GIVETHEREADERSWHATTHEYWANT!
One writer's experiment to tackle any subject his friends come up with.
5/31/11-PETER HRABAK

Blood From a Stone

Two different stone carvers.
One in the Middle Ages of Europe, shaper of obelisks and large sturdy objects.
The other more contemporary, somewhere from 1900-present, and a Pacific Rim resident who carves soft stone into candle holders and oth…er trinkets.
Each loses two fingers on the same hand at some point during the course of their work and has to deal with it.

 

Jake hopped into the ’48 Ford and revved the engine. Keeping the old girl purring took a little effort, but their relationship was rewarding in and of itself.

It had been a slow day, what he liked to refer to as “restful”. Some days were busy, others not; they had an ebb and flow. A rhythm larger than his understanding drove the patterns of his life. But no day spent carving in the shade of the large palm was wasted.

The past few years had seen a sharp upswing in tourists. Some of the natives complained, but he was happy for the business. Everyone on vacation here was open to happiness and casual talk. Jake’s lifestyle didn’t have him grubbing for every cent he could find. If someone didn’t care to buy, he was still happy to chat. He had collected a lush variety of personal histories over the years. He was always amazed at the personal details he was given within a few minutes of conversation, often lubricated by a drink or two. The beach had proven to be a treasure trove of lives.

As his truck trundled up the mountain road, at times a barely passable gully, he checked the ramshackle wooden rack in the passenger’s seat beside him. A loose collection of wooden shelves, cobbled together from found materials, sturdy enough to suffice. It held his current life’s work. Small carvings, mostly of soapstone, some of bone and driftwood. His modest collection of trinkets brought a smile to his face. Maybe someday he would move on to larger things. For now, candlesticks and figurines paid the rent and supplied him with a simple joy. He was good at them. After ten years, the movements came easily. His hands enjoyed the work. They flowed themselves around each raw piece until it was known like a lover’s body in the dark. Dimples and roundness bespoke the form within, each new piece teaching his hands what they were to bring from this unique material.

Jake began to think on dinner. He had picked up some fresh mahi-mahi and was looking forward to lighting the grill when he got home. Perhaps he would invite his neighbor, Elaine. She was probably a decade older than Jake, but he had taken to enjoying her company more and more lately. She was a vivacious woman who obviously returned his appreciation. He decided to stop by her house on the way. He turned the last switchback and gave the old truck some gas to get up the last stretch of mountainside.

The truck rolled over a large rock, and Jake heard and felt the rear passenger-side tire blow out. That damned bent rim. He’d been meaning to replace it for years. Now he’d have to get home on his bald spare – not an easy task on the muddy rocks ahead.

Jake set the emergency brake and climbed out. He began to rummage in the bed of the truck and remembered that he’d left the good jack in the workshed after his last tinkering with the transmission. That left the truck’s original bumper jack, primitive but serviceable. He scolded himself for his carelessness. He vowed to put the modern jack back in its place when getting home, and see whether he could fix the rim himself.

Jake worked the jack up under the rust-flecked bumper and slowly lifted the truck. As soon as the tire had enough clearance from the ground, he unscrewed the lug nuts. He wiped sweat from his eyes and looked up the mountainside toward the sun, his back to the woody downhill slope and the beach far below. Grabbing the tire, he found it completely airless, hanging flaccid on the metal rim. He began struggling to remove it when a sudden creak and lurch brought the rear end of the truck crashing to the ground again. Jake’s chest heaved in the adrenaline rush.

But the truck had not come to a rest. sitting lop-sided on its loose tire, it was now sliding toward him and the steep dropoff on the other side of the switchback. Jake jumped up out of the way of the groaning heap of metal, feeling a sharp tug on his right arm as he did so. The truck continued to slide over the edge of the road, rolling down the steep side of the hill. Debris spun out in arcs from the now-shattered cabin. He gaped as his eyes singled out a small, delicate crane, ejected with dozens of other carvings, sailing off to land in the mountain’s lush overgrowth of ferns and palm trees or to shatter on the rocks. He was watching a snowball in reverse, everything unraveling as it gained momentum, coming apart and spewing its contents into the void.

