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The Shape of Insomnia

 
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Johnny Lagos
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PostPosted: Wed Dec 28, 2016 12:32 am    Post subject: The Shape of Insomnia Reply with quote

Damp sheets, hot skin; fretful nights too full of dreams to sleep properly, to rest. They come up at him like waves, lift him up in great, nauseating rushes of vertigo, and then drop him into an awful wakefulness again and again. Night by night he falls further and further behind until he starts to feel hollowed out, burnt through from the inside. He tries the usual remedies without success:

Mindless pacing around the hotel, late night walks through the dead empty streets of a sleeping city. --Nothing.

Handfuls of Estazolam, Temazepam chasers. White wine the shade of Ambien. Whiskey, like all the greats before him. --Nothing.

The perfect white walls of his hotel room hurt his eyes, so he paints over them. The pictures hanging on the wall are too straight, so he takes them down. The television is too new and too thin, so he replaces it with an older, buzzing box, and watches his old movies. --Nothing.

He makes like Chandler, mimes Burroughs, hides the trail up his arm and spends the day sick. --Nothing.

Nights burned away with others in tangled, wild expressions of need, until exhaustion comes. --Nothing.

He even lets himself be someone else at night, goes through the whole list of them, all the other shades of him he’s built over the years. The author, the poet, the painter, the drug addict. --Nothing

There is no sleep. Hours melt into days into weeks into months into the endless repetitive smear of a life less led and more followed. Johnny, a passenger in his own life. He goes through the motions, says all the right things, is where he needs to be when he needs to be there. The man makes Kate money, visits with Una, talks family with his brother. Kate keeps him on his toes. Una worries but says nothing. Sinon’s occupied with being Sinon. Someone new is in town, a man by the name of Mus’ad; they’ve met, though Mus’ad doesn’t know it.

Every night, no rest, just dreams. Dreams of a forever green. Dreams of a blooming tree. Dreams of music he hasn’t heard in decades.

Most nights he dreams of her and curses himself for it.

Damp sheets, hot skin. Endless repetition.
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Johnny Lagos
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 05 Sep 2016
Posts: 32
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1640.66 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 15, 2017 12:19 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

To conjure the shape of a person in exact and perfect detail was the very ritual Jorge Luis Borges had once described in his story The Circular Ruins, and much like the Argentine poet before him, Johnny found the task both sacred and impossible.

How does one capture a person in words? Johnny meditated on the question, sitting in front of his dresser, one hand on the type writer, the other on a coffee mug full of whiskey. It'd been two days since he'd last found sleep, or perhaps it would be better to say, since sleep last found him. Johnny was in the middle of an elusive impulse, refusing to answer calls, return messages, be seen, be known. Sleep was slow and ponderous. Johnny was rabbit-chase quick.

Fingers moved across keys. He started with the hair.

Coils, of rope and cable and tribal twine. They move like her namesake, like antennae, tuned to the unknowable stimuli of ancient frequencies. They cross the boundary of her shoulder, along the line of her chin, and draw the eye. Against the spine the pattern of a line is repeated in parallel. They --

Johnny made a face. What the hell am I writing? What is this? He got up to pace and remember school lessons:

Keep it simple.
Cut out excess.
Don't bore the reader.
Don't be a wanky ****.

He downed the drink, pulled the sheet from the typewriter, and threw it into the waste bin with all the other attempts. The can is overflowed; failed instances of her dot the floor in balls of wasted paper.

He sat down to try again.

How does one capture a person in words? Summon the very essence of them. The details are less important. Again, he started with the hair.

Like a perpetual spring, summoning feelings of too-hot nights and a lifting of skirts. The strands are childhood, adulthood, girlhood, womanhood, hippyhood. Vines, erupting from the earth of a skull --

No. No, no, no. Johnny made the face again, forehead falling to the table. There were words in him, he knew it, could feel them, and somewhere in them there would be the right ones. The proper ones. The ones that conjured her right into the room, right out of his head. If he could just put her on paper, maybe she'd leave. He felt the need to void his skull, like a junkie at the end of a terrible binge.

He threw the sheet out, added to paper-tombstone graveyard, and tried again.

How does one capture a person in words? By being exact, absolutely exact. As Borges suggested, then.

