I’m not sure if I’m going to do this story justice, I mean it’s pretty weird, but hey, I’ll try my best and let you be the judge.
The man in question, is, or was, a writer and that’s the start and finish of it. He had been something big, somewhere in the city and although it paid the bills, it never fed his soul.
One sunny Wednesday, he went into his boss’s office, tapped danced on her desk and told her that he quit. There wasn’t any significant other in his life, mainly due to the fact that he had always wanted to sort out his life before he committed. But if we all did that, there would be very few settled in a relationship.
He woke up the next morning, as if the day before had been the result of drinking and he couldn’t understand his behaviour. ‘What have I done?’ was the phrase that kept circling his brain like a vulture waiting for the fatal blow.
He spent the morning thinking of excuses he would give to his boss when he tried to get his job back. He decided that he would settle on him having a ‘sort-of-breakdown’ – she would understand that, although he wouldn’t put money on it – she was one tough cookie.
He had come to the big city a couple of years ago, and apart from the woman neighbour (he didn’t know her name but he looked after her cats, from time to time) he didn’t know anyone.
He had a family, oh yes he had a family, all right. His brother was always borrowing money off of him which he never saw returned. His father had left his mother and moved in with a twenty-year model (which should have won him cliché of the year). His mother had turned to drink, and he was always having to rescue her from troubles and tribulations. She had checked into a clinic but had escaped after three days.
And now, to top it all, he had thrown in the towel with his job. Perhaps insanity ran in the family, or at best, instability. So that was that, the decision was made – he had to get his job back, even if it was just to be the only one in the family who could get through a day without money, sex or drink.
That afternoon, he went to one of those coffee bars where you required a science degree to understand what type of coffee to order. He noticed there were folks siting all over the place reading books, using computers, or staring out of the window.
Perhaps those coffee houses were where all the lost souls went to meet. Except that no one really talked to one another, they were all too busy with whatever it was they were doing. So he went home, collected his computer, and returned to the café.
And that was when he wrote his first story. What a rush it had been. Without thinking he had thought up a story about a family, (the one he should have had) and set them on adventures (things he should have done). He spent the rest of the day on the story and it became addictive.
He didn’t go back to ask for his job back, instead he sat in his home and wrote and wrote. The more he wrote, the more the characters (his second family) started to talk to him.
At night when he went home, he only ever thought about the family. They were his friends, they were his life. The family he wrote about were the folks he would have been happiest to live with.
His own, real brother had started to call him asking for more money, and when he said he didn’t have much – but he could have what he had – the brother became abusive and told him to get back to his job. His father would use his son’s apartment to meet other woman, but now that his son was home all day, the father got angry and asked could the son, perhaps, go for a walk for an hour or so.
Of course he refused. And the more he got caught up in the writing, the less he was able to pull his mother out of the trouble and tribulations that she found herself in. You see – what the writer had found, is in the end you can only do so much for people, but there comes a time when they use you as a crutch to get them through and enough, has to be enough. That isn’t only just true for families, it’s also true for friends.
So the writer created new friends in this new story world, ones who could exist without the need of crutches.
He stopped going out and, bit by bit, he became a dishevelled mess, but the family still obsessed him. Why couldn’t life be that way?
Then one night, about 2am, he turned to look out the window and there they were, the family sitting in his room. All those people who lived in his head were looking straight at him.
The father of the family, who was a kind, upstanding gentleman, asked if perhaps the writer wanted to join them. The father told the man, how it was much kinder and gentler on their side, all he had to do was walk through the door with them.
And that is what he did – why stay when your life is just a series of events propping up people?
He was never seen again.
How do I know? Because the writer is me and I’m in here with my other family. Happy.
Some night when your computer, or phone, or pod is lying on – maybe you’ll hear a tap on the glass. That’s me.
bobby stevenson 2017