I think I’m going to do a little more self-analysis a la Ellison with some of these short bits of fiction. I’m not sure that it matters or that anyone cares, but, as has been popular to say these past few weeks, “It is what it is.”
There’s no reason to bother yourself reading these postmortems — I’ll be honest and say they are more for myself than for any poor soul stumbling onto this site and being inundated with self-analysis. But they might be interesting, if you are into those kinds of things.
“Conspiracy” is a reflection of a time that I can’t quite get out of my head, though it has been a number of years since the incident it relates to and I should have gotten over it in the twenty-five years since. But it lingers in the memories and so I periodically try and fail to capture the ghost of the evening that I can’t seem to let go of.
I was living there at the time, having moved to the city of my dreams, away from the comfortable familiarity of the Mississippi River Valley’s upper end located in Minnesota. I had a partner in that endeavor, which made taking those risks easier. Until it didn’t.
Without going into details or naming names, because neither adds to the story, it started going downhill the day I woke up to birds singing and sunlight streaming into the room and me thinking it was going to be a damn good day.
How wrong I was.
Instead, I was greeted with: “I don’t think I love you anymore.”
Needless to say — it ruined my perfectly beautiful day and the next six months. Maybe the next six years. It is what it is.
It eventually ended up in a divorce that I’d probably earned with my excessive alcohol consumption, a year or two of sobriety as I tried to avert the divorce (but then went back to the sauce when I couldn’t), and a whole series of mental breakdown events. “Conspiracy” was one of those events and, while I recall a few images (faces like moray eels trying to touch me from the retaining wall bricks being one of them), most of it was a vague fugue that remained. And I obsess even to this day trying to recall it.
Facts: I did go without sleep for the better part of a week and it made me a bit loopy by the time of the event portrayed. I imagined the new lover (and part-architect of my troubles) was taunting me from the bar across the alley of the new apartment and, in my diminished mental state, seriously considered jumping two stories down with a practice katana tucked under my trench coat and “taking care” of him. I managed to rationalize using the elevator , but marched over all the same. He wasn’t there.
So, drunk on lack of sleep, I wandered up to Fisherman’s Warf in the Magnolia neighborhood, using a busy road’s yellow dividing lines to guide me and getting yelled at by drivers who were upset that I presented a road obstacle; katana still held in the folds my trench coat. I don’t know what my motivation was — perhaps it was to try and plead with my ex to reconsider yet again. I wouldn’t have presented a very good reason to do so in the state I was in… It just seemed… Important to go there.
When I got there, I was beyond exhausted. I think it was five miles, mostly uphill and on zero sleep. At two or three in the morning by the time I arrived.
That’s when things got weird. But I only recall fragments, some of which are captured in the story, but not necessarily as they happened. I was into Arthurian myth at the time, but the whole fisher king and sword toss never occurred. I don’t think. And I’ve always had a strong connection to Raven, so it seemed like a good idea writing this to include him in the cathartic moment. He played a large role in my life at the time.
What I do recall is that I somehow made it back to my crash-pad and slept for two days straight. My katana had found its way back to the closet and I stank like someone who had slept for two days straight and I think I was hungry for the first time in weeks.
Soon after, I developed a few friendships at the espresso bar I haunted and ended up organizing an anti-slam poetry and variety night with the permission of the owners. We exceeded the occupancy code more than once. I moved past the need for revenge and retribution, and buried myself in my writing.
I still have my demons that haunt me. But they are more annoyances than torture masters these days, easily swat away with the swipe of a hand. It is what it is.