Modular Story (by Carol Jackson)

Here’s a Modular Story about Patrick written two days ago by his dear friend Carol Jackson. It’s lovely, simply lovely.

  Heart ache, heart sick, heart-shaped, heart breaker, heart of gold, heart felt, the heart of the matter.
   Why blame a pulsating muscular organ?  It can’t think.  Its not logical. Why do we believe it can cause hurt?  Surely that it a construct of the mind?  This view goes back to mankind’s very beginning – its found in the writings of Aristotle and Socrates.
   My heart will beat about 2.5 billion times in my lifetime.  Whether I am alone or not, whether I believe in the mythical qualities ascribed to it or not.
   Why do we need others to “touch our heart”?
   I find no respite or solace in the books I pull off the shelves.  They taste of sawdust and cobwebs.
   After days of relentless sun and heat, low clouds have been birthed over this house on the hill.  They are dragging their hems, and a few raindrops tear off, snagged by the palm trees.
   The wind seems arctic.  But it can’t be.  I am in summer clothes, and the flowers in the pots are laughing.
   The stiff upright paddles of the strelizia are shuddering in the wind and talking amongst themselves.  Its as if there is a whole community of people in that big pot.  Its full of movement and chatter – but they never touch one another.  Each long leaf has its allotted space and knows its limits.  They don’t need to intertwine.  It would damage them.
   The last time I embraced you in your doorway, there was no one in my arms.  My hands met each other behind your back, and the inside of your grey sweatshirt was hollow.  Your weight loss shocked me.  Your   shoulders formed a bony hanger off which your sweatshirt hung.  You looked like a prisoner dressed in regulation grey. A prisoner of pain, there was no light in your eyes.
You didn’t really see me.   Pain had filmed your vision, leaving no room for anything but itself.
   The receptionist behind the desk gave me the key and a sympathetic look.  Why are elevators always grey and sterile looking inside?  It opened onto the long wide corridor with its sturdy handrails on both sides for the infirm and feeble.  I slid my hand along  one until I reach your door, and insert the key.  I feel like I am invading your privacy.
   The door swings silently open.  The tiny apartment is empty except for a garbage pail of discarded papers and a worn dish towel looped carelessly through the refrigerator door handle.
   Tucked out of sight around a corner I find the dismantled table left for me by your son. You wrote at it for many years, typing on typewriters, then computers and making handwritten notes on the printed pages.  Stacks of pages sometimes slithered off it.
  A meter of Mallorquin rustic pine, polished with dark wax.  I wonder what it was originally made for?  Its too low for dining, too small for having friends around it, too tall for a coffee table.
   You moved it over the decades from Deia to Valldemosa to this last sad dwelling place.  It never belonged here with its woodworm and rusticity.  Did you bring it perhaps because you thought there was a flicker of hope amidst the pain that you would still write or transcribe obscure composers?
   Charming raconteur, tireless story writer, wearer of berets and colorful braces, piano player, mentor of young musicians, cynical truthteller, careless father, soothsayer, faithless partner, Pachan drinker, owner of a penetrating stare that stripped one right to the bone.  You steamrollered through others lives with a nonchalance that was shocking to me.  You were unfettered by most conventions.  Your regrets came too late for those you left behind.
   I always thought that you looked like Leonard Cohen.  Whom you loathed.  When I said that he had a voice like a tugboat plowing through a sea of chocolate pudding, you laughed.
   My dear, you have gone and part of you has been replaced.  By 8 ladies “of a certain age” around a wooden table.
   Maybe the best thing that’s happened to me since I met you so many years ago.