daily writing exercise, 750words.com
fiction by Jason Edwards
There is neither rhyme nor reason in the arrangement of the forks found in the cutlery drawer of Able House, in Eastern Pigback, Montana. A veritable miasma of disorganizational styles. For to call it merely disorganized would be a disservice, akin to the insult applied to those erstwhile lexinauts wandering The Library of Babel as described by Jorge Luis Borges. Rather, the forks as they lay are purposefully chaotic, an oxymoron of placement, intent, and silverware.
Legend has it that a hobo found himself lost in Eastern Pigback, no mean feat, as he had never been in Montana in his life. He came upon Able House and entered. Inside he found anything and everything he might need: cans of beans, sticks for making bindles, extra large king-sized beds, matches, decks of cards with only a few missing, foreign coins, a bidet, small shiny bottles for trading, hand-built folding knives. But the cutlery drawer drew him. Called to him and seduced him. He opened it, saw the forks there, all higgledy-piggeldy, and went mad. His ghost still haunts Able House, they say.
That the hobo had never been to Montana in his life but was there for all of his death was the very character of Able House and the cutlery drawer. Put Fate on trial, for all the good it would do. And as legends go, the story of the hobo is especially troubling since no one has ever visited Able House and lived. So where do the stories come from?
A man sits on a bench on a train platform waiting for the number seven at 5:30. Another man walks past him, and the first man only realizes later that this man is now sitting on the bench as well. Minutes go by, as does the number 7, and 5:30. The man has a moment of self-realization, self-awareness, occupies a temporary duality as he watches himself listening to the other man tell stories of Able House. The cutlery drawer of madness. The upstairs bedroom dresser drawer of socks and madness. The door in the pantry the once led to a small garden but now only leads to madness.
The man puts a spoon into his mouth, blinks a few times, tastes soup. He looks around himself. He is at home, in his kitchen. His wife is there, telling him about the price of beef. He’s been home for a while, having taken that train, having picked up his car, having pulled into the driveway, entered his house, changed his jacket for a sweater, shoes for slippers. The soup is mediocre. His wife is mediocre. His life is mediocre. He resolves, over a stiff drink, to leave it all behind and find Montana. Later, he reads the evening paper, fornicates, sleeps, and the next day goes to work for the rest of his life.
He never tells anyone the stories he heard about Able House, but whenever his brain detects connotations and permutations of memory pointers that drift towards the places where the stories are sequestered in his head, he recalls them. He’s at a mediocre dinner party, a man named James waves his fork around for emphasis as he relates his distaste for government and mass murder, and the man recalls Able House, understands for a moment that there’s more to mass murder than mere madness, goes back to his cutlet. It tastes of sand, but then everything does.
The cutlery drawer, the sock drawer, the door from the pantry to the garden. These are only a few of the elements that make Able House one of the most evil places in Easter Pigback. Eastern Pigback is one of the most evil places in Montana. Montana itself is evil, as is the United States. And so is the Earth, and our Solar System, our galaxy. Scientists have more or less proven that our galaxy is but one of billions in a cluster of galaxies, each separated from the other by vast reaches of empty, cold, indifferent, and hostile space. The only thing that makes such large empty regions fathomable is that this cluster of galaxies is itself within a wall of clusters, and the empty regions separating these clusters is nearly but not quite infinitely larger. And then there are other walls of clusters of galaxies, and the space between them is madness.
Are these walls of clusters of galaxies themselves grouped in some sort of collection of walls? But what is a collection of walls? Let us call it a house. Able House is a collection of walls, of clusters, of galaxies, of stars, of planets, of countries, of counties, of vast acreages, of places where hobos find themselves lost, are driven mad by willfull chaos, and in death live only inside the entropy-making minds of tired old men who hate their wives but hate them gently.