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the beginning of the end
JANUARY 13, 2006. In an ideal world, hunger would signify a mild craving between meals. War, a card game played with two or more full decks. Terror would be the desired result of your favorite horror story. Child abuse, the blatant mistreatment of teddy bears. Cancer no more threatening than a zodiac sign. Only the bad would die young in a perfect world. And, on the aforementioned date, I would receive a letter from a publisher requesting the manuscript for Tome One of my trilogy of trilogies, commenced nearly a decade ago.
Why at this particular historic juncture -- nay, herstoric -- should I finally achieve a breakthrough? It was Friday The Thirteenth, also the day before my birthday. A good omen, I perceived, since my life changed drastically for better and for worse on a Friday The Thirteenth twenty years before. I was turning forty-seven (that's roughly three thousand in feline years, factoring the nine lives), though I looked thirty-seven at most, and it was just plain time.
More importantly I was ready, I felt my work was ready, for belated long-awaited recognition and approval.
Despite losing yet another short story contest. (What did they know?)
Despite believing on countless prior occasions it was time. (What did I know then?)
Despite daring to hope again and again only to be shot down. Having the courage to dream after being crushed repeatedly, consistently, redundantly, by the judge-mental gavel blows of disappointment and rejection.
Despite an evident curse, my lousy ill-fated karma when it came to "The Fickle Finger" of fortune.
It was definitely, decidedly, just about time.
(Author's Note: Read the fine print. Speaking of time, in case You didn't notice I've begun at the end, even if it's not the actual conclusion for my opus nonfiction epic that has been in progress umpteen years. Seventeen to be exact. I'm a different person now who deserves a say. And suddenly, out of the deep blue sea or wild blue yonder depending on your viewpoint -- whether You happen to be standing right side up or upside down -- it was time to complete this journalistic trek of dreck so I might refocus my attention on fiction. The draft hereby begun will be the end, paperclipped to the beginning. Or something like that. Remixed and resumed, the pages of a life devoted to the page. A meddled medley, a potluck potpourri porridge of linguistic artistic autistic linguini.)
(But why, You are supposed to wonder, should a candy-stuffed papier-mâché donkey -- alluding to the title -- symbolize my grimly euphoric existence thus far?)
(You'll have to read the book. You can't expect me to give the plot away. This is a preamble, not a free-amble. A prepostulatious ramble. A foregone conclusive afterword.)
Or was it? Time, that is. Was it finally irrefutably time?
(There are too many questions! Skip to the end, I don't care. Which is, if You may recall, no longer the end but the beginning.)
(This Time business can be confusing.)
(Footnote-slash-Disclaimer: An official ending has yet to be attached and exists only in the future tense. As time warping has not been availed to the public, The Reader will have to wait and see how the story goes. Unless said Reader is from the future.)
(Better yet, if the entire tale has already been released beginning to end, or end to beginning, or end over end . . . I urge You to skip these assiduous asides and find out faster. I know I should save the denouement material for later, leave You dangling by the participled gnawed-off fingernails of suspense. Alas, in the genre of Reality I lack the diabolic mind for such devices. I am almost certain I'm absolutely certain to blurt it out.)
(What's that? You've solved the riddle of the title? It represents the giddy quest for glory? As monkeys fly, however, there is much else about my paranormaldoxic uninconformed outwonderlandish Ozmotic life with which to keep You enthralled. At least entertained.)
(Nonsense, You claim? Follically absurdist folderol? Of course! But every word is true, in a creatively unfictitious manner of speech.)
(Is there an echo?)
Upon its surface, Friday The Thirteenth validated the legendary hype. No affirmative life-altering letter arrived. Or even the polite refusal of my submission after a three-month wait -- a frantic interval of book polishing and revisioning, of last-second thoughts and nit-pickety retouches.
My incessant worry that a response had been stuffed into the wrong post office box was heightened by stray envelopes received for other people. It could easily happen, especially to me.
