Sunday, February 8, 2009

The Snow (whole)

The snow kept falling and falling. Large, shapeless snowflakes were slowly and steadily making their way to the ground, creating a see-through curtain and covering everything with a sheet of virginal white monochrome. The cold winter sky was blending in at the horizon with a sea of whiteness while looming over the land in a solid layer of metallic gray, completely void of impurities and discolorations, and preventing any futile attempts of sunlight to get through. The trees, which just a day ago were desperately extending their bare skeletal limbs to the sky in a silent plea for vital sunlight, were now comfortably hidden beneath soft, bulky snowcoats, standing in orderly rows along the sides of a snow covered alley. In a complete silence, with which this bustling city was very unfamiliar, the time seemed to have stopped in its tracks, eternally capturing the world in a moment of frozen wonderland. All imperfections-chunky dull gray pavement, bits of colorful litter strewn here and there, graffiti on the fence, movie posters-were now completely covered and smoothed over, creating an illusion of an innocent and pure environment almost completely untouched by human hands. In tabula rasa the world was reborn.

The bus slowly pulled up to a bus stop after plowing its way through the freshly accumulated piles of snow and leaving deep tire grooves behind. The doors slowly opened, and a man carefully stepped off the rubberized steps onto the snow covered ground, making sure not to get snow inside his boots and cringing as cold winter air stung and pinched his face. He was in his late 40's, wearing a long dark gray wool coat that has seen its better days and a crumpled up black fedora that he pulled down almost to his nose. In his hand he had a black tattered leather briefcase with a large brass combination lock on the front. His attire, combined with a raised collar and a tucked in head, could have made him resemble a character out of 40's film noir, perhaps a spy or a secret agent, except for his miserable demeanor and less than glamorous walk. As the bus closed its doors and moved on like a steel dinosaur, huffing, puffing and plowing through more snow, the man looked around, as if adjusting to his new condition of being completely alone in this winter vastness, and started walking. He was stooping, cringing, and dragging his feet through the resisting snow in what seemed to be enormous amount of effort. He continued on his way down a what used to be an alley and now was only recognizable by the trees orderly arranged on each side, until he finally reached a gray concrete apartment building. It was industrial and depressive looking, with faded graffiti on a peeling wall and dark stains from fire still shading several top windows, making them look like ominous gaping mouths, especially on the background of this whiteness. He hesitated for a moment, and then turned a knob on a rusty greenish metal door with chipped paint all over it, entering the bowels of this architectural monstrosity. The door started to slowly close, screeching like an old hag in process, and then all of a sudden slammed shut.

The staircase reeked of mold, stale cigarette smoke and ammonia, combined with some other less recognizable smell, which he couldn't quite put his finger on. Moldy off white stained walls, dark brown floor tiles speckled with white paint and matters of various origins, and a dim light, emanating from a single lamp bulb which was originally a part of a wall sconce with a glass shield now missing, were all creating an atmosphere of unwelcomeness and discomfort. A draft created by a large crack in a windowpane in a space between a flight of stairs added to this general feeling. He slowly reached his floor, trying to avoid touching a filthy metal banister or the walls, and walked up to a door that said "506, Randolph" on it. He tapped his feet to shake off the snow off his boots, briskly ran his hands over the coat, took off his hat, tapping it on a knee, and walked into the apartment. As he turned on the light, a stream of warm air engulfed his senses; he was happy to be home. The room had a surprizingly cozy for a bachelor's abode feel about it It was reminiscent of Victorian times, with faded yellowish brocade wallpaper, a yellow light coming from a tall floral floor lamp standing by the window, a large brown leather armchair in one corner, and a wooden desk with a green library lamp on it in another. Along the wall, in between an armchair and a desk, stood a large bookcase filled with worn tomes of encyclopedias and classics. On the walls were framed pictures of various classic writers, historical landmarks, and quotes by ancient philosophers. By the looks of it this was definitely a home of a somewhat scholarly and educated person, and that's exactly who Daniel Randolph was.

