Mind and Body

Mind and Body

A Story by Chopstix
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My take on the writing excersize in Stephen King's On Writing

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1


I can’t move.  I can’t move for the third time today.  First: I hesitated when my key turned too loosely in the front door lock; Second:  A panicked freeze hearing her insipid giggle just before the thud, just before everything went black.  Now, I am bound; bound, naked , with Saran-Wrap.  Each finger wrapped individually and all fingers bound together.  My hands, my arms bound to my Saran-Wrapped sides.  Toes wrapped into wrapped feet.  Feet and legs wrapped together tightly.  My whole body swaddled from collar to toe in Saran-Wrap.  I wonder if this took an entire roll or perhaps two.  I wonder. I wonder if a panic attack or a panic freeze is a recent evolutionary development or an errant genetic variation selected into the human gene pool.  In an increasingly civilized environment, simple fight or flight responses can be fatal.  It is important to not overreact.  You need to observe, evaluate, plan and execute that plan effectively.  It is important to keep your cool.  Perhaps, moments of panic are symptomatic of advanced adaptation.  A mechanism to rev the engine put the body in gear and step on the breaks.  Ready to act but hardwired not to overreact.  I wonder if I can slither off the couch.

“No, not yet” she whispers in my ear before another heavy blow strikes the back of my head and everything turns black again.

2


It all starts when I move my head.  She will notice my eyes open.  She will notice my breathing accelerate.  I feel the tickle of Saran-Wrap strands in my nostrils with each breath.  Control.  Control my breathing.  Maintain the slow shallow breaths of sleep.  Observe:  My eyes are shut, the room is quiet, I am bound in cellophane and perspiring.  Evaluate: I’m a captive of an unknown, violent woman.  Plan: Disrupt her plans.  Wrest control.  What ever she imagines will happen will happen unless I find a way to derail it.  I need to throw her off her game.  I need to throw her curve balls.  I need to think.  I need to blow those damn strands of Saran-Warp from my nostrils.

“Murder is a sex act,” she says.  Her breath is thick and warm on the back of my neck.  She rolls down the Saran-Wrap covering my eyes and maneuvers her body posing in front of me.

She is medium height about 5’5” to 5’7”, slender perhaps 120 to 140 lbs., sandy blond hair, strikingly beautiful face.  Her naked body is wrapped from neck to toe in Saran-Wrap like me.  Unlike me, she has full use of her appendages.  She wears yellow Playtex dishing washing gloves. 

“No glove,” she stretches and snaps her left glove with her right, “no love.”

I stifle a chortle.  Looking down, I notice a collection of knives and tools replaced the stack of unread magazines on my coffee table 

“You have something to say,” she grabs the pairing knife swiping the cellophane covering my mouth.  The blade cuts my lower lip just before the right corner of my mouth.  I draw a breath and taste the warm, salty trickle of blood.  With my lips, I extend the tear and say, “Then I prefer no glove.”

“Aw,” she says.  “But this is my party.”

I was about to quip something like, “But, it’s my house” or something.  I try to weigh wit versus provocation versus novelty.  Something, anything to disarm this situation.  We both hear a distant siren getting closer.  Her posture stiffens as she turns toward the sound.

“It can’t be,” she says.  She scans the room.  “Where’s the remote control?”

It was in my right hand before the first blow to my head.  Now, it is lodged in the seam between the sofa’s arm and its cushion.  My right thigh feels its edge.

“Never mind,” she says as she squats before the television set working the manual controls.  

I should concentrate on escape.  Instead, I regard her cellophane wrapped a*s.  The siren fades.

The startup chimes of the TV grabs my attention.  Channel 5, “news with attitude,” co-anchors perform the news.

Natalie Burrows:           Sheriff’s department internal affairs …
Jim Stanley           (chuckles)
Natalie Burrows:           … is investigating the goings on at the county jail facility downtown after a unusual break-out by three female prisoners last night.  Deputy Dick Campangolo was found in the deputies’ rest area handcuffed to a bed.
Jim Stanley:          With his pants down.  Meanwhile, three prisoners escaped.  One wearing his uniform.
Natalie Burrows:  Confidential sources allege that several deputies engaged in sex for favors deals.  County Supervisor Demistocles Bones initiated a full scale investigation.  Sheriff Dan Brown says “We’ll get to the bottom of this.”
Jim Stanley:          (chuckles)

“Hmmph,” she grunts changing the channel.  The booking photo of my wife, Marla, beside a photo of a brunette woman fills the screen over a caption reading, “Escaped prisoners rearrested.”  Channel 7’s award wining reporter Warren Miles narrates.

