An Impromptu Exercise in Tension
“The best way to start a story, is right in the middle.” He smiles and the man behind the desk scribbles in his pad.
“Oh yeah? And why is that?”
“Because that is the beauty of fiction. That is why I love meeting new people.” More scribbles.
“Well. Take you for example.” The pen stops.
“Me? Why me?”
“Why not you? Just listen.” The pen settles beside the notepad and the man props his leg up and leans back in his chair, putting one hand on the side of his face and begins to listen.
“Every day we start and it’s right in the middle. Where were you before this? Were you just sitting there? Or maybe you were eating lunch. What were you eating? Were you by yourself or did your wife come by to join you?” The man behind the desk fidgets.
“Or maybe you didn’t leave your office at all. Maybe you brought lunch from home. Did you make it yourself? Are you eating last night’s leftovers? Or maybe you had someone else bring you lunch. Something from their kitchen. Something they made with you in mind.”
The man behind the desk sits up and clears his throat. “I get the point S-“
“I don’t think you do.” Steve smiles. “Let me continue.”
“So let’s say that someone brought lunch for you and you never left your office. Well, how would I know that? That’s the beauty of fiction. The beauty of starting in the middle. That is what you are. Does that make sense? That’s why I like meeting new people. The ones that just sort of, flutter into my life. The ones that I meet on the street or perhaps a bar I’ve never been to. The people that touch my life for one instance that I am completely changed.”
The man behind the desk tries to change the subject. “Changed how?”
“Before I know it, that person has become a part of me and they can never be removed. I beg for them in my sleep. I think about them as soon as I wake up and they are they last thing I think about before I go to sleep. Then, I find them again because I can’t get enough. I tell them to stop by and see me at work. ‘Yes of course! Step into my office! How are you? Tell me how you’ve been… My such a welcome guest you are!’ And the fix continues. Up until that point it was just the sight of them.”
“The sight of who?”
“I think you know, doctor.” He continues. “The way they move their hands or how they talk and how their lips move when they smile. When that doesn’t satisfy the craving it becomes coffee on 13th and Leroux. Then lunch downtown. Then dinner. Then dinner and a movie. Then dinner at my house. Then dinner at their house. Then it’s not just dinner. It’s dinner and a glass of wine. It’s dinner, three glasses of wine and dessert. It’s dinner, six glasses of wine, dessert, undressing in the kitchen and sex. It’s lunch at the office, then sex. It’s coffee, then sex. It’s meeting at the office for sex. Meeting downtown for sex. Meeting in the motel for sex. Meeting while the husband is away for sex. Meeting while the wife is away for sex. Don’t you see? It’s the fiction that brought us here doctor.”
The doctor begins to sweat. His palms feel clammy and the space between his eyes begins to pound. He straightens himself and says, “Well. This has been enlightening. Shall we reschedule again for next week?”
Steve slams his palm onto the desk. The doctor jumps. “I’m not finished yet, doctor!”
“How were you ever to know that I’d come home early only to find you fucking my wife in the kitchen? But I was quiet. Quieter than you, I’d say. How embarrassing. Quiet enough to be here with you two times a week, talking about my problems. Made up problems, of course. There’s that fiction again. Always sneaking in.”
The doctor begins to move his chair away from the desk.
Steve continues. “Quiet enough, and clever enough, I might add, to find you here in front of me, without you thinking I knew who you were.”
The doctor begins to rise but Steve is faster. He jumps over the desk and puts his bare hands around the doctor’s throat and begins to squeeze. His hands fly wildly, trying to push Steve away and to escape. But his hold is too good. Stars begin to appear. He can hear his own wheezing. Steve tightens his grip.
“Your fiction is not fiction at all to me. But it was to you. You wrote your own fiction and I was reading the whole time. After I leave here, it won’t be fiction anymore. It will be history.”