…anything lacking sufficient definition to be easily discernible
From their vantage point, Oscar and Henry, sitting on a park bench, could take in the whole of humanity in miniature. Thus is humanity, either of them could have said – but neither of them did. Each remained confined to their own respective ruminations for the time being.
As soon as the time being had reached its long overdue end, Henry confided to his friend that he had quite enough of this business – whether ruminating, sitting, observing or living, he didn’t specify – and that he was all set to leave, to “jump back into it,” were his exact words, words which he qualified with the phrase “it has to be done.”
However, Henry didn’t make any sign of rising from his sitting position. He didn’t even adjust his sitting position; he didn’t even stretch his back.
Not that Oscar was even slightly perturbed by the apparent contradiction between his friend’s assertions and his friend’s inaction. He nodded at his comments as though they had no more significance than the sound of cricket bats hitting cricket balls in the distance.
“You know what we should do?”
Henry’s words were beginning to have more of an effect on Oscar – he was slowly acquiring the look of a man who was listening to what was said to him.
Though receiving no reply, Henry still felt it incumbent upon himself to tell Oscar exactly what they should do, in his opinion. Of course, he repeated several times – this was just his opinion. No more. What else could he offer but his opinion?
“Hard facts?” Oscar hazarded.
Henry was about to reveal his opinion. He took a deep breath.
“Answers?” Oscar hazarded.
But Henry wasn’t concerned with hard facts nor answers and was at the point of exhaling his opinion.
But hard facts chose that precise moment to rain down upon the two of them, and it was enough of an inundation to put off Henry and the declaration of his overripe opinion.
The first hard fact took the generous shape of a beautiful woman who just then passed into view. The hardness of her factuality being a consequence of the simplicity of what she represented – a three-dimensional, primary coloured, straightforward, unadulterated object of sexual desire.
How did both men react?
Both men adjusted their sitting positions. Both men smiled almost imperceptibly.
The second hard fact took the form of a bedraggled twenty-something male sitting on a bench opposite, wearing dark-framed glasses, shoulder length hair, carefully tattered clothes, three or four days stubble, a serious demeanour, who took out a leather bound journal, opened it casually, as though it was a tabloid newspaper, and began to write (earnestly), occasionally looking upwards at the softly passing clouds, leaves or birds or penetrating to the deeper mysteries of the universe.
How did both men react?
Oscar was the first to react – immediately blowing a gust of air through pursed lips.
Henry nodded in order to register Oscar’s disapproval, disgust and/or censure.
Oscar then expanded upon his initial reaction. “The smug bastard.”
“The writer.” Henry entitled his brief foray into social commentary (It should be noted that this foray did not have the coherence and smoothness lent to it by its being put down in the black and white of one word following another word with the inevitability of cats following mice, it was in fact rambling, disconnected, jerky and off the wall, most of it was muttered into Henry’s teeth and what escaped was lost in the faint breeze which barely managed to whip up an empty crisp packet into an animation worthy of comment): “The writer is a common variety of human being. Usually the male variety of human being – females not having the brass balls to adopt such a smug demeanour – he can take out his journal and write at the drop of a beret. Commonly found on café terraces sipping an espresso, he will invariably be writing self-indulgent pap, his soul will be fit to burst and his shoulders will be carrying the weight of man’s reflections since he first rose out of the shit…”
Oscar’s responded with the following non-sequitur: “What am I?”
Henry continued with his commentary. “…and other favourite questions such as “Where are the snows of yesteryear?” “Can I loose my soul down behind the sofa?” and of course, the perennial “How much is that doggy in the window?””
“Why can’t I be a beautiful woman or a writer or one of the vulgar masses?” Oscar asked. “Why can’t I be something in particular? I hate this sitting around not being anything in particular.”
“Of course, being a writer, there must pour out at some point the effluvia of deep thought, philosophizing and mental masturbation. It is best to store this substance in a cool place, away from naked flames or direct sunlight and out of the reach of children, the retarded as well as the discerning critic.”
“I used to be something in particular. I used to be something hard and definite and… I used to be something. I was a writer. I was deep. I understood. I was full of everything. I was going to be something. I had something in mind. I was headed somewhere. There was a straight line extending from me into the future. I was going to do this or that. A particular this. A never before done that. Something definite. Something there’s a word for.”
Henry, run out of commentary, adopted the appearance of a man suffering a mild bout of indigestion, seeming to feel his friend’s pain, though it is just as likely that it was another pain arising within his own being, a pain wholly independent of observable and external factors.
“I can’t put a finger on it,” Oscar said. “But if I was asked what I am. If I was asked right now: what am I? I’d have to say, I’m nothing at all. There’s just no word for it. I’m not a this or a that nor an anything else.” His stoicism was a faint comfort, and so a fleeting one. “Why can’t I be a this or a that?” Oscar was clearly upsetting himself. “Why can’t I be something?”
“It’s not as bad as all that?”
“I’m afraid it is.” Oscar was inconsolable. At least he couldn’t be consoled by the half-hearted response of his half-hearted interlocutor.
The third and final hard fact adopted the darting motion of a rather bold grey squirrel running around the base of the tree immediately to their right. Oscar confronted this hard fact all by himself, throwing the stone he had been smoothening in his hand at it and calling after it – “bloody animal.”