Bone Fingers [A Short Story]

What is it that anyone can say about what he sees? Or what he hears? Or what he feels? Things to say about–what can anyone say? Yes, what words are there in the treasure house of–there are only words to say, to tell, to speak in the moment? Thought takes place in language I was taught, but thought takes place in reflection? The mirroring mind is the parroting one? How are they the same, how could they be different?

Which one, you might ask or say after having read what has herein been laid out for you to discern about this other–another? How is another different from other? Who is other? Everyone is other, even unto himself? I am I, and I am we, as I have said before and before and before, yesterday creeping in its petty paces. It is all our tomorrows that light our way to our death, how it is what we look forward to . . . Therefore, what?

He is he, and he is they, himself to himself, what? I am we, yes. I am many, of course. How not? I am singular and plural. It could be no other way; the many-selves Self. How could it be any other way? More questions.  it couldn’t be. Either one I am he is; I am he, and he is I–what he thinks, I think and I do not think. What he imagines, what he knows, when he could, and how he does not know–knowing being what it is when it is in the human mind, my mind, a thing far too ephemeral for anyone to hold onto with certainty, or so I sometimes think, and other times say, and other times try in words on the page, essaying my life along as I have for decades now, having collected over ten thousand handwritten pages of notebooks, one marble covered notebook after another after another–truly the petty paces Bill talked about.

I prefer other notebooks now, but there was a then when I bought one after another of these notebooks to keep my journals in, to keep my sketches in, sketches or drafts of essays or short stories or literary vignettes, as I liked to call what I couldn’t call essays or short-stories, and all about et cetera, et cetera in boxes . . . and what I know is what I know, how I know is–what is it about this how I know what I know–there is surely method in my madness, and it has nothing to do with what methinks. I am omniscient whether you agree to that or not, and whether your brand of narratology can sustain or accept or allow you to enjoy omniscient narration, what I say has been said is what has been said even if I have edited what has been said because my editing is also from omniscience–I am all-knowing, even when I am not narrating. Now there is a man who is about to tell the story of another man who the first man mentioned here had heard about from yet another man, although this man has chosen not to include this man in his telling of this other man’s story, or what it was this other man had been purported to having said . . . he spoke words, he said words, and more words–whose words?

The teller telling of what had been told to another who will tell what had been told as if it has been told to him directly and not indirectly, it is amazing to me but also quite settling that what most people think is their memory words telling tales they believe they remember actually quite accurately without any filling in is not exactly what is happening when they remember recall try to recollect, all recollecting is a rearranging, a reordering is it not, collecting being one thing and collecting again another, how could it be different, it is not, this way we remember, memory as much fiction, a thing made, as any story, except no one really sees it this way and if anyone got a grip on what happens when she remembers, let’s say, she would realize that she was an author, yes, and if she ever set herself the task of copiously copying what her memory was telling her she would understand that she was a writer, no less than if she cut out an article from a magazine, cutting each individual word out and placing them in a bag and then shaking the bag and then taking each word our one by one meticulously copying them down thus becoming the writer poet she had always been every time she remembered anything. And so on and so forth and what next and whenever and wherever anywhere anywhen, of course any-when, why not, if there is a word ‘anywhere’ there should be a word ‘anywhen,’ don’t you think, or are we headed somewhere else, somewhen of course, again the way we speak casn be expanded, words words and more words like facts built made, a factory for facts, a factory for speech, no? Otherwise what?

There was a room, let’s say–let’s more than just say. I am telling you now there was a room not so unlike any other room in an apartment building, as you have seen them or been in them, the kind built in Brooklyn after the Second World War, the 40s . . . yes, a room, a bedroom, one looking out on a courtyard as they are designed in apartment building complexes built in the West End of Brooklyn near the waters of Gravesend Bay. His window looks east. He is in this room, this man not so unlike any other man, in fact, he is like any other man as he is like every other man, a universal man, a man who is also no one as much as he is everyone. He is everyone and no one and he is me and he is not me. He is singular and he is plural. He is we, he is he, he is again, you and not you.

He talks to others in his room who are not present. He always talks out loud to people who are not present. This man talking to others not present, out loud, says what he says when he says it how he says it . . . what he should have said, how he should have said it, when he should have said how and what he had said . . . to whom should have been a consideration he took more seriously . . . why is seriously confused for cautiously? It does not make any sense. It is most likely because he has taken his feelings seriously, and the communication of those feelings to others equally seriously that he has said what he has herein, the way he has herein, although they are not completely what he feels, as no words ever said can ever completely, totally, entirely, exhaustively say what one feels.

I will now narrate what this man has said–did say, one time, how long ago I will not venture–what he said was said not long after the facts of why he said or in this case will herein say what I will convey he has said . . . and so . . . what about this so on and so on as so goes when it does, I say so and you say so and what ensues we could tell more about and all of it is in the telling, the minutes, you know, yes, life is lived in the minutes, Virginia. What we know is in the telling or the retelling or the recalling or the remembering as remembering is the general process of memory all memory of things of events of people is another kind of in memoriam.

