Monday, June 28, 2010

A Little Somethin' Somethin'

Her fingers furiously raged down on the keys as Ralph opened the package. It was wrapped in brown paper, like goods from a traditional European shop, and bound on all four sides by cord. There were no markings on it, no addresses—neither to, nor from. Ralph stood on the front porch examining the sleepy street. He slowly turned his head to the left glancing up Micheltorena street toward the Riviera. The sun was barely over the ridge and just beginning to creep down the hillside to wake up the town with gentle hues of pink and orange. He brought his head back to center and fumbled with the package, back and forth in his hands. He turned slowly, this time to his right, down Micheltorena towards the Mesa where the ocean waited for the sun to announce the new day. There was no one out yet, where did this package come from?

This was the first time he had seen a story in manuscript form. It was not a book. A book is binding and backbone and ribbing. It is sturdy and strong and protects the story it carriers around the world. A manuscript is a loose and dangerous thing. Its pages are not bound to anything and can be whisked off in a gust of wind and lost forever. A book is permanent. A manuscript is full of hope and potential. A book is in retirement. Its achievements catalogued and recorded and praised.

He read the first sentence. Ralph B Sipper Bookseller, who would be controlled by no woman. Well, that is the name and title on the sign outside, he thought to himself. Anyone walking by could have written this. But he also thought about his marriage. His former wife was largely frustrated with his immobility, his inability to act or alter his intentions to accommodate or even include her. Suddenly, he realized the precariousness of his situation, standing on his porch holding in his hands his life, typed on leaves of paper that could be haphazardly drawn from his hands and lost forever. He backed up into his door. With his right hand tightly holding the package closed he reached behind him and pushed the door handle down. He leaned his backside into the door and eased back into his house as if he did not want to turn his back on the world while retreating from it.

Her fingers furiously raged down on the keys, striking them like spring hail on unsuspecting pedestrians. Her fingers struggled to translate the images in her mind as rapidly as they were racing through it. Finishing the first page, Ralph placed it face down in a new pile next to the tall stack he was reading through. He picked up the second page, there was only one sentence written across the top. And then suddenly, a second appeared. Ralph shook his head. Closed his eyes and felt the lids smooth down over his eyeballs. Surely, they were playing a trick on him. When he opened his eyes again two more lines appeared.

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