art times logo

The go to source for creatives and those who appreciate good writing

youtube iconfacebook icontwitter icon Instagram
Share

Nocturnal Vibrato

By R. Jayess
Published in ART TIMES September 2014

SOMETHING WOKE HIM.

He was lying on his right side, facing the window.

Dark outside.

His chest.

What the hell is that?

A fluttering. No. More. A vibrating.

He didn’t move.

The vibration lasted for what seemed like a full minute.

An alarm clock?

He still did not move…fearful that it might get worse.

He had no idea what time it was. The clock was on his left, on the dresser, but he did not turn over to look. It was pitch black outside.

What the hell is that? An alarm going off inside me?

He felt no pain. Just that rapid fluttery, vibration in his left breast.

Suddenly it stopped.

Still no pain, no discomfort. Just sudden stillness.

He was about to turn over when he realized he was not alone.

“Hm, hmm. I’m here.”

He hadn’t heard anything. Not a sound while he lay there focused on that vibration.

“But, then…I guess I wouldn’t have heard you.”

“Nope.”

He eased onto his back, could still not see the clock which was too far to the left and behind for him to see.

“Figures.”

“I guess…I’ve been doing this for a long, long time now.”

“A serial breaker-inner.”

“Yup. Know all the tricks.”

The room was as dark as it was outside.

“What time is it?”

“Does it matter?”

“No…I guess not. Not really.”

“Love that expression you guys use — ‘not really’ — not sure what it means — really.”

He tried to see his intruder, but couldn’t. Just felt him standing alongside the bed.

“How do you keep all that paraphernalia quiet? Like how come I didn’t hear your scythe hitting the walls on the way up here, or anything?’

“Like I said…been doing this for a long time.” A chuckle. “Actually, I left that stuff down in the kitchen.”

“Nice touch.”

“A long time…you learn some tricks along the way.”

“What is it with all that stuff, anyway…the hourglass, the scythe, the hooded robe…and whatever else you come equipped with.”

“Tradition.”

“Tradition.”

“Yep…sort of expected now.”

“Do you mind if I sit up?”

“Does it matter?”

He thought for a moment. “No…not rea—.”

“Hmmpf.”

“Just a habit, I guess.”

“One your kind has had for a very long time.”

“Oh?”

“Yeah. The constant mixing up of appearance and reality. You’d think by now that you’d have had that sorted.”

He shrugged.

“I mean, things are or they are not. Where’s the difficulty?”

“Well, it’s a bit tricky at times. Like now, for instance. How come I can’t see you?”

“Does it matter?”

“Well — either you are here or you are not.”

“I’m here.”

“So, as long as you’re here, answer me this. What was that jiggling going on in my chest?”

Silence.

“Well?”

“I think you know…but again, does it matter?”

“No, I guess not.”

“It’s always going to be one thing or another.”

“But why this, I wonder?”

“Don’t know. Not my bailiwick. I’m just the picker-upper.”

“And the breaker and enterer.”

“That too.”

“Hmmmm. So, how do you want me? Should I lie on my back and fold my hands over my chest?”

“Does it matter?”

“Well…somebody’s going to find me.”

“And?”

“Well, shouldn’t I look a little presentable?”

“Does it matter?” A short silence. “And, presentable for what?”

“Well, I don’t know. This is your business…it’s my first time, you know.”

“You’re only time. But on your back with your hands folded over your chest sounds a bit dramatic.”

“My only time?”

“Yes. What’d you expect? Repeat performances?”

“Well, there’s been rumors, you know.”

“Appearance and reality. Things are or they are not. I’m here and soon you won’t be.”

“So all those stories down through the ages…? About a Supreme Being? A Heaven? Or, an Evil One and Hell?”

“Smoke and mirrors.”

“Wishful thinking?”

“That, too.”

“Hmmm! Well, I was always of the opinion that God and Satan were too picky, anyway.”

Silence.

“You, at least are democratic…non-judgmental.”

“Absolutely. I don’t care if they’re good or bad, rich or poor, tall or short, smart or dumb…just as long as they’re alive.”

“So you can make us not alive.”

“Like I said, you guys never seem to have gotten around this thing.”

“‘To be — or not to be.’”

“Yeah, That fella seemed to have gotten it. What was his name again?”

“Hamlet — well, Shakespeare.”

“Right. But it doesn’t matter.”

“Yeah. He was and now isn’t.”

“That’s the spirit…”

“Nice, that.”

“Well, I have my moments.”

“Right.”

“This gets pretty cut and dried, you know…not much room for improvisation and witty repartee.”

“Well that ‘cut and dried’ wasn’t bad….”

“Yeah. A little scythe pun. You’re quick.”

“Well, I like words.”

“Yeah, I know. You’re a writer. Were a writer.”

“You know that?”

“Not much I don’t know.”

“So. Not sure I ought to ask, but what will happen to my stuff? My books and other writings?”

“They’ll be or they won’t be.”

“‘Cut and dried’.”

“Yup.”

“Shame when you think of it.”

“Does it matter? Seemed to me that most of your stuff — most of all writer’s stuff — is a confusion of appearance and reality. You make stuff up. Trouble is, you begin to believe it. Things are or they aren’t.”

“That simple.”

“Yup. The whole shebang is, actually.”

“So?”

“So?”

“How do you want me?”

“Does it matter? Make yourself comfortable. Lie on your side, your back, whatever. You can hang off the edge of the bed if you want to. That’s always dramatic.”

“How long…?”

“Will this take? Let’s see… your heart stopped fibrillating a split second ago…”

(R. Jayess lives in NY.)