(Audience) Having Already Slated an Audience Post . . .

Beloved friend in hospital; please send good wishes. Do not try to combine them with Hitherbylets but please feel free to make audience posts as normal as well.

8 thoughts on “(Audience) Having Already Slated an Audience Post . . .

  1. Oog. Being in hospital sucks at the best of times. Best wishes for a speedy and complete recovery.

  2. My best wishes; here’s hoping that your friend’s stay is a good one.

    I’m sorry, my already-written Audience post has a hospital scene in it.

  3. Slash

    Strolling out before the opening curtain comes the demon Ninzian, appearing as an untroubled, sleek, middle-aged man.

    “Welcome, habitués of the Quik Club. Tonight I am informed that we are to hear tales of fan fiction, of “slash”, which takes two make characters (by preference) and places them in a romantic relationship … but in this story of Max and Sid, there will be something more.

    “For it seems to me” (says smiling Ninzian) “that Max and Sid are already chained to each other’s outcomes. Not to make decisions for each other, no, or to fix each other – though many so linked have tried – but Sid knows that what happens to him will affect Max more than anyone else, and so does Max know that of Sid. Should they not accept this, and forthrightly make their life together?

    “It is true that the highest teachers have spoken against marriage. I say nothing about the opposition of certain of the religious to the marriage of man to man, which is best dismissed with an urbane shrug. But Buddhism, I have been told, holds marriage to be an attachment like any other, and in Christianity there is no marriage in Heaven. It appears to me, though – well, perhaps I should quote what I was supposed to have thought on another occasion.” Ninzian takes a piece of paper out of his pocket and reads:

    Ninzian in the dusk made bold to smile at this sort of bachelor talk. Lucifer really would be a bit more broad-minded, a shade less notably naïve, if only the dear fellow had not stayed always so stubbornly prejudiced against marriage, merely because it was a sacrament. All that was required, alike to perfect him in some real knowledge of human nature and to secure everybody’s well-being everywhere, Ninzian reflected, was for Lucifer just once to marry some capable woman. . . .

    – from “Economics of Ninzian”, within The Silver Stallion by James Branch Cabell.

    Ninzian resumes. “Economics may be dismal, but who among us does not have to decide what to do with the limited span of our lives? This chain of outcomes, this slashed link between, may it not be transformed into a willing bond?” (He holds up his left hand, and it can be seen that he is wearing a gold wedding band set with a diamond on his ring finger.) “Here I have a gem of Yahn, and if you may accept the false within false, imagine that these visions pass, as bubbles, past Max submerged, dreams of what might be or have been.”

    The ring flashes. The curtain fades to white.

    Facet the First

    Max and Sid were lying in bed, the cool sweat of the day drying off Max’s back. Sid reached around and slid his hand stealthily to pull back the paper that Max was reading, which, when tilted, proved to be a health insurance bill. “Wow,” said Sid, “that’s big. But don’t we have more important things to be thinking about?”

    Max glanced over his shoulder. Sid was reading “Double your pleasure with ‘double-hungs’”, an article about windows in the August 12, 2006 Greenfield, Massachusetts Recorder. “Still thinking about home improvement? After the paint stripping, I’d think you had enough.”

    “Nope,” nodded Sid. “Those counterbalances – they need work.”

    Max smiled. Ever since the adoption, Sid had been inexpertly working on their Cape Cod house. Max liked to joke that since Sid had feathers, of course he was nesting. Max had to patch up half the jobs.

    Now the summer breeze was coming through the windows, with a dappled light, and the baby was asleep in the crib they had built. It didn’t get better than this.

    “Do you know that I love you?” says Max. Sid smiles back.

    Facet the Second

    A glaze of half ecstatic pictures of child’s first this, first that, half arguments over who left the top off the bin of dirty diapers. Sid watching Max, asleep, with a baby asleep on his chest.

    Facet the Third

    Max was tired, most of the time. He was working in construction during the busy season and watching toddler Zhen for the rest, horse-breaking not being a major industry in Massachusetts. Sid had found a job as a librarian.

    Zhen was drawing an erratic blue blob with an uneven circle next to it. She showed a lot of artistic talent for a three year old, Max thought. “Daddy’s spinning wheel!” she shouted, pointing to the circle and looking to make sure he was looking. “That’s right!” said Max. He wondered what to tell her later. Sid had searched interlibrary loan, but hadn’t been able to find anything like “Zhen Has Two Daddies, One Of Whom Is A Siggort”.

