His & Hers

by Bill Bowler

I. Speaking in Tongues

The young man sat brooding in a polka-dot
section of missing grandstand during
time-out, pondering the pause in the action and

the peculiar and curious concatenation of circumstances
which had led to the current object of his meditation, so
fraught with significance.

Restless, his eyes left the game and wandered
off, his nostrils flared, as Nostradamus prophesied
and Nicodemus predicted and for which was ostracized.

The young man lit a joint, took a deep puff of
smoke and coughed. His philosophy lurched and
a piece of optimism broke off in his hand.

A small pain shot through his chest, but it was
nothing. He paid it no mind, though he
suspected it might suggest he were not immortal

which, if he were not, what the hell was he
doing there?! Maybe someone important could
give him a ride home from all of this, but

no one in positions of importance and power
had time to then, though later — who knew?
There was always the possibility, he supposed.

He remained non-plussed a moment longer before

the details came into focus, as if gradually, as if
through a lifetime of research, his uncertainty
clarified itself and grew transparent
to the mind’s eye. He grasped it firmly. His
insights took on decisive overtones. He took
mastery over himself and, consequently, over
others seeking models, accurate, painstaking
replicas of what they expected. There is a
prismatic simplicity to certain aspects
of his circumstances viewed from the per-
spective of history, viewed in the context
of vast readings and writings, and upon that
hours and hours of contemplation, meditation,
quiet painstaking analysis wherein he
deduced the etiology of his proposed
undertaking. And where did that leave
him? Right where he started! That’s where.
He couldn’t believe it either.

After years of aimless drifting
dating back to the 60s when aimless drifting was
in fashion, he found himself now on the

very threshold of something with no well
defined goal, no direction, only indistinct
longing and dissatisfaction, the sense of

having dismantled his Weltanschauung but built
nothing in its place. Let nature take its
course, his present concern, the vague engine

propelling his train of thought, the new
influences he found himself falling
under, like new whims of a dictator’s

spouse, the new crunch on the gears of
virtually everything that meant anything
to him over the last, say, thirty years, was,

at this point, somewhat anticlimactic and
as a result, understandably, he spoke out,

“Holy sh...”

The hammer of metaphysics had smashed the
thumb of his ontology and, yes, it does seem unfair
to pick out this singular utterance, unfair

to the remainder of his attitudes and, consequently,
the philosophical underpinnings, the
minutiae of his Argument, but what more reasonable

distillation of a knee-jerk improvisation
based on little more than what she told
him, to which he clung dearly, desperately, as if

this were his ticket out, his release, his excuse
to be absent, his note from the doctor to
miss life that day. He knew then, he was

convinced of it. But what was the role of
this experiential function of the sum of his
expectations as a numerator in a disgustingly

perverse and obscene version of what originally
had been pure and good thoughts, on a different
subject, it’s true, but good and pure nonetheless.

The less he said, the less he felt
able to say, as if unspoken equaled
unspeakable, as if the thought had

its own time to be uttered and no other
or as if its meaning lay in the
precise moment of its utterance. And yet

he could not bring himself to speak,
he choked on the word and substituted
a trivial pleasantry, the total

irrelevance of which did not pass unnoticed.
She was watching him closely, perhaps
too closely for either of their own good.

“What are you really thinking?” she asked,
innocently enough, though he wondered how much
hostility lies in curiosity? Her question was

the scalpel as she probed the corpus of his
repressions and struck a nerve. He blushed and
stuttered a feeble, “Just what I said.”

“What are you getting at?” She felt his
defensive edge, his defiance, of what? She hadn’t a
clue, but his pathetic lies annoyed her. She wished

to know his thoughts, and his concealment and
embarrassment fueled her suspicions. In the
absence of any explanation on his part, she

could only assume the worst, that
he, like her father and all men, except
her brother, was sleazy slimy scum at heart.

His thoughts immersed themselves amidst yet deeper,
richer niches that night at home. He dreamt of her
as his mother — a confused and alarming dream of

soft tones of a gentle voice, familiar but fleeting,
disappearing, leaving blankness in its wake.
He called to her, begged her to return but

someone had died and something was coming towards him.
He tried to run, but slipped away further
into the sphere of masked recollection, further

into his own lost reflection, his own counter-argument
and awoke suddenly at 2:30 AM with a dry mouth
when his neighbor came in upstairs and
turned on the TV.

She did it to get back at his best
friend who was tormenting her. She
did it because she found him threatening,

deeply disturbing. He had tricked her, lied
to her, pretended he was sensitive and supportive
and caring, then betrayed her, revealing his true

selfish, chauvinistic, immature self. But that
was only later. At the beginning it had
been furious non-stop sex, in his apartment,

in her apartment, at the beach, at their
parents’ houses, they both had hurtled
onward, but the gears turned and meshed again,

then frantic what next?! What next?!, rats
in a maze, racing in a treadmill, and the
city closed in, an ugly beast on the prowl.

She left his bed and took to sleeping in the
living room, staying up till 5 in
the morning watching old movies on TV

before crashing out at dawn. He
smoked massive amounts of dope and
spent his nights passed out in the bedroom.

Self-pity moaned to him that he was
lost, alone, nowhere to rest his
head, an orphaned son of Nobodaddy.

It was what she wanted, what she threatened,
the imagined prospect of which terrified him,

trial separation, an awful step in the wrong
direction. He couldn’t face the thought of
being alone. He couldn’t accept that she would

really leave him, except, dimly, it was
beginning to dawn on him. He’d be out
on his own again, like before he met her, back

in his old apartment with no heat and no
water pressure, shivering in front of
a space heater and flushing the toilet on the

installment plan. Well, he had to face
having to face himself, alone, his own
nakedness and absurdity. Or could he

control it all by controlling himself?
No, Maya protects Vishnu. He fell into
a continuous state of hallucination.

