Cracked Conch [Flash Fiction]

The conch he had found on the shore in Rockaway he thinks he can remember, having had it for years on his dresser, always present on his dresser, the whole in its side a reminder of the tumult of life he tried to mean one day he also thinks he can recollect, remembering what he wants to, he imagines on yet another day, each day creeping in its petty paces, another ad another and an another, until the last tolling of the bell, he has used before, as an allusion to say something he thinks he wants to say, imagining again himself someone for whom saying things as he choses to has chosen to in the places he would in writing especially is important. Where it is now he cannot say, has forgotten how he could have forgotten it, forgotten having lost it or gotten rid of it, why?

Another day with his family for lunch surprisingly uncomplicated. The assumption of pity in others does not take into account the level of stupidity in humans. Humans. That’s right. That’s the word for us. The level of stupidity in his family makes him uncomfortable, or so he told me once over pints at Saint Dymphna’s. Who doesn’t love and revile his family? Sane man locked in the nut house; how many shells must he crack? He wonders to himself. I wonder about wondering to myself, I mean saying that I do when I write–but he does wonder this, even if it is only an affectation. What is not? He would ask.

He who never dies cannot count himself happy, right? He asks himself under breath.I still do not step on lines or on cracks; I do not want to break either one’s back or spine. He says the same, I think, to no one himself alone in himself. I love my family as I do myself, which is always sometimes the problem, he says. Among the many other problems he has, I have, who does not have the like, he numbers love, the way he does, as one of the foremost.

Saint Dymphna, he told me at the bar as we stood–he always stood when he drank, and he used to say that men should stand when they drink because if they ever had to sit down, it was time to go home. Anyway, Saint Dymphna was the daughter of a pagan Irish King and a Christian mother, and Dymphna was murdered by her father, of course, for her beliefs . . . what else would she have been murdered for if she were to become a saint?

He paused in the telling to take a sip from his pint.

Anyway, the story was first recorded in the 13th century–she lived in the 7th, perhaps a full two hundred years after Patrick, but what does that have to do with anything . . . nothing, really. The author of the first account ever recorded in writing, or so we assume, at least from what we can say with any certainty, had come to him from what he said was a long standing oral tradition, the folklore of the saints, any saint’s legendary material thus coming to the literary this way, no? There was a long tradition of knowing her to have healed many mentally ill. Miracles were attributed to her, and she passed the prosecution of the Devil’s Advocate. It’s fitting, don’t you think, that Saint Dymphna healed the mentally ill, I mean the name of a bar for her is fitting, no?


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