LIVING STONE

or, He do the police in different voices

You know something, I remember you there. Yea really I do, I remember you. It was that night when Thom’s roommate got arrested, and wasn’t that when he and Allison had that big bust up in the morning. Yes no they’re fine now I think it’s all alright. Ahaa hyee that guy was a wrong’un. Had dreadlocks, didn’t he? And hit that poor girl over the head. I think he was overnight in that cell and all that, got lost for everything… he might have dropped out now fulltime I think. Don’t really see the point in him showing himself around here again so I suppose it’s just as well.

Mr. Sleeps on waves. That’s what they called him. Livingstone–a name I’ve heard my whole life without really pondering what it means. Suppose that’s how most things enter your head, passive like. A passive observer being filled chockful of life and its pitfalls i.e. death. He’s still talking, better nod and ask a thing or two in between. Most of my conversations nowadays are like this, at least ever since I discovered the internet in full flow. It isolates you, information does. Yearning, ambition, knowledge, curiosity–all sound like good things as they roll off the tongue, but they isolate you don’t they. Now it feels like that’s my real world, I’m just passing through here for the oxygen. And sometimes you don’t really know where your real is and where it isn’t when you’re not having any meaningful connection with people, and all your conversations are going like this. He was looking for the Nile: or rather where it starts from, that’s why they called him that. And besides, who’s to say how much of the material, flesh and stony “actual reality” is not just a puppet show. Some other thing’s game, what’s that Spinoza said about stones falling to the ground, if they had a clue they’d think they had the whole picture. Free will and choosing your destiny is a bit of a children’s book flight of fancy really, For surely I say to you a man can be living, breathing, eating, sleeping, talking, thinking (and from he can tell very deeply) and still just be playing a character. No less mechanical than a coffeemaker, though he may not realize it. When I tell people that even our political positions are passed down from generations and then they stare at me abnormally. Makes more sense in characters.

–So what are you doing with like accommodation next year?

–I mean, I don’t know, I think Liam and I are still looking for places. We found this one place that’s decent but I don’t know

He’s still talking. In fact we’ve been having a conversation this entire time. What kind of roboticisms have I been giving him? Dear me. He must think there’s nothing in me. I do in truth wonder myself sometimes, if this is not just a hard shell with a paint by numbers soul pressed out from the factory line, one of a troop coming in many different shades? I struggle to spot any evidence of individuality to fully allay my fears that this one was more a mass-market endeavor; not one of their finest hours on the job, mundanity wafting about the workplace. I always idolize the mass production factory work because of Bert Haanstra’s Glass, but I suppose it’s never really like that nine tenths’ out of the time. There’s no inner sense of quality control on the ground floor, it’s just the usual 9 to 5 sickness i.e. excruciating pain. Later on this hour he will show me a TikTok and I will attempt to provide a sufficiently enthusiastic laugh. Harder if it’s not at all funny. But even when I do enjoy them I always have trouble with the laugh. Either I’m too engrossed and my enjoyment doesn’t really manifest in an organic laugh even though I am much amused, or I already laughed in my head and then I have to force one out. I know I’ve not got it right because the mood always feels pathetically limp after. Hot off the presses. Thousands of us gathering dust on the supermarket shelves, not exactly their most sought after product. “Yea when Liam’s back from Nottingham then we’ll really start looking hard, I’m pretty sure we’ll find one.”

I had a lot to do today before I woke up. My father was meant to give a eulogy to this man I had never met before but they felt very close, I think he worked in the church or something. He knows my delusions well (“we have an artist in the family”) so he asks me to write it for him and deliver it to him at the Church on the day of the funeral. We’re not Catholic I don’t know why the church is catholic that’s wrong. Okay, a lot of things happen from here. As things always go in dreams, the short journey from my home to the church becomes incomprehensibly complicated and arduous. It’s an Odyssey, a trial of fire, a very long waterpark slide–one of those that’s too tight on the inside and makes you claustrophobic, a passage through the inferno, and an Indiana Jones remake all at the same time. I don’t even remember most of it; also I somehow wrote the eulogy without any fuss or undue stress that was also strange I wish dreams could be reality sometimes I wish the constructed could cross over into the visible truth I wish we could decide our own lives and not have to live within the strictures of fate and implausibility. Someone dies I was behind it in there. And then I’m in trouble, running for my life and also trying to escape the crime and place myself away from it, I remember frantically thinking I don’t want to get caught but then I’m killed as I peep around a corner that’s a shocker I didn’t know one could die in their dreams it’s never happened to me before. I’m lying dead by some steps and remember this is real life to me, I don’t know this is fake yet I don’t know I’m dreaming and I think I’m really dead. And more importantly I think I’m really dead and the last thing I did was kill a guy and try to get away with it, so if there was any lingering doubt about where I was going in the after time in this dream it has now evaporated. I’m terrified… I’m trying to wrap my head around the fact that I will spend eternity with the devil… I am trying to run away from it but I’m dead, I’m lying on the ground…and then I’m thinking well at least it’s over, I surprise myself by thinking at least there is no more confusion….and then I just wake up. I don’t get it. But then I still have to go to the funeral house and give the eulogy to my dad to read. They’re all waiting for me. He’s really anxious and scared because he doesn’t have anything else prepared. I was his only plan. I didn’t make it. I see his disappointed face that is also resigned to knowing that he brought it upon himself, downcast but not overly surprised. That nagging feeling that says he should have known better, and now there can be no two ways about it: That’s who I am. And then the day rewinds and I am back to the moment when I wake up by the steps and I have to take my father’s friend’s eulogy to the church again and then I don’t make it again and then the day rewinds again. I thought I was going to hell but it’s here on earth, disappointing my father. 

I don’t understand the subconscious. So then what is this new world that is both not “real” in the knockingyourfistagainst sense and also not willingly constructed by us? Is that not God? Noumenon just off the right corner of your mind’s eye, unsteadily perceived. A weld spatter of torturous hell drifting into our known by way of resting minds unsuspecting, slumped over in beach chairs and slacking on the jobsite like shifty mafia ne’er-do-wells (it’s a union job!). A treat for the somber individualist praying for salvation from the machinated to and fro nature of history and realism, where the sun frets constantly in an up and down motion when fast forwarded like a yoyo, down and up up and down. To be fair I also don’t have much experience with it, most of the time if there is any activity in my head after I have shut the lights, then I must have forgotten it by the time I have woken up. But this one was crystal clear in my memory, or as clear as dreams can be I guess–it was as though I watched it unfold via candlelight in a dark room. Some part in my head trying to tell another something.

— Gillan is an emerging poet and writer currently studying for a law degree at the University of Leeds. He regrettably doesn’t have much published work available for the time being on account of time restraints (among other things) but some of his poems have been featured in Punk Noir Mag.