The Storyteller’s Secret SAMMI COX
Clara KYLE CLIMANS
Every Boy’s Dream VINCENT ANDERSON
The Ordinary-Yet-Unordinary Hero AIKO M.
Grace MIKE WILLIAMS
A Heroic Life KYLE CLIMANS
That Little Spark of Strength SAMMI COX
Morrison Hotel CODY DAUPHINEE
Humanity/Heroism ASHLEY NEWTON
FREE LIT MAGAZINE Editor-in-Chief Ashley Newton firstname.lastname@example.org
Kyle Climans, Ashley Newton
Vincent Anderson, Sammi Cox, Cody Dauphinee, Aiko M., Mike Williams
Colophon Free Lit Magazine is a non-profit literary magazine committed to the accessibility of digital literature for all readers. Our mission is to form an online creative community by encouraging writers, artists, and photographers to practice their passion in a medium that anyone can access and appreciate.
What is it that makes an average person step up to the challenge of doing something extraordinary? Perhaps there is something innate within the person; they have been born with the DNA of a hero, no matter how large their deeds. Everyone possesses the ability to do the right thing and stand up for others, and yet, only a select few will ever rise to the occasion. We acknowledge and reward these people for their efforts. But sometimes heroes go completely unnoticed, and that’s the way they want things to be. They don’t need plaques to remind them of what they’ve done. They simply want to live on. Some people are put in inevitable positions to become heroes. But still, heroes are born when they choose to sacrifice their needs for others’; when they run headfirst into the fires of life and choose not to rest until safety is guaranteed. This capability lives within each and every one of us. The choice to act is yours. Ashley Newton Editor-in-Chief
Next Issue The Paradise Issue July 2016 3
The Storyteller’s Secret SAMMI COX
The Storyteller settled on a bit of broken wall, sipping wine from a wine skin. As the sun climbed higher in the sky, he was thankful his chosen seat was in the shade. It was going to be a hot day. Soon, a good crowd had gathered around him. Those few obols were well spent, he mused, recalling the two urchins he had sent to run to the agora to spread the news of his arrival. After all, a storyteller was next-to-useless if he had no-one to listen to him recount the tales of the heroes of the past. He glanced his old eyes over the people before him. They were mostly men, but there were a few women too. At the front sat a row of eager children, ready to be regaled by the marvelous and awe-inspiring. They were sitting so close to him that he could hear their excited chatter.
“I hope he tells the tale of the Argonauts.”
“I want to hear how Herekles slew the hydra.”
“No, the one about Bellerophon and the chimera.”
And on they went, listing all the stories they loved and would be happy to hear again on that hot and sunny day. Indeed, the mood of those who had assembled was animated, so the Storyteller waited for the crowd to quiet before he began his chosen tale. When they realized he was ready, a hush full of anticipation descended. “Our story begins at the end…” he said in a solemn voice that carried easily across the vast space. “A story of what was, not what should have been... for that is where the real story lies.” He paused and looked around at the faces that were watching him. A look of bemusement crossed a number of them, whilst the rest waited patiently for him to continue. “For the story a hero most wants to hear is the one that speaks of peace and calm and a settled home life after he has returned from distant lands. He doesn’t want to be reminded of the battles he has waged, the monsters he has fought, the men he has killed, the women he has deceived... In the end, all he wants is to arrive home and forget all that has gone before.” “It doesn’t sound very heroic,” someone called out, confused. “What story is this, old man?” 4
“Yes, which one? I’ve not heard this one before,” another voice shouted out.
“Be patient and you will see,” The Storyteller soothed. He could feel that he was already losing the crowd. It wouldn’t be long before they started to slip away, annoyed. He took a deep breath, and then continued. “As I have said, the real story starts at the end. When the hero learns whether or not he has saved all that is precious to him by undertaking the quest.” “Storyteller, we want to hear about the quest. What comes after is of no consequence. The interesting bit’s over by then.”
“Yes, tell us about a monster.”
