Astute readers will note that with this post I am already breaking my recent pledge to stay under 1000 words. I apologize for my inconsistency, but inconsistency is one of the few traits I demonstrate with consistency. Also, my pledge was largely about me managing my own time, and since this was written before my pledge, I think I’m good. Or at least okay. In any event, there won’t be many more (if any) posts this long.
The Sproink-Thump of Love
Boyd and company had not seen Walt in days. He hadn’t been coming around lately, and that just wasn’t like him. And since no one else had been coming around much either, there wasn’t really any reason for the fellas to stick around at Boyd’s. Most of them owed Boyd money anyway, which was probably why Boyd hadn’t been too lenient with their tabs lately. It was Smithee who got the idea to go as a group. He probably figured that since the drinks weren’t flowing at Boyd’s, maybe they were at Walt’s. He even talked old Boyd into going, seeing as how there wouldn’t be any reason for old Boyd to stick around if all his customers up and left. So Smithee dismounted from his bar stool to lead the way. Mel and Stinky followed. Boyd sighed and flipped off the lights and locked the door and wished he had one of those plastic clock-signs that said Be Back At whatever hour you pointed the hands to.
A few minutes later, Smithee’s knuckles were hanging in mid-air approximately four inches from Walt’s apartment door, and the men were gathered behind waiting anxiously for said knuckles to land. The men held this pose for what seemed to Mel an abnormally long time. The knock that seemed imminent did not come. Mel said, “Why is nothing happening?”
“I hear singing,” said Smithee.
The others leaned in close, straining to hear for themselves. After some discussion, they all agreed that whether what they heard was in fact singing, it was probably supposed to be singing.
“Must be the wrong place,” said Stinky.
Smithee glanced up at the number above the door. “No. Right place. But I definitely hear singing.”
“Maybe he moved out,” said Stinky.
“Wouldn’t he have told us?” said Smithee.
“Might not. He quit comin’ by.”
“Should I knock?”
Before this question could be answered, there came from within the apartment the sound of what can only be described as a metallic sproink-thump.
“What was that?” said Stinky.
And before this question could be answered there came a second sproink-thump.
“I don’t think knocking is such a good idea,” said Smithee.
“But we walked six blocks in the rain,” said Mel.
A third sproink-thump was heard and was followed in rapid succession by many more, as if some strange machine had been switched on. A cry of yes! was heard, then another yes! And another. Then a joyous wahoo!
Suddenly, Smithee dismissed their whole endeavor with a wave of his hand and said, “Let’s go. It’s some kind of weirdo in there.”
Just then, the door bowed out towards them as if struck by some monstrous force. Then with a horrendous crash it burst open. Walt bounced out on a pogo stick.
“Fellas!” he said. “I thought I heard voices!” He then sproink-thumped his way down to the bottom of the stairs, going weee-heee! and bounced in and out of puddles on the sidewalk going wooo-hoooo!
Smithee looked at the others and the others at Smithee. No one knew exactly what to say as Walt (who, it might be noted, was wearing nothing but a sombrero) began to sproink-thump his way across the parking lot in the rain. (It might also be noted that the sombrero was not upon his head, but hanging from his neck and bouncing to and fro with each and every sproink-thump.)
“At least he’s stopped singing,” said Stinky, speaking for everyone. None of them had heard Walt sing before, and they now kind of wished that were still true.
“You guys!” said Mel. “Check it out!” He had entered the apartment and was motioning wildly for the others to join him, which they did. Newspaper shuffled under their feet as they walked. It covered the living room floor.
“He’s collecting newspaper!” said Stinky, ankle-deep in the stuff.
“No,” said Mel, “Look!”
And they looked, and behold! for in the middle of the living room stood a seven foot high, three-foot wide hunk of rock.
“He’s collecting huge hunks of rock!” said Stinky.
Near the huge hunk of rock, some hammers and a chisel were laid out.
“He’s collecting tools of dentistry!” added Smithee.
“You guys!” said Mel. “Check out this side!” He was standing opposite the rock, staring at the side they could not see.
“Shit!” said Stinky. “There’s a face in it!”
It looked like it might be a face, at least. At least, Stinky thought it might be a face. And as the others gathered round the far side of the rock, they agreed that there was, in fact, something face-like sticking out of it.
“Where’d he find such a cool rock?” said Stinky.
“He didn’t,” said Boyd.
Boyd had his glasses on and was alternately looking through them and over them, as if studying the rock. The others had almost forgotten he’d come along.
“Huh?” said Stinky.
“He didn’t find it,” said Boyd, rubbing a thumb over what everyone agreed looked something like the nose of the face. “He made it.”
“Get outta here,” said Smithee. “You can’t just make rock.”
“I mean he carved it,” said Boyd. “Chiseled it. This is no ordinary rock. This is marble. And those tools on the floor, they are not the tools of a dentist. They are those of an artiste.”
