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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Entry 11: The little man


April 8, 2014

Dear Friends

Re:  Entry 11

He always pictured thoughts and feelings as a little man.  A little man, alone but not lonely, living infinitesimally small in his head.  He would often think of the little man in those terms, or picture him during various times.  When he was thinking about complex things, he would picture the little man wrapped up in a net, unable to move, twisting or thrashing about.  During other times, like those when he was confused, he thought of the little man swimming slowly across a murky pool, unable to see the other side.  When worried or troubled, or especially when his mind was racing and unable to concentrate, the little man would run in short, laconic strides, covering much ground but seeming to run in place.  When afraid, the little man had varied actions--at times cowering in a corner, unsure of action, and at times shouting, fighting, running to and up and over the wall to the other side.  When the little man was serious or determined, he wore green eyeshades and black silk arm sleeves, and wrote furiously in a little lined notebook, often stopping to hand a note to an unseen helper.  When the little man was tired, which was not very often, he would sit idly, as if waiting for the sun to pass from one side of a room to the other.  Sometimes, the little man was wrapped up in paper, bound, unable to move.  Sometimes the little man was expansive, magnanimous; other times he was petty and pretentious. He pictured in times of leisure the little man marching around, like a drum major in red uniform with a shako with a plume on top of his head, and a baton, with spats on his shoes, taking those long kick steps across an unseen parade ground.  Or, he saw the little man dancing, in a crazy jazz dance, all flailing arms and legs with a Gene Krupa drumbeat in the distance.  And maybe a coronet.  Maybe the little man once worked for Benny Goodman.  Now he works for me.

The little man often did not sleep, and during those times he was most restless, he would put on shows.  Some were glorious in color, light, shade and sound with plots and subplots and characters.  Sometimes, the shows were just people talking, sometimes people long gone who I had longed to talk with again. These were some of the best shows.  They were never scary nor creepy; the little man saw to that, they were mostly just sad in a satisfied way.  It is very hard to explain.  Some shows were scary but for other reasons, some were thrilling.  There were tests and classes, always a weird recurring theme.  There were chases and unknown places, and things happening which the little man either didn’t show or didn’t explain.  Often times, he was working out things that were unspoken or unthought.  Sometimes the shows were just snippets, but they seemed to be part of some grand serial of which I understood the beginning before and the end to come but could neither conceive of nor explain them later.  In most of those snippets, the back-story was simply implied and understood, yet inexplicable and without later understanding.  One time, the little man’s show involved a dark night with people packing for survival after some great catastrophe, an older man turns to a woman and says, leave all those rifles, take the 22 and the 12 gauge. The little man didn’t own guns.  Somehow this all made perfect sense, as if the lesson underneath was apparent to the woman and everyone in the room, since they immediately complied.

One time, the little man placed me on a narrow road with highwall sides and a stream, a little torrent beside the road.  The car I sat in was a white station wagon, and I had with me a little boy of four, my son, in the front seat next to me.  I had stopped as up ahead some large beast was lifting itself off the ground to a terrifying height and I realized he was bigger than both me and the car. My mind raced as I tried to think of what to do, how to save the boy, as the little man’s scene was such that I could neither turn the car around nor back up without going into the raging stream.  During the time it took to gather these thoughts the large beast stood fully on its back legs high in the air and roared.  I immediately became resolute, told the boy to get onto the floor and said that if I was going, I was going swinging and stepped on the accelerator.  The little man never let me see what happened, but I have never forgotten the imagery.  Besides, I understood the meaning before my eyes opened.  I hoped it was how I would be if faced with it.

The little man often saved the best shows for difficult times.  In one such show the little man displayed magnificent production qualities and directorial flair, a combination of times and people and places gone, and some still.  Some of the people were frozen in time and age, people long gone, but they were there still to talk with and reminisce.  The places were both a combination of new and old.  In one a man and women walked through the streets of an old town, many people gone were there.  The little man had such details on display as cut stone walls and Boy Scout events and Methodist Church bazaars and fried brain sandwiches and redpop, and the smell of wet burnt wood and smoke and fall.  In the final scene, people gathered on a hill to watch the sunset, the sun was abnormally large, shockingly so, and as everyone watched all at once it crusted over black, and nearly as quickly the light broke through.  It happened again, and a third time.  By now the first shock wave rolled across the dimly lit scene.   People gasped, others screamed, and the man turned to the woman, unafraid, and calmly said give me your hand.  This is the end of the world.

I remain

Fessler