The Dauntless Rook (§.14)

Continued from §.13.

Serlo Wealdmaer exited the cabaret to behold an angwissous man in a corvine coat, running full-tilt across the cobblestones of the main thorough. The sprinter shouted for aid as he sped, arms flailing like a beached and barmy cephalopod. Something about the manic figure seemed familiar to Serlo. He narrowed his gaze and gave a cry, realizing that the man wore the same coat Cerelia had bought for Oeric Adair.

As the eloper made to pass, Serlo lunged forward and caught the runner about the arm.

“What anoy, man?”

“Let me go!”

“A moment. Thy coat is familiar to my eyes. How did thee come by it?”

“He’ll kill us both!”

“Who, man? Speak.”

The disheveled tramp fearfully pointed down the street. Serlo followed the gesture but saw only empty tiled road and a few street-sweepers in the distance.

“He was right behind me! He was. I swear it!”

“Calm thyself, there is no one. Safe thou art. Now, tell me, how came thee by this feathery glaze?”

“Selt it wert, by a man, but a few minutes past.”

“That bastard,” Serlo exclaimed to himself, face flushing cherry-red.

“Bastard, sir?”

“Nothing, nothing. How much did thee give for it?”

“It?”

“The coat.”

“3 twyer, sir.”

“I shalt give thee six.”

“Aye, sir, aye!”

Eyes wide with amazement, the tramp swiftly slipped out of the curious garb and passed it to Serlo who handed off six, small, shimmering coins Shortly, the tramp departed as a chill wind blew in, carrying, in its wake, a palling fog which swallowed up the entire street, wholly obscuring the form of a thin man with a crooked smile who watched from the top of the nearest rooftop.

*

continued in chapter 15 (forthcoming)

 

The Euphoric Problem

The thought of my “present reality” was plastered on the front side of a coin with a backside insisting, “Try to escape.”

Notice, while the backside literally read, “Try to escape,” the front side did not read, “Present reality.” Instead, the front side listed that which was, at the moment, my present reality. More often than not, the front side of the coin featured only a single word. For example, at any given moment, it might say, “Hungry,” or “Tired,” or “Complacent.”

Sometimes I really wanted to try to escape. Take the present reality of being “Cheated.” This is a situation requiring action, and I would most certainly find the bastard to blame and right away work against my present reality until I was fully “Rectified.”

At other times, it was not such an immediately satisfying game. I found, for instance, that every time I was “Euphoric,” I hesitated before considering my escape routes. To be euphoric is in all aspects desirable; and yet, even at the height of euphoria, I was confronted with the instruction to escape.

When I hit upon what might be called The Euphoric Problem, I began to realize that the coin analogy was burdened with a subtle oversimplification—an oversimplification that really amounts to a fatal oversight.

The coin correctly highlights a present reality and the compulsion to escape, but it leaves out a third level: the “subconscious will,” if you like.

When I began to contemplate this third level, I realized that it was the primary force responsible for projecting any given word onto the surface of the “present reality” side of the “coin,” and that is when I came to understand that the complete totality of my conscious circumstance undergirded a single proposition, which might be stated as: “Create any present reality and see if you can escape it.”

My only true present reality, you see, was this statement. I had been escaping a running series of present moments, but only in the context of this statement. With the satisfaction of the winning move in a game of chess, I promptly directed the proposition itself onto the front side of the “coin.” And that is how I achieved my current state outside the present moment. It might be called “disoriented,” “not-present,” or even “dead”—or it might be called: the answer to a problem.