“Or a big group of monsters.”
“What about the Labours of Herekles? Everyone knows them!”
The Storyteller sighed. His audience was getting cross. He had one last chance to win them back before he lost them for good. “When the ship came into the port, those on board received a hero’s welcome, and so they should after all they had seen, all they had encountered. Even though they had been absent for a handful of years, they had not been forgotten. A great many people lined the road, all cheering and chanting. It seemed the tales of their success, their triumph, had made it home before they had. But our hero was looking for one face amongst the many. He was looking for his wife. He wanted news of his children, his home, his family—”
“Why are you telling us this?” someone shouted. “It’s boring.”
Nevertheless, The Storyteller ploughed on, doing his best to ignore the interruptions. “Over the coming days and weeks, many people turned up at the home of the hero. Many wanted him to recount tales of his voyage, for most people had never left the small town. Others wanted the hero to undertake tasks for them, tasks that were beyond them but would no doubt be easy for a hero who had accomplished so much and was favoured by the gods... “But the hero wanted to look to the future, not cling to the past. All he wanted was to plough his fields and think of the harvest. “At first he humoured the people, telling them stories and doing the odd task here and there whenever he was able, but it was never enough. Then they started pointing out where he had gone wrong on his adventure and what he should have done instead. Every decision he made was scrutinized. Every mistake he made was played out, again and again and again before his eyes. 5
“Finally, it all became too much for him. This was not the quiet life he had worked so hard for—” A man at the back of the gathering stood up. “And this isn’t the story we wanted to hear. In fact, it isn’t a story at all. It’s the ramblings of an old man. I’m not listening to any more of this.” And with that, he marched off, back towards the agora. The Storyteller sighed. His message was lost on the crowd, it seemed. As more and more of the audience agreed, slowly the people began to disperse. Some took pity on the old man and gave him a copper or two for trying, but he knew none of them would be back. Taking another drink from his wine skin, he pondered leaving immediately. It was a long walk to the next town. Perhaps his storytelling would receive a better reception there... up.
“I know why you told us that story,” a small voice said quietly as the old man stood
He looked around but couldn’t find where the voice had come from until the top of a head peered above the wall to his right, revealing a young girl. She had obviously been hiding out of sight so she could hear the storyteller’s tale. The Storyteller looked at her, questioningly. Could she really understand? he wondered to himself. She is so young, and no one else seemed to grasp the point of the story... Humour her, he finally decided. There was no harm in listening.
“Go on, then,” he encouraged, sitting back down. “Tell me what you think you know.”
The young girl stood up and climbed over the wall. Soon she was sitting next to him. “Heroes are just normal people, aren’t they. They live. They die. They make mistakes. Just because they manage to do something out of the ordinary, or one of their parents is a god or goddess, it doesn’t mean that they are any different to the rest of us. I expect being famous and having everyone know your business has many disadvantages. If I were a hero, and everywhere I went people knew my face and my story, I would get pretty annoyed. It sounds so tiresome,” she said with a sigh. The Storyteller’s mouth opened then closed; he couldn’t find the words. Instead, he just stared at her, thoroughly stunned by her explanation. Of course, she had been right. However, the young girl wasn’t finished yet. She still had more to say. “I take it you are one of them?” Again, words failed The Storyteller. He had told this story many times over the years, and though some managed to understand its underlying the theme, none had been as astute as the young girl. 6
Holding her chin between finger and thumb, she tilted her head slightly and looked the old man over.
“The question, I suppose is, which one are you?”
Finally, he managed to speak. “How could you know?”
“It’s obvious really,” the little girl mused. “Everyone wants to be the hero, except the hero. All they want is a quiet life.”
The Storyteller burst out laughing. She did know. She really did.
“Child, how very clever you are!” he exclaimed. “So, tell me, which one am I, then?”
