A Pirandellian Drama


I saw a play today, on the street. Performance art. Two actors. Is that truly a play?

I was their only audience, although other people were around, walking past, not stopping. I stopped. I saw. I had a few minutes left on break and was just walking around the block. The book I brought to read bored me before I started.

I read the same one last week. Maybe. They all look the same—how to conquer fear, how to win at life without trying. Pretty myopic, useless, too. I only read them because these writers, well, they’ve never done anything but write these books. That is encouraging, even if the books are useless. These guys made it. I can do it too. They are just like me. Worse, actually—they can’t even write! You don’t have to write if you just write, that’s the truth. Not that any of these guys would know truth if it was delivered to them in a large bag marked “truth.”

And I read them because, if I’m honest, I want to find another layer. A part they just aren’t revealing but it unravels slowly through their writing. I look for it, a glimpse of vulnerability, that maybe they don’t have it all figured out. They never will and neither will I. Maybe that is the truth. I almost want someone to tell me “It won’t get any better, mate. This is it.” I’d rather have someone tell me my life is all there is and it’s enough and it’ll always be the same. It’s exhausting, always reading about ways to change. Right? That is why I keep buying the books. But I don’t see that unrevealed truth, ever.

Maybe that will be my angle, truth. Unlike these buffoons. I’ll tell the truth. The real truth.

I had just put my phone back in my pocket, I’d called Sophie, but she didn’t answer, and then, well, I thought I’d do some vocab. I keep a list of vocab. I have to improve my writing if I’m going to write books of any sort.

(As an aside, I’ll tell you, sometimes there are so many layers to things (and things inside of things and things inside…) I don’t know how and and when to stop digging. Figuratively, I mean. Truth isn’t real. Or if it is, I can’t see it. But I’m sure I’ll find it to write about it. One page at a time.)

Anyway, I try to use vocab each day. I write it out. I used to use it on my customers, but Rachel—she was my boss—didn’t like it and made me stop. Not that anyone appreciates it in this shitty town, but I won’t live here forever. I know that for sure. Maybe I’ll leave the town and then write a book about how people, just like me, can leave their town. That part will be true enough.

I was about to begin on my vocab when out of a pub came the two thespians. She first. Their arms swung close together like pendulums, occasionally touching, though when his touched hers, she’d whip her hand back as if stung. She walked faster than he did, for he had a laborious gait and what looked like a damaged knee.

Was that acting or did he really have a damaged knee?

But that’s not what was interesting. What was interesting was their appearance. They were dressed in as much leather as they were in skin. It was a second skin, literally and metaphorically. Black leather. She even had on a hat, sort of. I can’t be sure it was a hat.

They were not a young couple, but they were covered in black leather. And tattoos. Every conceivable surface was covered in black leather and tattoos. And I saw them and stopped my vocab and said to myself, these actors, they are fierce. They are the sort of people—their characters, of course—who were they to ride by on their bikes—for I assume they owned bikes—I would burrow down into my seat and stare straight ahead.

Then I remembered (I remember everything I read, I’ll make that one of the chapters: how to remember everything you read) one of the silly self-help books I read recently told me to stare fear in the face. So there they were, fierce, tough, tattooed, leathery couple, performance acting. And I thought, now is as good a time as any. I stared them in the face even though they weren’t real, they were just actors. I faced them.

But they weren’t looking at me, not one bit. Didn’t notice me at all.

These actors were awfully good, professional.

Oh, and they had shaved heads. The female with a bit at the top but not much. The man bald. Of his own doing or nature’s wasn’t certain. And what skin wasn’t covered by tattoos and leather—well, it looked like it had been worn by the elements, sea and water. I should have mentioned this earlier, but hey, that is what editors are for.

What wonderful clothing and costumes. What attention to detail. It’s these two who should write a book, not a bunch of people who have never done anything except write a book about writing a book.

But what I didn’t expect, what really tickled me and made me write all of this down here, was their dialogue. I will report it word for word because, as I said, I wrote it down:

Man: “You feed the dog?”

Woman: “Yeah. I fed him.”

That is exactly what they said. Such vivid costumes, even made their skin leathery. And turns out, they are just like us! Well, just like my parents, they always ask each other banal questions regarding pets.

And there you have it. The story of how I decided to write a book about truth. I’ll turn this into my introduction to that book. Because it is true. I saw it, and that is what we do, writers. I’ll tell it just like it is. Was. Will be.

But now, back to work. These lottery tickets aren’t going to sell themselves.



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