After days of terrible heat, with a nasty haze I’ve always hated draped over the sky like an ugly old dirty curtain, the weather changes abruptly with a delicious cool wind blowing hard from the Alps, I think. Yeah, the Alps, that’s it; they must be close to where I am.
For many nights I’ve been unable to sleep. I’ve tossed and turned in my bed, sweating profusely; so profusely, in fact, that in the morning I stink like an old truck driver who rarely, if ever, bathes with soap. Which, of course, is not a problem if you really are an old sweaty truck driver who rarely, if ever bathes. But I am not, as it turns out, and I have to live with other humans who prefer the smell of clean to the stench of cheap beer.
So tonight, aroused by the sudden weather change, I leap out of my bed and fling my terrace door wide open. The night air is the best thing I’ve tasted, maybe not ever, but in at least two weeks for sure.
Nights are short now and the stars are quickly fading. But the Moon, very large and almost perfectly round, shines like a golden coin suspended over the neighborhood rooftops.
It really is a beautiful night. In fact, it may well be one of the most beautiful nights of my life.
But then, it really isn’t.
One of my neighbors, a troll whose existence I’d started seriously doubting because she never leaves her house in daylight, is watching TV. It’s muted, or at least it seems to be to my ears from this distance. Nevertheless, by the colorful pictures swiftly dancing across her screen, I know exactly what she’s chosen to stay up for.
Reality television. Worst thing since the invention of the ball point pen (which ruined everyone’s handwriting, as you may well know already).
The stupid woman, apparently alive and well after all, nearly ruins my night. People almost always disappoint me. Tomorrow I’ll have to give her a piece of my mind.
No television network should be allowed to broadcast at night. That would give people a chance to go back to watching the night sky. Back in prehistory, which ended, oh, I don’t know, seven or eight decades ago, when we watched the night sky instead of night television, we believed in something, however unlikely or fantastical it may have seemed at first. And that is how the world was built.
Instead of allowing that dope to ruin my view, I’m letting my thoughts wander across time and space. Soon I find them tumbling backwards through my life, to a place I will call “somewhere else,” where I used to live.
Growing up, “somewhere else,” I habitually read a magazine which published superficial, run-of-the-mill crime stories, much like the famous Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine. This publication went by a name I’ve long forgotten. I do remember that it came out twice a month, printed on rather cheap brown paper, probably recycled. The cover, printed in bright yellow, though of better quality usually fell right off the spine of the magazine before one read through page 14. The editors chose two stories for each issue, one long, featured at the front and printed over almost two-thirds of the printed space; the other short, printed in the back where one often lost the last two pages when the wind blew from…the Alps, of course.
I so loved reading these stories. In fact, I became so infatuated with them that before I was ten I’d written my own crime novella, which I hoped the magazine would publish one day. Sadly, they went out of print before I could save up enough money for postage.
My story starred a private eye called Joshua Davidson. Good strong name, I thought. Davidson lived in Boston, drove a Cadillac, smoked Lucky Strikes, and drank bourbon instead of energy drinks. He worked alone, was ruggedly, though slightly unconventionally handsome, and solved murders with a swagger typical to his kind. I’m sure I’d given him a clever catchphrase to say every five sentences or so, but for the life of me I can’t remember what it might have been. He also had a decent-looking assistant, a secretary as they were once called, and the sexual tension between them kept the reader glued to the page for at least five or six…minutes. I know what you’re thinking, and you’re right. I should have been working on television.
Joshua Davidson was Sam Spade, really, only less Bogart and more Brody; Adrien Brody, that is. Less hat and more…nose, I guess.
It’s no wonder I never became a writer. When you’re inspired by pulp fiction, where can you go, really?
On the other hand…if you choose to believe the dancing pretend life of your television screen rather than the magic of a perfect summer night sky, I really don’t know where the fuck you think you’re going.