“Poor old man,” she whispered, misinterpreting his words. “Have you forgotten?” Rather sadly, she shook her head from side-to-side. “Don’t worry. I know who you are.” She stood up and leant in close so that she could whisper in his ear. “Your name is...” Her voice dropped even lower so that when she uttered his name, it was no louder than a breath. “Jason. Though your story says that you were crushed to death by your ship. I suppose you made that up,” she concluded as she straightened up once more. “It just goes to show that you can’t believe everything that you hear in the stories of storytellers, even if the storyteller really is a hero.” As the girl pulled away, she smiled. “Don’t worry, your secret’s safe with me,” she said before skipping off in the direction of the agora. The Storyteller watched her go before struggling to his feet. With a sigh he turned away and began the walk to the next town. Perhaps there the people might be more like that little girl, Jason thought to himself. Though he doubted it. He was finally beginning to understand that people liked to hear stories, not the truth. They were far more entertaining, after all.
“What did you say? I can’t understand you.”
“Is your name Kenneth Vanger? Am I speaking to Kenneth Vanger?”
“Yes, goddamnit! Who is this?”
“Are you married to Clara Vanger?”
“I’m very sorry, sir, but–”
I hear this exchange every day in my head, even to this day. Nothing I do can remove it from my mind. I was in the office at the time, typing up a report on my company’s latest fiscal quarters which my boss had insisted I finish today rather than next week, when I received the phone call from the police that filled me with an urge to throw myself from my office window. I might very well have done it if I hadn’t collapsed to the ground, unable to even feel my legs. The police officer’s voice disappeared into the background. I somehow remember my office neighbour, Sybilla, running into my office, yelling for help. The next two weeks felt like a blur. Clara’s family came to the house when they heard the news, all of them crying. I’ve been told I was crying too, but I cannot even remember doing so. It seemed to be a natural state of being in the face of losing the woman who I met in university while studying for an accounting exam, only to be coaxed into seeing a film with her instead, leading to a proper date through the streets of Copenhagen, which we revisited two years later when I asked her to marry me. I sometimes wonder what I would have done if I’d known that day that this beautiful woman would one day, having fled our burning apartment building with nothing but the clothes on her back, would then turn around and run back into the building to save two children that she’d seen playing in the lobby. Sofie Horn and Heidi Lange. The two little girls who my wife died to save. I didn’t know their names or faces until I saw the news reports. All the news pundits had things to say about what happened, it seems. Men and women dolled up for the cameras put on their thin masks of tempered sadness as they talked about the horrific fire which had begun due to a freak accident. Nobody was to 8
talked about the horrific fire which had begun due to a freak accident. Nobody was to blame, though the newspapers and the police both began their own thorough investigations into the matter to make sure. Only five people had died. Clara was the only one I cared about that day. Our apartment room had received minimal exposure to the fire before the fire department had put out the blaze. Very little was damaged at all, as if the universe had decided to mock my fortunes. The insurance company came forward and offered their sympathies, as did the policeman who informed me that Clara would receive a medal for her bravery. He asked me if I wished to accept it on her behalf, but I refused. I didn’t want to be part of the farce. What good did it do to have a group of strangers pompously praise the memory of one whom they’d never cared for and would forget about in a week? And so I was left with the news reports. I looked at their little faces and tried to glean what my wife must have identified to deem them worthy of risking her life to rescue. What had made them so special? Why did Clara throw everything away for their sake? It tortured me. The voice which raged against Clara for her senseless actions that now resulted in her loved ones’ anguish and grief, the voice that cursed the stupidity of those two little girls for being in the wrong place at the exact time in all of humankind’s past or present which would result in Clara’s death, and the voice feebly protesting that these voices were cowardly and selfish. Most of all there was the sound of Clara’s voice, her laughter, and the overwhelming realization that I would never hear either of those sounds again. I took a week off from work. My friends and family would visit, offer their help, but eventually I simply refused to open the door or answer the phone. But two days ago something happened as I lay in my apartment; an unshaven wreck wrapped in a cocoon of bitterness in the squalor of an apartment that still bore the damage of the fire which had robbed me of my soul. After the third knock, I finally pulled on some clean clothes and opened the front door, fully prepared to tell whoever it was in the rudest manner I could think of to go away. But what I saw caused my tongue to freeze in my mouth. Two little girls and their parents stood in the hallway, looking nervous, awkward, foolish, and (presumably when they saw my appearance) concerned. I had never met these people in my life, and I had no reason whatsoever to spend another second of my time with them. But I did not slam the door. Because I had seen these two little girls a hundred times. Their names filled my sleepless nights and echoed in my ears when I tried to think of how the universe had decided that my wife did not deserve to continue drawing breath.