He was crushed. He almost wept. A tear
did well up in his eye and yes he
was an absurd figure. Ridiculous indignant

Homunculum, his ego reeled from the blow,
shrank up like an amoeba. He simply could not
deal with it. It, which haunted their lives

together, breaking them apart, the imp
of the perverse
. What should he do? Where
would he go? What was his best move?

Make her happy, he thought, but he was
too blocked to follow through.
He couldn’t bring himself to give in.

It was part of his pathology. He
sobbed inside, his throat constricted,
he gulped and thought, well, it’s just more

total insanity. Might as well get
used to it. His loud sighs could not help
but attract attention among the many signs

they sent each other. The telling gestures which
register unconsciously. She had cleaned him up,
dressed him, rehabilitated him for society, finally

got him on the right track back to general
acceptance, to the main stream.
She was good for him in that way and he

had grown to depend on her (which he could never
admit). But why did she demand he
explain the obvious? Just look at his face!

And yet she always misconstrued his motives.
In short, their lives were getting totally
screwed up fast, en route to Hell in a

handbasket. It drove him beserk

to think about it, which he did constantly.
He felt he had to break through the
wall or get walled in. Painted into

a corner, he had left himself little
choice, even no choice. He could have jumped if
he could fly, but obviously he could only

plummet, which may be what he wanted anyway,
but sooner or later to splatter on the bottom
was, let’s be honest, not the greatest idea

he had come up with in 38 years. How
about behaving rationally? Nah, too late
for that. And yet, he hadn’t quite jumped

yet. Poised to leap he was but hadn’t pushed
off from the edge quite yet. The precipice
yawned below him, vertigo made him ill,

his foot slipped, and he lost his balance
and slid over the edge, almost like
jumping and equally effective but

the hand of the Great Jokester interceded,
stopping time for a moment to
lift the unfortunate one back up by the

nape of his neck and place him gingerly
away from the edge, back
up, if not to his former heroic

stature, at least to the potential
of reassuming the same should an
assertion of will on his part be made and

we all hoped it would and felt him fully
capable of it, felt, in fact, as though he
owed it to us, his most dedicated fans.

The Jokester placed him, as had been
initially predetermined, on a high narrow
plateau whence he could observe

his own foolishness and review the lessons
of his near demise, which had almost
flattened him into a pancake, which would have meant

a long step down and major reduction in rank
with concurrent loss of benefits. He rested
briefly on his plateau, regaining his

strength and pondering, in dreams, the
fortunate intervention of higher authority.
His heartbeat returned to normal, his mind,

so close to snapping, returned to equilibrium.
The crisis seemed to have passed for the moment
and, putting aside his constant questioning,

and putting aside that his head was
buried in the sand, still, a wave of relief
and forgetfulness washed over him,

rinsing him momentarily in a warm bath of
memories of reassuring moments from scenes
from the myth of his happy childhood and

perfect family. He was safe. His world had
resumed its former, familiar contours. He
was beyond harm, serene, secure in the embrace

of illusions, wishes, and childlike
ignorance of the cruel revelations to be
dumped upon him as the price of real

estate is thrust upon pilgrims seeking
the principles of thought laid out in the
patterns of behavior repeated throughout

the Psalms and other works of world literature. He
penciled it in for Thursday, serenely, like a guru, like a
lapdog in its master’s lap, he leaned back,

reclined on his plateau,
snug in his niche. A strange calm
settled on him, a relaxation of the

muscles and the mind, a languorous
sweet syrup, a soothing balm,
for his mind had shed its troubles.

Like a moth from its chrysalis, his spirit
emerged refreshed and whole, confident
of success, content in the knowledge of

How tentative it all seemed, as if
there were do-overs.

In this new, soothed, smooth
state of mind, he was floating on his back in
warm water, breathing deeply and regularly,

eyes closed, carefree, afloat,
the sounds of unseen loved ones
around him, this was a day

outside of day, outside of considerations
of day-ness. He was just a
being suspended, a particle in

a solution, a plasma, pure and thrilling
to the closed eye maintaining
control. Try as he may,

he couldn’t see and was
so much the better for that in
retrospect, with the advantage of hindsight,

no one could correct even a single detail
of that one pure moment. What followed

is another story. But for that moment, he lay
in a timeless dream, his mind spread-eagled
on a soft bed of amnesia, speeding along

at a standstill, roaming motionless in the
dark comfort with no past, no future, no cause of
apprehension nor foreboding. He soared

in place, hovered like a hologram,
a magician’s trick, a bit of wizardry,
of fluff, an unpoppable bubble on a

light breeze, a fleeting thought, a
mildly pleasant but uncertain recollection
which brushed his mind lightly as it

fled by to the near oblivion he tasted.

He awoke to hear chanting down below in the
valley beneath the plateau. The chanting
rose in the distance and reached

the plateau where the young man lay.
The muffled chorus of distant voices reached
his ears but he could not make out the

words. He strained to discern them and
grasp this key which might unlock the answers
to his secret questions, but could not.

The plateau on which he lay began to move
accelerating along a track which passed through
a tear in some fabric into a passageway,

a ribbed tunnel through which he hurtled,
rocketing up and parachuting slowly back down,
swaying and splashing into the oceanic

expanse. He felt it all, saw it all,
recalled it all at will with sublime
effortless memory, winged, wigged-out,

wanting nothing more but to have
no past or future. The original track,
though, led away through the rolling

flowered fields which gird the mountains parallel
to the coast highway of the mind, on the road to
the mist-shrouded peninsula of mental Miramar!

Continuation pending...

Copyright © 2007 by Bill Bowler

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