Wednesday, August 19, 2009

The Scotum Tightener pays me a visit

Late afternoon yesterday, after toiling upon my word processor like a peasant gold miner in the granite, I scootered off to my watering hole for a beer and to catch up on world news as reported in THE JAKARTA POST. I didn't notice the blue sky closing up with clouds, a storm roiling in from unknown horizons. A crack of thunder was immediately followed by a waterfall of rain pounding on the thatch, encircling me and trapping me.

Ah well, I thought, I'd wait it out, and picked a book at random from the bar's exchange shelf. I forget which title, but the words soon became much of a sameness, a weary drip drip drip within as the storm without continued unabated. Soon the lights of the bar struggled against the night gloom.

An explosion of lightning sliced the night, accompanied by a crack of thunder that left behind a stink of ozone. When my heart settled back into place and the waitress brought me a fresh beer, I noticed a gentleman in the corner shadows, staying out of the cone of light falling upon his table. Had he been there all this time? He wore elegant old-fashioned clothes and round rimmed glasses that glinted in stray light.

"Hello," I ventured.

"It's a dark and stormy night," he said softly.

I hoisted my glass. "Sounds like the start of a story."

He leaned forward into the cone of light. Under his right lens was a black eye-patch. With his hooked nose, the man looked rather luciferous. "Indeed," he murmured. "How shall I tell it, my dear Richard?"

"Excuse me?"

"You vowed to read ULYSSES within a year, and now the years have passed. Tell me, my dear man, how far did you read of it?"

"Well," I said uneasily. "I did get to the end, that whole yes yes yes bit."

"But did you read every single word as you vowed?"

"Has anybody done that?"

"A vow is a vow."

"It's the spirit of the law sort of thing," I protested. "Not the fundamentalist letter."

Another angry crack of lightning, another hard volley of rain.

"You vowed," the man said. "I have stayed my judgment to give you one more chance."

"And who are you?"

Those thin lips smiled grimly. "I used to cower at thunderstorms," he said. "Now I am the Word Thunderer," he said. "In short, I am hewhowherewhatwhylogospericleanmusemanartistportraituresummumbonumscrotumtightenerdoom!"

My blood thinned. I felt faint. "You!" I whispered.

"Me," His good eye glittered. His eye patch sucked the light, swirls of light falling inward into blackness. "One more chance to fulfill your vow, Richard. Or else…"

I could scarcely find my voice. "Or else what?"

"You'll have all of eternity…to read…FINNEGAN'S WAKE."

Another sear of lightning blinded me, and when my vision slowly returned, the storm was easing and the seat in the corner was empty.

What I experienced might have been a quirk of my brain, such as a minor stroke, or formaldehyde in the beer, but I dare not take any chances. I mean, FINNEGAN'S WAKE for eternity!

Hence, my good people, this much belated blog post.

I'm reading, I'm reading, I'm reading, and in case the scrotum tightener dude is listening in, I'm reading all over again from the very first words, "Stately, plump Buck Mulligan…"