06 October 2010

Vernon Story Tweets - September 2010

Everyone in the room exchanged glances except for one woman in her late seventies. "I always thought that book was overhyped."

"Susan," another woman gasped. "How could you say that? I'm not a huge Kerouac fan, but I can appreciate its merits."

Susan shifted in her seat and gazed deep into the other woman's face. A hush consumed the room. "The book goes nowhere," she said. "You can sum the whole story up with 'man travels across country, gets bored, then travels back, then does it again'."

The man who leant Vernon "On the Road" exhaled deeply, falling back into his chair and slapping the tops of his thighs. "Read it again, Vernon. If you can't see what makes the book special by then, you're a lost cause."

"I read it four times," Vernon said with a tone of desperation. "It just makes me feel more depressed each time I read it."

"Four times," said the man. "Four times and you can't see what makes it brilliant?" His left eyebrow arched.

Vernon's face flushed crimson. "It felt like Sal never grew, just got increasingly restless and never found any satisfaction."

The man's arch stretched higher and a smirk peeled across his face. All but one of the others leaned forward in their seats. "Didn't he, though?" he said. "Think about it for a bit, Vern. What were his last thoughts? What epiphany did his travels elucidate?"

Vernon shrugged and said, "You mean all Sal's rambling about Dean Moriarty as though he were father to us, or should be?"

The man shook his head. "Nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody besides the forlorn rags of growing old." His eyes were as wide as someone with Graves disease. The brawny woman beside him rolled his eyes and said, "Can we move on now?"

"Honestly, you two." The prim woman who typically moderated the critique period of the group scowled and crossed her arms. "This is a writers' group. Unless either of you can relate this to our own writings, please, let's discontinue this discussion."

The man smirked and ignored the others, handing Vernon the book. "Read it again. You'll understand in a few more readings." Begrudgingly, Vernon took the soon-to-be battered copy of "On the Road" and shoved it back in his bag.

"Vernon?" The prim woman asked. "Did you bring us something new to read for next time?"

* * *

"Nobody knows what’s going to happen to anybody." The line reran through Vernon's mind like some tired old sitcom as he walked home.

The wind tore through his bones. He felt much older than his years, more forlorn than a man his age should feel. People scurried past him, their gazes cast forward with a determination that implied a clear destination. Vernon dragged one foot in front of the other, turning his head often to look around for something to inspire him, to give him hope.

As he eventually wandered back to his aunt's place, he threw his satchel on the coffee table and flopped down into the cozy couch pillows. He stared at the white of the spackled ceiling, its shadows stirring his imagination with intangible twinges of lament. A heavy sigh preceded the drooping of his eyes, which turned to slits that let in only enough light to blur the spackle to a gray mass.

"I could have written that book," he thought. "I should. I should write about my life. Yeah, right. Like anyone would read it."

A sudden thump followed by a flicking of sheets of papers jerked him upright. Vernon saw his manuscript scattered across the floor and groaned. He sighed again, bending over the disheveled pages. So many exotic words like hyperdrive, Pangalactic Confederation, and Xuluranctinik.

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