“Hah!” said Smithee. “Walt is no artiste.”
“Indeed,” agreed Boyd, and the others nodded their agreement as well. One had only to glance at the so-called sculpture to agree. It was about as good as the aforementioned singing.
“So, like, why is he chiseling rock?” said Mel, scratching his head.
“That is the question,” said Boyd. “I might have the answer.”
A silence fell, and the fellas just sort of stood there waiting for Boyd to fill it. Outside and far away, they heard Walt going yee-haw, ya-haw! as one of the neighbors hollered for him to shut up already.
“You may have noted,” began Boyd, “that in the dust about the base of the marble, there are footprints.”
“Oh yeah,” said everyone, although it was obvious they hadn’t. “Of course, plain as day,” they added. “Duh,” said Stinky, going a bit too far.
“And that these footprints,” continued Boyd, “lead to yonder corner.”
The fellas turned to follow Boyd’s gaze. The footprints did indeed lead to a corner, in which corner stood an easel. On the easel was a canvas, and on the canvas was a painting. One about as good as the sculpture.
“Yikes,” said Mel.
“What do you see on that canvas?” said Boyd.
“Mud,” said Smithee.
“Two bears dancing,” said Stinky.
“Look closely,” said Boyd, “and I believe you may see another face.”
The fellas now gathered themselves close in around the canvas and gave it careful study.
“Shit!” said Stinky. “There is a face!”
“So, two faces, we have now,” said Boyd. “The first on the stone, the second on this canvas.”
“What could it mean?” said Smithee.
“Boyd!” cried Mel, hunched over the floor. “More footprints!”
Indeed, brown imprints of bare feet led from the base of the easel into the kitchen.
“He spilled paint and stepped in it—“ continued Mel.
“To the kitchen!” interrupted Stinky. The others chased him, following the footprints to the kitchen table, on which sat a typewriter with a piece of paper still in it. Stinky ripped the paper from the machine and held it close before his eyes. He looked disappointed. “No face,” he said.
“Gimme that,” said Smithee, snatching the paper away.
“What does it say?” asked Mel.
“My Cinnamon,” read Smithee. “It’s a poem. That’s the title. ‘Dear one / my cinnamon / on my swirl you lie / I cannot deny – “
“Stop!” said Mel. “It’s terrible!”
“Well that’s pretty much all there is anyway,” said Smithee. “At the bottom it says, ‘I’m the coffee in her cream.’ Then it says Kasia, Kasia, Kasia.”
“Let me see,” said Boyd. Smithee handed over the paper, and Boyd gave it a study, reading through and peering over his glasses again and again. “Yes,” he said, reading and peering. “Yes, it all makes sense.”
“What does?” said Stinky.
“The sculpture. The painting. And now this poem,” said Boyd. “Walt, my friends, is in love.”
This unexpected revelation shocked everyone. Mel swooned. Smithee choked and started to cough. Stinky farted.
“Love moves the heart,” continued Boyd in a learned drone, “and ignites the passions. Indeed, love is the impetus of many great works of art, and although I don’t think anyone here will take issue with me if I say that no great works of art will be found in this particular dwelling, one cannot deny that we do find here evidence of passions ignited.”
“Speak English,” said Mel.
“An incomplete sculpture. An unfinished painting. In both we recognize a face. I submit to you that this is the face of a woman. His dear one, his cinnamon, as the poem tells us. And her name? Why it’s right here on the page. Kasia.”
“Get the fuck outta here!” said Stinky.
“I put to you,” said Boyd, “that our mystery is solved.”
“Boy meets girl,” said Smithee, “boy is smitten, and to make a long story short, boy wants to make art.”
“For her,” added Mel, noticing the dumb look on Stinky’s face.
“Or rather of her,” said Boyd, strolling towards the kitchen window, through which a giddy laughter was now heard in conjunction with the faint sound of repetitive sproink-thumping, “with varying degrees of non-success.”
“And the failure has,” said Smithee, with a sigh, “driven him insane.”
The others could see Boyd’s reflection in the window as he smiled quietly to himself. “Quite the opposite, I think,” Boyd said. “I believe he has found a manner in which to express his joy that, though unique, captures it as well as any.” He waved the others over to join him. “Lookie here.”
The fellas crowded shoulder-to-shoulder at the window to lookie there. Down on the street below, Walt was sproink-thumping on his pogo stick between the cars in the rain, smiling hugely.
“Well, isn’t he having a right fine time,” said Mel.
“Yes,” said Boyd. “For while it may not have come out in sculpture, or painting, or poetry, or even the singing which we heard before, it is coming out now. Down there, in the music of the pogo-stick stick and giddy laughter. Listen to that sound, friends. It is the sound of love.”
And as they were quiet and they listened, indeed, they heard it, and could not deny it.
“Come on,” said Boyd. “Back to the bar. Drinks on me.”