Friday, November 28, 2008

Fact and Fiction

I discovered Sunday while we wandered around East Austin taking in a couple of Artist's studios that mirror glass is being used for some interesting in-fills and remodels. That's me then reflected in the door beyond the interesting rusty iron and mesh fence.

Mirrors and reflections. Versions of images, versions of truth. I was riding the recumbent bike to nowhere across the hall in the condo gym this morning. As I knocked around on this free Friday, I'd been thinking about what to write in here and why I did it. Yada yada. I'd been considering moving my protagonist (one Cliff Pogonip) along that concourse outside into a warm August day. First he'd meet some folks and learn the identity of the harried woman. By the way, I changed that paragraph to say she scurried, putting harried and scurried into the same sentence which sounds silly but I'll leave it for now. Hmm...and that word harried. Interesting word. But I digress. Here we go, out into the August heat.

Pogonip wasn't tempted to buy the papers. Even if he had been he had no change to plug into the machines. He didn't think he had any U.S. dollars on him at all. In fact, nestled in a cardboard travel organizer delivered to his London apartment yesterday, there was a hundred dollar bill and several twenties and fifties. It had contained ticket info on a flight to New York, a ticket to fly to Austin and a thick itinerary with car services, dates, times. He'd dug into the stuff to see what time he was being picked up at the apartment and to find the ticket info. On the flight over yesterday he'd fumbled with the packet and found the car service information and already filled-in forms for entering the country ready to be signed. He'd been whisked by a car service to the apartment in New York that was his but was fully occupied by two aspiring artists, one a painter and one a playwright. He had slept fitfully in an alcove with a curtain that contained a bed, nightstand, chair. His tenants were out for the opening of an off-Broadway production soon after he arrived and asleep when he slipped out of bed, showered and went downstairs to catch his car. He'd plowed further into the folder to find the info on his morning car service and Austin flight. He supposed that somewhere in there it said who would meet him at the airport. He didn't look. Instead he pulled out his phone and powered it on. There was one new missed called. He didn't listen to messages but called the number of the missed call.

OK, I didn't get him outside. So sue me. It's fiction and it goes where it goes.

Speaking of which, it's fiction. In the paragraph prior to the one above, presented to you first on November 16th, I mention the newspaper headline about a terrorist attack. ("Two Austin Men Dead in Berlin Attack."). Did I feel a frisson of synchrony on the bike this morning when, on CNN on the little TV in front of me, the headline came on saying "Two Americans Killed in Mumbai." I did not. I felt a bit betrayed by fact trumping fiction. Sort of like the writers and producers of a "Numb3rs" episode must have felt when that California train wreck occurred after they had spent a boatload on an episode about a train collision. (They taped David Krumholtz talking about how it was a coincidence and they were sorry for the victims and showed it before the episode.) I didn't feel too bad though because my investment in my fictional terror attack is small, after all, and I don't believe it was predictive, psychic or any other phenomena.

Fact and fiction are all of a mix anyway. Oh, some things are real. All too real. There was one of those religious stampedes today where people get killed in the rush. Well, it was the religion of consumerism. And the guy had a heart attack, but people were hurt in the Wal-Mart rush to get some goods and maybe they trampled the guy. It reminded me of those pilgrim things where people die. But you can't make this stuff up because, if you do, it just seems ripped from the headlines. Every fiction is fact. Every fact appears from a certain angle, made-up.

Our Friday is not black. But it is bleak. The weather that is. We got out to take some cleaning and mail our holiday postcards and ended up eating at Pecan Street Cafe on East Sixth. They have been there since before we married and they are still there and still serving a lot of the same dishes. Like the spinach crêpe that I had. It was cloudy and threatening. Downtown wasn't it's usual bustling Friday self because of the holiday. It drizzled on us a bit on the way back. We decided that staying in and drinking coffee and reading would be a nice way to spend the evening. I have things that need doing. Neglected chores (clean the kitchen), neglected sorting and filing. But I feel lazy. I feel like letting myself think and read. Next week social events loom and a visit from relatives. Obligations.

Where am I not today? I am not at the mall. Or shopping at all. My e-mail in box was full of special on-line offers and I did look at some. But, no, not tempted. We are listening to that iPod I bought a while back. FFP wanted to create a Genius playlist and after fumbling a bit I figured out how to do that again. I was in the middle of writing my little novel paragraph above when he asked me about it. So I'm sure it is different from the paragraph I would have written without interruption. Now if I only knew if it would be better or worse. That's fact influencing fiction in the moment.

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