Issue #74

Spring 2020


by RW Spryszak

The blank morning did not help the music. I woke to the keening of a violin. It was in another room. Bothersome and sour. But if it wasn't for the violin I would have never heard the wagon being pulled by the horse across the cobbles outside. The wagon shakes. The wood squeaks. The wheels copy. The hooves buck. I dragged the blanket over my head and tried to return, wishing certain plague to each noise and its maker. Callous of me. As if each source had no caring parent, allowing me to damn things without consequence. And I would have stayed covered until the graves split open and the trials began but the violin persistent made retreat impossible. Its faulting effort at melody and consistence fed me reinvented memories one after another. A face I remembered. A face changing to a visceral heat. Heat to an idea with no image. An idea to a failure. A failure to an embarrassment self-created as a child in my childishness. And I lay there, wet, mortified by my age-old offense all over again. Reliving. Reanimating. The plague my own. Callous. As if I have no caring parent. Damned without consequence or notice. How can I stop them. Only the sure use of a sharp spoon digging out parts of my brain would suffice. But I have never found one yet with the power to ladle into my head and rid me of the needling reminders that come of their own volition. The pain is like the talon of a vicious bird flying me to be eaten once it gets me to its nest. And each time the uncertain bow struggles to raise a feeble note from the violin the talon digs deeper. The only answer I have ever found is to move. This has always been the remedy. I pulled the blanket off my body only to realize I was naked. I was not naked when I turned off the gas and the flame in the jar died in my hand. I was not naked when I first set myself beneath the blanket, but I wrote it off as mere spaces in my thinking. A somnambulant walk. The culprit of unconscious worlds. The blanket defeating the winter too well. I reached for the trousers I'd rested on the back of the broken chair the evening before and slipped them on again. As I buckled myself I entertained the notion of putting my hands around the violinist's neck. My hands around the neck and holding them there, tight and hard, until just before the moment of her choking death. To let go at the moment consciousness is about to curtain itself and not kill her. To keep her alive. Alive but with vast areas of her brain dead forever so she would have to live with a crippled mind and drooling speech to the end of her days. Helped and aided by a loved one who would grow to resent having to give up their life to service her tottering incontinence. A place where death would be advancement. Payment in exchange for the misery of this unrequested concert. Except I grieve when I step on an unfortunate insect wayward and innocent under my clumsy shoe. So this killing fantasy dissipates too, and becomes yet another impulse to be ashamed of in a future bed when I am unable to sleep.

I'd only intended on staying here one night. One night and then back on the road. Back on the road arched by moss trees and still miles away from my destination. One night of poor food and little rest and then on my way. Why I have stayed here for three days defies my search for explanation.

Author Bio

origami bird

RW Spryszak's work has appeared throughout the small press world since the 1980s. His novel. "Edju," was published by Spuyten Duyvil in 2018. More information can be found at He resides in the Chicago area.