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Saturday, March 13, 2010

The Blue Parakeet

The below publication was an accident. What I mean by that is that I tend to write ficitional stories and save them in this blog without publishing them. Mainly because this blog is great at automatically saving, so if something goes wrong as it always does with computers. My writing is usually already saved. In this case, I was writing a short story for another blog that had to be about "coffee". So I wrote the following fictional piece and then when I finished, I, without thinking pressed the published button. Though, instead of deleting it, I decided just to keep it here.

Demetri stared and squinted at the dicey production his paintbrush had given birth to. He had been trying to paint the same blue parakeet for weeks now. A trying time he was having; he couldn't make what was ordinarily a striking color within nature zing on the canvas. It was as though the blueness was a mystery, the depths that ranged in the skies or down in the swelling seas, and he could not gather one little drop of it from either place and fill this two-dimensional parakeet with that revitalizing color of serenity and grandeur. It seemed that with every other brushstroke, the painter, was saying, "There you are. Now, go! Fly, little birdie." But the birdie never flew, it only stood there perched inside the drawing as though oblivious to the fact that it had wings. Perhaps the fact that it was an attempt at capturing the essence of the bird, caused the work of art to be caged.

The tropics, one would think, should be inspiring. That was why Demetri had moved down to Central America. He had grown helplessly exhausted of the suburban sprawl of indulgent America. He had to break free from where the people's main cause of excitement was the opening of a shopping complex. Like Ganguin sick of Paris and embarking for Tahiti, Demetri was intent on finding that perennial Eden with his oils and pastels. And so, he found himself in Costa Rica among the coffee plantations.

Though, search he did, he never could find the correct inner vision that was necessary to transform basic rudimentaries from the earth (common pigments, flinseed oils, etc.) to an ecstatic vision and union with Paradise. The irony was bittersweet for Demetri was surrounded by the most inspiring visages of wild beauty. But such is the artist's agony, converting the dazzling ecstasy of the eye and soul to that blank, white, ominous canvas. -Transforming a love and observance of beauty into the flame of creation.

In the meantime, Demetri was growing haggard and thin. His was a fasting from practicality which left him scarce means of procuring food. Here he was, the exotic scarecrow, the epitome of the starving artist with rags, with bony knees and knuckles, wild-eyed, and wild-hair having abandoned society before it even had time to abandon him. He had all the requisites for being a great artist, except for great art.

Nourishment consisted of a few plaintains and bananas a day. All this, and he would constantly chew on coffee beans to ward off any severe craving for a hamburger. And also because he had heard that the author Balzac had done so to keep himself audaciously prolific.

But at all times, sitting to the side of his painting endeavors, he had this lone, rusty coffee mug, half-full of the richest, blackest drip, ground from the best coffee beans that that region had to offer. And Demetri detested this cup of coffee. Oh sure, he was diligent in his pursuit of draining that cup, and, of course, he'd fill it up again with that dark ambrosia, each and every time only half full. But for some reason, even though it coursed through his veins; he hated the stuff. No, not the taste, nor the aroma. These were beyond a doubt, wonderful. Maybe it was just the fact that that was all there was to drink. The coffee was much safer to drink than the water. Maybe, it was his reliance for physical sustenance that made his spirit resent its dependency on such a thing. But for somehow for whatever reason, it irked him to look down and see before him a black-as-night pool in that old, rusted, tin cup. Perhaps, if he would fill the cup up to the top that would've made all the difference. But most artists never think of solutions such as that.

It was the dull blackness of the coffee. For him, subconsciously, it represented all the drabness in the world, all the mundanity, all the triteness that he had attempted to escape from. And for some reason he equated it all to this half-cup of coffee, a cup that he had to drink from or perish.

Then one day, it befell his poor, ragamuffin, painter's lot, to run out of painter's materials stuck inside this little hut in rural Costa Rica. He had plenty of pigments, to give the painting color. He just lacked the necessary linseed oil to make it stick properly. It happened like this.

It a was another bold and beautiful day, the sun slashing its way through the leafy canopy. Bathing the portions of the inside of his hut in this golden light, sometimes tinged with a slight green from the rainforest canopy. He was mixing his paints and was reaching in this jar for the appropriate oil when he noticed there was not hardly a drop left. He could not paint without this oil for it was what kept the paint from running and dripping down the painting. This was the last straw. All his frustration broke loose in this moment and he flew into a rage. Angry that this was a symbol for his own soul, that his creative well had run dry. And in the middle of his wild temper tantrum, he flung the can with all his paintbrushes across the room. With a resounding ding, they hit his loathsome cup of coffee and it toppled over and flecked dark coffee onto his tiring work of art, the flightless Blue Parakeet. At first, this was about to cause a further eruption at the result of this coffee and how it and what it represented had immersed he and his aspirations. When, a slight pause of emotion, caused him to notice something peculair about the painting with the coffee stains on it. The coffee had combined with the bright blue color, causing it to reveal this accentuating hue. It was as though just a bit of shadow caused it to become real. Demetri marvelled at this. Picked up the portrait and held it in the light pouring in from the window.

"Yes, this is it." he thought. It would actually be the appropriate oil to keep the pigments from running. He ran to his coffee pot and this time filled up his abused coffee cup to the brink. And began mixing the coffee into his pigments. And then he began to paint.

All the rest of that day, he painted, and all the rest of that night he painted as well. The next morning about 10 o clock, he slept and then he woke up again and returned to his easel. There was no increments to his day other than the projects he was working on. Other than that. He sleep when he had to and ate when he had to, while continually sipping the black coffee that had made his revelation. He had finished the blue parakeet. And it was astonishing. The potrait hung majestically over his bed, ravishing in the tropical sunbeams that came cascading into his room. He began to go further afield within himself finding ample archetypal themes and epic stories, Theseus in the Cretan labyrinth killing the Minotaur, Odysseus in Polyphemus' lair, King Arthur's confrontation with Morgan Le Fey, King David mourning over Absalom. Down into the stories did Dmitri dare to go, capturing the images and the power of the drama. His use of shadowing opened the cage that he was stuck inside. His spilled coffee freeing his inner vision. And this vision flew, between the heights of the skies and the depths of the sea, magnificently between Paradise and the world that is.


Anonymous JamesBrett said...

hey, great story. this is one of my favorites, brother. i'd like to think it was a birthday present to me...

you mentioned that you write for another blog; might i have that information? i want to read whatever you write.

also, it's sad that spilled coffee doesn't always help the situation. like the other day when i spilled hot coffee in my lap -- didn't make a single thing better. or when i was experiencing writer's block and poured a cup of rwandan black gold onto my keyboard -- danged liquids, ruined everything....

11:27 PM  
Anonymous Brian said...

Well, drinking Rwandan black gold sounds inpiring enough.

This is the blog that is publishing the story. http://www.awordwithyoupress.com/2010/03/18/off-the-beaten-path/
They had me edit the version down so it is different.

So, I keep thinking that Mom is going to come back to the US and be suddenly very adventurous. Like going on Safaris had changed her and now she will want to go skydiving and treasure hunting.

8:30 PM  
Anonymous jamesbrett said...

she did camp two nights in the serengeti in a tent. with hyenas on every side... our mom is crazy. and don't try to stop her -- she'll just take you down with her...

8:08 AM  
Blogger trapperhoney said...

i couldn't help but think of an episode of Andy Griffith where Howard Sprague quits his job and moves to the Caribbean to live the carefree life, and gets bored and comes home within a week ;)

5:09 AM  

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