Jack

I read about him filled with anticipation and awe, half-expecting him to step out of the pages where he reveals so much of himself, so much reality, so much truth. Conjuring him from my imagination, there he is, smiling shyly, self-consciously, looking at his hand before offering it, glancing up briefly and then, quietly, he introduces himself. I strain to hear the tinge of an accent, the result of the first six years before he mastered his second. An innocence streams from his eyes and a light fills the space between us, emanating from somewhere at his center. I realize the light he ascribed his hero was in fact his own reflected back into his own eyes. I offer him a seat and we begin to chat, awkwardly at first – he fidgets in this seat, his hands first clasped, then fiddling with a pant leg, then finally arrested between his jeaned thighs. On his torso he bears a plaid shirt like the ones for sale in vintage shops – the top of a white t-shirt showing at the neck. His dark thick hair hinting at his roots is neat and combed back with something greasy and it needs to be cut. He is fair complected with a hint of olive – and pale – he hasn’t been in the sun in some time – I imagine he would tan darkly if given the chance, take the time. But he’s worried about time – knows we have too little and thinks constantly of his own mortality. I offer him a drink and now the conversation gets going – like a train straining up a steep mountainside. How the publishers worry too much, fiddle too much, how they lack the vision to see something for what it truly is, instead agonizing over obscenity and libel. “Fuck that!” he says emphatically, not quite slamming his now empty glass down on the coffee table. I offer him another. In the pause after his outburst we sit and consider our drinks, mine barely half-finished. The silence slightly less uncomfortable now, I rise to put on some music….”Miles Davis” he whispers almost to himself as the first notes of So What gurgle up and float out of the turntable. There is a sadness that seeps from him slowly like smoke from a seawater soaked firepit. Sadness and desperation, intensity, not broodiness. He is all sincerity and truth-seeking. Pure light tinged with that same smokiness of too much life behind and a knowing of too little left ahead. Make me want to rise and wrap my arms around him while he sits looking into the bottom of his glass. Instead he stands and moves towards me, graceful, like a cat, he slides onto the couch beside me, leans his shoulder into mine. Instinctively, I put my arms around him and he relaxes in my embrace, both of us facing the west, sun falling out of the sky outside the dust-coated window. He recounts the story of how each evening he would do the same with his maman, how he would tell her the stories from his day, reveal his dreams. How later when they were apart each evening he would pine for her arms about him and instead would write her his stories of the day’s happenings. How everything he wrote, he wrote for her and that this was probably why none of his relationships with women ever worked out. They couldn’t compete and their arms never

felt  

quite  

right.

.

******************************************
More on Jack Kerouac
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