“Mr… Mr Vanger?” One of the men began, his voice curiously high-pitched, perhaps 9
from nerves or some other emotion. I gave a curt nod. I was suddenly aware that I had not shaved for a week, and that I had been eating only one or two meals a day for the same amount of time. I must have looked half-mad, judging by the looks of repressed fear on the children’s faces. That said, the parents were hardly better, but they had better ideas of why they were here. The man who had spoken stepped forward. He, too, had a beard, and he stood taller than I did by almost a foot. He seemed the sort of man who most would avoid angering, but today his fierce-looking face was contorted to an expression that on anyone else would look gentle and non-threatening, but which just seemed strange on this man. He approached me and offered a big hand, and not even my state of being could prevent my social instincts from shaking it in response. “My name is Erik Horn. I live on the second floor of this building, so we haven’t met before. This is my wife, Inga, and my daughter, Sofie.” I shook Inga’s hand and nodded down to Sofie as he introduced them, but I still didn’t speak for fear that if I tried to say something, all that would come out would be a sob or scream. Seeing the two girls whose lives had cost Clara’s her own was almost too much to bear. But now the other family came forward. Two women approached me, and what little reason was in my head recognized one of them as a woman I had seen a few times in the building and even exchanged pleasantries with when I was still innocent enough to be invested in such trivial things. Now we shook hands and she spoke to me again, and I was alarmed at the tears I noticed brimming in her eyes. Was she remembering that age of innocence as well? “Mr. Vanger, we’ve met before. I’m Vivian Lange, and this is my partner, Siri, and our daughter, Heidi.” “We wanted to speak with you at the ceremony, but my wife’s mother explained that we should wait before speaking to you.”
I somehow found my voice, “What is it?”
The parents exchanged glances for the briefest of moments before Vivian spoke again, “We wanted to offer our sympathies to you, for your loss. I cannot fathom what that must be like, and…” here her voice broke and I noticed her hand instinctively go to her daughter’s shoulder, “… and I have your wife to thank for sparing me that pain.” 10
Erik and Inga nodded. Erik spoke again, “Your wife was a true hero, and we will
never forget her for what she did.” I nodded again. I had no other response to give. All my emotions from the past few weeks suddenly felt too distant to draw upon. Inga suddenly spoke, looking into my eyes with a strange sort of fear behind the neutral tone of her voice. “Mr. Vanger, I just wanted to tell you… Erik and I are expecting another child… and I wanted you to know that if it is a girl, we have decided to name her Clara.” I felt my legs almost give way from beneath me, but I somehow stayed upright. I merely nodded, not trusting my voice. I heard Sofie whisper, “Papa, why is he crying?”, only for Erik to gently shush her. After they had left, I sat down on the sofa and cried for the rest of the day. I cried out of sadness for Clara, nor rage at the cruelty of life, but most of all, I cried out of shame and self-loathing. How dare I undermine or even question what Clara had done? I missed her, and would continue to do so for the rest of my life, but it was no cruel fate that had taken her away. It was her convictions and her goodness that had driven her to do right, even when it wasn’t easy to do so. A small medal still meant nothing to the memory of my wife, but for the first time, I truly registered what a noble thing she had done for Heidi and Sofie’s families. I had spent the last two weeks in hell, and I realized then that I could not wish that fate upon anyone else. And she had understood that in the span of a few seconds before deciding to run back into a burning building to save those two children. The next morning, I got up, took a long shower, shaved my face, ate a big breakfast, and left for work.
