Blog Things

The Time that Jasper briefly interrupted his story.

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PART I

The time Evelyn sat down next to Jasper.

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As Jasper sat staring straight ahead, the red coat slowly lowered herself next to him. The girl/woman dropped down to the grass and Jasper could feel her shoulder graze his. She leaned in, resting her hand on his back and said again (only this time a bit quieter) My name is Evelyn. What’s yours? Are you alright? Jasper finally turned to face her. Her hair yet to have hints of gray. Her sea eyes still swimming without little wrinkles. Jasper. Jasper said aloud. His name was Jasper. Is Jasper. Evelyn sat all the way down now and stretched her legs out in front of her. Now. That wasn’t so hard. Nice to meet you.  Pleasure. Jasper smiled. Jasper was just fine. What are you looking at? Here. Jasper said. Just looking at here. Here is nice–she smiled. Not the kind that belonged to nurses in hospitals or dentists before they told you about a cavity or girls behind the cash register as you put milk and a loaf of bread out either. But a kind that held two parts secret and one part promise. Promise of what? Jasper wasn’t sure yet. This Evelyn. Not his wife Evelyn.  But this Evelyn looked like that same Evelyn who had given him both secrets and promises long ago. And seemed to be someone to trust.  Jasper was glad for it.

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PART I

Jasper lies down in the grass.

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The Beauty was beautiful and that was all there was. As Jasper wiped his face and rolled over letting the bits of grass tangle in his hair (or rather what was left of it)–he didn’t care about his disarray. In fact, he didn’t care about anything really.  Evelyn, perhaps. Evelyn. He said again. Her name washed around in the saliva between his decaying  teeth. Yes? A red coat girl/woman suddenly hovered over him. Evelyn? He repeated as he blinked upwards still sprawling out his limbs in all directions. Half talking to his wife and half curious as to why the girl was responding. You know my name? She interrogated back down.  How do you know my name? Jasper sat up. Except it didn’t happen as quickly as that sentence just suggested. He struggled up, rather. Heaving his belly over the straining top button of his pants so as to get a closer look at the creature who suddenly appeared from what seemed to be the earth. Tear stains on his cheeks, grass-strewn hair, and head cocked to the side made him feel a bit like an old lost dog who had the sudden urge to let out a howl. But, he didn’t. Woof. He said in his brain. No. He said out loud. But, my name. My name is Evelyn. That’s funny that you just said my name. Really odd. She laughed. I saw you all laid out here–as you were. And your bike way back there. She thumbed back towards his bicycle.  I thought maybe you were hurt. Are you alright? Bicycle. Jasper whispered to the Dublin mountains. Let me help you up. She lingered  her hand over the head of a man now sitting cross-legged as a wide-eyed schoolboy. He rides a bicycle. Not a bike.

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PART I

The place Jasper stopped first.

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Jasper came closer to a clearing along the path to Phoenix Park and decided that it was time for a bit of a short rest. He hadn’t gone really far enough for a rest, per se, but the truth of the matter was that this spot had some sort of sacred magic about it. Now, let Jasper be very clear. He did not under any circumstances believe in any of that rubbish about fairies. But, readers that is not to say that he did under any circumstances disbelieve in them either. And if ever there were fairies in the middle of Dublin, well he would like to believe that might just be where they would gather. Of course, this was not built on any background knowledge of any sort of mystical Celtic past, but Jasper’s own presumptions about where and when fairies might exist if in fact they did exist. Anyway, as Jasper dropped his bicycle in the grass he let the (still sunny yet cold) wind whistle around him. Jasper wandered out farther into the field–not really sure if he was supposed to or not–and was reminded for a brief moment of two things: Donegal and James Joyce. He had read The Portrait not too long ago. Or maybe it was long ago? He guesses now it was, because he was a boy in Donegal and as that was only ever going to amount to 15% of his entire life, it will forever be long ago. In the book, however, Stephen Dedalus described beauty as wholeness, harmony, and radiance. And after reading this book, Jasper would always check to see if things were beautiful using these three criteria. For Jasper, it was a way of evaluating the subjective from an entirely objective view. Now, what defines something whole, harmonious, and radiant was obviously entirely up to Jasper and he knew in this way his evaluations were subjective. But, if he couldn’t find these three things in something–then he couldn’t (or wouldn’t) denote something as beautiful. But, here, he always felt whole. And so did the field with the Dublin mountains and green grass slipping underfoot, the last of leafy trees overhead, and the whirring of Dublin city somewhere far to the right. And, of course, there was Jasper–a left behind yet dignified round man. There was harmony, too. For the memories of Donegal and Dublin and past and present could mingle together without becoming angry. Suddenly, Jasper let his body fall back into the field, leaving his bicycle leaning somewhere behind him, laying with legs sprawled in front, arms stretched out to the side, tucked away in the tall wild green grass–safe enough, lucky enough, radiant enough–to cry.

