Sunday, November 7, 2010

When the alligator scarpers

[Below is a short story written by my friend Regina BOu. This story means a lot to me. It is the kind of story I would write if I could write this kind of story. I think it is marvelous. It reminds me of some of my favorite writers. And I adore it when imagination goes veering off into special precincts -- beyonds colored in eccentric hues.]

Every human being has an alligator at home. Naturally, I had an alligator too, and I say “had”, because I no longer have one. One night, he simply opened the door with his muzzle, and announced to me that he was leaving. Yes, I am aware that alligators are incapable of speech, but did you know they can communicate with their gaze? He thumped his tail on the floor twice, and as the tenant downstairs gave the ceiling a stroke with his broom, the alligator broke into a quadrupedal, short-leg run down the apartment building’s stairs; there, he met a few more alligators who were scarpering from their homes, and soon an unprecedented hubbub had taken over the staircases.

I am not going to say that I missed the alligator, since at this very moment a fucking fly is dancing around my eyes. It’s trying to sit on my eyelashes, and its buzzing is so annoying, that I wish I could just unleash pesticide through my teeth. Ha, that’s a good one: the fly disappeared the moment I typed “pesticide”. Imagine, if I were to type “ten million pounds”, and, as I did so, the bell rung; and I would open the door and find a sack full of cash outside my apartment.

It would have been amazing, if I could make anything I write come true. My alligator brought to life everything I dreamt about, and that is why we did not always get along. I would dream of something pleasant, and voila, welcome to the land of milk and honey, what a great time I would have! But if I were to dream, for instance, a dead horse draggling me uphill, or a howling madman chasing after me, then – good God, I do not even want to remember those times! One morning, freshly awoken from a dream, I found a hanged man pirouetting in the middle of the room, tugging mightily at his rope to gather momentum.

I helped him stop, and then I asked how come he had found himself in my room, struggling, quite naturally, to keep a cool head. He answered; I found myself in your room, because it was you who brought me here, you should quit on that canned stuff you consume before bedtime. I pulled the alligator from under my bed, and I was so livid with him that I actually threatened to sleep between his teeth, if he ever brought a hanged man in my room again: for I can fathom no worse punishment for a home alligator, than forcing himself, against nature, to keep those jaws open, in order not to dig his teeth in the snoring flesh between them; and I am glad my mind takes those sadistic turns from time to time, for the notion really frightened him out of his wits.

He knew that if were to allow a teeny tiny tooth’s misstep or a tidbit of saliva loose, this would result in reminding him of his lower instincts, making him disappear on the spot. What tethered him to life, what regulated his existence, was my own desire to keep him here. With two fangs embedded in my throat, I could have no desire. He was as imaginary as my imagination can possibly be, and was as real as the very same imagination. And, by all means, my imagination can be imaginary, as well as real.

Imaginary in all that it creates at the center of its core, and as real as it is within the very same core. The centre of an imagination can be real as long as it exists, for, if it did not, I would not speak of an imagination. I imagine the absolute void to be the opposite thing, though I have reasonable doubt that it is not as absolute as it wishes to appear, or else I would have thrown the alligator in there a long time ago, just to test my limits. Once I was afraid of wells a lot, now I believe I could easily take a plunge inside of them, and why not?

The alligator also had the habit of leaving a tooth under my bed, a tooth apiece for every dream he delivered to my hands. When he left and I pulled the bed, I discovered there a proper tooth graveyard, but I could not be bothered with it, I just pushed the bed back into place and wished I had never seen such a freakish assemblage. Alligators are, deep down, foolish creatures of stupid habits, and, unfortunately, quite a lot of teeth.

Do you believe that I should go out in the city and look for my alligator, pleading with him to come back home, or, as a last resort, tie him up with a leash and drag him all the way to the elevator? Promise I shall not be contemptuous of him, no matter what dream he materializes before me? That I shall take care to supply him with special boxes for collecting his teeth? But how am I going to discern which one is mine, now that all of the alligators have run away from their houses and apartment buildings?

I come out to the balcony and gaze upon a green-coppery sea of scaly alligator backs, moving on the streets as a vast current of water.

A carpet of them; people are forced to walk on alligators to reach the opposite sidewalk, cars are all but drivable, I imagine it is only a matter of hours for them to become completely immobilized; and I finished my creative writing exercise, of a thousand - at most - words. I would like to conclude with a moral, as was the custom of the American writer James Thurber, whose name now escapes my grasp, though I can recall he always concluded his short stories with one: do you have an alligator under your bed, and if that is so, do you ever feel the undeniable desire to kick it out? If you have kicked it out, did you realize, in the end, that what you did was wrong, and if so, why? Those were two questions, but no matter.

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