Warren Miles:  Two of the prisoners were apprehend last night at a local strip club.

Video of my wife wearing a catholic school girl’s outfit and the brunette wearing a nurse’s uniform being escorted, in handcuffs, into sheriff’s patrol cars.  Marla looks tired and stumbles.

Warren Miles:           The third escapee.

A frontal and a profile booking photo of my assailant pop onto the screen.

Warren Miles:          Amanda Stevenson is still at large.  She was convicted of first degree murder last year and was in the county jail for the civil wrongful death trial.  It is believed that she was wearing a deputies uniform, but she may changed by now.
James Swanson, anchor:  Warren, How did she get a deputies uniform?
Warren Miller:          Apparently, the three prisoners overpowered a deputy in the guard’s rest area.  Sheriff Dan Brown has promised a thorough investigation.
James Swanson:          I guess the deputy got caught with his pants down, Warren.
Angela Navarro, weather reporter:  Or pants off.

So much for “serious” news.

“I think I’d like music,” she says,  She turns off the television, walks to my CD bookshelf, selects a CD, returns to the entertainment console, powers up the stereo and DVD player and inserts her selection.  Anvil’s “Metal on Metal” pounds and strums out of the speakers.

“What? No foreplay?”  I say.

That got her.  She turns facing me arms akimbo, head cocked to the side.

“’Murder is a sex act,’” I mock.  “And you go straight for the slasher music.”

She allows herself a chuckle.  “That’s just a metaphor,” she says.  “The gloves, the wrap are like condoms.”  She stands in three quarters profile like a runway model wearing an impractical designer outfit.  I smile and she relaxes her pose.  “So what music do you suggest?”

“Some Jiao Gilberto would be nice.” I say.

“Coffee shop bosso nova!” she says.  “Lets pretend we know each other better than that.”

“But we don’t,” I protest.

“Oh, but we do,” she says.  “I’m a celebrity.  You saw me on TV.”

“OK,” I acknowledge.  “But you don’t know me.”

“I don’t,” she says.  “I know that you organize you CD’s alphabetically.  That’s typical you might say.  But I also now that the red spine stickers mean Rock and Roll, light blue or cyan means Classical, indigo means International, green means Jazz.  I knew this, I knew this all and more before I set a foot inside our house.”

“About that?”  I say.

“You leave the spare keys in the glove compartment,” she says.  “And. after the time thieves stole your hundred dollar stereo and it cost you a thousand dollars to repair the car window, you leave the doors unlocked. “  She pauses before saying, “I just took the keys before you drove off with the kids.”

She returns to the CD’s.  “Let’s compromise on Sting,” she says.  She selects “Nothing Like the Sun”, places it in the DVD changer and sits down on the coffee table with her legs furthest from the sofa.

Half way through “If you love some-one, set them free,” she says “It was your wife’s idea. You know.”

“She sent you here?”  I say.

“No,” she says.  “The escape.  Two nights ago Deputy Fandkin came for Shelly.  Marla suggested a three way.  She and Shelly used to talk about overpowering a deputy and escaping.  It didn’t work.  The jerk just handcuffed them together to the headboard.  What a waste.”

“When did my wife become such a s**t?” I interrupt.

“Tsk. Tsk.  I’m telling a story here,” she says.  “But really, I thought you’d know what an alcoholic will do for a drink.  Just not paying attention, did you?”  She waits, but I didn’t have a ready answer.

“Word got around quickly,” she resumes.  “Deputy Dick, ‘Dick the Prick,’ came round the next night and demanded his three way.  That’s when I suggest a foursome.  I thought that he forgot who I was being a high-profile convict and all.  But no, he handcuffed me the head board and ordered Marla and Shelly to costume up.  Marla asked for a beer and he just threw her the key to the fridge.”  She pauses for just a moment and made sure we had eye contact.  “I’m so proud of your wife.  She could have drunk that beer, but she knocked that prick out with it.  Didn’t even drink it after.”

