Monday, January 12, 2009

The beginning of a story that is not yet ready to go on: 84 down, 9,264 to go.

Today, as I was eating my salt water taffy for lunch, I suddenly thought of one of the greatest openings for a book ever. I don't have a title yet. I don't even have a story yet. But I have this opening, and someday, this opening will have a story that follows it. But I can't wait until I've got the whole story. I've got to get this out. So here goes:

The man is driving down the highway and he's got a packet of crackers that he's trying to open with one hand, holding them against his knee while he uses his other hand to click through songs on the music player attached to his radio. His jobs, flipping through songs and opening crackers, are made more difficult because it is apparent that the man does not want any particular song, or any song at all. He wants no songs. He is dissatisfied with each song within the first few seconds and clicks again, and again, and again, past each song. None is good enough. His jobs are also made more difficult because he is using both of his hands, one to skip past each song that is not the song he wants to hear, and the other to open the crackers, which leaves him steering with his knee, and he has chosen to use the knee that is also holding the crackers up for his hand to pick at.

The man is lucky the road is straight, and he is not lucky that his car pulls slightly to the left, something he notices more when he is driving with his knee. There is a large soda cup, the kind that can be bought for $1.09 at a convenience store, perched in between his legs. He is still flipping through songs when he gets the crackers open, and picks a cracker out of the packet. He stops clicking songs not because he likes the one that is on -- he doesn't -- but because he needs to use his hand to pull the car back into the lane he is supposed to be traveling in.

As he drives and listens to the song he put on, an Irish-sounding song, he puts the cracker in his mouth, a cracker sandwich, cheese and crackers. He looks to his left while he eats it, not at anything in particular. He is looking to his left to see what he looks like looking left. He is looking to his left because in his imagination, he is supposed to look to his left.

Then he looks to his right, because that is what he is supposed to do then. He puts another cracker sandwich into his mouth. He chews it theatrically, acrobatically, moving his jaw up and down and around and scraping it around. He leaves the Irish-sounding music on although he is not in the mood to hear that song, any more than he is in the mood to hear any other song. But it is a good soundtrack.

He puts a third cracker sandwich into his mouth. He flips it around using only his tongue, holding it between his teeth. He bites into it and catches the front half with his lips, pulling it back in. When he does this, he raises his eyebrows and looks to his right, catching the eye of a person who is not there. Then he looks meaningfully at the road again, narrowing his eyes.

The man is pretending he is in the opening of a movie. If you were to ask him what he was doing as he drove along and ate cracker sandwiches, he would tell you he was pretending to be in the opening of a movie. If he did not lie to you, something he does, lying, not out of malice but of necessity, and he might not find it necessary to lie to you about what he was doing as he drove along the deserted highway and as he ate his cracker sandwiches and as he was dissatisfied with music.

Then again, he might. He might find it necessary to lie to you. But take my word for it, because I know: He is pretending that he is in the opening of a movie.

I thought of that in its entirety and had to write it down right then and now I've typed it here, and I wanted to go on writing that story so bad my teeth hurt. Although that may have been the salt water taffy.

So someday, that will open a story that I will complete.

Oh, and song 84? The Story of Grandson Of Jesus, by Cloud Cult:

Song 83 here.

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