As I made my way to my car, I was approached by Vivian.
“I was hoping I’d see you again,” she said, “I was worried about you.”
“Thank you,” I replied.
She looked at me, “I can’t stop thinking about it. I’ll never be able to repay your wife for saving my daughter.”
After a moment, I shrugged, “I think you did the best thing possible.”
She gave me a puzzled look, “What’s that?”
“You helped save me.” 11
Every Boy’s Dream VINCENT ANDERSON
Fourtne, Fame, it’s every boy’s dream to live with the wild things staying up late Maybe we will sleep after our piece of cake Maybe not If we do, will we wake Heaven knows No rest for the wicked Vicious, Vendictive, one sol mission Avengers, for Master Splinter Super heros Often start off as zeros Alphas rule the world but are inspired by Omegas this lifestyle is often compared to Vegas -Apollo, The Alpha
The Ordinary-Yet-Unordinary Hero AIKO M.
What is a hero? By definition, a hero is a person who is admired or idealized for courage, outstanding achievements and/or noble qualities. I often ask people who their heroes are, and they would automatically answer “My parents/My sibling/My friends,” and etc. For me though, I didn’t have a hero until I met a certain someone in late 2015. I have been so lucky in meeting this person, and I am eternally grateful. So I have this good friend named Link, and he is my personal hero. The things he goes through in life make no sense to me whatsoever because he is like one of those guys who you feel should have everything good happen to him. Back in December 2015, around the last week of that year, I met him, and my first impression was to pull him back to come eat with the group, instead of him being the oneman band who would go home alone. I could tell how people enjoy his company, and how much he is missed when he is not there. That reason alone probably is what kick started our beautiful friendship, and made us who we are today. He is often looked down upon just because he is this black guy who has such a beautiful soul. It’s so rare to find a soul who is so pure, who knows what he wants, who will do anything to make one happy, and that is just amazing on its own. I don’t know how he does it, I just feel he is someone who should be looked up to, and he is a good role model for any person feeling useless, upset, distressed; you name it. What makes him a hero, you ask? There are so many things I can say, but when I want to put them into words, nothing comes out of my mouth. He is unique; he falls out of the social norm, and he just doesn’t care about the social norm in the first place. He could be a robot if he wanted to, if he really wanted to fit into the social norm. He does his best to help people. He wants people to be happy, and places their happiness above his. He pushes limits and refuses to back down. Everyone loves him, and he is someone you can’t miss when there is a large hangout. I feel people always misunderstand him, though. Great minds think alike and to have people discriminate against him is unacceptable. Although it irks him, he also brushes it off knowing he can’t do anything, and continues to get stronger in mind and spirit. He is the beacon of light that shines in my dark world. He is the one who has never left my side since I have known him. Someone I can turn to, and someone I can talk to about anything. His words of wisdom are powerful. He tries to make sure you don’t make the same mistakes again. I commend you. Link, I personally thank you from the bottom of my heart for being my personal hero.
