A Man at a Table in a Cafe Sometime Late in the Year 1999 [Flash Fiction]

A man writes of another man, an unnamed man sitting in a cafe, himself who writes an essay in his journal, an essay we do not get to see entirely, only the excerpts the man who writes of the man who writes the essay allows us to see . . .

A man sits at a table in a cafe he likes coming to mid morning on the days he is off during the week–he works on the weekends. The table is a corner table, his favorite table, and at this time of the morning it is most likely available whenever he comes to the cafe.

He is having coffee, a double espresso, neither one long, two of them short. He has been sitting for some time, seconds into minutes into how many hours uncounted by him, he has not taken notice of the clock he can see across the caffe on the wall opposite his table in the corner. He has not looked at his watch either in the time he has been sitting. He can sit for hours anywhere almost, writing or reading, as he both does every day, has done for many years now since he was an undergraduate and then graduate student,hours and hours of one day after another and another and another until the last syllable of all the pages he accumulate will accumulate until he dies or ceases to be able to . . . . how long has he . . . he has been writing in a journal regularly for decades now, having accumulated more than ten thousand pages of journals . . . keeping a journal, having kept a journal . . . how to keep a journal is just to keep one, write in one, however one does, without too much attention to specifics of whether or not one is keeping it correctly, what is is in the journal that is in the hand a that are keeping it . . . a journal for how long now he would have counted at another time another age, but will not now–I think of this, not him . . . how to keep on keeping . . . he writes with a fountain pen–he loves pens and paper and leather bound books to write in . . . the ink is blue . . . the color of the pages are cream, they are lined. He has written about how he likes the feel of the nib across the paper he buys in a papery, some sheets in reams of cotton rag paper . . . the pages in the journal are meant to last a long, long time, resistant to the ravages of age, could we say? What should I say to you about him and his journal and his fountain pen and the nib pens he keeps at his desk with the bottles of ink he buys at the papery, I kept this journal in its final pages while my mother lay dying, lay dead, was she aline, the machine keeping her alive . . . a leather-bound book of some quality. He received it, he thinks he remembers, for his birthday. It might have been Christmas. It does not matter which. He has written–he writes a lot. He writes every day, as I have already said, what I say, you might or might not take cum grano. He has written a lot for a long time–in his life, a long time, how many years I will not count. He does not count this either. He as been a writer–has wanted to be one . . . being or becoming now the center of his to be anything: He cannot recollect such a broken shell. He remembers the surf more than once with the sand covered by shattered shells. He remembers the shells beneath his feet at the beach in Barcelona. Words are nothing like shells, he thinks, he has said, he recalls, he imagines he has the ability to call back the past . . . to re-call, calling again, collecting, again, membering, again? To member, re-member, to be a member of the club memory.

He sips his coffee as he has sipped his coffee before this one and the one before this one this morning now approaching noon. He has been here long enough to have written a considerable piece. Sometimes he writes in fragments; other times he writes entire works. How many pages this one might be he imagines from previous transferences from journal to computer, perhaps ten to twelve pages long, that’s at Times New Roman, 12pt. To be a writer or not to be writer . . . no more, evermore, than this. Decisions abound, indecisions abound–to bind the boundaries of writing, of the writer, his writing, what he writes, who he writes, what becomes of his writing, I am that I am when I write; I only know what I am who I am what I think when I write . . . becomes of those in his writing–who what when where how, again? Who is he writing in his writing, the many masks I wear drawn by the words I scratch across the cotton rag pages I keep in a box, all the world of writing, every page a stage . . . I remember the conch I had collected on the shore out in Rockaway, Neponsit Beach, sometime in the mid eighties,was it that long ago–the one with its hole i its side, and now I cannot recollect when I got rid of it, lost it, how long ago now was it, maybe ten fifteen years go, perhaps, I recall it on a dresser maybe that long ago, or am I just filling in the gaps, always the gaps in memory, most of it a creative endeavor, get close to your dreams, what we forget finds itself in fragments there?  We do work out our fears in our dreams, practice how to overcome obstacles on the stage–we do perform there we do become other than ourselves or we become other selves we would never meet in waking life . . .

 

 

 

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