Sunday, September 5, 2010

Sittin' In: "A Short Illness" by David Maizenberg, as based on the song "Good Fortune" by PJ Harvey

If you want to be a jerk about it, you could say that I spent too much time reading comics and buying old Rod Stewart shirts on eBay, and when it came time to write this week's story, I let it slide because it was the one thing I had to do that required any actual thought. However, I encourage you to be civil and look at the facts: I worked an unusual number of hours (read: full time, like any other functioning member of society) this past week in addition to having to find time for music-related projects such as two band practices, two shows I rocked out front row at, and listening to the new albums by Heart, Accept, and Katy Perry (I'm not as surprised as I wish I was that Katy Perry's is the best of the lot).

Regardless, I wrote no story for this week. Not even a first draft. I listened to the song, got no ideas, and went back to not writing the story. I blame exhaustion. Luckily, in his attempts to help me out, my friend and fellow fiction nerd Samuel Snoek-Brown was soliciting this website out to some writers he knows. David Maizenberg thought he was taking the bait. Really, though, Dave is the one who reeled me in. He thought he was to write a story based on a song of his choosing. I blame Sam's explanation of the project, which is probably a verbatim copy of my explanation of the project. So, I blame me.

Write a story based on a song of his choosing is exactly what Dave did, and it turned out fantastic. I've been toying with the idea of having guest stories every once in awhile, though I was originally opposed to it. If the quality comes out like this every time, however, I don't see how I can stay in that frame of mind.

Enough blabbering. Here's Dave's story. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I do.


A Short Illness

(Fiction inspired by PJ Harveyʼs song and video for “Good Fortune”, for Ryan Wernerʼs song-inspiration website project. August 2010)

When I found her, in winter, she was a beautiful, starving disaster. Bundled in throws and jackets, a kaleidoscope of bad choices and artistic fantasies. When she left me, in summer, she was a wraith, on a mission, sleek black, armored by my love, in the glow of the secrets I revealed to her. God knows how I worshiped that fickle witch. And now every night is a lonely fantasy. Visions of her naked writhing, her wide mouth, her whispered visions.

She was coming off some real bad luck that winter. Her appearance was unsettling. Beneath colorful thriftstore coats and shawls she wore draped over her boney clavicles an ancient cashmere cardigan, grey, the color of her disposition and the city’s winter-blasted sky. Her hair was a mousy brown, the tips blond and red from ancient dye jobs. Her hungry eyes stared out half-hidden behind her bangs.

She’d been on some complicated missions, and they’d all failed. She was of the surprised generation. The generation that discovered it didn’t really know what it wanted after all. Unmoored from traditions, betrayed by theories, left with nothing, the party had long ago stopped.

I stripped her down, unwrapped her identities, sat her on my bed, and performed a great and intricate magic show for her. I took my limbs apart, wrapped them in my lungs, tied the whole package with my ligaments, and gave it all to her: my secret wisdom, the key to my luck and prosperity.

Winter turned to spring and she became a new woman, her hair jet black, her gaze steady and vulpine. I introduced her to my friends, hoping they would tame her, but she insulted every one. They are simple people who just want to have a good time. They feared for my safety. Nobody knew what she wanted or what she would do to me. They suspected she was prone to random attacks. And she would never surrender the tasty discipline of her starvation fetish.

By summertime she was entirely new and ready for the next phase of her life. She no longer needed me, and she told me so directly. I could not respond at first. The air was hazy and tasted full of grit. Finally I burst out “I love you more than life itself!”

I regretted saying it the moment it left my mouth. How absurd and grandiose a statement. What could such a pronouncement possibly mean in our world? Such love would make any normal person uncomfortable. In her it brought forth venom. At first she looked appalled, but then all at once she smiled, knowing now she was free for sure. She went to the window to smoke, tap her high heeled boots against the wall, and prepare a few words to mark her exhuberant departure, complete with a handbag twirling, life resetting street celebration. I had given her my mojo and she gobbled it up! What an appetite she turned out to have! And now she was heading back out into the streets from which she came.

Its a pitch black night and the apartment is empty. I go to a bar and get too drunk to stand. As she dances past the window she sees me slipping, windmilling backwards, and then collapsing, knocking over a table and chair in my fall. As my faithful friends rush to help me she just walks past, knowing she cannot be seen in the darkness.



PJ Harvey is a svelte musician from Corscombe, Dorset in South West England. She has worked solo, with the PJ Harvey Trio, and contributed to multiple songs on the Desert Sessions series.

David Maizenberg wrote stories and scripts back in the nineties. Thankfully heʼs been otherwise occupied since then. But every once in a while . . .

(Note: Dave wrote his own bio. PJ did not.)

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Next week: A story based on "Your Friend and Mine--Neil's Song" by Love, as suggested by musician Bob Bucko Jr. (For real this time.)