After all, as a writer, I must consider my market. Bedbugs do not make for enjoyable reading, so I thought instead of the opportunity afforded by this unpleasant yet intriguing state of mind. Why the hell did I dream of John Wilkes Booth? What did that say about me? It is also interesting that I was both Booth and the man holding him down. How could that be? So here I am, on the lam from some heinous crime, and it is I who shall bring myself to justice. One of the first things I learned on my journey to the clear light, it’s all me, every last bit of it, even the bedbugs.

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