Thursday, May 1, 2008

study for a possible story

enigma 8, tommyoshima

A bearded cosmonaut named Ernesto Vladimir Shukoff once commented: love is what changes question marks to full-stops. He had said it in passing, over a too-heavy mug filled with black tea and a plate of dry scrambled eggs. At that stage, he had not wondered about the wisdom of his words, only that it had been an interesting anecdote an old man had recounted on a bus some days prior.

The old man on the bus was one Sergio Segoya. The bus had been the 345 (Pythagorean Triplets) bus from North Side to South Side. He had been catching it twice daily, Monday to Friday, 8am and 4:04pm for nearly four years. The line had been overheard by him at the school he was a teacher at, one student having said it to another as they had passed him, trays in hand, towards a table to lunch at. Sergio had not commented, only carried on half-listening to Mr. Grosschlauch expound various modern theories of plate-tectonics while pondering to himself the various possible origins of the line, and a few moments after, the taxonomy of the various shades of the color green.

After his final period math class, Mr. Segoya said:

- Marko, may I have a word?
- yessir.
- Today, over lunch, I heard you say: love is what changes question marks to full stops.
- ...yessir.
- what did you mean?
- Faith sir. I am to join the seminary upon graduation.
-____... could there be other meanings?
- y=mx + c_ sir.
- infinite solutions?
- yessir.
- indeed young man.____why faith?
- ________________________Is there a god?
- I don't know, maybe.
- I say Yes., there is.
- because of faith?
- no sir; because of love.
- you said faith before-
- ____________which is the little cottage my love lives in.

____[Marko nods, is nodded to, turns and steps away]

- Marko?

____[standing in doorway]

- yessir.
- What are the origins of the phrase?
- a homeless man asked me for some money outside a convenience store- in a town on the outskirts of Buenos Aires. I told him I did not reward mendicants with money. I offered to buy him half a watermelon. He said he would trade me a morsel of the world's wisdom for a pound. D'accord I told him. He opened a plastic bag he was carrying, full mostly of blankets, and removed a crushed cash-receipt. He flattened it between his hands, then knelt on the sidewalk, flattening it further. He dug into his right jacket pocket and removed a blunt pencil. He said to me: Here's one especially for a young man like you. He scribbled it, in the most elegant penmanship, on the receipt and handed it to me.
- What did you do?
- payed the man, nodded, walked away. Later, after prayers, I reread the line. It occurred to me what it meant then. It was the light of a candle that gave it away.

The beggar near Buenos Aires was a former Professor of human anatomy at the University of Newcastle in Australia. Having become enamored with a young woman, he had composed her learned sonnets and odes. She had found him old and stiff, and had rejected him with a threat of further action for his lack of propriety. Masking his chagrin, he had ventured to a video-game arcade where he had wasted a full evening and nearly $150 worth of loose change shooting phantoms on distant screens and driving racecars through mountain-passes. When the arcade closed, he walked perfectly sober into a bar where he requested soda water with lime. Asking the elderly gentleman beside him regarding his opinion of the matter, the old man said:

When I was a wee-lad, might say 10, 10 years old I was then, I got myself a part-time job down at the deli, stackin soup cans mos'ly. Near Cairns this is, I'd save my 1 cent coins to buy me'Meryl mints n' sour-bombs. We'd place'em on each other's tongues n' close our eyes n' squirm. She lived four doors down on my street. There was nothin' more certain 'en that, that we'd always love only each other.
- You're still together?
- in a way
- what way?
- she passed away in March.
- I'm sorry.
- death has all the numbers mate.
- ____... yeah.
- Cheers to my Meryl, see ya soon enough missy!
- Cheers.

After discovering a new fornix between the two ventricles of the Pygmy post-adolescent male heart, the Professor was apotheosized. The young woman published his many verses to her in the university publication, and the Professor, timid at the best of times, packed his office and left with his opprobrium.

Having not had the money to purchase an air-fare on such short notice, and trains not traversing the great-seas, he had purchased a cruise ticket with no intention of finding his way back. One evening while in Buenos Aires, he had fallen behind schedule, and simply made no attempt to remedy the situation. He did not hurry to finish his cup of tea in returning to the pier to watch the boat leave without him. Some weeks later, on a particularly lonely night, he had walked, perfectly sober, into a brothel where he paid a minor sum to have a woman lie on a bed and play cards and speak freely to him. She had had this line concerning love carved into the headboard of her bed. When asked about its meaning, she had said:

I never knew water from sky. First time I fell in love I learned what a heart is... and what it does. And how my brain is a calculator, but my heart decides. After that, there were many questions, but none that didn't have intimations of answers when one swayed to the voice of his name.
Impressed, the Professor had left her a large tip on his way out. Later, he would teach biology in a highschool, sell hummus from a cart besides a bank, and after being seriously beaten twice by the local branch of an organized-crime fraternity, consoled his tender heart by abandoning his apartment, living under a quiet bridge outside of town, and as a profession: scribbling wisdom he had gathered to those who sought it for meager sums.

The whore, for her part, had not thought up the line herself, but had once had her toes licked by a sailor who claimed he had made love to a mermaid off the coast of Greece when he was retracing Odysseus's voyage, who had shrieked it over and over to him. Of course he had been lying, unsure himself of what the truth precisely was- which was an opium den in one of the shadier districts of Istanbul where a mother had said to her son:

- we'll find a way.
- how?
- love is what changes question marks to full-stops.

1 comment:

Juicebox said...

"love is what changes question marks into full stops" - beautiful!

i am now going to stalk your blog. thank you.