Monday, July 10, 2006

A.W.I.A, Part 2: The Interview

As I was saying, the man who claimed to be a doctor but was not like any doctor I had ever seen said, "But the problem is you are telling me a broken story. Your story does not make sense."

And I said I couldn't believe it. This was the problem? They were keeping me here for being a lousy writer?

But when I said that, he said something strange: "When people tell stories with missing parts, they--their behavior and actions--are usually themselves the missing parts."

Now he was speaking in riddles, but I knew enough to understand that he was accusing me of something, saying that I was responsible for something, and I was withholding it.

I did not let on that I understood that much, however, because I knew that the appearance that I understood his accusation would amount to a confession.

"I do not understand when you speak to me in riddles," I said.

"Did I speak to you in a riddle?" he said.

"You did," I said. "You most certainly did." Immediately I regretted adding the second part: I did not wish to be too assertive, as he might see that as a statement of weakness. To temper the assertion in the last sentence, I said again (but more softly, as if I were merely clarifying, rather than insisting), "You did speak to me in a riddle." Then I became silent.

He watched me. I watched him watch me. Then I became aware that my watching him might seem like a challenge. I thought about looking away, but wouldn't that seem like a confession of some kind, too? When two starving dogs encounter each other, the first to look away is likely to become dinner for the second, isn't he? Rather than look away, I changed my focus to take in all of him, and, once I saw him, I understood his angle.

His posture gave away his hope that I would give something away; that was obvious, and would have been a joke if I were not more or less his prisoner. Still, I laughed to myself.

"What's funny?" He asked.
"Nothing," I said.



Blogger Egvadz Floincz said...

With respect to "missing parts": withholding, when deployed purposefully, can be a powerful tool. Comedians withhold the punchline. Dramatists withhold pivotal details about what happened, when it happened, motivation of characters involved, connections between them. Parents on the Upper East Side withhold affection. Toddlers withhold their bowel movements. And I am withholding secret information I have obtained about a Tampa, Florida-based food chemist and amateur mathematician who claims to have discovered a form of Gaussian elimination which, when conducted using chocolate likenesses of Arabic numerals, yields results written in sweeping, loping, gamboling vanilla numerals.

September 05, 2006  

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