Burning the midnight lamp. Actually the one thirty lamp, midnight was a long time ago. Here's what the wee, small hours look and feel like. All is blurred at the edges, unfocused and grey. The head feels blocked up, the mind is swimming in the treacle of semi-solid thought. Ideas are stuck in some other far away place and it's all about minor diversions and running down the cruel face of the clock. This is the no man's land of time. No sleep is allowed or permissible, I'm on watch, programmed and committed to stay awake for the ringing of a phone, the blip of some unexpected message or email, a flash of approaching car lights in the dark that might shake or rattle my mind from it's low level of activity.
Night time is tough. You sense the heavy sleep everyone else is enjoying, their distant rollings and snoring. The comfort you are deprived. Sitting in a half, artificial light, looking across and seeing only dark shapes. Keeping alert and staying awake. I could get up out of the chair, make coffee, return and sip it slowly. Elevate that most mundane of things into some special, lone pleasure, an exaggerated high, sipping warm water with a coffee flavour. Somehow that might help the time to pass and might colour and enhance these stalling thought processes. Well it might but I cant be bothered. That's the strange thing, the reach for even a tiny spec of pleasure hardly seems worth it. The effort will own drain the feeble battery and rewards will be fleeing and by the time I sit down again gone. I wont bother.
Neither will I explore the news websites that at this time sit in some nether region between today's and yesterday's news. Reports die back, writers might reflect or review in these lonely hours but they will not publish until their audience starts to stir. The early stories of celebrity clubbers or attacks or sensational tit bits must wait until the phones and devices click alive. The wait until the readers are in a fit state to gawp at the stories and be bemused and enticed by the nearby adverts and product messages. This isn't the time, the sleepers are flat, alone, in pairs, otherwise, asleep and dreaming only of their next moment of exploitation and driven direction.
That poor stream of near drivel killed fifteen minutes, they'll never return nor will I miss them or call them back. They are night time moments. Cheap and devoid of value, passed over by sunny days and bright chattering times, woozy intense pleasures, intimate and coloured couplings and blurs. Here's the time when time really comes alive, when life is lived and not observed as some dead beast or passing cloud. Life is day and light, death is the dark, still and dreamlessly enduring. My time comes with the sunrise. Here's man's natural state, set in crispy breakfast and shining orange juice moments and spectrums that split and rejoin as the rays of a new day pass across and through glass and curtains to warm the world. Those times are a whole night time away. That's the dull dark for you, a pale shadow of life, a secret time when deals are done in the subconscious and the great mystery of who we might be and what thoughts we file and keep or discard swirl in the deep places. We shut these moments away and hide in our sleep. Only I seem to be offering up some temporary and short lived resistance but sleep knows that wont last, it never does. I will capitulate, my head will drop and the ground will rush towards me.
I read about a car that had been driven over a cliff; reported by a foreign tourist it said. There was a person onboard, the driver I presume. It sailed over the cliff, two hundred feet down, onto rocks, crashing into the sea. The emergency services were duly called and could make little of it. The tide was rising and quickly covered the wreckage. There was somebody inside, dead and still in that crushed metal space, battered and drowned by their deliberate act. Over the edge and into the uncaring waves, broken and rattled to pieces. Birds wheeled around, would be rescuers stood and watched but were powerless. Some soul moved way across a thousand boundaries in that anonymous act. Pressed the pedal and kept the eyes closed, all over in seconds with the silence of the drop and thud of the rocky, watery impact. The untold story, assumed and made up in the many minds that come running and stand on the edge of some other's tragic decision. When the conditions are right a boat will launch or a helicopter will fly. Brave men will investigate and prod at the bear facts for some explanation. Records will be searched and phone calls made, visits will take place. In the deep cold of the night or dawn's chilly beginning someone will hear and feel the bitter shock. The car, the cliff, the sea and the dead moment, all together in the look and the words of a stranger on the doorstep. That is the end of that.
I back away from this line of thinking, I cant explain why I retained that story and not a thousand others, old news about attacks and rockets, dull politicians, breaking scandals, diseases and sporting moments, always the sporting moments. They rise like some strange scum and breed and entice. We, bereft of other ideas take them on, the results and performances and give them a meaning they cannot deserve. Sponsors pay out and gloat, the public chew and spit and the performances build and fade, like art exhibitions or birthdays, paperbacks and background music, over and spent before you know it. Here in the slow cold of the early morning it makes little sense and that it makes little sense hardly matters. That, seems to be the way of most things, not making sense at all. That and seeing the battery fall to 89%, hardly cause for panic but maybe a signal to take some kind of break. It's only July after all.
So there's this whole unthinkable thing, somebody doing something so wrong for them, so out of character. You couldn't explain it or see it coming, it was a terrible shock, a surprise. The person who took their life, who tore themselves away, driving over the cliff and down to answer their calling for oblivion. They did that and we never knew it was in them. It was a black dog, grinning and slobbering their in the passenger seat, stupid and excited as only a dog can be. Then tilted and pushed apart by the forces as they sailed into space, that person and all their black dog or burdens and common experiences, prisoners of gravity like me and you and everybody, unclipping the seat belt and pushing back the feeble puffs of the airbags. Futile explosions in the high speed drop, quick and deadly, over in a crumpled flash. It was all so predictable and all so unexpected and the sleep never came and the time passed more quickly than I'd have believed. So I awoke without ever having been asleep, I felt indestructible, confident and bright; like Margaret Thatcher.
It seems now that I was desperate to fill the space, I'd have said anything, any bullshit, just to get me in there. There to the end of the piece. I scratch my head and wonder what it is I must do, wonder what it is I don't have, wonder where I might get it and how once I get it how I might use it. So I'm this outsider who because of numerous flaws and defects, lack of drive or lack of...a long list of things cannot get the breaks, cannot work or function. I'm stuck in the limbo of obscurity and nothingness. A lifetime tourist, somewhere on the bus but not making an impact, not creating an impression, fodder but not substantial fodder. Here and looked over but not quite registering, here but not quite here. Little do they know how desperate I am, or was, to fill that white, clean and irritating space. The place that I laid some claim to (or so I said), the space that other people chose but didn't quite get to. It was always out of reach. So I stand by as the waters lap around my feet, as the the tide slowly rises. I look down and witness the floating and the moving, bubbles and froth. The white space is still there, the space is attractive, enticing even but the cool, clean water is better for me. Really you just need to get out and do something.