Thursday, April 13, 2006
Horst is a novelist who is now hunkering over an old trunk. The hinges snarl when he lifts the heavy lid. The trunk contains smutty books. A diligent researcher, Horst reads every page; all the stories are set in the village of broad lawns and narrow minds. The transparent characters and frivolous plots do not interest this serious writer. One item does catch his eye, however. A handheld trousseau mirror. Cracks tell that long ago, the mirror endured a devastating blow; and afterward, careful hands fit pieces back together. That’s nothing special, as cliché as Humpty Dumpty, but Horst notices dark stains in the cracks. The stains suggest dried blood. He runs a trembling index finger along the cracks. His mind starts spinning a story when his thoughts are interrupted by the cold, loud shatter of glass two floors below. He hears a cry, a cough, and laughter. Horst abandons his lofty space with its mildew fragrance and austere relics; he runs down to the piano parlor where that notorious writers group known as the Art Party Crashers has gathered to play a game they call “Smash the bottle.” Outrageous! The serious writer concludes. “What game is this? The schoolboys always called it ‘Spin the Bottle.’ It’s lewd. You’re all…!” But this version has nothing to do with removing clothing from the body. This game has everything to do with removing the garments with which we adorn our minds. “Oh hoh, Horst. Whatever gave you the impression that we are naked? Come. Then you must play!” Horst declines the invitation and returns to the attic. He won’t play, and he won’t write because now he’s got nothing on his mind.