presenting nick cale

5 Feb

dear readers:

today my little brother turned 23! i can hardly believe it. part of watching him grow up has been watching his writing style evolve and mature as he’s searched for his voice. and with his latest short story, i think he’s found it. please read and enjoy!

“saturday night” by: nick cale

“What are you up to Mr. Beck?” asked the author. “Uh nothing really, just waiting for you to engage me. As far as I can tell I’ve been prepared my whole life for this bit of interaction. I think I may be of some service to you, or anyone else so inclined,” responded Mr. Beck. “Very smart, very smart. Let me make a note of it,” the author nodded up and down as he poked around his coat’s many compartments until he found a wad of paper and a pen. Upon discovery the author placed the crumpled note book onto the bar with care and clicked his pen once or twice to ensure the springs function before jotting down some rubbish notes on determinism. “Ah-” Mr. Beck opened his mouth but chose silence, as not to interfere with the author’s semi-legible and mostly incomprehensible stream of letters that quickly filled the page. After a few moments of quiet reflection Mr. Beck chose to interrupt the note taking, “It’s something like manifest destiny, isn’t it?” he questioned as the author scribbled. “What? That?” The author pointed to the television set in the corner of the bar. The magnificent rectangle spewed forth colors and sounds that harmonized in such a way to present a 2-dimensional universe, limited only by broadcaster’s discretion and the size of the set. The rectangle’s topic today was war, it almost always is, unless its sports, which is kinda like war but also kinda not like war, but that’s a whole other thing. “Shit, you’re a wise guy Mr. Beck. It is kinda like manifest destiny. Actually it is manifest destiny. America always getting involved in little shit over here, and then little shit over there, and then we get all perplexed when people start to get in our shit over here, and some of our ‘friends’ shit over there,” the authors voice wandered off until he spewed forth another intuition, “.. and super perplexed when the dow drops,” the author concluded apathetically before clicking his pen a few times and engaging his notes. “What? No. I meant the way you write those notes. You get this little idea from something tangentially related to a comment I make simply by nature of our proximity and then you scribble away. You keep scribbling too. Look at you! Scribbling now!” the author put down his pen and stared at Mr. Beck, upon which Mr. Beck continued, “Like, I guess what I mean is, what’s to say that page couldn’t have been filled with something better? You just put all this shit over it because I made some pre-destination type comment. Kinda ironic actually,” Mr. Beck said as he sat there eerily still on the bar, unmoved since the whole note taking ordeal. The author appeared to concur with Mr. Beck’s ruminations as he took a drink and prepared a response.

[Author listens to PJ Harvey’s “Working for the man”]

“Right. Let me rebut in sequence. First of all taking notes is a part of the writing process. I take things in, I put things out. In between those two actions is a bit of reflection, which the note taking helps. Second, you are obviously right, since your manifest destiny comment flew right over my head and bounced off that wall there,” the author turned around and pointed behind himself at the wall parallel the bar where, fate be damned, stood another rectangle, this one much bigger and playing sports, “this is all to say, that it seems to me I should pay more attention to you, hope my memory serves me well, and see what you can’t teach me. As far as I can tell we should switch roles, it certainly appears you have something to say,” the author concluded as though he were a lawyer finishing his opening statement, with a little smirk and air of contentedness as he gave his peer the floor. “Now that’s more like it! A bit of interaction never hurt anybody. Well of course it did, and does, but media man, we gotta swing the pendulum back! Look at all of those fools watching the football match over there,” Mr. Beck motioned to the aforementioned rectangle, which commanded a group of strapping young gentlemen’s attention. “I bet one of those dimwits is gonna tweet about it too, something like, ‘holy shit did you see that!’ *click, tweet sent* before he even comments to his friends about it! How peculiar.” Mr. Beck was getting hotter the longer he sat and postulated. With their friendship growing, the author naturally responded, “Well yeah, but that’s to be expected. That’s the times, man. Of course social media can be a good thing too. Grassroots movements finally enabling the gerrymandered a voice. Politics is a mess. Always was though, maybe this online interactivity will finally hold people accountable. But to what end? Who knows,” the author’s voice lost vigor as his thoughts concluded simultaneously with his comment. Mr. Beck filled the miniature void with intuitions of his own, “It’s all a wash I suppose. Anyways, what are you here for? Don’t you have friends to meet or events to attend?” Mr. Beck questioned the author. “I surely didn’t come here to answer that question. I probably came here for the opposite, actually, but I guess you aren’t strong enough to escape the bounds of such a conversation.” The author retorted with style, forcing a qualitative internal reflection on Mr. Beck’s merit. In turn Mr. Beck reflected and found that he was simply doing his best. We all are.

