I had spent an hour in a podiatrist’s waiting room exposed to daytime television, watching adults jumping up and down frantically — like little children needing to pee, but with an added element of ecstasy — competing to win an enormous refrigerator for their home. On my way back to work on a bus I distractedly counted seven cell phones, all with little colored objects moving around, as their owners frantically swiggled their fingers around the screens. When I was back at work, entering some data into columns on my computer, I got this idea for a story, which has now been on my mind for a couple weeks.
I tend not to share story ideas before they are solidly rolling down the tracks because it somehow lets the steam out prematurely. But, since I’ll never put the flesh onto the bones of this story, I’ll share my skeleton of a synopsis instead.
Let’s call him Ignatius. Or Ishmael. Let’s picture him sitting at his desk with big bookshelves behind him; a detail suggesting he is well read.
He’s not the sort to go to many parties, but to get things rolling I sent him to one last week. And of course, as his creator, I was there also. Amidst some serious conversation by the fireplace, growing out of the fact that he had read the works of all the Great Minds, he allegorically explained his encompassing view of life. I of course had pen and paper to jot it down.
“Combine all the colorful ideas of all the wise men and women, and that combined presence of all their imagined colors would equal white — like milk clouds in a cup of coffee. I have spent years swirling them around and, well, the coffee still remains a very dark mystery. To my taste that is quite delicious, but many could not handle that astringency.”
The driving point of my story will be that events around him then shift, situations arising that were, so to speak, adding more and more coffee to his cup — and not the fancy fair trade roast that he likes best. Hence a new bitterness is hitting his palate.
And so he begins writing down a list he calls Why-I-Don’t-Give-A Fuck-Anymore. [Wait wait, don’t leave, it would all be quite funny — really! — nicely served up gallows humor, and I’d work in a bright happy ending.]
As I suspect even you know, there is plenty of material out in the world for that sort of endeavor.
The List would be a bit like an image by image study of each element in some dark Hieronymus Bosch painting. Not…