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The International Writers Magazine:

Up On The Shelf
Gordon Ray Bourgon

Hemmingway was a hack and a drunk. He would no doubt bore the crap out of me with his regalements of booze, guns, and women. Thomas Wolfe, too, though I admire the man for working while sick and dying. He’d be interesting but wordy. I need someone who will be a friend and not want to leech undying admiration off me.

I thought William Saroyan might be the one. He’s simple, yet profound. His stories sneak up from behind and give you a great big hug. I think I’d like that.

My meds have lost their friendliness. My wife and two children have stopped coming to see me. My roommate, my only friend for the past six months, hung himself by the sash of his housecoat tied to the shower head. My path to recovery has taken a detour, and I don’t know if I’ll ever find my way again.

I need my old friends. I was – am – a writer. I wrote fiction: novels and shorter things. That’s how I made my living.
There came to be a specific moment in time, like when day becomes night, or when a tide begins its retreat, when I was no longer alive. I was disconnected, though I ate, slept - like anyone else. It felt right.

There were voices. Sylvia Plath whispered to me it was alright to explore the darker side of my thoughts. Salinger suggested I chuck it all and become a recluse. Fitzgerald thought throwing a party was the only civilized thing to do under such circumstances. Twain was full of insults, and showed no capacity for empathy. Dostoyevsky looked on, brooding, and Bukowski just stared blankly at me.

These were some of my old friends who saved me from life’s little deaths. Now I need them more than ever.
I am becoming real again. Feeling the cold and evil in the world. I hear the screams of the tortured and raped. I understand the pain of the wrongfully imprisoned. I know the fear that comes with waiting for the next visit from the suicide bomber. I shed tears because the planet is dying. I am frightened because change is not necessarily an improvement.

The world is coming to me again. I am coming alive. I need to be back up on the shelf. That is where I belong. Where dreams exist, timeless among words.
They’re coming for me. I can hear them down the hall. It’s time to climb.

© Gordon Ray Bourgon Jan 2008

Gordon has recently published short ficition in Pilot Project Pocket Book #3, in Toronto ('Tender Erosions'), and has published a non-fiction piece in Southwest Life magazine.

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