Procaffeinations is a weekly series of short fictions, fables and fabrications, all written in the time it takes to finish that first coffee of the day. Two americanos. I’m expecting someone, and bad news always goes down easier with black coffee.
We know that to give writing its future, it is necessary to overthrow the myth: the birth of the reader must be at the cost of the death of the Author. – Roland Barthes
Where a work had the duty of creating immortality, it now attains the right to kill, to become the murderer of its author. – Michel Foucault
You look like you’ve seen a ghost, kid. Have a seat, I hope they weren’t too rough with you. I’ve ordered for you. An americano; a jet-black heart throbbing between two uncertain palms. Don’t be shy, it’s the best in town. My treat. You like what I’ve done with the place? I imagine you can’t see too well just yet. My apologies, the eyes take a little while to adjust. Let me help:
You’re in a coffee shop at the top of Bold Street. Its walls are adorned with labours of love and fruits of fevered dreams alike. The hissing of the espresso machine is a warm welcome-back to the daily grind for those lucky enough for gears. It sings an equally sweet promise of new beginnings to the low-down, the broke-down, the unimportant and the uninspired. The room swells with people you know and others you don’t. A constant march of wet feet on wooden floors. Better? You can fill in the gaps yourself, I’m sure. An old, blind librarian once taught me that all language is a set of symbols whose use among its speakers assumes a shared past. I guess what I’m trying to say is that this space is as much yours as it is mine. Make yourself at home.
Leave? Why would you want to leave? Beyond the glass facade of the shop is one busy little Bold Street, a real tight spot. The daily dance made clumsy and hilarious by a three-day deluge. The rain has made a mirror of the ground below. The human traffic tries its best to walk in step with its own reflection but it’s making a real mess of it. You’re no prisoner, friend. But I do wish you’d stay a while. Finish your coffee at least. It really is the best in town. Besides, I’ve got something I want to get off my chest.
Pay no mind to the bust-up bruiser on the far side of the room, angry at the world and lost in the abyss of his filter coffee? He’s a friend of mine but this is not his story. He’s last weeks news. The muscle? You could call him that. Between you and me I think he has a drinking problem, but he sure is a stand-up guy in a bar brawl. Sure, he’s all fists and fury but there’s a lot to be said for the direct approach, don’t you think?
I know guys far worse than him, believe me. I knew this one guy, all spider webs and devil-spit. He was lightning-quick on the draw, too. I’m serious. He once told me that you should use writing like you would use a revolver, and that your stories should win by a knock-out, never on points. His tales were kinetic, schizophrenic little boxing rings. Hostile spaces. Secret Weapons.
I’ve got to hand it to him, too. He wasn’t far wrong. Writing isn’t a revolver, though, it’s more of a gunshot, you know? It is a violence inflicted upon a stubborn silence. It is a threat, a warning of things to come. It is a polite way of being told that you are looking down the barrel of a gun, that you are not as safe as you think you are. Most Importantly? It is a gentle reminder that there’s a fine line between the author and the assassin, and that if you’re going to kill something, you’d do well to kill it good. If not, it’s likely to get back up and eat you whole.
You understand what I’m saying here, right?
You can run along now, kid. Play nice. I’ve a few more people to talk to before the day is done. Don’t take it too personally, we all need a little nudge every now and again. Sure thing, I’ll see you next week. I was dead-on about the coffee though, right? Best in town.