MIKE WILLIAMS There was a little old lady She lived on her own She had 3 children They were gone They had grown She had a husband He was gone He had died But by my recall You hadnâ€™t cried You are strong Of course you always have been I see you laugh over and over again All the time you are giddy You are never cross God bless you Grace You are always the boss Whether defending Douglas Or arguing about school You are always strong You are never the fool Though like all of us You get stuck in a rut Like with dark chocolate Or with coconut You have your faults But you have your place Thank you for you God bless you, Grace
A Heroic Life KYLE CLIMANS
I’m listening to that constant tick, My father’s old watch over my heart, I am still sweating, my hands are slick, But I am ready to do my part. Make me proud, those were his last words to me, I embraced him and bit back my tears, “I will be a man, Father, you’ll see,” I whispered softly into his ear. His enemies cheered when they found out, The monsters laughed and praised their cruel deed, I wept with rage, and felt no more doubt Vengeance would be mine, and they would bleed. “A true hero must do the right thing,” My mother stated through her black veil, “Be prepared to give everything, And the true hero will never fail.” I kissed my mother and departed, To join my brothers in the great war, A war we neither wished nor started, But we would finish it, as we swore. I’ve kept the watch safe for two long years, Through the battles with our many foes, It helps me resist my shameful fears, And keep the heroic life I chose. My father once said the watch is blessed, It kept him safe from fear and disgrace, And he passed his own heroic test, The same one which I will surely face, Our enemies are many, and strong, They cover the world with all their lies, They say we are cowards, cruel and wrong, Such hypocrisy which I despise. We heroes do whatever we must, 15
To bring death and chaos to their ranks, They show their wrath and pride and bloodlust, When we strike their markets, barracks, and banks. I watch the marketplace fill with foes, A hero does what he must, they say, I turn the key, the moment is close, This is my finest, and final, day. I banish weak thoughts, let them be gone, Do this deed, make a heroic stand, Fight the enemy and win the dawn, Fight on until they cannot withstand. Iâ€™m listening to that constant tick, As I prepare my final attack, Soon I will see my father again, Heâ€™ll surely rejoice to have it back.
That Little Spark of Strength SAMMI COX
Being brave means Having the Courage To face that which Scares you Rather than Turning away and Running from it It doesn’t mean that You are not afraid It doesn’t mean that You won’t tremble inside As you square your shoulders And step forward To do battle But it does mean That somewhere Deep inside You found that little Spark of strength That we all have That whispers quietly What if...
Morrison Hotel CODY DAUPHINEE
“Have you ever heard of The Doors?”
Anna spent the past twenty minutes following her now uncle-in-law around the sparsely crowded garden, floating between conversations she could only imagine as predictable and trite. He buried a glass with every group chat. Gin and tonic, to judge by the lime wedge and the drinkability. Now he sat directly across from Anna with the chair turned around, his arms resting on the back gently tossing the ice cubes in a fresh glass. She watched the lime swirl for a few seconds before answering. “Yes, of course I’ve heard of them.” And, after a pause, “did you assume I hadn’t because I’m young?”
“How old are you?”
“Old enough to know when the generation gap is being tested.”
“What do you mean?” He took a long drink.
“If I answered, ‘No, I haven’t heard of them’ you probably would have made some remark about kids these days and tried to make small talk for a few minutes and then leave. Or just leave without saying anything at all.”
“Jesus,” he said, starting.
“Yes,” Anna interceded. “I have heard of The Doors. Jim Morrison. Ray Manzarek.”
He lowered himself back into his chair.
“But,” she continued,” I’ve always been more of a Velvet Underground fan, myself.”
“Well, we’re not talking about the Velvet Underground right now, we’re talking about the Doors,” he said. “There are a lot of parallels we can draw here. Heroin addiction. Street poetry. Don’t you think?” “I think I don’t want to talk about Lou Reed and John Cale and his fucking viola. I want to talk about Jim fucking Morrison and The Doors.” 18
“Okay,” she said.
“And I’m not talking about The Doors, I’m talking about The Doors. The cleanseddoors-of-perception-Doors.” “What do you mean,” Anna said looking over his widow’s peak at the party continuing beyond their far table. It looked tiring and lifeless. She could imagine herself repeating every detail of her immediate future to new relatives and “plus-ones” already drunker than the man sitting before her spinning his wedding band on his swollen and sweaty finger. He moved as if he were a man who needed to keep his hands busy and had forgotten about his drink, which sat on the edge of the circular table gathering condensation and attracting the attention of the mosquitoes that were beginning to arrive. Or maybe not arrive so much as appear out of nowhere, like a thick sheet of clouds from an empty horizon. Completely removed from time and place. Anna buried herself in thoughts of mosquito resting places, the breeding grounds; the haunts where the heat of the day was wiled away dreaming about sweet blood and dumb animals. “That’s what I’m talking about. Not The Doors that Elektra or any other label shill want you to see,” he concluded with a long, celebratory drink. “Excuse me,” he said looking around as he rose from the chair. He walked uncertainly but with noticeable confidence to a point just past the tree line where he took one last look over his shoulders and started to urinate. He pissed without urgency, fairly certain that his white-spotted black shirt and matching black trousers would be lost in the cover of brush and dusk. He returned quickly to the table. Anna noticed another button of his shirt undone. Small strands of grey chest hairs poked through the opening. She wondered if he had undone the button, or if it had come undone itself in the process of watering the trees that spread in swaths over the ten-acre property. She wondered where his wife was. “I think I know what you mean. I think you’re talking about the poetry, right? About “The End,” and Oedipus; saying “higher” on the Johnny Carson show.”
