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Plus One by Jonathan Nosan (first draft)

Updated: 6 days ago

PLUS ONE

(first draft)

by Jonathan Nosan


Nobody came.

“FUCK ME!” wailed across the overgrown wildflowers as the blunt needle pierced his fleshy palm. Not enough to stick but enough to start blood flowing, tetanus thoughts, and heighten his sense of aloneness. Hurriedly placing the ten cups from the damp newspaper wrapped board onto the pine drying shelves behind his studio, midnight hid the lying dental instrument. A careless crumpling of paper turned into a quick pained single stigmata, reminding him of the sacrifices made for his passion.

The simple surprisingly thin runt of a teacup was the last throw of the day. A thimble of clay he easily could have thrown away became the night’s final love: his plus one.

*

“I saw the way you were looking at me,” she whispered up into his ear as his slow breaths touched her wet lip, “like you were ready to trash me.”

It wasn’t that way. Perspectives, like geographies, are always changing  between the view, the viewer and the viewed. The same smooth rock face found perfect by the graffiti artist’s spray can, can hold the ancestral creation story for generations of indigenous peoples. Art, creation, expression, protection, freedom, fighting, acquiescing to be heard, seen, known and remembered…He remembered her, her raised hand, looking down upon him from the steeply tiered squeaky wooden seat auditorium,

“Professor…”

Alchemism in the Elevation of  Form: A Methodology to Sanctify the Profane: Grants, papers, journals, tenures, sabbaticals, rituals, hypotheses of genius and nothingness leading him finally to his private studio. Designed with a detailed perfection, a space prohibiting any “alternative clay” contamination in respect to this last love of his life: porcelain.

His belly thoughtlessly drooped over the turquoise and bronze belt buckle as he hunched over the spinning wheel; a rickety low stool nearing collapse and a sparkling threadbare cushion incapable of protecting the crash. Having stopped chasing youth, both his own and his students, he no longer agonized over keeping his physical form as well trimmed as his pots. His chemical stained fingernails darkened from decades of his bloody brown tenmoku glaze, gaining his work and hands renown in certain circles. Wavering between taciturn and mania, light and darkness of mood played emotional havoc behind his liquid blue eyes shining the glimmer of Experience. A shaggy silver mane of greasy hair framed his scruffed wrinkling face perfectly. Seventy four looked ten years older on him, twelve years of single living brought safe comfort to his hermitage—his creations becoming his obsessions. 36 years of lecturing in the Religious Studies department allowed  late nights in the university pottery studio, and now retirement gave the time and space to dedicate his decades of words into his closing years of action towards ultimate altered forms.


*

“Rich…He’s at it again and it’s keeping me up.”

“What are you talking about?”

“Your ‘Fat Old Dude in the bright light shack’…Honestly I don’t think he’s showered in weeks…I smell something weird…”

“Babe, you can’t smell through binoculars…put ‘em down, come back to bed, and say g’night to your AARP crush.”

“Given Netflix, chilling with you or simulating Rear Window with The Professor I choose the latter. It was the best class in college and some of the only things I remember came out of his mouth. He dissected my essays when anyone else would have fast fucked them over and given me an A; he voraciously cared about making me better. I felt him molding me into the research scholar I could have become and never…”

“You’re so fucked up…”

“He could just stand in front of the class, not say a word and we all felt it. That he KNEW the things that he was teaching through Eliade and Hiltebeitel, while we were chasing quick glimpses with LSD and…”

“I still don’t get why you had to do so many psychedelics at CAL…”

“And now finally I get him for myself and pry into his KNOWLEDGE, study him the way he had us study the great ones…he IS the fucking great one. Making and making and making with his clay but we never see where any of it goes, no one coming in and he takes none of it out…”

“Antoinette, just fuckin’ get in the car tomorrow with a couple matcha lattes and knock on your Door of Eminence.”

“K”

“I fuckin’ love your psychafuckedup crazy ass.”

“Me too. Gnight,” as she stayed awake next to his comfortingly annoying  sleep breaths.

*

The tomorrows came and went and his late night work lights and echoing expletives waned over the late summer months—thoughts of what to take The Professor now filled her dark hours.

“Salt.” She remembered. He was obsessed with salt: any salt, every salt, black salt, processed salt, sacred salt, peppered salt. Every college trip ended by bringing her offering to his single windowed musty book filled office, sharing a story of the salt and travels, until she was told her time was over. In the kindest of firm ways. Center stage on her spice rack was the “too nice to use” little burlap bag of Maras crystals gathering dust from her trip last year to Peru—this would be the gift of reunion.

Choosing Birkenstocks over the Beetle she made her way to his long tree covered gravel driveway. The moonless night added a depth of darkness and an increasing emptiness until she reached his heavy dried out old wood front door, too ornate for the Upstate Craftsman. A dim flickering light seeped out of the pried open doorframe as the final notes of Ives’ Concord Sonata slowed her down and pulled her in. The scratching sound of needle on vinyl guided her as the single final note hung in the air—effortlessly—as continued rotations of recorded silence gradually transformed time, the arm not yet ready to return to its resting place.