He said, “I was sure they killed him, sure they wanted him dead for the bed, this less than human goy, my father, was taking up. I am not going to tell you that I was hurt or that I was angry–I still feel the same and it no longer has anything to do with hurt or anger. I knew no one in that hospital was ever going to respect or love another human being as I was taught Jesus had wanted us to love–I don’t even do that; I know too many Christians do not, but then this is not a rebuttal for one system in comparison with another. Jesus is an abomination for those people in that hospital. I cannot get away from this, and it has nothing to do with what they intended or did not intend, but what the could not help but do because they had been raised to think without thinking, if you understand, raised to act from somewhere in a system of decisions based on pre-established norms of behavior . . . all of that a fancy way of saying we are going to hate in the most banal ways,” he said.

He said, “I at least think that I should do as I was taught, although I do not. I am not so certain anyone there does the like, and I am talking about the good people there, what their good people do, how far they will go, what it is one people and their culture allow their good people to do and what another culture and its people allow their good people to do are not the same thing. You cannot tell me that all ethics are the same. I am comparing goodness and goodness in my mind with my thoughts refracted through my experiences, although no one in this mainstream wants to hear them. I am not comparing what the shit each of us lives with will do to other people, especially their own. I too know that Cain is Abel’s brother. I will go to my grave, though,  knowing that systems of belief are never the same, and that some systems allow for even good people to be less. I saw it daily. Be afraid of asking me how because I will tell you. This is not despair; don’t look for an antidote. Love thy enemies keeps me from buying a machete or a gun. They should have more respect for Yehuda ben Miriam–but they won’t, I heard one Hispanic woman say as her husband lay dying, in a place with people who do not care, she said.

He said, “I close my eyes and see a bone finger hand I had seen once in a dream not long after my Aunt Anna had died. I helped cafrry her coffin, lead bue I said, to the grave, one very warm humid June. I missed school for her funeral. I stayed after everyone had left and tossed a rose on top of the lid or maybe I just imagine that I dropped one on top of her coffin, a handful of dirt I recollect having done. Memory, revery, recall stretching; silhouettes clutching my shoulders, winter bare branches on my block all the way home alone after after-school. November gray I recall; April is not the cruelest month—November is, for sure. Nothing on that teeming life springing back in the spring for November, slowly like my dad the morning he died, then all of sudden still—dead. Leaves are falling having fallen all of them fallen. The morning he died the snow stopped and the sun broke through the clouds into his room. No one in that hospital had the integrity or the respect I was hoping for as I came day in and day out the last days he was alive with eyes opened and not a word or a nod or a blink as I was sure he was blinking for me when he first arrived and they left him in a corner of the emergency room for thirty-six hours, and as if that was not bad enough, one or another of them–yes, them, only them, those people I knew who they were and why they looked at me the way they did–one time an Orthodox EMS worker shoved my dad’s bed aside for a bed he was bringing in with one of his patients and my dad’s bed banged against the wall, and then intervened and told him if he ever touched my father’s bed like that again with the contempt I did see in his eyes and on his face I would chop him into pieces with a machete. A Puerto Rican kid who saw it said that they are all like that in this hospital. He was standing holding his grandmother’s hand as I saw an Orthodox woman holding her mother’s hand just before they came to bring her upstairs; they had come in only hours before. The Puerto Rican said, See?” He said.

He said, “What do I say about these branches, their shape, the texture of them in my eyes, and sight does have texture, there are textures that are visible . . . how they appear, the branches blowing in the wind, skeleton fingers at play, as I have already said, but with nothing new added that I might have added, as when I say something of how or of why they could become skeleton fingers . . . just another metaphor for what I see of the branches in silhouette on the wall moving again in time with the breeze that blows sometimes in gusts quite violently shaking the tree, the branches, the skeleton fingers on the wall,” he said.

He said, “On the wall, the shadows of the branches as they dance in time with the breeze that blows. I turn to see them shaking with the gusts this morning up to twenty, the weather man said last night, as I get up out of bed, a year when I am sleeping on the side next to the window. I look out the window and see the brick wall outside. I see a bent shadow on the brick wall, this brick wall I am talking about is the one perpendicular to the wall with the window that faces east and the rising sun, the window of which I look out when I get up, putting my feet on the floor to stand and turn and bend and look through the window to see the color of the sky and perhaps learn something of what the day is going to be like. I can see what people are wearing or if it might rain before I listen to the weather man try to predict the day’s weather. The shadows of the branches reach the wall opposite my window inside. I turn and see them as I prepare to leave the bedroom and walk to the kitchen and have my coffee and look out the widow in the kitchen facing the same direction as the window I looked out of in the bedroom,” he said.

