Written for OLWG #46
I was in my study staring at a blank screen. I still have time but the deadline is fast approaching. My mind is blank so I seek distraction. I seek a reason that I cannot work, a reason other than “My mind is blank.”
The kids are off to school; they run past my office on their way to the back door. I hear the screen creak as they push it open on their way out, “Don’t slam …”
“… that door.” I yell behind them, too late. The kids are gone. I guess I can’t blame them now.
Eileen is gone too. It’s Wednesday, and she always works early on Wednesday. Maybe, since I’m here all alone I don’t need to pretend to work. Maybe I can find a game on the cable or I could find an old western to watch. Who would know?
I stand up to pace. The office is small, not too many steps across but about the third or fourth time past the window I slow down. There’s something going on down the street, on the corner. It’s hard to make out, but there’s a stranger down there; his hair’s kinda long, but not really. He has a full mustache and a couple of cops are trying to get him into the back of their squad car. He’s yelling something, but it isn’t in English. French maybe?
I raise the window in an effort to hear better; was that my name I heard? Maybe… I leaned out the window to see if I can hear better.
“TN TN,” yeah, that’s my name. I figure I had best go check it out, so I march downstairs and out the front door, down to the corner.
“Officers?” I open, “May I help here?”
The two cops looked at me, “You need to stand back, sir,” the smaller of the two said. I noticed his badge identified him as ‘Lambert’ and he wears his salt and pepper hair cropped high and tight.
“Officer Lambert,” I admonish, “I can be of assistance to you. I believe this man is speaking French. I also speak French and could, perhaps, help us all to identify the misunderstanding. Furthermore, I believe I heard my name called earlier.” I bowed slightly and announced, “I am TN Kerr. I live just up the block.”
I spoke a few words with the man and he told me that his name was Honoré de Balzac.
I laughed and asked how that could be since de Balzac had been dead since 1850.
“S’ il vous plait,” was all he said.
I thought about the situation. I was intrigued, “Officer Lambert,” I called the cop over, “It seems that this gentleman is indeed looking for me. He claims to be some sort of long lost uncle or some such. I can relieve you of him and take him to my house and see if I can get further information.”
“Just don’t leave him alone in public sir,” Lambert told me, eager to be loose of the situation.
“You have my word, officer.”
As we walked back up the block he looked at me and said, “I think you are having some difficulty with your writing this morning, no?”
I shrugged the question off as we arrived at my home.
“Dès que le café est dans votre estomac, il y a une agitation générale. Les idées commencent à bouger … les comparaisons se produisent, le papier est couvert. Le café est votre allié et l’écriture cesse d’être un combat. ” He said in the kitchen and pointed to the coffee pot.
“I agree, I need coffee” I said, “but I might have phrased it differently. I might have chosen a different word from agitation. I would have some other word instead of comparisons, and I would have said struggle instead of fight, but these are minor. Who are you really?”
He puffed up and pointed to his chest, “Honoré de Balzac,” he assured me.
“But Honoré de Balzac is dead.” I pointed out.
“Dead is something that the living say,” he told me, “Those of us who are dead don’t use that terminology. How is my English, by the way?”
“Pretty good,” I told him, “Wanna hang out, I can teach you more English and you can help me with my writing.”
“I can help you with your writing; without even having to hang out with you. Remember to drink coffee. As soon as coffee is in your stomach, there is a general commotion. Ideas begin to move… similes arise, the paper is covered. Coffee is your ally and writing ceases to be a struggle… Similes, do you think that is a better word than comparisons?” He began to fade and shimmer like heat waves over a desert highway. “Hey do you know where I can find Jack Kerouac? I’ve heard that he likes my work.”
“Simile is a much better word.” I told him, “and, you and Kerouac – shit, you are both in the same boat. Dead? Not dead? I think he died in Florida in the 60’s. Good luck and it was nice to meet you.”
He was gone. I looked out the window again – the cops were gone too.
This week, the prompts were:
- what a rush
- on the corner
- don’t slam that door
Don’t think! Write!
You have 25 minutes but if it takes longer – just don’t tell anyone.