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10 October 2007

Oral Hygiene (Or: How to become a Literary Success!)

The worst type of writer is the Instant Hit, reflects Albert brushing his teeth. He spits, rinses and smiles. Elaborates no further on his profound revelation, satisfied with this stand-alone statement. Albert writes beginnings of stories. Takes pride in his conciseness. Brushes his teeth until his gums bleed waiting for the rest of the world to catch on. His prolific work consists of volumes of disjointed one-liners that he thought up while taking a shit or in queue at the movies. A fortune-cookie philosopher. In fifth grade he learned the value of mystery and, a true fundamentalist, took the lesson to heart. Since then he’s refused to write more than a paragraph, Let the reader wonder what happens.
Deirdre can’t decide whether it’s laziness or genuine artistic merit that drives Albert’s abruptness. She crouches in the corner of his room and leafs through one of his manuscripts, trying to imagine ends to a couple of Albert’s beginnings. But Deirdre’s not a writer – she can’t transcribe abstract ideas into widely understood signifiers. Why do you do it? She asks and turns another page. But he keeps brushing his teeth. She falls back into those short-striped pages and tries to understand Albert’s art.
He brushes harder. Now he realizes that eventual recognition will warrant his death. Navigates the freeway and sideswipes a semi-truck. Watches his body ejected through the windshield; upward toward the grandeur he’s dreamt of his whole life. Adoring fans flock to the scene – They suddenly understand! Or at an annual checkup the doctor discovers he’s ill with an incurable strain of tuberculosis (like many Great Writers before him). He suffers through the illness of passion and bids farewell to the world with a virgin white kerchief stained crimson fluttering from his fingers. The more dramatic his death the more famous he may become. Once my work becomes finite!
Now Deirdre’s overcome by terrible pain in her head. She strains to appreciate Albert’s staccato stories! The gentle swish of his toothbrush grates her brain like a block of Parmesan. She clutches, squeezes and oozes it from between her shaking fingers. What a mess she makes –
gray matter splatters the ground, staining some of Albert’s volumes. She crumples then in that corner but Albert will notice nothing.
He brushes still, his mouth dripping red. Postulating the perfect death to turn him into a gradually recognized classic.

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