“No, that’s not at all what I’m talking about,” he said.
“You know, I grew up in Los Angeles.” At this, Anna almost rolled her eyes. “And it was a different place than it is now. It was commercial, don’t get me wrong, but there was a legitimate underground. A youth who saw the Flower Power movement for what it was and milked it for everything it was worth.”
“And you were part of this movement, I’m assuming?”
“Not so much apart of it, but an observer of it. An outsider who cozied up for warmth.”
Anna appreciated the honesty in his words. She shifted her position in the seat to 19
mask any nervous energy she may have been projecting. Resting her forearm on the table, she motioned at the one of the waiters for another glass of champagne. In other words, she steeled herself for what she knew was going to be a long story that she couldn’t interrupt if she wanted to get every detail, no matter how stretched or damaged by memory it was. A story that would tell itself, if he continued his pace of drinking, in the most revealing way possible, leaving himself exposed and exhausted. One more button undone. A story that begins with the setting of the scene: Los Angeles, 1966. The Los Angeles where the moon and the sun shone differently, pulled closer to earth to admire the revolution playing out in the bars that lined Venice Beach and in the beds with rarely changed sheets. A story that describes the underground youth: the counter-counterculture that exploited the decade where people fucked each other for nothing and believed in even less. But they believed in poetry, and they believed in Art. It was a decade ripe for the bohemian spirit to capitalize on the Lady Chatterly’s with daisies woven into their braids. The heat and the sex and the climate of spiritual transcendence that swirled together at a pace as imperceptible as the turning of the earth when seen from the eyes of the empty-headed walking the streets at all hours with one tab in their wallets and one under their tongues. This was the hotbed that our hero, Jim Morrison, was forged in. A graduate from UCLA where he studied film and poetry and Huxley and some other icons of the 20th century Anna didn’t catch. Names lost in her reflection of the wedding cake and her guilt over her predictions on how long the marriage was going to last. But this young Jim Morrison, he found himself a marriage of ideas when he met Ray Manzarek on a beach one well-documented day. He found himself a hobby that extended beyond LSD and brown beans-and-molasses. And so The Doors were formed, and pretty soon “Moonlight Drive” and “Break on Through” were playing in every club from Sunset to Washington. One club, the London Fog, where Anna’s uncle-in-law, who had started another drink found himself one evening in 1966, watching the expanded moon through the locks of his now thinning hair. There he is, leaning on the bar with nothing but an empty dancefloor between him and the greatest rock and roll band of all time. He casually sips on a drink, making small conversation with some of the girls around him. But these girls are too caught up in whatever combination of drugs they fixed themselves before the show to appreciate the music, the happenings. He tried not to show it, but he was immersed in the moves of Morrison. He lost himself in thirty minutes of “The End,” which was more like an avant-garde spiritual jazz-rock piece than a rock song. Especially when heard in the nearly empty performance space of the soon-to-fail London Fog. The windows shook and the bottles on the bar rail rattled as Robby Kreiger explored the lengths of the fret board while Manzarek played like a manic priest at the organ. All the while Morrison twisted his hips and thrust at the small crowd, which finally caught the attention of the girls at the bar. At this point Anna could predict where the story was going: he leaves the show thinking this is more than music; it’s a spiritual experience. He tells everyone he knows about it and no one believes him and The Doors go on to sell thirty-million records. “When they were finished, I waited until the band started to pack up their instruments and downed my drink, like this,” he said, tossing back the remains of his gin. “Went into 20
into the bathroom to tidy up my hair, splash some water on my face. And who’s in the bathroom coming out of one of the stalls? I barely heard the toilet flush in my surprise. It smelt like shit. Can you believe that? I mean really, how many guys can say they’ve smelt his shit? Anyway, he looked at me kind of surprised. Surprised, but relaxed. You know he had that way of looking like at the world like he was just an observer. Like he had just shot up and the air was warm and cool at the same time. Well, he looked at me through those eyes. I tried not to look at his member bulging through his leather pants. He looked at me with those eyes and he said to me, no word of a lie, ‘You wanna do some blow?’ and I said, ‘Nah, man, I’m not really about that.’ And he nodded his head, checked his eyes in the mirror and snorted something off his pinky. I didn’t even see him put it there! It just appeared.”