He said, “I look to the wall in my bedroom opposite the wall with the window that faces east, the rising sun through the compound of buildings, one in which I live. The sun’s shining through the bare branches of the trees in their mid winter starkness, I could say, skeleton fingers at sunrise, I imagine, again the wall opposite the window facing east-southeast, the backlit branches black. They move about, they play as I imagine them doing, a dance of fingers, skeleton fingers–wouldn’t skeleton fingers be white, aren’t bones white? Not if they were backlit. Remember, light skinned people in the dark appear black . . . I looked to he shadows on the wall over my Dad’s bed after he had finally been given one after 42 hours in ER, on a gurney without curtains, and you cannot tell me an Orthodox Jew can respect a Christian because most of them cannot and they do so in a way that allows their Rabbis to tell them they are good people. God is for Jews which is why Israel can continue Genocide against Arab Muslim women and children and we do not blink. Let us not play hop-scotch with history or or with facts–I know that Muslims and Christians are not special either because they are Muslims or Christians, but I am talking about media messaging in this country that allows us to secularly sanctify Jews because of the Holocaust, and disbelieve or furiously oppose any criticism of Jews and their decisions in the world that bring misery to others. I know that Blankfein only happens to be Ashkenazi, as were how many of the CEOs that nearly plummeted us into the second Great Depression–by the way, Goldman Sachs was at the forefront of the stock on margin buying that lead us into the first Great Depression. They made their money, though,” he said. He hasn’t even begun his diatribes against Alan Greenspan, who also only happens to be Jewish, as he likes to say.

He said, “These things, though, are inconceivable in the ways the media messages in our reception. I am a bigot, a racist, an Anti-Semite–but I don’t have anything against Arabs.” Close quotes. No, he said, I would have to be categorically anti-Arab to be anti-Semitic. To be anti-Jewish is another thing, there will never be a time when anything we thought will not need to be rethought, rethinking like retelling is necessitated even if we were an oral culture, the sameness of the story of the Odyssey, or what was the same about the story of the Odyssey from one to another was not what was important, but in the how the telling got done, and that was not necessarily how a teller made it his own because it was not about making it his own, but this is a tangent I do not wish to continue. All tellers were not the same, are not the same, who gets to tell, why doesn’t everyone tell his tale her tale all tales are told by idiots, life is tale told by an idiot, MacBeth found out too late.

I do not wonder more about what I have not said herein about what he had said that I have said he has said. I have said so much elsewhere about what someone has said when what has been said is something we have overly emotional responses to, especially in the media–the media here being especially sensitive to issues about what this man has said, whether by inference or overtly. It has not been my place to comment on this either in the received ideas of our culture, the received expressions and responses of our media–no–or in any other trite or cliche form framed by one or another variegation on political correctness. He is who he is and has said what he has said, and it is not my place to engage in explication or picture drawing to make the simpletons who get their notions of what they think, of what they should think, of how they should emote from the media. Anyone so lost to himself as to be unable to think or discern for himself apart from the received ideas he gets from the media or popular entertainment (which includes the news) I am not going to talk to speak to or write anything for . . . for what? for whom? for how he owes it to himself and to the others he imagines for whom he speaks.

You are free to take away from this what you wish, what you can. I could wonder why I have not commented–and this would fit right in with another of my culture’s media conventions, the put on tribulation, the put on confession of a social sin, if you will, so I could then show how I have come ’round to the conventional and received enlightenment the media insists I should have. I do not even want to say fuck you to this–but I do, inside, say, without vehemence, fuck you, to all who think other than I think about this, about what I should say, should have said. All of America’s political correctness has its metaphysical origins in the former Soviet Union. I need not say more. I will not say other. Who would try? I should try–this trying another thing than what you think it is. To try or not to try; all trials held dear, close at hand, the essaying I do in my essays has kept me sane, made me more intelligent I believe. I am certain there are many, many people for whom the label Anti-Semite will fit and for whom that will be enough, be everything, be all that ever will need to be said for others to conclude there could be no veracity on what he has said, which s not what I am saying. It is the fact that these opinions can never be expressed . . . dogma is dogma is dogma, whether from State, Church, Mosque or Synagogue.

And what more should I have had this man say because it is I who determines how this man tells the story he has told to me, one that had been told to him that I have chosen to leave out, and why I did so is more for the clarity of the telling, or so I think imagine believe hold as a conviction therefore a convention. How is it one to another to another is enough? Any further removed and I risk losing the thread and I do not want to lose the thread as I think I have not lost the thread, herein all is sewn up neatly, I believe. Every tailor is mostly satisfied with his stitching.

Theseus rolls out behind him his ball of yarn. This yarn has been unravelled for you. You will do with it what you want will desire wish . . . how to say the way I should have said what I have said about what he said about what another had said? I am sure you will tell me as the critics will tell me say to others what I should have said, but more precisely what I should not have said, never have said, because freedom of speech is something always curtailed by laws or common opinion or the media all too willing to manipulate images and symbols and words and slogans and cliches and trite ideas sometimes marked or marred by tragic ignorance as we see paraded and parading before us on our social media and in our newsrooms and off of our news desks and from publishers and CEOs whose agendas are not his as he has herein said because they can not tolerate what is true only what gets manufactured or presented through our various media as true especially when it concerns anyone who is like them shares what they share with others in the media always one for all and all for one these media  moguls controlling information putting all of us in America in . . . formation; to inform has always been about putting in form, just as Confucius has said, if you want to reform society, begin by reforming language–the medium is the mesaage thus the language of communication.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.