Chapter 5: Dialectic
Yes? The stories came. I couldn’t stop them. Why would you want to stop them? I don’t know. All I know is that I couldn’t stop them. Like now, I can’t stop this damn dialogue, this double-damned dialectical spiritualism. You mean dialectical materialism, don’t you? No, dialectical spiritualism. You know … thesis, antithesis, synthesis. I think it’s called dialectical materialism. You exacerbate me. I don’t think it’s used that way. What’s used what way? Exacerbate. Whatever. I was talking about the story. You were talking about the story. It was the characters. What about the characters?
Chapter 6: The Characters
They were real to me. As real as you are. As real as I am? As real as you are. Do you think I am one of your characters? I know you’re one of my characters. You really believe that. Yes, I do. You’re playing with me. Why should I want to do that? To have fun. To pass the time. I’d much rather get on with writing my story than talk to you. But if we stop talking, you might attempt to kill yourself again. It’s the price I pay for the freedom to write, to suffer and to write. But I can’t let you kill yourself. Try and stop me. And your dog. Was he a character? She. Was she a character? No. What was she then and what happened to her? Let’s leave her out of this. She was totally innocent.
I think you have a philosophical disease. What is it? Solipsism. Solipsism? Yes, solipsism. You think you’re the only being who exists. Everyone else is a figment of your imagination. Can we stop right here? I’m overcome with weariness. Yes, you may go back to your room to rest, as long as you behave yourself properly.
Chapter 7: The Room
He stood up slowly, carefully, slightly stooped, and shuffled through the doorway to the next room. He walked slowly past the filing cabinet. He stopped a moment to look at it, as though expecting one of the drawers to open and reach out for him. He felt his mouth open and a wetness in the corner of it. He was not sure whether the wetness was inside his mouth or outside. He reached up to touch the corner of his mouth with his desiccated finger. He closed his mouth, lowered his hand, and shuffled toward the outer door. He tried to remember which direction down the hallway was the way to his room. This was his ritual. It never varied. He shuffled down the hall to his room, fumbled with the door, and opened it. He shuffled over to his bed and sat down. He leaned forward reaching for his notebook and pencil. Good, he said to himself as though sitting down to a succulent feast prepared only for him and set on a table covered with three white tablecloths on a beach in front of the ocean at sunset. Now I can work on my story.
There was a soft knock on the door. Instead of being exasperated at the interruption he looked up expectantly at the door and said brightly come in. The door opened tentatively and Ellen stuck her beautiful face into the gloomy room. Hi handsome! Got any room for me at that table of yours? She did not wait for an answer. She walked quickly over to the old man, skirts swishing lusciously, long legs slicing the air, and black patent high heels clicking on the checkered linoleum floor, the whole atmosphere of the room ionized by her presence. She bent down and kissed him on his lips longer than was required by social grace. I hope you haven’t promised the seat next to you to someone else! Once again she didn’t wait for him to answer and sat right down next to him on the bed, so close to him that he could feel the heat of her leg through his bathrobe and pajama pants. You know that I can’t concentrate on my writing when you sit so close to me. She smiled demurely. I know you can’t even write when I’m ten feet away in the same room as you. Do you want me to leave? Good God, no!
Chapter 8: Translation
The word was sometimes transparent and sometimes opaque. Now it was transparent. The Thot gazed at the galaxies and nebulae flying past him in a blue and white flurry of lines stretching from infinity to infinity. The word was flying on auto-pilot. The Thot felt the word decelerating slightly and glanced outside to see the stars at the tip of the near arm of a giant spiral galaxy like suction cups on the tip of the tentacles of a huge squid beckoning to him to come closer to its maw. The word banked smoothly toward the open maw of the black hole in the center of the galaxy and began its ineluctable acceleration. Ekim turned toward the Thot sitting next to him. You should prepare yourself for translation. She buckled her seatbelt and smiled up at him. There’s no need for that, my love. He reached for her hand and squeezed it softly. You know that nothing survives translation. Nothing but us, naked as newborns. Hopefully. You know that sometimes even we don’t survive, at least not fully intact, as we were when we entered. Yes, I know, my dear heart. Don’t be afraid, now of all times. It will be alright. You’ll see. He patted her hand. Please hold my hand as we go through it. Then I will always know whether we are still alright. No you won’t, dearest, but I will hold your hand anyway. He continued holding her hand. It was gentle, soft, warm, and still sent a thrill through his entire being. She began to feel the tug of the black hole on her eyes, her cheekbones, her breasts, and her knees. She turned her face away from him toward the stars rushing by and tried not to think about what awaited them in the next few moments. She squeezed his hand hard. They looked at each other as though their lives depended on that very action and, to tell the truth, they did.