He gradually became aware of a dizziness and a dull ache in his right hand. He looked down at a sleeve wet with red. He held up the hand and saw that he had lost more than his work. Even more intimate parts of himself were now remnants, claimed by the machinery which had casually and catastrophically tossed aside the collected efforts of his recent life. A slow moan grew from him as he gazed upon his once strong hand and saw not five but three fingers. Numbness started to give way to shock and pain. Jake felt himself getting weak, and fought to stay upright. He shoved his hand into his shirt and bunched as much of it as he could with his left hand around it, holding it tightly. He gave vent to an animal roar through clenched teeth. Elaine’s house was less than a quarter mile away. He would have to make it.

*****

Elaine peered through the screen door into Jake’s small bungalow. He hadn’t been in the backyard. He’d been keeping to himself far too much lately. “Jake? I grilled up some sea bass, thought you’d like some. You home?”

She heard a muffled “Yeah, I”m here,” from the dim interior. Elaine opened the door and entered. Jake sat on the couch, idly pawing at a small stone fertility goddess beside him with his left hand. His eyes were set in dark rings. A half-empty bottle of rum stood on the driftwood coffee table in front of him. The grilled fish Elaine carried into the room added sharp fresh notes to the stagnant air. Elaine’s face fell as she looked at Jake. This once vibrant young man had eroded before her.

She set the dish on the coffee table and sat beside him. “Jake, honey. Let’s get you out of here.”

“I’m alright. Just tired. I’m probably going to hit the hay in a bit.”
Elaine sighed, wondering about their relationship, her place in his life, her stake in his confidences. “Jake, this aint good for you, or anybody. I’m not gonna sit here and watch you wither.”

Jake looked up at her, eyes opening, then tightening. His lips pursed, waiting to form words out of frustration. “What should I do then, Elaine? My life’s work is shattered and sprawled down the mountain into fragments I couldn’t hope to find. And I don’t have a chance at making any more. Remember this?” He shoved his right hand into the air, and she jumped back at the violence of the motion.

Jake sneered. “Disgusting, right? I know. And useless for carving. I can’t hold a tool to save my life. You know how much pressure it takes to cut stone? Three fingers is not enough. You’ve got to put your will into that thing. Cut away all the parts that don’t belong. It takes strength I don’t have anymore, and can’t get back.”

He was still holding the hand up in front of Elaine. She grabbed it, and fought his attempts to pull it back. Jake stopped struggling. “There’s nothing disgusting about this hand.” She held it between her own two hands and inspected it with a practical eye. “Sure, I wish there was more of it. Wish I had some more fingers myself. Hey, if you’re not using these, could I have them?” She smiled wryly at Jake.

“Knock it off. You know what I mean. Sculpting is the only thing I was ever good at, the only thing I really loved doing. And some two dollar car part has taken it away from me.”

Elaine’s touch was gentle. She enveloped his incomplete hand within hers. “Honey. Nothing can be taken away from you that you don’t give away willingly.”

Jake rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I let the surgeon know I’d like to keep my fingers. Seeing as how they’d been ground to hamburger, it didn’t really seem like I had a choice.”

Elaine looked down with a muted smile. She rested her hands, still holding Jake’s, in her lap. “Let me tell you something.” She looked at Jake, still smiling, though her eyes seemed to have let in sadness as well. “I lost something important to me, years ago. I found out I had cancer. They were able get rid of it, but it cost me some plumbing. I didn’t know if I wanted to try and have kids or not, but I realized I wanted the option. It hurt me a lot more than I would have thought. I wasn’t suicidal or anything, but after about six months, I realized I was dreaming all the time about this perfect kid I would have had if I’d only had the chance. I’d built it up into this unhealthy obsession, and I was letting it define me.”

Jake was looking at her, still reserved, but interested. His defenses faltered in the face of her loss.

“I started writing. I tried journaling to get through my issues, recording what I was going through. That helped some. But I realized I was still stuck in this rut of fantasy about what could have been. So I made up a lady who had gone through the same thing, only she was dealing with it. I made her completely different from me, someone I would look up to, someone I knew I should try to be like. She was an amazon, stronger than any woman I knew, tender of course, but with a solid spirit and a deep foundation to herself. Maybe she was a little silly, I could see that. I’m no writer. But I enjoyed making her up, seeing how she would react to things, always having her make the best of everything. And after a while, I realized it: I could be this woman. I knew the choices to make. I’d helped her make them. I could make them for myself.”

