Wednesday's Three Word Wednesday

The words over at Three Word Wednesday are drink, feeble and predict. This is the 200th 3WW prompt; I checked and my first was Jan. 10, 2008 – the 69th prompt. That’s 131 3WW contributions to date, if you’re counting at home.

Night Moves
The house is dark, save for twin flames kicked up from slender Mexican religious votives. There’s a chill in the air; as with nearly everything else, the furnace slumbers through the nexus of night.
Ahmad Jamal pours out into the night, low on the stereo; it’s his 1958 live recording at Chicago’s Pershing Hotel and the drum and piano – slinking and sexy – of “Poinciana” has become the original soundtrack of this particular darkness.
There’s an antiseptic smokiness to his teeth and gums from the bourbon he’s poured; the drink is never far from his grip, the glass, the liquid, another soothing tonic for his troubled soul.
Restless under quilts and comforters, he has since swung his legs from the bed and ambled feeble and naked across wood floors, the chill like spikes on his calloused soles. While his eyes wake and adjust to the darkness, fingertips brush the plastered hallway walls like whiskers, which keeps him on-course.
His pupils’ constrict as the lighter explodes into an orange flame as he lights the votives. He sets the lighter down and scoops up the handful of rocks – beach agates mostly, smoothed by surf and sand – and rolls a particularly milky one between the thumb and index finger of his left hand. He shuts his eyes and tries to hear the echoes this particular talisman has to offer.
He breathes deep and the rocks are deposited back into the dusty martini glass. He runs his hands across the vertical stacks of plastic, the multitudes of CDs that he reinvested in when the age of the phonograph came and went; the very collection that was slowly becoming obsolete in the new age of iTunes, downloads, digital music.
Without looking, his fingers find the jewel cases he seeks at times like this: Jamal, Diana Krall, Ray Charles, Miles Davis, Dave Brubeck.
He slots the music into the player by candlelight, like he’s done thousands of times before, hits shuffle, takes a mouthful of bourbon and closes his eyes as if to will the first random selection. He smiles as the first strains of “Poinciana” begin and he shutters – the muscles in his back ripple – as the déjà vu moment flashes and subsides.
He runs a hand across his face and fingertips reading the Braille that is the stubble of his beard. His fingers trace his nose down across his lips, across his chin and down to where the thick chest hair begins. His hand rests on his heart – the pads detect the two-step, tuh-tump of his beating heart and he sighs, slight. He raises his head to the ceiling and breathes deep once again.
He crosses the living room to the sofa, lands quietly and brings his knees to his chest. He massages the knuckles of scar tissue that run like a zipper across the outer edge of the ruined joint. He smiles again, and takes in the memory of long runs alone - where his mind sometimes found calm.
But not tonight – and for past many nights, for that matter – as his brain has drawn him, once again restless, from flannel sheets to meander through his house in the dark. As if by mission to recall and remember the aura of memories that filled each object – all the treasured knick-knacks - that radiated half-life into the night.
Where the darkness might take him, it’s too muddled to predict.
At times like this, he’s happy to be surrounded by these bits of congealed time – a just-in-case scenario, a gathering of markers - debris, really - of a life lived thus far.
There's comfort, for these are the very things that kept him grounded, secure, here.

23 comments:

K said...

Thom. I'm floored by the lyrical quality of this piece. I can see this aging, but not quite "old" man. Weathered, wiser, maybe a bit weary, but alive. Beautifully written. I'm going to read it again.

anthonynorth said...

Reliving a good part of the past. The words lull you, too. The right mood.

Aoife.Troxel said...

I really liked this. Like K said, it was really lyrical. I could see it all, feel it all. It was beautiful, and just a little sad.

Leo said...

i could see the man in my mind Thom.. very lyrical indeed..!

Angel said...

This piece was beautiful and full of saddness.

Jay Thurston said...

I got the feeling also he was past his prime but not quite elderly. The dated way he prefered to listen to his music implied he was set in his ways. I worried for the character though with the restlessness and meandering to remember memories from objects that it implied early Alzheimer's, rather than simply seeking nostalgia. That may or may not have been the intent but I could see that forming there.

Excellent on the descriptions and emotions as always!

R.S. Bohn said...

Agreed -- lyrical, though it seems a fitting description, eh?

antiseptic smokiness to his teeth and gums

Loved that line. Perfection.

Greyscale Territory said...

Rich, almost sensual descriptions! I especially love "an antiseptic smokiness to his teeth and gums" and "congealed time"! A beautiful piece of writing!

Pblacksaw said...

Makes me wonder if you knew my uncle... I loved it..

Stan Ski said...

I think we all know someone like this - perhaps a prediction of ourselves in years to come.

Julie Jordan Scott said...

Once I reached "But not tonight" it was as if a barely perceptible shift happened, like a jolty earth quake so minor only the sensitive among us feel. Hmmm. Leaves my center feeling sad.

(and thanks for the comment on my homeless 3WW poem. That is like a combination of last week and this week since I never would have taken that photo and interacted with that man so intently if it hadn't been for that prompt. See, you never know where your work will continue to impact the world, Thom. 131 prompts down and who knows how many lives positively changed?)

Ann (bunnygirl) said...

Almost poetry, and just long enough. I love the sense of frozen time, of those dark hours between midnight and dawn when the world seems to hold its breath.

Very nicely done.

Thomma Lyn said...

Amazing piece, Thom, with beautifully rendered detail, and masterful writing throughout -- takes my breath away, and my heart goes out to this man, yet I can feel, too, and empathize with how he helps himself to feel comfortable and secure.

Timothy P. Remp said...

I could relate to your character in a lot of ways, but I’m more of a whiskey kinda of guy.

-Tim

gautami tripathy said...

Somehow it touches home..

now it is there, now it isn't

UWGB-BEEK said...

I like the description because you can see a man that is probably in his late 40's or older and this man is alone.

He sure has great taste in music, and it is almost like he can romance himself with the music. I would also say that the music is therapy for a aged man that was once able to do more, but can't due to his "ruined joint."

I also like the pace of the piece, because it makes the story seem real.

one more believer said...

i like this midnight stroll of touch and feel his way through his life....

b said...

This was so good...I actually found myself taking a deep breath of that night time air. I am never more at home than when I am feeling my way across the room...I always find an idea waiting on a dusty shelf!

I finally repaired my link...blogspot sold me a domain but was extremely slow allowing me to use it...I just don't know how that works!

Be well.

b

Sulci Collective said...

Excellent mood piece, really got inside this character's head.

marc nash

Maria A. Kelly said...

Love the poetic mood of this piece. Very nicely crafted.

Lou Freshwater said...

We do find comfort in these things that hold our meaning. Lovely writing.

Vivek said...

Agree with others on this. Sheer quality :)

Mysoul said...

I like the way you paint with words, the way you describe the Man - "antiseptic smokiness to his teeth and gums" ; "the chill like spikes on his calloused soles" ; "fingertips brush the plastered hallway walls like whiskers, which keeps him on-course." (The indication that hes lost his sight, I like subtlety); "fingertips reading the Braille that is the stubble of his beard"..

Thank you for the good meal that filled my soul. :)