“So?” I say.  “How was the sex?”

“Huh?” she says.

I caught her off balance again.  “’Murder is a sex act,’” I mock followed by instant regret.

“Oh, that,” she says.  “Dead deputy, intense manhunt.  Disgraced deputy, intense internal affairs.  Pretty smart, huh?”

“Maybe not,” I say.  “Marla and the other one got caught.”

“I hope they had a good time,” she says.  “I plan to.”

“But your not going to get caught?” I say.  

“Do you know more than the police?” she says.

“No,” I admit.

“Neither do I,” she says.

She walks to the book cases as she hums along to the music.  I wonder what she means.

“So what’s all this?” I say.

“Special circumstances,” she says.  “I know it’s just a matter of time before they pin another murder on me.  Death row city then.”  She examines the philosophy and science section of my books.  “So, there’ll be no DNA swaps for us: None of mine on you and none of yours on me.”

I’m surprised she thought this much out.  I’d be more impressed if she wore a hair net or had the vacuum cleaner out.

“You keep your house clean,” she says.  “Not easy to do with two young children.  What’s their names again?”

“Bobby and Cindy,” I say.

“Very Brady,” she says.  “We talk a lot in jail, you know.  Not much else to do.  This house is exactly the way I imagined.  Marla described it to a tee.  Your insistence on everything being in its right place probably helped.  How many times did you chide her for a misplaced fork, a book askew a toy on the wrong shelf?  Everything must be just so.  What did she say, ‘Were humans, you know, our ability to plan and organize put us on top.’  She got that from you, of course.”

“So,” I say, “you’re here as her avenging angel?”

“You’re so smart,” she says.  “So it’s natural that you’re trying to make sense of all of this.  ‘Why has this beautiful blond woman wrapped me up in plastic wrap?  Why are all the kitchen knives on the coffee table? Why did she wrap herself up in plastic?’  Well, we covered all of that.  With that big brain you pride yourself with, you’re over thinking it.  It’s so easy.  So easy that I’m going to help you out with it.”

“OK,” I say.

“Your predictable,” she points to me with both arms outstretched.  “And,” she folds her arms over her chest with a slight head bow, “I’m a predator.”

“No that’s just silly,” I say.  “Predictable is from the Latin ‘preadictus’ the past participle of  ‘praedicere’ or ‘pre’, before, and ‘dicere,’ to say or diction as in dictionary.  While predator comes from the Latin ‘praeda’ or prey.  Really, that’s like saying, ‘They were triumphant because they were the triumvirate.”

“Predator, predictable, triumphant, triumvirate,“ she says.  “Blah, blah, blah. They all sound alike to me.”

That, I admit, was a regrettable outburst like poking a bear with a stick.  She peruses the books before strolling behind the sofa to Marla’s curio collection.  She must admire the efficient organization of our displays.  I helped Marla organize her collection of decorative spoons and bells efficiently and aesthetically.  

I hold back my trump card, “Etymology by sound is not sound etymology.”  I doubt she could appreciate it.  Human beings reached the pinnacle of evolution not because we are perfect, for we are far from perfect, but rather, because we rose above it.  Our superiority comes from our ability organize and conquer.  Some other animals organize themselves.  There’s a case for hives of bees, pods of whales, prides of lions and packs of wolves.  Though they only organize themselves, they remain subject to selection; natural or otherwise.  They select mates to enhance their genetic pool.  Mankind has organized and manipulated our complete environment: our food supply, our waste disposal, our means of production, our longevity through hygiene and medicine and, to a great extent, our death.  We are no longer subject to selection.  It no longer informs our mating.  The survival of our species is assured.  Assured, but not by our genes.  Not by Darwin’s nature rent tooth and claw.  We stand on the shoulders of intellectual giants: Great men of science, commerce, conquest, politics and technology.  Then there are those of us who tend the horses, so to speak.  Intellects who fall short of the true geniuses.  We preserve the gains genius gives, maintain humanity, maintain order and keep commerce going.  We do all of that until the next genius, the next horse comes.  And it is our task to shepherd even lesser humans.