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PART I

The moment Jasper rode his bicycle past a red coat.

portrait-of-mlle-l-l-young-lady-in-a-red-jacket-1864As the sun unusually shone in Jasper’s eyes, he turned the corner right towards Phoenix Park.  A little ahead was a young girl. No woman. Young woman. She looked a bit like Evelyn when she had been younger.  As he pedaled closer to her, he began to whistle the tune of a song he and Evelyn listened to on the record player in the early evening before dinner. Before they became older, his wife would stand at the sink with water and soap up to her elbows and Jasper would come up behind her to put his (much younger) hands around her (much smaller) waist and kiss the back of her (less wrinkled) neck.  The  red coat girl/woman noticed his bicycle approaching her (largely due to his whistling), and she stepped aside to let him pass–even though he wasn’t trying to kiss her neck.  Instead, Jasper slowed his bicycle a bit to say hello to a neighbor.  And the girl–after taking a moment to realize this–decided to keep going. He rode once again catching her quick steps. Sorry love, I didn’t mean to disturb you.  But, she didn’t mind. Not to worry, sir.  He pedaled ahead. Evelyn didn’t mind either. And, to think of it–that is Evelyn’s not minding–well, it was fine at first.  Even when the boys were screaming up the hall and the wash was piled all too high and the sink was left running on and on. They would always dance instead. But–eventually, they stopped.  Jasper wasn’t sure why–but then again, maybe he should be sure.  After all, he was at least one-half of the ones doing the stopping in the first place.  Perhaps, they were getting too old and bored of each other.  Or it could have happened one unsuspectingly usual day.  He came home and she pulled away from him. Oh, Jasper. She muttered. Not now. I’m busy. And maybe that was the time it all started–she didn’t mind enough to want to dance.  And so Evelyn kept washing the dishes.  And he walked to the door to drop his briefcase and hang his coat in the press.  And maybe, even though they didn’t realize it then, that moment was the silent beginning of the end of dancing after work.  And maybe after that day might have hypothetically happened (and even now, he isn’t sure if it ever did), he suddenly became a bit more afraid to tell her that he needed to dance, that he needed to kiss her, and somewhere amongst being too bored and too afraid and too old and too much of a man, he decided to never tell her that he minded that they didn’t dance anymore. The girl-woman kept walking behind him as if she, too, didn’t mind–as if she could just keep going on like that forever–but maybe. Maybe one day. She would learn to stop.

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PART I

The time when Jasper leaves the car park.

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Walking down to the far right corner, his, that’s Jasper’s, bike (No! Bicycle!) was chained haphazardly to the back railing.  He unlocked it slowly noticing the wrinkles around his knuckles.  He had been getting old. He liked the wrinkles around the bends in his fingers and the way his skin had started to bulge around his wedding band. Evelyn always said that he shouldn’t eat so much, but he was hungry when he was a kid. He was really hungry. His skin would have never been so full because the body inside of it was starving.  And he wouldn’t have had a bike either. Or a bicycle. Or a father to teach him how to ride either of those things. So he ate too much and rode his bicycle in high age and didn’t give a damn about any of it.  Jasper swung one leg over the bicycle and jumped a bit to hoist his body onto the seat. He wasn’t really a small man, if you’re trying to imagine him get onto his bicycle. He was really rather round I suppose you might say. But not round in the way say, a football is round, but round in the way that if he stood up tall enough he still had some dignity about him. Not an overweening amount, but enough to be a bit proud of what he looks like when he was wearing a suit, for instance.  Not that he has any place to be wearing a suit these days. But, if he did. He would have looked dignified in his roundness. He could have put the seat down, too. But he was convinced that then he would have to admit to himself that he was shrinking, and he was by no mean shrinking.  As he scuttled towards the iron gate atop his bicycle, he noticed his jumper caught in the back wheel.  He pulled it until he broke free and left a few strands tangled in the mess. Pushing the door open with the front wheel, Jasper finally made it out of the car park. The heavy gate slammed shut behind him as he pedaled his bicycle onto the pavement and felt the cold middling wind of November sneak through his jacket.

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PART I

The part where Jasper walks to the car park.

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Jasper Murphy woke up to take his bicycle to work as he might have done every morning. But, instead of taking his bicycle to work, he took his bicycle to wherever it would take him. He’ll get to that later. The important thing is that he hadn’t phoned anyone to let them know that. And even if he had, he wasn’t sure that they would have minded him going missing anyway. He whispered under his breath to his wife as he walked out the door–I’ll be back for dinner, Evelyn. She didn’t respond.  He shut the door to his second story flat and ambled down to the car park to retrieve his bicycle. He liked to call it a bicycle. Calling it a bike made it feel a bit like a children’s toy and calling it a bicycle made him feel more like a man. He was seventy-five years old.  Jasper needed to feel like a man by now, at least, because after all he had been a man for quite some time. He calculated in his brain that if he were in fact, seventy-five, and his father had left his mother and six younger sisters when he was fifteen, that he became a man sixty years ago. This means he spent 80% of his life being a man and by the time he was 90 he will have spent 83% of his life being a man.  And if he did indeed live to be 100, he will have spent 85% of his life being a man. This means that out of 100 years of his prospective lifespan, only 15% of them would have been for being a child and not a man.  And despite this small statistic, he often–more lately–found himself feeling as if he were one. A child that is.  Therefore, he insisted on riding a bicycle (and not a bike) to assert the fact that he was a man and not a child–even at seventy-five years old.  Jasper fumbled for the keys inside of his corduroy blazer and found them entwined with a chewing gum wrapper and toilet paper he used as tissue for the recent cold he was acquiring. Pulling them out–wrapper, tissue, and keys–he pushed into the car park gate, turned the iron knob, and kicked open the door with his foot. It was getting heavier, but he was still a man.

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