After getting his Masters Degree in Classical Studies and Literature, he was promised a much lucrative and thought after career of an editor/writer for a big New England journal just to blow it off, complaining that "no matter how tainted my soul is, I am not about to sell it to those illiterate bastards." And on his way he went, keeping his soul but saying goodbye to a large paycheck, making living off writing random articles and reviews to magazines which were willing to buy them. He felt he was too complex and sophisticated for the main crowd and insisted on being much better off knowing that his talent would be appreciated by only the select few. Despite numerous claims of permanent insanity by his acquaintances and neighbors, who were wary of the fact that he was almost always confined to his desk and had a bizarre habit of talking to himself in a very audible manner, Randolph insisted on being in a superb mental state. That could not have been said of his physical state, which was of a man who suffered from migraines, colitis, two herniated discs, and a plethora of other undiagnosed conditions. He was a 48 year old man in a 84 year old man's body, and he refused to do a single thing about it, insisting that a soul without a suffering cannot live on and still continue to be creative, even if that suffering consisted of a mere toothache. He was a bachelor for almost twenty years, completely satisfied and content with this status and unwilling to change it any time soon, even if there was a woman somewhere out there which would have been willing to put up with his brimming ego and constant mood swings brought on by his ailments.

Aeons ago he was married to a young woman named Sally, which he met in college, but they both came to a conclusion that there was only room for one person in his heart, and that person wasn't her. He was forever married to his work, and that was the only thing he found solace in, much to the chagrin of people around him.
As he sat into his armchair with that tattered briefcase in his hands, he was suddenly overwhelmed by a feeling of extreme drowsiness and sleepiness, which was onset either by the warmth of the room or by something else. As he tried to fight off the sandman, his eyelids became lead heavy, eventually closing and submitting him into a state of deep slumber. His hands released the handle of a briefcase, and it fell on the floor by his feet with a dull thud, spilling the contents all over the rug.

When he opened his eyes, Randolph, still slouching in his leather chair, could not understand what exactly happened to him and how he managed to fall prey to this deep slumber. Often, while writing his articles or reading literature, the drowsiness would slowly creep in, chipping away at his alertness and attention, but it happened gradually, and he was always able to fight it off before finally going to bed after realizing that his productivity levels and comprehension were null. This time, however, it was different. He did not even get a chance to try and fight off this sleepiness since it came on so very strong and sudden; he did not know what to make of it. After a minute of disorientation and slight disturbance, he realized that there was a very strong chill in the room, almost as strong as the one in a staircase, making his skin cover with goosebumps. Randolph instantly glanced at the window and saw that it was slightly ajar, enough to bring in a winter night air. He could also see that there were sheets of paper strewn all over the windowsill, and some were already getting carried away into the night.

At a sight of fruits of his labor and imagination carelessly flying outside, Randolph immediately jumped up, swearing, and rushed to the open window, out of which the papers kept getting carried away into pitch black nothingness, picked up by the wind one by one like large wandering birds lost at sea. Panicking and desperately grabbing at loose pages that haven't made it outside yet, he was now struggling with the wind which seemed to now gain a demonic power once it met its opponent face to face. It was howling and smashing the papers against a windowpane, preventing him from getting a hold of them. Finally, when it appeared that most of the pages were picked up, he forcibly shut the window closed against the forceful tugs of the wind that was smacking him in the face and pulling the window away from him. Breathing heavily, he lowered himself back into the chair.

Blankly looking at the heap in his hand, he put it on a table and shuffled through the cold, damp pages. His many pages were forever taken from him by that gust. Not all was lost, however. The first, the most important page, was still there. The title was glaring at him off the page: The Snow, by John Randolph, December, 1952. "The snow kept falling and falling. Large, shapeless snowflakes were slowly and steadily making their way to the ground, creating a see-through curtain..."

Sally Randolph stood by a small gravestone, with her arms folded on her chest, looking down at the etched writing. It has been 15 years since John took his life by jumping under the bus, running into a busy street to be plowed head on by a moving steel dinosaur. One of the numerous witnesses said that he took a massive blow, and it looked like a bird hitting a windshield. His hat flew in one direction, while his briefcase flew wide open in the other, spilling out papers all over the road. Fifteen long years, since 1952, but it felt just like yesterday. She still remembered the rush of mixed feelings overwhelming her that day. Mostly they were feelings of surprise, shock, disbelief. But there was another one...a feeling of relief. She knew that his troubled mind just could not have sustained him any longer. His writing had taken over his life, and she dared not to get involved in this issue, which only she considered an issue in a first place. The signs were there: obsessiveness, depression, compulsive behaviors, but there was nothing she could have done. He was stubborn, and even if he needed help, it most certainly wouldn't have come from the outside world. But the help wouldn't come. He waited and waited, but the enemy, which was a writer's block combined with a mental disease, was much too strong.


Anonymous said...

Hey, nice read!

I listened to korpkilaani(sp?) and finntroll, also sentenced and poisonblack finally.


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Anonymous said...


Hadn't seen you in a while at lgf, Charles closed the lizard lounge there in case you didn't know.

Spring is here, hope things are going good for you.


Cowcharge said...

Nice writing. :)

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Anonymous said...

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