This concern was increased by the paranoid suspicion my return postage on the enclosed Self-Addressed Stamped Envelope might prove insufficient due to an unforeseen raise in the price of stamps. Sure enough, stamps went up two cents during this precise period!
For whatever reason, there was still no reply. Triggering further anxiety that if a rejection had been misdelivered, my innovative ideas for the entire project (including the trilogy of trilogies concept) were stolen. Were intolerably possessed by some anonymous party, one of the myriad prolific aspiring perspiring wannabe scribes like myself. But clearly the type to pilfer from those with genuine talent, who intentionally neglected to restitute my property. This was no simple identity theft. It was the hijacking of Originality, of the pulse and voice, the very essence that flows through my veins!
And yet, from a disastrous day's ashes were salvaged a few promising scraps of positivity.
While waiting with my sons in a checkout line at Wal-Mart, I spotted a customer an aisle over wearing Mayan ear spools, not a common sight these days. Indeed, it was extraordinarily rare. The man's pierced lobes thinly and grotesquely surrounded a pair of double-inch-diameter cylinder-shaped ornaments.
I had researched the items for my trilogy project, failing to grasp how they were worn. It was an incredible piece of luck. And just at the nick of You-know-what to use in Tome One.
Television news that evening (which I seldom heed) reported a potential bull's-eye for The War On Terror -- the unconfirmed demise of a Nine-Eleven fugitive, a notorious hate criminal.
The broadcast boasted a domestic F.B.I. coup, prevention of a radical environmental group's scheme to destroy California power plants and cell phone towers.
To an overstressed peace-mongering parent, these were pleasant tidings. But Kill-Bill vengeance, no matter if well earned, can be a sticky wicket. Abominable acts should not be met with more atrocities. I was opposed to political factions or individuals settling disputes by force, wielding weapons rather than diplomacy and détente. A product of the Vietnam era, in the early Nineties I protested The Gulf War. I have since learned what Terror is: a cowardly single-sided battle aimed at civilians. Adolf Hitler was a terrorist.
As a naïve tenth-grader I debated against The Death Penalty. As a mother, opposition to all perils physical and moral is based on the maternal instinct of protecting my sons. I currently find that certain opinions regarding difficult issues cannot help but straddle the figurative fence in an ambivalent fugue. To quote one of my innumerable unsung tunes, "Fairy Tales", composed in Ninety-Three:
There is no right that isn't wrong
From another point of view
Border lines are often drawn
By the ugly things men do
Most of us just watch the times
Through hollow eyes . . .
I am at my core, my fundamental root, a pacifist. And, to the bottom of my soul, a conservationist. Yet Friday The Thirteenth didn't seem so unlucky after all. Like any day it had ups and downs, a precarious balance of pros and cons. If it wasn't perfect, if it could have been better, it could also be worse. For that consideration, I drew and expelled an enormous gust of relief.
Then fretted with the subsequent breath what extremists would try next. They didn't care what problems I had, what my Renaissance sons and I were striving to contribute. They didn't care about us or anybody else, not even themselves.
Such yes-men gungho militants sacrificed their innate virtue, stifled their compassion. I wished I could express to them the humble words that might stir their feelings, sway resolves, divert destructive paths into avenues of respect for even the tiniest of unseen lives their ignoble deeds affected.
Now that would be an eloquent cup of alphabet soup.
As humans we can never condone the inhumane. Or the corruption of innocence. There resides in every man, every woman, the heart of a precious child. But inside me lingered, additionally, the spirit of a little girl lost. A girl interrupted.
Once confident, ambitious, a born clown. Reduced to cringing in shadow, her magnificence concealed by a drab cocoon of treachery; unable to burst forth, to spread her brilliant butterfly wings and soar.
To that child I would dedicate this yellow-brick jaunt, my poignant misadventures, these pages of hand-in-hand reflective travels through the best and worst of times. That she may at last find peace in the sunlit rays of truth.
She had been silenced too long.
To read more tales by Lori Lopez, visit http://www.trilllogicinnoventions.com
Copyright © 2007 Lori Lopez, All Rights Reserved.