Jake looked down to where his hand rested in Elaine’s lap. She seemed unconscious of it. His forehead wrinkled. “Sounds kinda weird.”

“I’ve heard this saying before: ‘Being is becoming.’ It is kinda weird. But not until I’d been through this did I get it. You want to be someone, do the things that person would do. Write yourself down, the best version of yourself. Believe me. It’s hard, but it can be fun, too. Come on. I’ll help you get started.”

“Right now?”

“Absolutely.”

Elaine rifled through kitchen drawers and produced a capless ball point and a spiral notebook. She handed them to Jake. “Here. Doesn’t take more than three fingers to write. Let’s go.”

Jake looked uninspired at the prospect before him. One more glance at bright-faced Elaine, now sitting on the rattan ottoman in front of him, and he picked up the pen.

“You’re a sculptor. A bold, noble profession. You work with your hands, you create directly and immediately. You have an artistic spirit, but the strong hands of somebody who shapes hard stone. What’s the essence of that? Who’s the – primordial version of yourself? Who was your ancestor, Great-great-grandpa Jake?”

Jake couldn’t help but smile. He was happy to be reminded of the energy he loved in Elaine. Although her words felt untrue, her generosity misplaced, he set aside the current definition of himself and tried to feel the spirit she was putting out to him. His past visions of what the life of an ancient stone carver must have been like came back to him.

“I don’t know, maybe he’s a guy from the Middle Ages.”

“Good. A time of absolutes. Write that down.”

Jake scribbled the old pen around for a moment to get ink flowing, then obliged Elaine’s request. She kept up the energy of her line of thought.

“Where’s he from?”

“Uh, Rome.”

Elaine lifted her eyebrows, pointed to Jake’s notebook, and he wrote.

“What’s his name?”

I don’t know. I don’t know any ancient Roman names.”

“Well, I’d say it’s not important, but let’s try to get into this guy. He really existed, you know.”

Jake squinted again. “What?”

“Your Roman. How many Roman stone carvers do you think there were in the Middle Ages?”

“Thousands, I guess. Who knows.”

“Yeah, thousands. How about ‘Nero’? I get the feeling there was probably a stone carver named Nero.”

Jake smirked and shook his head. His handwriting was far from what it used to be, but writing was not taxing. “Okay, Nero. Nero the stone carver.”

“Now, Jake. What does this virile, curly-headed, sun-bronzed Roman really work with? What does he carve?”

“Great big-ass monoliths,” Jake replied, grinning despite himself. “With elephants on top. The kind that are so amazing and heavy that it’s a wonder that stand at all, but would feel impossible to knock down.”

“Yeah! I like it! Nero is a mountain of a man. I’m in love with him. But I have to know if he has any kids.”

Jake looked up at Elaine. “Huh?”

“This is a real guy, remember? We’re just digging him out of the past. So, is he married?”

“Uh, yeah.”

“Kids?”

“Two boys.”

“Strapping lads, I’m sure.”

“Actually, one is pretty scrawny. He studies a lot. His brother picks on him, but Nero is proud of him for choosing to be himself.”

Elaine smiled warmly, her eyes shining. Over the next few hours the two found out that Nero’s wife was his second, after the first had died in childbirth. She was an older woman, not attractive, but peaceful and a good balance to the dynamic of the three males. Nero was thirty-nine and had poor eyesight due to flying rock pieces (having no access to eye protection). As they reheated the fish in the microwave and sat down to eat, Elaine learned from Jake that Nero secretly supported an underground political movement to free Rome’s remaining slaves. He quarried stone himself, and had seven active apprentices. He was well-respected as a stout worker and a fine craftsman. People told stories of how he would walk the granite quarry walls, examining the visible surfaces in the variety of sunlight throughout the day, would stand in front of a section and pass his hands over its lightly veined surface for an hour or more, heedless of the quarry’s heat and dust.

Elaine came to eat and talk with Jake at least once each day over the next week. Nero lived a full life. The details surely contained historical inaccuracies, but Jake was finding a truth more substantial than fact. Elaine loved hearing about Nero and his exploits. She loved seeing the energy returning to Jake even more. But Jake’s insular life persisted.

