Tuesday, November 24, 2009


Ever since I bought the Beatles "Love" album (the soundtrack to the Cirque Du Soleil production based on the Beatles oeuvre of work) I've been wanting to write a series of short stories based on each of the songs. I'm using the songs as a prompt, so it's not a literal translation of the song to a story. I'm going in order, so this is the first track "Because".



Walter lay on the ground. He could see steam rise into the air from his chest. Blood was pooled in his mouth and the metallic/salt taste annoyed him. He found he could twitch his index finger on his right hand, and he felt the cold, frost covered grass near his but he could feel little else. He sensed the buck to his left, it's musky smell punctuated the air, and he could hear its heavy breathing. Walter heard the buck shift its weight and snort. All around, birds were waking up and going about their business as if nothing had just happened.

As the morning progressed, the frost started to melt and a few early season bugs emerged and buzzed around Walter's wounds. The buck still watched. Walter wanted to turn his head to see it, but all he could do was stare up at the blue sky scratched by the twiggy tips of the trees. If he squinted, he could make out some of the early green leaf buds. A silver cross ten thousand feet above passed over the empty patch in the trees leaving a faint contrail. Something crawled over his finger.

As afternoon came, the wind picked up. Walter began to feel chilled and light-headed, his red flannel hardly any protection. The buck urinated, and the acrid smell tickled Walter's nose. He briefly wondered why the buck would still have any interest in him. He wondered if it was somehow atypically carnivorous. Perhaps it wasn't a buck at all. Perhaps it was something greater and more ominous, an immortal soul trapped in a four-legged mortal body, inhabiting whatever it could find like a hermit crab. Perhaps it was a great spirit, perhaps it was his own spirit, or perhaps he and the buck were the same thing living in separate bodies. He wondered how much longer he could exist. If he hadn't come here, deserted urban wants and needs and feelings, he would have died long ago.

The endless stretches of trees, the loam, the bugs and fungus and permeating sense of rotting fertility, the dead leaves and muck, the live leaves bursting from the trees in summer in great green shimmering auras, the dappled shades and drizzly nights and gusts of cold and blasts of stifling humid heat all calmed him in a way that life in a suburban tract house with its rigid square shapes and manufactured, composited, engineered, thought-out and yet thoughtless materials, and white/tan palette that homogenized every contemporary man-made domicile that was meant to seem hygienic but really just served to bleach the life out of anything even somewhat natural, could never make him feel at ease. He felt love for the forest. Maybe the buck was here to see that he could finally become a permanent part of it.

By sundown Walter's breathing was ragged. He lapsed in and out of consciousness. He didn't think of the buck, but it was still there, watching, breathing, thinking. The skin on his face went numb, and all remaining feeling in his index finger retreated far up into his arm. He had a strong sense of being glued to the top of the Earth, by static electricity, as if he could fall freely up into the sky. Walter started to cry. It was all so beautiful, and it would be gone from him soon. From a great distance, but really just in his head, and he could hear the faint sound of a waterfall. Minute by minute it grew louder and stronger. It was as if something was approaching. Walter wanted it to come nearer faster. He began to feel submerged in whitewater, anchored to the ground with water and foam coursing over and through him. He felt like and empty sack being filled and expanded. He felt as big as the waterfall itself.

As birds began to settle for the night in a nearby roost tree, Walter took his last breath. The waterfall stopped abruptly. The buck turned and walked away.