    Facet the Fourth

    Sid’s musical tastes varied widely, since everything from the last century or so was still new to him. Right now he was playing something from the Incredible String Band’s album The Big Huge:

    “Maya Maya
    All this world is but a play
    Be thou the joyful player”

    It wasn’t helping. Zhen’s medical tests had come back positive, and Max was brooding again. Sid held him in his arms. Max silently looked out the window, and resolved that for Sid’s sake, and Zhen’s – she was playing, unconcernedly, with her pencils – that he had to pull himself together.

    Facet the Fifth

    The medical crisis had blown over, and Zhen was at school most of the time, or having Sid or Max drive her to the next thing in her dizzying whirl. Sid and Max spent most of their time together watching theatrical broadcasts, joking about the actors, holding hands.

    It seemed like most of their friends were artists, in a half-time kind of way. Max had taken up making assemblages of old, reworked tools, and selling the sculpture to galleries in New York. Sid worked on children’s books.

    Facet the Sixth

    “Dads, I can’t believe that you kept this name for me. ‘Zhen’? Everyone at school thinks that you must be old hippies or something.”

    Sid looked perturbed. “It’s a common Chinese girl’s name. We thought that you’d like to keep something from your birth mother—“

    “And don’t go on about my birth mother! From now on, call me Z, like everyone else.”

    “Hey, don’t yell at your father,” put in Max. Sid sighed, anticipating the slammed car door soon to follow. He was heartily glad that he and Max had put their emotional storms behind them. It didn’t help, though, that his daughter’s dates always seemed to look askance at him when she brought them home, and that she’d accuse him of spinning his wheel faster to scare them off.

    Facet the Seventh

    The visitor knocked at their door one ordinary day. He looked nervous, young, a bit thin and overdressed, like an insurance salesman on his first day on the job. Sid answered the door and Max looked up from the couch, under the wall-hung picture of Zhen’s graduation.

    “Hello, I’m sorry to bother you. But I’m here from the club, the Quik Club. Some of the people sort of chose a committee, and I was sent as a representative – look, I’m sorry, but you just don’t have enough drama in this production.”

    “Drama?” Sid looked at Max, who flashed him a quick expression of comic disbelief. Max got up. “I didn’t even know that anyone was watching.”

    “Yes, well a few are.” The young man looked embarrassed. “You’re sentimental favorites. But there just aren’t enough fights and things like you used to have. Can’t you go on adventures or something? I mean, you haven’t even had an argument since that time Max made eyes at Tracy in the gym.”

    “I didn’t!” says Max. “Don’t start that discussion about my orientation again.” He turns to Sid. “Look, I am not wanting to experiment with a human, OK?”

    Sid shrugs. He’s annoyed at the gall of the committee rep from the Club, who is now looking nervously at the spinning wheel of knives. Did he think he’d drawn the short straw or something?

    “I’m sorry”, the young man interjects once again, twisting his hands together. “It’s just that well, nothing has happened.”

    Sid and Max looked at each other again, Sid’s gaze lingering on the deepened lines on Max’s face. Then, kindly but unstoppably, they laughed and laughed.

    Facet the Eighth

    Grandchildren. Max taught them how to ride and how to work with wood; Sid brought them his old books.

    For their fiftieth anniversary, they decided on simple gold bands.

    Facet the Ninth

    Sid was driving them to the hospital. Max grinned from the back seat, looking as game as possible under the circumstances. Sid gave him a thumbs up, then looked at him in the rear view mirror when he thought that Max wasn’t watching. Max looked thinner, and somehow almost translucent.

    Sid thought back to the strange days in the tower by the chaos, and imagined Martin riding in the front seat, eternally somewhere between 11 and 13. Sid wondered if he had ever found answers to his questions about suffering. Sid could feel it, like a solid mass he was embedded in, world without end.

    Facet the Tenth

    Sid still had visits from Zhen, Zhen’s children, friends. Sid would think back on their life together, and look at the world which somehow still seemed to have Max in it, and he could find serenity in that. But sometimes, when the breeze came through the windows, and the dappled light fell, Sid would move his ring halfway up his finger and look at the deep line that it had left slashed under it, and hope —

    (The scene abruptly fades. Ninzian is standing before the curtain once again.)

    “Hope is a matter for angels, and this tale is told by a demon. For the ending, if there is to be one, you must imagine it without the help of Yahn.”

    Exeunt.

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