[Author listens to Jay Electronica’s “Better in Tune With the Infinite”]

“Well, what were those notes contributing to?” Mr. Beck questioned. “Nothing in particular. To be honest I wrote myself into a corner with a gaudy story called ‘autumn’ I’ve been working on since the summer. It’s smart, I can’t deny that, but as a short story it’s just so long and pretentious… It’s from this bygone era a few months back when I thought I was a writer, so there’s lots of ethereal nonsense about colors and planes and all sorts of shit,” the author takes a swig after simply thinking of the massive undertaking. “Planes? Like a 2-dimensional surface or the two wing type?” Mr. Beck questioned without a preference. “No, it wasn’t a mathematical plane; it was the two wings and a cabin kind. It was supposed to act as a plot device to support a narrative spanning metaphor. The protagonist was a yet-to-be-named she who happened to be a pilot flying over a forest. The forest was her brain and the plane was her conscience. So basically she’s a bitch sitting there thinking. But as a true avant-garde I took the drab and used it to my end of faking writerhoodship,” the author motioned his chin upward to simulate an air of dignity which he wished surrounded his craft. “Oooh, exciting! And where did her plane-conscience fly to over her brain-forest?” Mr. Beck advanced the narrative/dialogue/real conversation. “It took her to a shitty little town in the middle of the forest that for some reason hadn’t had contact with the rest of the world ever. Obviously this town begged more questions than I could answer. So that’s when the narrative really became a metaphor, of course it was easier that way, like a dream sequence – no one asks questions about the dream sequence. But it didn’t turn out to be too easy, because I never finished. Of course I could have, maybe I suppose I lost interest…” the author’s words stopped at their logical end before reigniting with unexpected vigor moments later, “Actually, there’s a million pieces to the story of this story that you’re missing. See, originally it was a dooms-day-prepper type story about the danger of cutting off the outside world but that made even less sense. So the town she flies to is a dystopia because it burns books,” the author gasps to add ironic dramatic effect, “thus a smoke beacon plot device to make her land and the potential for some worthwhile commentary on my part.” The author slurred the last few words of his circumlocution whilst attempting to emphasize the subject. “My god man, you need me more than you know,” Mr. Beck emptied a bit of himself in an attempt to reach the author.

[Author listens to Nirvana’s “Sappy”]

“Negative, I don’t need anything but for you need to hear how this story ends,” the author proposes to his companion. “It’ll be the last thing I hear, so I surely hope it doesn’t disappoint,” Mr. Beck states as he considers his limited temporal reach. “I’ll make sure you hear all of it, don’t worry,” the author grabs Mr. Beck around his waist and brings him close to his mouth for a swig before continuing. Mr. Beck sloshes around the bottom of the bottle as the author continues, “So our she-protagonist lands her plane in an adjacent field and walks to the center of the town where, what appears to be a bonfire, is being held. The bonfire turns out to be a book burning. The town was a town of committed artists, akin to Parisian existentialists circa 1950. They are burning Moby Dick, burning the Bible, burning anything that seemed, in their eyes, to have underachieved, in any sense. At first our she-protagonist, really myself of course, is ecstatic. Fuck those books. They limit our minds, etc. But, after a few weeks at this town the protagonist realizes this destructive take on art is without merit and obviously worse than allowing lesser works to exist through time as a reference point. So what’s she do?” The author opens the question to Mr. Beck, who answers abruptly, “she flies away.” The author’s eyes widen in merriment, “yes, she flies away! But when she reaches altitude she realizes that her autumnal vista has shifted from reds and oranges to browns and whites. It’s become winter. But it’s okay, because variety is the spice of life! Right?” The author’s beaming smile quickly devolves into a countenance of discontent. Mr. Beck breaks the silence, “well it’s kinda alright. I don’t think the message is variety. The message is honesty. Your she-protagonist only likes autumn because she doesn’t like the extremes. No one really does. Autumn’s a pleasant break from the heat of summer and a grace period before bitter winter. You probably didn’t name the story spring because you have allergies.” The author laughs as Mr. Beck continues, “No one wants an eternal autumn, because then it wouldn’t be autumn, it would be thisness incarnate. We accept that shit is always changing and enjoy whichever fleeting moments appeal to us. You should smile flying away into winter because you’ll get another autumn in a few months.” The author added a pointless, “yeah” with a nod before Mr. Beck carried his critique forward, “Also if the book burning is supposed to match up with the seasons changing, you kinda got it but you also kinda missed it. You’re taking big bites brother, those are big bites.” The author smiles and finally speaks, “they certainly are. The one’s that matter always seem to be. Goodbye my friend.” After a final shared glance the author brings Mr. Beck to his lips, meets him in a smooth embrace and slowly draws the last drops of his essence. The author swallows the frothy liquid before placing the empty shell of his friend back on the bar-top. The bartender, upon witnessing his cue, walks over to the author, plants his hands appropriately on the bar, and asks if the author would like another. The author denies the request, pays for his conversation, and drives home.

follow nick on twitter @therealnickcale

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