Friday, December 18, 2009

What's wrong with Dave?

rolling past noon - six hours in - and everything is flowing. i was aiming at 1,500 words for the final short story, but i shot past 2,000 a few minutes ago. perhaps the final edit will trim it back to size.

meanwhile, i think i've worked out what's wrong with dave:


He eavesdropped on the man behind him. Dave always eavesdropped. Some people get upset when a stranger yelled their life story into a cellphone. Dave hung on every word.

Dave was sitting with his back to the food court. The 40-something guy sporting a too-small coat and a too-tight toque was waiting for his father’s flight from Ottawa. He was chatting to another man, but he wouldn’t say when the flight was due in, nor what his father was doing so far from home, nor even confirm if the visit was Christmas-related.
It was all very mysterious.
Dave was fascinated, and wrote it down.
Dave had a disorder.
He wrote everything down.
It was a helpful disorder, so he didn’t fret about it.
It had started in the spring. He was sitting home, alone, in his dim apartment, doing a crossword.
First clue across the top: “Mr. Foley sings a tribute song to all the _ _ _ _ _ he’s known in this Kids in the Hall classic.”
No problem: “Daves.”
Next clue: “Depressed: _ _ _”
Easy: “Sad.”
Daves sad.
Dave’s sad.
It was a lightning bolt on a cloudy day: Dave was sad! But seeing it in print, born black and white in the world, had a soothing effect on him. He felt better, staring at the crossword puzzle that declared Daves sad.
Inspired, he filled in the rest of the puzzle right there, not bothering with the clues. He wrote a little story about why he was sad that morning. He made all of the words fit the blank spaces.
He felt a sense of traction: now, he was going somewhere. Life wasn’t just blurring by in a chaotic haze.
Life was being locked down in black and white.
Dave went out to buy another paper.
He filled another crossword.
He soon switched to notebooks, and then a laptop, and obsessively wrote down everything that had ever happened to him.
Not a lot had happened to Dave, so it didn’t take more than a few weeks to catch up.
He stopped writing and felt that sense of traction fading away. The chaos swirled in. He was a lonely man stuck to a big rock flying through space around a mid-sized star in a distant region of a gigantically indifferent cosmos.
It upset him.
Dave went for a walk. Saw people. Wrote down what they were doing.
That fed the fire for a while, bringing the universe back down to bite-sized pieces, but he needed more – he needed evidence that other people’s lives made sense, that they had a purpose and a direction.
So he asked them.
And then wrote it down.
His curiosity was insatiable. From the outside, everybody looked so similar – but from the inside, it was a multiverse of minds.
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