Her hair is just short of a meter long. It is bleached. It is --

Johnny blinked once, twice. Moved to the next line and typed:

The bitch has dreadlocks.

And was done with it. Tomorrow, he would sit down and try again. For tonight, there would be more running. Sleep would not reach him yet.
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Johnny Lagos
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 05 Sep 2016
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1640.66 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Mon Apr 17, 2017 11:52 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

When all else failed, Johnny turned to another old cure-all, one he'd used most particularly in the 80s and 90s; he made his own mix tapes, constructing them based on people, places, feelings, or even more esoteric concepts, like songs that referenced days of the week, songs with themes of color, songs written by guys named Fred or George.

It was meditative and calming even when the music wasn't. Roach's tape was particularly emotional, and Elijah's proved difficult. Sinon's was full of the self absorbed angst his brother was criminally guilty of. Una's was lovely and sharp, made him feel like he was bleeding.

The scenery had changed in the last few weeks. The old hotel had finally kicked him out despite the money he offered them. An overnight rush moved him into The Grand, Sinon's place on the edge of town. Elijah had helped briefly, which explained why Johnny couldn't find his typewriter. The other boy always said he spent too much time trying to write. Johnny imagined it on the bottom of a river or at the center of a building fire, melting to slag.

Work was much the same. Kate gave him extra work as part of their recent agreement. Sinon never bothered asking Johnny to do anything, though Una had asked for a small favor, the scope of which he still didn't understand. Elijah was off doing something or other, investigating some family mystery Johnny wasn't included in.

Johnny's other handlers were leaving him alone for now. With Roach in the wind, they didn't seem to have much use for him. He was just fine with that. The less they bothered him, the better.

Through all of it, though, sleep remained fleeting. He laid in bed, wide eyed, listening to Roach's songs over and over, changing songs in and out in his head while hoping sleep would creep up and finally take him. Sometimes he drifted off but often he didn't. The days continued to stretch endlessly, pulling him thin.
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Johnny Lagos
Young Wyrm
Young Wyrm


Joined: 05 Sep 2016
Posts: 32
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1640.66 Silver Crowns

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PostPosted: Mon Jul 17, 2017 11:31 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Sometimes, sometimes --

Sometimes, Johnny does sleep, but the sleep is bad on his head, his body, his soul (or what's left of it, all battered and bent). Sometimes he sleeps and he dreams, dreams of all the stories he wish he could tell, or the stories he wish he could forget, or just the outline of stories he's desperate to know, if only they'd stick around long enough.

He dreams of:

Elijah, caught in a drug induced smear, bleeding, bleeding, bleeding into the vinyl seat of a diner, into the sheets of a master bedroom, into the roar of a building fire, until the other boy is hazy-dreamlike and spooks up and down Johnny's spine.

He dreams of:

Roach, Elizabeth, Liz, and the thousand-and-one words he's written her over the last year. On his roof, the rain thundering down around them just like the sky itself is soaked through, like it's flimsy cotton. In the train yard, where she finally met his other half, where they talked about old songs and new ones and Johnny got just a bit of sleep, good sleep, solid sleep. And all the way back to the beginning, when it was just about slinging a little, hanging a little, just being together a little, and life seemed simple for a while, life was good for a while. When he felt no pain, just for a while.

It's the last dream that bothers him the most, usually.

He dreams of:

Sinon, Una, the elusive Niko, his father, his sister, the half-dead detective conjured up from nowhere. All a-jumble, all their faces and histories and stories so loud they wake him up at night, midnight car alarms that he hears in his bones, in his teeth. Sinon in pools of blood, so much blood, twisted into the hundred shapes his brother can twist blood into. Una in black, in the dark, behind buildings, inside doorways, cutting her way through the hearts of every one unlucky enough to ever love her. The others, no less horrible, no less surreal.

And when the dreams intersect, the colors they create are neon intense, laser bright, krypton-xenon-argon on the eyes. Johnny can't sleep in the light, and there are no shades to draw on the inside of his head.

But most of all, he dreams of:

That other place. His place. His people. Patched together from every other story no one else knows anymore, because somewhere along the way everyone who ever knew them, forgot them, and now they belong to the great nowhere, detached from the anywhere. He dreams of birds, flight, blue sunrises, the weight of the shade beneath lost species of trees, feathers, and trains.

Absolutely more than anything, he dreams of trains.
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