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Life Arts    H1'ed 11/16/21

FICTION: Drive, Chauffeur, Drive

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Drive, Chauffeur, Drive

By John Kendall Hawkins

"What our age lacks, however, is not reflection but passion. Hence in a sense our age is too tenacious of life to die, for dying is one of the most remarkable leaps, and a little verse of a poet has always attracted me much, because, after having expressed prettily and simply in five or six preceding lines his wish for good things in life, he concludes thus: Ein selige Sprung in die Ewigkeit."

-SÃ ren Kierkegaard, Fear and Trembling

"If the flow is slow enough and you have a good bicycle, or a horse, it is possible to bathe twice (or even three times, should your personal hygiene require) in the same river"

-Augusto Monterroso

The chauffeur creeps through his petty paces on a guardrail of the bridge high above the Mystic River. Poised like a tightrope walker, he resists the temptations of vertigo and the bully push of animate winds. Oh, he wants to jump, don't you worry, but all in his own good time. Decked out in his driver's uniform, including patent leather shoes that reflect the crescent moon, black leather gloves, his cap and dark glasses, he could be mistaken for Hamlet before the treachery and treason, or the Maltese Falcon after all is said and done and dreams are dashed. He pauses now, chin out, like Byron's Manfred looking o'er an endless chain of snow-capped mountains towards the fjords of Beauty, then struts across his blustery stage, the unrequited lover of Being, one step beyond: the monster void. He thinks, I am the Knight of Infinite Resignation[1]. He performs a kind of boure'e and stops, index finger pointing skyward. He thinks, Ein Selige Sprung in die Ewigkeit.[2] He steps, he stops, he gazes down from his cantilever perch, like Septus the river god, or some Cathedral anime, as if to see if there is anyone down there, out there who understands, who seeks. He lets rip a derivative monologue:

Artists, like dreamers, share a humbling illiteracy before

their creations. They blaze across the star-splashed night

in chaotic flights of inspiration only to drop like a stone

into the blinking day, where poetry expires with the dawn.[3]

Perhaps he has stared too long into the abyss and now the abyss is staring back into him?

But he has no time to solve this riddle: A siren is heard, urgent and nearing. He turns briefly toward the traffic moving in the fog like the forlorn eyes of ghosts, as it seems to him, slowing now at the toll booths to toss their tithes into the hungry wishing well before disappearing again into the forgetfulness of the urban Purgatoire.

Suddenly there is a chopper overhead and a spotlight. Cops arrive, but hang back, their bubble-gum blue lights blazing. Gregory Milano, a local paramedic and sometimes opera buff, appears out of the headlighted mist. The ghosts come to a stop and apprehend.

"What's up, bro? Wutchoo doin' up here all alone on Christmas Eve?" begins the paramedic with studied cool, trying to sound all whiteboy hiphop, a regular Dylan Screed.

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John Kendall Hawkins is an American ex-pat freelance journalist and poet currently residing in Oceania.

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