A life and death journey of belief that really sings…
She was from a small town in the country up in Michigan. It was good country but her life had been lonely there or at least it had seemed that way to her. And so she had decided to change it by going somewhere else. It can be a problem to mistake motion for progress but she did not know that then. She knew that she believed and maybe belief was what she had instead of God.
When she got to the station she bought a ticket on the train that would leave at midnight. It was the midnight train. It would be the end of the day but the start of a long night. She did not know where the train was going and she did not care, either. To her, it could have been anywhere.
There was someone else, only she did not know that then.
Whether you know it or not, there is almost always someone else.
He was a young man, a boy, really, who was, like the girl, also from Michigan but he was from the southern side of the biggest city in the state of Michigan. They called it Detroit or sometimes Motor City but that did not make much sense to the boy because they did not build so many cars there any longer. He was a city boy and had been born and raised there. Anyway, it being a very big city did not make it a better city to him and he had decided to leave that place.
He walked into the station and also purchased a ticket for a train that night, a train that would leave also at midnight. It was going anywhere, which was just where he had wanted to go, so in that way he was lucky. The French have a word for this but it does not translate well.
It was the same train that the girl had purchased a ticket on.
After the train, there was a room filled with smoke. Besides the smoke, there was also the smell of wine and of perfume that did not cost much. Even though the price of the perfume was not large, the size of the price did not make it smell any less. Someone was singing in this smokey room and you could barely hear it through smells of the wine and the cheap perfume. So there it was then.
The singer, the smokey room, the smell of wine and also cheap perfume. All those things were in that room, and them too. There were so many things.
If you looked through the smoke maybe you would see a girl with the kind of smile that you could share the night with. And maybe it would be one night or maybe it would go on. And on. And on. And on. Which is many times to go on and on, four if you counted, but you didn’t. You did not know, not really, what counted and you couldn’t.
So you had to believe. If you stopped believing it might all go away. That’s how it was with journeys.
Later, as you looked both up and down the boulevard you could see many strangers and sometimes behind them you could also see their shadows under the streetlights. Some of them were only shadows and that is all that you saw and then you didn’t even know what they were searching for or even if they were alive enough to find emotion. On those sort of streets that called themselves boulevards, in the manner of the French, there were many different things hiding in the dark of the night. The French have a word also for boulevard. It is boulevard. They also had a word for night, but it was something else. The French were difficult.
In these times, I had been working very hard and trying to get my fill.
If you do the work right and it goes well then there is a special kind of thrill you can get and it is the type of thrill that everybody wishes to have.
You do your work and then when you are done you pay what you have to, pay anything, really, in effort to roll the dice. And then to roll them again. Again and again and on and on and on and nada y nada y pues nada.
“Just one more time,” you think, even though you know that rolling dice is like life and when you roll them on the deep green felt, some will end up winners and some will end up losers. But you do not know which and maybe that is the game, the not knowing.
The red dice make their own kind of music when they roll across the felt and when some people throw them and lose then you know that they are the sort of people who sing the wrong songs, the kind of songs that are sad and hurtful and songs that are not red like the dice or green like the felt, but dark, like the darkness of the boulevard. Songs that are sad and dark and so blue so that they call them The Blues as if there only one type of blue. For some people who are not born to win, the type that are losers, these are the only kind of songs they will sing. There are indeed people who are born that way. Some are.
Then after the train which was going anywhere and the smokey room and the playing of the dice and the singing of The Blues then there were boulevards again even though there had been boulevards before there would always be boulevards. That’s the way it is with boulevards. So you mentioned them again as you would a chorus or a refrain or a zen koan.
Then whether they are winners or losers, they are all starring in a movie of their own lives and so to them it has no beginning or ending. It just goes on and on. And on and on. The movie that never ends.
Even as the movie goes on and people walk still up and down the boulevard you had to tell yourself that still you had to have faith. You had to believe or none of it meant anything at all, like fighting a war without a cause.
“Don’t stop believing,” you said to yourself and then you tried to hold on to that feeling so that it would not go away.
Parody, like life, can be painful. Like Papa said, “Courage is grace under pressure…while clapping along and reading punishing parodies.” If you’re brave and true enough, you might enjoy More Bad Hemingway or some other irreverent satire stylings:
Hemingway Fights Male Pattern Baldness
or The Short Happy Life of Frances’ Comb: To Have and Have Not Hair
Scott Stavrou is the author of Losing Venice, a novel