She sways to the music for awhile before breaking into a full idiosyncratic dance.

“You really enjoy Sting,” I say.

“No,” she said.  “Not really.”

“Just enjoy dancing?” I ask.

“Sometimes,” she says, “when I’m uncertain and my mind can’t figure it out, you know.  I dance.”

“You dance?” I confirm.

“Yeah,” she says.  “I dance and the answer comes to me.”

“By dancing.”  I say.

“Yes,” she says.  “I consult my body.  I introduce thoughts, plans, ideas and I dance.  I work it out.”

“And if it feels good …” I say.

“Do it!” she responds.  

“There are many things I don’t understand,” she says.  “I understand how your petty obsession with detail drove Marla to drink.”

“Still blaming me for her alcoholism?” I say.

She stops at the coffee table and sits on the end opposite to me with her feet pointing to me with her forearms resting on thighs.

“There are many things I don’t understand.  I understand how your insisting on every detail being right drove Marla to drinking.  I understand that her drinking triggered alcoholism.  I think I understand why she cared enough to let it happen to her.  I may even understand why you and the kids stopped visiting her after a couple weeks.” She hesitates.  “What I don’t understand, is why you don’t just bullet in your head.  Everything picayune aspect of your life takes so much effort.  What possible enjoyment can you have, can you bear, can you just enjoy and leave alone?”

“I enjoy breathing,” I say.

“Yeah, right,” she says.

“No, I’m not just being facetious,” I say.  “It’s therapeutic.  You should try it.  Just breathe in and out and concentrate on your breathing.”

I try to demonstrate by breathing deeply, but the cellophane wrap constricts my lungs.  I usually start with large breaths before settling in on smaller more directed breathing techniques.  

“Ok,” she says.  “Your CD, your agenda.”

“Then I think you should release me,” I say.

“Nice try,“ she says.  “Let’s stick to the breathing thing.”

She turns to reveal herself in profile, a lovely profile.  It looks like her cellophane wrap constricts her deep breathing as well.  

The human brain, I think is a very complicated thing.  Its capabilities are beyond my comprehension.  I think of it as a complex system.  I have expertise in complex management systems.

“Shoulders back.  Open up your chest and don’t force it,” I say.

She complies and breathes in and out deeply finding her breathing rhythm.  

The trance state is one of the more amazing functions of the human brain’s complex system.  A brilliant feat of evolution, the trance state allows individuals and groups to perform acts consciously unattainable.  Accessible by dance, chant, meditation and hashish, the trance state facilitated attacks on larger, stronger animals, defenses against superior numbers and horrific assignations.  Like all complex systems, however, the brain has several backdoors and loopholes.

“You’ve found your natural breathing rhythm,” I say.  “Good.  Now breath more natural, less exaggerated breaths.  Smaller, but still full.  I like to think of nice place like a seaside beach with gentle waves breaking on the shore.”

Hypnosis is perhaps the most famous loophole.  It is a backdoor to the trance state.  Once entered, though, it allows someone else to influence your actions.  I’ve always appreciated magicians and hypnotists.  They’re not the same of course.  There are no therapeutic magicians.  They delight us by deceiving our senses.  

“Do you see the beach?” I ask.

“Well,” she says, “not literally.”

“But the image is in your mind?” I say.

“Yes,” she says.

Hypnotists sneak in to our mind through the trance states back door from there they access our memories, our emotions and our actions.  I just wish I knew the technique. 

“And you can hear the sounds: the waves and the birds?” I ask.

“Yes,” she says.  “I hear waves, gulls and plovers.”

From what I remember, I just need to transfer her focus from meditative breathing to my voice and leave suggestions.

“Good,” I say.  “Who else is on the beach?”

“No-one,” she says.

“No-one?  No-one at all?” I say.

“No-one to speak to,” she says.

“You’re speaking with me,” I say.

“Yes,” she says.

“So, I am on the beach.” I say.

“No,” she says.  “Not yet.”

The last strains of “Little Wing” play out.  I have two minutes.  I must make a better connection.

“I want to be on the beach,” I say.