“And? Did you hang out with the band, or something?”
“Nah, not really. I went to wash my hands and go back to the bar. See I was chatting up this blonde who came in late. After the band had left and I told her my story, she asked who Jim Morrison was and I took her back to my apartment and me and my roommate made love to her, sometimes alternating, sometimes together until the sun made an appearance.” Anna leaned away from the table. She realized he was close enough for her to smell the subtle notes on his breath. They didn’t say anything for a minute. Another minute. And another. “Danny,” she heard a voice calling from the French doors. Most of the party had moved inside when the mosquitoes came. Danny turned in his chair and motioned to the women in the door. When she saw Anna sitting across from him at the table, she hurried over the lawn, holding her dress up, revealing her nearly four-inch heels. “I see you’ve met my husband,” she said looking at Anna. “My very drunk husband. Danny,” she said, unable to continue.
“What? We’re just talking about The Doors.”
“The fucking Doors again.”
“Yeah.” “Have you ever heard of the Doors,” she mocked him. “Get up. I’ll have them pull the Mercedes around,” she looked at Anna again, guessing her age. “It was nice meeting you,” Danny said to Anna as he barely stood straight up from his chair.
“Yeah, same.” 21
After the couple disappeared back into the house, Anna checked her phone. 9:37. She walked back inside. After finding her mother laughing uncontrollably with her noticeably drunker friends, Anna found a quiet area in the large colonial house: the seating room. Living room B, as she liked to call it. When she first arrived, there was another drunk couple arguing in an almost whispered tone sitting on one of the couches. They left as Anna began to survey the art hung neatly on the cream-coloured walls. She studied the scenes of still life seriously weighing the pros and cons of trying acid with her friends. And there was something about the disconcerted looks on the faces of the figures lost in flawless, idyllic landscapes that convinced her it was probably a bad idea. That it would end with a shaven head or a series of meaningless epiphanies with enough inertia to carry them through forty years of memory, like the smell of Jim Morrisonâ€™s shit in a bathroom on a warm, indistinguishable night in 1960s Los Angeles.
Humanity/Heroism ASHLEY NEWTON
I do not know my own name And still they call one out to me As if it will resurrect an unbreakable identity. My secretive life has unravelled Since the day I once rose to glory; A single moment that became their memory. I tried to discern humanity from heroism In an attempt to sink their statues of me, But they ignored truth with generosity. So the cries for help flood in more, Day by day my purpose “fulfilled” and “complete” With the actions against the evils they speak. If I could just set my head down here… If I could only move on to new territory… Why must the burdens always be hovering? I have written down in defiance of myself That I performed no great deed. They insist on its inclusion in books of history. No one else wants to stand up Or shake the hands of their own destiny. It’s easier to displace the distress entirely. My peaceful days have ended For wanting to challenge misery. Now it’s all they think they know of me.
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