Morris and Joseph walk in through the door whilst engaged in a conversation that beheld their interests since the quitting the lyceum of libations.
“I say, that is an intriguing point you make about quotation marks being as two sets of curtains lifted to reveal the psyche of a character in a narrative,” says Morris.
“I’m not sure if I ever said that,” responds Joseph. “I’m not actually sure where we are, and how we got here. I mean, I feel as though I’ve existed forever, but in reality, I know I didn’t exist about 97 words ago.”
“100 words ago,” responds Morris, who is now 113 words old.
Both men examine each other and determine that neither of them have any dimensions. They are both flat, likely of an off-white color, though pigmented through their skin with black symbols that show clearly against the surface. They also surmise that they are currently in a constant state of expanding, at least according to exactly one person, the writer, who is, at this writing, witnessing their growth into an abyss.
“I say,” says Morris.
Indeed you do, says Joseph, who isn’t sure if he said that out loud, or if anyone heard it other than the person reading the piece, which means hitherto Joseph knows more about what the reader is thinking at this exact moment than the reader knows what Joseph is thinking (given that Joseph’s thoughts have become the readers thoughts and Joseph’s thoughts were mere echo in his cognizance whereas these words were sounded out in the mind of the reader; so for a brief moment, Joseph is on to you, dear reader). But that’s okay, because Joseph is a bit fatuous.
“I am not,” says Joseph, seemingly perplexed about the meaning of “fatuous,” though he senses it is possibly negative. “I’m only as flatulent as you are,” he responds, “given that you had to look up that word by using a thesaurus to find a synonym for ‘idiotic.’” By “you,” he means me, the author, who has now entered the page, though chooses to maintain a quiet distance. By “author,” I mean the writer, currently, sitting defeated at 10:50 PM on a Thursday in the midst of exhaustion. Currently, I’m a bit perturbed that Joseph has used the quotation within the quotation, which is simply two apostrophes surrounding a single word, which doesn’t really fit a previous poem I had about the apostrophe, which in turn is forcing me to reevaluate the concept I have for that piece so that I may allow the two pieces to create a satisfying interlocking flow for the chapbook to pique the interest of the usually listless reader, but I, meaning the author in the corner, observing both Morris and Joseph, refuse to allow my writing to be dictated by the characters that didn’t even exist about 10 minutes ago, and probably won’t exist ever again depending on how this whole mess pans out.
The author, still standing in the corner, looking at me with inquisitive eyes, asking me what I would like him to do, but I have as much of an idea as he does. The author is a “he.” The narrator is quite possibly a “she.” She floats above all of them, sucking up all motions, actions, and utterances, and turning them into text, like an angel of destruction, or death, or love.
“I say,” says Morris. At this point, the reader wonders why Morris has a British accent. “I don’t have a British accent,” he responds. But Morris had a British accent this whole time, before the narrative started. That’s why his name is “Morris,” and dressed in a British style two-button suit. “Actually, the author has me casually dressed in douche-y flip-flops, cargo shorts, and a tank top that doesn’t seem to suit me,” Morris says. “I would prefer the suit, but I’d really like to be myself, at home, with my kids. I’ve got a wife you know.”
At which point, Joseph sends a quick uppercut to Morris’ jaw. “Oh, shit, I am so sorry, Morris, it totally wasn’t me, it was the author.”
The author shrugs and looks at me. And by “me,” he means you, the reader. He’s seeing if you are okay with it. If you are, then please indicate so by continuing to read the rest of this piece.
Morris, at that point, begins to send a barrage of mid-body punches at the wall behind him. “Well,” he says, all British-like, “This seems completely unneccessary.”
“Unnecessary,” the author corrects him.
While Morris is going to town on the wall, Joseph contemplates his own genitals being filleted and turned inside out to form a vagina of sorts. “Actually, I was thinking about pancakes, for a moment,” Joseph says. At which point, the author walks sternly up to Joseph and vigorously sends a backhand against Joseph’s jaw, and starts to scream something incoherent about gender binary and questioning heternormativity, phallogocentrism, etc. for which Joseph has been selected to serve as a vehicle, and get used to sucking dick because that is what is about to happen!
“Actually, the author left about a couple days ago,” says Joseph. “He said he had ‘better shit to do, like watching America’s Got Talent, or find my own dickhead author who will tell me “this isn’t working, because like Morris said years ago, ‘you can’t write a poem about quotation marks and now you’re copying John Barth.’”’”
“And we’ve just been standing here, for a good two years,” says Morris.
At which point, the reader, somewhat agitated by the turn of the narrative says, “ !“
Right now, I’m trying to find an adequate way to apologize to Morris and Joseph. I meant to get them out sooner, to set them free, but I was too scared to do it, I always found something else to do, like look at buzzfeed, or post anonymous comments on yotube videos, and then recheck the comment several hundred times over the course of an hour to see if anyone responded to it, or if it got bumped to a viral status, but all of these diversions were simply ignoring their pleas to be let out of the grand silence, that I couldn’t shape them into form earlier, how terrible I feel leaving them adrift in the ephemera, but they aren’t the only ones! There are billions just like them, clawing beneath my conscious, transmitting into my thoughts, and they will never be born, so I assume if I deaden that world, perhaps they won’t be as loud and I won’t ever feel as guilty. But that world still pulsates, still whimpers, even while I’m looking at a spot on the wall, or considering a television commercial. I imagine these whimpers in my subconscious must what the waiting room of an abortion clinic might sound like after everyone has gone home for the evening, the doctors have taken a beak on pulling fetuses from the womb, but a profound sense of tragedy still bounces around the walls (“That’s probably the most insensitive, incorrect and inconsiderate thought to have,” states Joseph, emphatically. He wants me to use a more appropriate metaphor, but it’s getting close to 11:00 and that’s the best I can do). Since my author has left, though, I can’t seem to figure out how to tell them all of these things.
“It’s alright,” says Morris.
At that moment, due to zoning oversights and ignorance of an abandoned stretch of rail lines, plus a derelict switch station that collapsed suddenly resulting in the redirection of a freight train, the aforementioned train barrels through the building Morris and Joseph have just entered, twisting and tearing the two comparatively flimsy bodies of Morris and Joseph, strewing their various body parts and entrails throughout the western United States.
“We’re just going to go now.” Morris and Joseph exit the building.
And now there is just myself. And the reader. And the narrator. The narrator will hover above and within, transcribing the movements of my fingertips, pushing the eyes of the reader along the page. It is impossible to outrun her. She will still be here, lingering above long after I finish, and my fingertips have come to a permanent rest. She will still be here after the eyes of the reader have become still. There is no escaping her. She is inevitable.