Friday, November 22, 2013

Finishing Stick Man

So the stick man stood at the intersection and demonstrated a noticeable unease. Something like an exaggerated twitching. Maybe an elongated twitching would be a better description. Either way, it was quite obviously a signal of distress. And so sudden. One moment the view outside my window is as it always is, the movements approximating serene in their predictability, the continuous uniformity in all of the daily variations. So these aberrant movements of the stick man, while admittedly small, were quite jarring. Almost unnatural. Foreign, at least. This distraction, if converted from optical to auditory might compare to the telltale clicking a poor card mechanic makes when dealing from the bottom of the deck. Listen, not watch, is the best way to catch a card cheat. In fact, it is the only way if the cheat be any good. And then you must listen with such an intensity that it will be clear to the cheat what you are about. You may as well announce your suspicions at this point. And you should also know that the cheat has been waiting to fall across one like you, one who hopes to listen well enough. He may go weeks and weeks, months and months, robbing game after game after game and finding no one, feeling nothing. Or feeling only listless, mechanical. Feeling the chilled solitude as if of a different species. And this is the truth of it. The card cheat is of a different species, and predator can not commune with prey except through feeding.

So a short burst of listening will suffice. The cheat will be delighted.  He will smile more fully now. His chatter will improve. Watch how he now sits more upright, almost fully erect, and moves his hands from his lap to upon the table. Engaged. Listen to the pitch of his voice rise. And, should you be interested, in his excitement he will reveal some of himself. Full drops of authenticity left among the practiced conversation. Your mere acknowledgement, your very small effort, will act as a trigger release, flooding him with such sweet memories, sending him awash in reminisce.

One would think that the cheat should shortly snap out of it. Perhaps he should. But he will not. His present trajectory suddenly has been reset to the beginning. His senses are heightened now. His shuffle and deal crisper, more fluent, poetically so, mathematically perfect with maybe some silly flourish added only because such exuberance demands expression. Who knows what to do with such exuberance when it finally appears? It must be put somewhere. So for this lingering time, this advanced creature will entertain in your midst, revel and reveal, while himself feeling fully connected to his origin, his source, to himself of course, himself at the beginning, himself in solitude, hour after hour, no clocks allowed or needed, shuffling and dealing, first with a quarter deck because the proper grip is hard to master, and then a half deck, pulling cards in front of a mirror on the desk so the eyes can properly scrutinize, life and death business someday with what the eyes can see, and no sounds allowed in the room but those of the cards being moved in his hands because sound is everything in this game; and that first realization that he could channel his mind through his fingers, forge a superb physical skill  only an elite athlete might understand; and that moment the resultant arrogance surfaced and declared that the money, all of  the money, on the table or in the various and countless pockets, belonged to him and no one else but him, and, of course, the spectacular absurdity of that moment, and his decision to embrace it and all it encumbered, knowing full well that such a path of excellence and insistence would be lonely. And because you have brought this reverie on with your careful listening the thief will settle upon you in the way a Lothario might settle upon his Calista. And all the while he will steal with more might and more precision from you than all of the others at the table combined, and do not be hurt by this, and do not be confused by this, because conquest can never truly be conquest unless properly labeled such.

So stick man did not stagger, as suggested two months ago. But no deception or subterfuge was intended then. Hopefully now you can understand how his unease and twitching might have felt like a stagger to one tasked with watching. And, as reported then, I did encourage him to DO IT. Mouthed those exact words. Why not? I've plenty of stick men outside my window and his twitching was distracting and annoying and aberrant. And remember, the great Player of Games had adjusted the settings outside my window. Everything was moving faster. Too fast, truth be told. Blurrrrr. If the stick man stepped into the traffic and got broken then maybe the traffic would stop. Maybe the settings would be put back to normal. And then maybe I would stop feeling the urge to open a window wide and see if I can fly.

I thought I would feel guilty after encouraging the stick man to DO IT. But I didn't feel a thing, except some increased impatience. I didn't want to wait all day on the stick man. Do it or don't do it.  Then I felt guilty that I didn't feel guilty so I got up and opened two windows, figuring if I was going to encourage stick man to step into traffic, I at least ought force myself to listen to the messiness. That felt equitable and calmed down my guilty feelings, which had started to tug at my stomach. So I opened the  two windows I could most easily get at while the stick man continued to waver and twitch. I don't know if the smell hit me first - stale, like baked pavement, and rubbery, lifeless, foul - or if the heat hit me first, but the splash of heat, easily been one hundred degrees outside, felt like it sucked the moisture right from my face and arms, almost instantly.  I was shocked by how easily the heat reached through my pores and extricated my little moisture.  It felt like an assault. And a base one at that.

Before I had recovered from the assault and before I even could sit back down the stick man made the move. One moment the stick man was still wavering and twitching, such a spectacle of perpetual torment and indecision, and the next moment this odd creature is in full motion, stepping from the center strip of the island into the innermost northbound lane. The lane of traffic that faces my window, faces towards me. Thump! Have you ever thrown down a fifty pound sack of potatoes in anger? That sound. The vehicle was a black late model SUV and it knocked the stick man a good twenty or thirty feet and into the center lane of the northbound traffic. Centrifugal force had its way, bending the shape of the stick man's body like a V. When the body landed it slightly spread out again before an older model sedan took its turn and knocked stick man forward a few feet before engulfing the carcass. The stick man managed to get stuck to the undercarriage of the sedan that then dragged the body past my window and out of sight. A few cars slowed. A few screeched tires to stop. Gawkers. Some curious  pedestrians. I set to closing the opened windows and by the time I was finished normal traffic had resumed.

Best I can tell he took his ending like a man. Not a peep from him.