My Wasted Life

The fruit of a misspent youth.  That's what they say.  People have this fruit.  I don't.  I actually have very little.  I tell the same stories over and over.  How many adventures does the typical person accumulate by the time they are halfway thru their twenty-first year?  I worry that I haven't had my share.  Anyway, a story:

Hal Newcome's phone doesn't say "ring."  It says "bee bee bee beeeee" and pause, and "bee bee bee beeeee" and slightly longer pause, and "bee bee bee beeeee"

and he picks up.

"Hello?"  He hadn't been doing anything.  Actually, Hal had been sitting, and breathing without thinking about it.  And Hal's eyes had been open, and the television set on.  But he hadn't been thinking about what was flashing across the TV screen, either.  Hal had been unconsciously adding up his life's adventures and considering his misspent youth, and the fruits thereof.

Now, however, with someone on the phone, he became very distracted from the conversation at hand.  He turned off the television, and put on music, arbitrarily; statu variabilis semper crescis aut decrescis... Latin.

He picked up a sketchpad and pulled the mechanical pencil from behind his ear.  He wedged the phone between his head and shoulder, and began to draw.  A circle...

"No, I'm glad you called.  Yes, it's good to hear from you, too."  ...a wireframe.  He put the eraser end of the pencil in between his lips and considered the longitudinally demarcated sphere, decided he started all his drawings like this, and started a new drawing on the same page.  He pulled a stool out from a corner and set it in the middle of the room. 

"I couldn't say I'd mind.. Yes! Yes, I really wouldn't." He decided to sit on the bed instead of the stool.

"No. In some ways, it's a conversation I've been looking forward to having. Well, maybe not 'looking forward,'" With no other inspiration forthcoming, Hal started to draw the stool.  The pencil moved across the pad without his conscious guidance. "... anticipating? that sort of sounds more like the right idea."

Hal paused, listening.  dissolvit ut glaciem  He clicked the top of the pencil against the pad.

Hal stood slowly, "Is that really it? I mean... is that the extent of it?" and moved absently to sit on the stool.

He drew another circle, and a wireframe. "No."  He roughed out a body, experimenting with the positions of the limbs.  He preferred to draw from a model.

"No, you're right.  I couldn't say whether or not you were all along. I doubt it. I know I wasn't."

He listened. obumbrata et velata michi quoque niteris; nunc per ludum dorsum nudum fero tui sceleris.

His hand paused.  He placed the eraser to his lips again.  "You're right now, though."

He listened more.  Sors salutis et virtutis michi nunc contraria, est affectus et defectus semper in angaria.  He erased a spot, and a second.  He began to draw again, but stopped and erased his new line.

"Yeah.  Yeah, you too. Mmhmm."  Hal's phone doesn't say "click."  It says "beep."

For some time, Hal sat, and drew.  The next song had come on.  He didn't know it, but the tenor sang I bemoan the wounds of Fortune/ with weeping eyes,/ for the gifts she made me/ she perversely takes away.  Fortune plango vulnera stillantibus ocellis quod sua michi munera subtrahit rebellis.

After a while, this song also ended, not as grandly as the first, but nearly so.  Hal stood and absently put his pad down where he'd sat.  He reached to turn off the music.  The next song was beginning with a flare of flutes and pipes.  This song was called "The Merry Face of Spring" in Latin.  Hal did not know this.  He switched off the choral piece, mouthing something to himself.  What he'd mouthed was, "Altogether, though, I consider it a loss."

The switch on Hal's wall and the lock on Hal's door both say "click."  He had decided to go find an adventure.  Failing that, he intended to make one.


 

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