This story – written to work on a literary level – is also my cautionary statement to those authors and publications who just take themselves – maybe – a bit too seriously… It can be found in my collection – Etched Deep – and Other Dark Impressions, but for you? Free.
Pretty Boys in Blue and Long Hair Dangling
She tried to compartmentalize it by moving into a single floor of an empty office building. A single long corridor with doors opening to either side. Slide-in plastic labels for each. It might have worked, but the corridor was long, and the offices were too large. The tile on the floor, a checkerboard nightmare turned at diamond angles in the 60s and left to entropy, made her nervous. There were too many windows, and some of them looked back into the hall.
She used curtains to close these off, different colors for each, the insides awash in dangling chains, pendants, photographs, or whatever struck the right muse. Halfway through, she knew it would never work. She’d built her framework on a set number of rooms, and something had changed.
A new muse struck.
Pretty boys in dark blue and long hair dangling–always on the left–wrote obscure Tibetan chants to percussive beats. They met only on the fourteenth day of each month and never in the same place. They drank a particularly pungent Chai variation and recorded their creations straight to digital. Never a CD, never a disk. Nothing but dot-net, and that so clogged with dogma and securely interleavened data that only the initiated could access it. Initiation did not come cheaply, and creating the chants required the full attention of mind and body without karmic dissonance. She wanted to hang with them, but her screen hung on the words ‘Transparent to new Bee’. It would take time, and thus, a room.
She would need decorations.
She would have to run cables.
Where to put them? The green room was nearly finished, hung with spider plants that reached floor to ceiling and lost photos of found ancestors, black and whites and color shots from inside brand new wallets. In this office she played only obscure bootleg cuts from unknown bands, removing instantly any sound that might have reached the airwaves on commercial radio. She had books, all hand-sewn, stapled, or pasted together in print runs of one. Works of art, dedicated to creativity. Some of them have been well-reviewed, but only by her, as she owns the solitary copy–no reprints.
Obscurity is its own reward.
Somewhere, she knows, her own book resides on a shelf.
At least, she hopes it does. With one copy only…and no reviews she has been able to locate…so difficult.
The Black Room drips with water in tiny Feng Shui fountains, dyed red and bubbling over rocks, sliding around perpetually spinning balls, dripping down stepped cascades of colored stone. Blacklights, hung in the corners, bring a ‘blue-light special’ tinge of afterworld to each and every surface. Bauhaus and The Sisters of Mercy glare down baleful and haughty from where they hang beside fan-art vampires–men, women, children with haunted empty eyes and leering, come-hither lips.
The words in the black room reflect blacklight white on dried blood paper.
The leather and dark lace and white enamel required make her ache.
Aching is required to write in the black room.
Each has a connection to the box. The box has 24 port cascaded hubs snaked one to the next in Medsuaesque snarls of cable. There are more strands, and the cascade is endless, but there are no more rooms.
She started in the white room. There everything is organized by sets of rules and lists of infractions. The walls are papered with Strunk & White, pages cut and pasted in grammatical sequence, punctuated by brilliant covers that could have been shorn from their spines and pasted in place but instead are mounted carefully on small clear shelves because each word is sacred. The ties that bind the pages are not made of hemp but strung with gut-wrenched strands of intestinal fortitude. So precise it cuts, the light in this room blinds her and without her shadows she is incomplete.
That room is sealed. Pages written there bear the red pen wounds of frustration, and she knows, (oh yes, she knows), frustration is the key and must be channeled, re-arranged and dug into the page with sharp, swift, surgical slashes of a medium point pen.
And there is a shrine.
Every room has a shrine with names carved or painted, whispered or sent out through digital cables in a quick electronic breath. The creators of literary color and their works. Interviews printed out from the web. Podcasts playing in endless loops. Her words, reams of paper scattered throughout the rainbow, cast at multicolored altars and dusted with the incense of despair. Each bit and piece, chapter and verse written in the proper room, in the proper style, with the proper voice–the accepted voice–the voice that talks to her deep inside gray matter walls when the colors are invoked–the voice that vaguely, somehow reminds her of someone she once new–or was.
Each new color spins the wheel.
Each new inspirational challenge springs potential-to-kinetic in properly formatted leaps of brilliance.
Each rejection spins the wheel, and now?
There are pretty boys in blue with no home because all of the rooms are colored and the halls are bare and diamond checkered all at once. She knows this will be her chance. She will be one of them, the first pretty girl in blue, chanting to the center of cyberspace and fulfilled, but first she needs a room that does not exist.
And so she sits in the center of it all, near the box and the Medusa cables, arms wrapped and twined intricately, crying tears that will run down the wires and into the brain of the box. Tears will clear memory, but an empty, powerless box is of no use to her. She knows it is time to move on and wonders how she will bear to take each room apart.
The colors and the curtains.
The photos and the screens with their podcasts and their sound bytes that nibble her nerves.
She closes her eyes and dreams.
It comes in a vision and her dream-self smiles. Her tingling skin ripples with a soft shiver.
The office building is square, but now she sees a circle. Sliced like a colored pie, each angled segment arranged to fit its rejection perfectly, the box in the center. Plenty of room for pretty boys in blue with their hair dangling (always on the left) and Magenta girls with wolf companions and life stories trickling over sensual lips to dribble ink on vellum parchment–for black and white and Strunk & White–a Carousel of color. Her carousel.
In the center, she will sit and smile and spin the wheel, and all the while, she’ll write the multi-colored strands of thought into muse-tight weaves of brilliance.
They will come to her and give her a color and her name will go on the Carousel shrine…
And she will reject them, as all colors must until the paints dry and the hues shift and the brilliance shows its elusive backside to the muse.