“You don’t want to be on this beach,” she says.

“I am on the beach,” I assert.

“NO!” She says.  “Not yet.”

“Hmmm,” I ponder.  I wish I knew the technique.  “What do you see on the beach?”

“The sky is white with high clouds,” she says.  “The sea is blue and the sand is red.”

“The sand is red?” I say.  “Like the pink volcanic beaches in the pacific?”

“It is white,” she says, “and tan and red.”

The music stops.  The DVD changer clunks searching for the next disk.  Anvil’s “Metal on Metal” begins to play again.

“Well,” she says, “that was interesting.  Everyone has hobbies I guess.”  She stands up.  “Mine is killing.”  She selects the nine inch carving knife and, in quick succession, steps around the end table and slices at my abdomen barely cutting through the cellophane. I feel a stinging sensation on my stomach.  I see the cellophane roll away from the cut and a trickle of blood.  She steps back, c***s her head to the side and says, “That’s not right.” 

I have hope.  

She steps toward me again.  She stabs me just below the right rib cage, cuts down below my belly button, across to my left side and up for an inch or two.

Till now, I thought shock was one of the greatest feats of evolution.  It allows a wounded animal to escape or counter attack before incapacitating pain sets in.  My bicycle once collided with a curb flipping me onto the sidewalk.  After checking for injuries, I decided I could walk home before the shock wore off.  By the time Marla, picked me up, I would hardly be able to lift my bike into her minivan.  By taking advantage of shock, I had time to get home and shower before the sprain in my left wrist and several abrasions forced me to rest.

Now, I think shock is God’s last gift to the gazelle; the gift of not feeling itself being torn apart by a cheetah. I feel pain, but it’s numb and localized.  My intestines have been sliced in several pieces.  I will bleed out soon.  My breathing is heavy and forced.  I double over to keep blood going to my brain.  You’d think, with this new insight, “God,” “gift” or “gazelle” would be amongst my last words.  Another word, however, seeped through my consciousness.  From a deep seeded need to label and categorize things, “seppuku” formed in my mouth and escaped my lips.

“What’s ‘SEP-POO-KOO?’” She asks.

I turn my face to hers and gasp three or four times.

“Oh, come on,” she says.  “You brought it up.  I know you want to explain it.  It’s what you do.  So tell me.”

“You,” I gasp, “must know.”

She looks at me puzzled.

“The cut,” I say, “down .. across … up.” 

“That’s SEP-POO-KOO!” she says. 

“Yes,” I say, “Japanese ritual suicide.  The cut… of the … repented Samurai.”

“Oh,” she says disappointed.  She moves directly in front of my face and kneels.  “I just didn’t like the way your fat stomach looked sticking out of the Saran Wrap. That’s all.”

I manage a grimace and shut my eyes.  The shock wears off quickly.  Pain spreads through my body and floods my mind.

“Is that just it?” she asks.  “Someone just slices the Samurai the way I cut you?”

No need to resist.  Just let these last thoughts flow.

“No,” I say.  I try to block out the pain.  I try to speak normally.  “The Samurai cuts himself … kneels with a rusty short sword …  cuts … stays upright … resists pain … can stand the pain … no longer … bows down to the ground.”

“And then he just dies?” she asks.

“No,” I say, “friend … katana … lops off … his head.”

“Well,” she says flipping the carving knife in her hand.  “I don’t usually do requests.”

She stands, walks behind the couch, grabs my hair and, with a quick pull, jerks my head back exposing my neck.  The knife flashes by.  It’s blade bites deep and hard.

© 2017 Chopstix



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I really enjoyed reading this, especially because of the interactions between the characters. Amanda was of particular interest, she had a sort of weird charisma to her.

Posted 8 Months Ago


1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

Chopstix

8 Months Ago

Thanx for the positive review and high rating.

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Added on February 5, 2017
Last Updated on February 5, 2017
Tags: Writing Excersize, Stephen King, On Writing

Author

Chopstix
Chopstix

Los Angeles, CA



About
In high school, I wrote lyrics. I started college writing poems and switched to short stories. After college, I discovered I could write computer programs, but I could not finish a novel (kept editi.. more..

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