“Professor? Hello?…” her voice trailed off without reply, her feet following the smell of flames—to a blackened brass door handle barely holding on by two loose screws. A slow inhale opened the door, finding him

naked face up on the floor. A creamy white icing was slowly drying into the old man’s skin, heavy gravity pulled the draping down over muscles and bones. His impossibly long slow purring breaths filled the space with what became clear to her as dusty clouds of porcelain. Legs and arms in a perfect relaxed symmetry, eyelids nearly closed, his neck muscle gently balancing the head on its crimson raw silk pillow. Still, standing, at the door, Antoinette scans the empty room: a perfect recreation of fabled stories told of the North Kyoto mountain cabin he lived in as a first year researcher in the ‘80s. A six tatami mat room with perfectly disintegrating lime plastered walls—straw pieces jutting out—meeting the cedar beamed ceiling—full of nothing— but him. And ten porcelain cups. Two cups at his feet, two at his fingertips, two at his shoulders, two at his ears, one at the top of his head and a last little one resting in this mouth.

She sat back on her ankles, knees to his head and saw: each cup glowing from a floating flame above a bit of oil.  The pure white glazed porcelain cups revealing the carved jumble of unglazed letters, translucently shining over his drying body and decaying space.

“What a fucking movie…” repeated through her mind, ready as her eyes lowered to the glowing cup in his mouth. It pulled Antoinette’s ear down to it’s lip and like a master ventriloquist The Professor whispered… “ksdutwkdernseecognitnanofgiednissuwohlrpebdotynttrungseinhpdikinaovsmefshbni.”

Her body went numb.

“ksdutwkdernseecognitnanofgiednissuwohlrpebdotynttrungseinhpdikinaovsmefshbni,” the word whispered again, searing every vein.

The final

“ksdutwkdernseecognitnanofgiednissuwohlrpebdotynttrungseinhpdikinaovsmefshbni”

hit her soul.

Letter by letter filled her body, taking over the beating of her heart. As the apertures of her eyes  closed off the dim outer light, she blindly placed the clutched pouch of salt from her right hand onto the center of his chest. A low vibrating hum charged the room and as the fluttering of her lashes sliver-opened her eyes revealing the cup which rested on his lips now floating and revolving two inches above the crackling dried porcelain face. As her eyes fully opened she saw: all ten cups suspended off the ground, surrounding the Professor, slowly revolving around their individual axis, golden letters radiating the space: a Studio 54 Disco of Soul silently tripping to to the cryptically clear spiral of jumbled letters …

ksdutwkdernseecognitnanofgiednissuwohlrpebdotynttrungseinhpdikinaovsmefshbni

The room no longer a room, she not she, he not he, walls ceiling floor melted into a corner-less colorless space of golden beamed letters permuting the known and permitting the knowledge to flow as one.

Each cup then rose three feet up, and floating above each cup grouped ten cloud written radiating words, spiraling around The Professor and Antoinette. The smallest moved from his mouth to his bellybutton as the other nine took on a tornado formation, the ceiling seeping its cedar oil redolently down into the olive oiled flames reaching up. Their bodies now surrounded by the clarity of The Words spiraling above the spiraling cups…

victory splendor foundation royalty

kindness  strength beauty

understanding knowledge

wisdom


“I’ll give you one more round, and then its time we go,” the room said silently as the arm rose and needle gently inserted into the brittle vinyl, beginning from the beginning again—the final sweet powerful dissonance of The Concord.

“Here we go, here we go again,” Antoinette flash remembered and said out loud in a sparkle “never did he not have a stack of Concords ready to drop, flipped perfectly to continue the flow from Emerson to Hawthorne, Alcotts to Thoreau.…the actualization of the theorization he used to go on about…lectures were like story time, his physical research trips sounding more like the mental trips of Hofmann in the ‘40s… ”

And now she experienced the reality of his storied life. For decades she wanted to believe—whether like Mulder or Messianism—the notes she made in class: The Creator planting divine sparks of Numen into vessels below; to gather together around Axis Mundi of empowerment;  for the cyclic destructionist times of Tohu; until Vohu clears and refines for the process to begin, again. He told her decades ago, when she asked about the notes of The Concord, that this was the beauty he found within: the allowance and acceptance of the unfinished, creates the invitation for a continuance. Without.

She never found his Experience. She chased it in school, schul, church, cults and ashrams—all only saccharine teases which led her to psychotropics and most recently frog venoms of the Andes.

The little leader rose up from his white dusted center and the whirling turbine inverted—the cups, words and golden beams chiming off each other to fill and transpose Ives’ notes into a euphonious sculpture. Their bodies joined the vortex, rising up, his a mountainous terrain in repose and hers a single peak, lives pulled into a celestial timelessness, rotating below the swirling words. Still kneeling at his silvery mane, their circling formed a nearing death cobweb of divine cotton candy.

“victorykindnesssplendorstrunderstandingwisdomknowledgengthfoundationbeautyroyalty,” he silently invited, and the little leader descended alone, landing with a soft radiance to his waiting open mouth. Eggshell thin cracks broke along his dried porcelain skin, and letter by letter floated down to find their crack in his form, perfect puzzle holes to fit their piece. Body by Body and Cup by Cup returned to the floor. Each cup in its place—feet, fingertips, shoulders, ears, crown—suddenly absorbed and melting in to The Professor’s now glowing crystalline body.

Antoinette leaned over him, the soft circling wind brushing her hair around his, the closing of a curtain. Her open lips hovering over the lips of the one remaining cup, touching and taking the smoke of its final flame deep inside her.


He left.

She Knew.

She Was.

Plus One.





(1,993 words)

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