One evening, six days after discovering Nero, Elaine sat quietly after hearing a particularly bawdy exploit Nero had indulged in in his youth. Nero’s father had taken him to the local whorehouse to “clean his pipes”, and he had run away, terrified. Elaine was finding a delightful blurring between the tales Jake’s clients had told him, the workings of his own vivid imagination, and what surely must be some thinly-veiled stories of Jake himself. As her laughter settled, she sipped from her glass of wine and looked calmly at Jake. He held his pen comfortably in the three fingers of his right hand.

“So tell me, Jake. How did Nero lose his fingers?”

Jake’s eyes went dark. He rested his hand beside him, tucking it from view. Elaine hoped she hadn’t invited a reaction against their progress.

“I don’t know. Maybe he didn’t.”

“Hmm. If Eileen hadn’t gotten ovarian cancer, I don’t think she would have helped me much.”

“Yeah, but I like Nero. I don’t want to do that to him. He’s a really good guy – he deserves better.”

She looked at him, saw the sadness returning. She’d rather he were laughing again, even if only at their silly game. “He does deserve better. But it happened to him. And he got through it. Think about it. Think about how primitive their safety measures were back then. He’s got a dangerous job, really. Remember: he’s a real person. We’re just digging him out of history. How many medieval stone carvers do you think had all their fingers when they retired?”

“Some of them. Maybe most of them. Just – shut up, would you? I don’t want to play this sadistic game.”

“Jake. I didn’t give Eileen cancer. I didn’t give myself, or my friend Trudy cancer. But I faced up to it when it happened to them, and to myself. If I hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here with you. I might still be alive, but I wouldn’t be the person I am today. Tell me something. Do I look like a spent-up shell of a girl?”

“What? Of course not.”

“Well, I was. For about six months, I walked around like a zombie. My friends gave up on me, I stopped going anywhere, I was just – listless. I became trapped in this picture of myself as a half-person. And I didn’t cure myself by creating this fantasy character. I made her, and I internalized the good choices I knew how to make after I’d taken her through them. You can’t get stuck here, Jake – it won’t do you any good. We pulled Nero out of history so he could help you. Let him do that.”

Jake remained sunken into the worn cushions, not looking at Elaine. “I don’t know. How do you think it happened?”

“I think it should come from you.”

Jake rolled his eyes and crossed his arms, tucking his right hand under his left elbow. “Well, it sure as hell isn’t going to be because of some shitbox Ford.”

Elaine raised her eyebrows and tilted her head. “Yes, that might be a little anachronistic.”

Jake caught a slight smirk on his face and winced it away. “It’s just – it should mean something, you know?”

“Sure. I can appreciate that.”

Jake was silent for several minutes. Elaine, not wanting to place any more pressure on him, stepped into the small galley kitchen to brew some tea. When she returned with two mismatched mugs, Jake was writing. She sipped quietly for a moment, allowing Jake to finish. He looked up at her, his pen still on the notebook, his hand shaking.

“If this is supposed to be so cathartic, why do I feel sick?”

Elaine smiled wanly. “Honey, I’m not sure you know what catharsis means. Why don’t you tell me what you’ve got.”

Jake closed his eyes and took in a deep, shuddering breath. He leaned back in the couch with the notebook in his lap.

“It’s nothing amazing. One of the quarry slabs just…” Jake dropped the pen and wrung his hands, his left massaging his right, held against his chest. “How’s he going to – I feel like I’m ending his life!”

“I know, honey, I know.” Elaine moved to sit beside Jake, placed an arm around his hunched shoulders. “But you’re not. He’s going to come out of this, stronger than before. You have to trust him. You just pick up your pen and follow.”

Jake sobbed quietly for another minute.

“God, this is stupid. Why should I put myself through this nihilistic garbage?”

“Jake, I’m not asking you to destroy yourself. The pain you’re feeling is because you’re opened up to the reality of what this means again. Living numb for half a year is no way to deal with anything; you never get past it. I’m proud of you for turning back around and looking this in the eye.”

Jake calmed his breathing. He looked at the notebook. “So an obsidian slab he’s picked out for an obelisk slips as he’s helping to move it.” Jake took a breath. “It’s only a few inches, but the whole weight lands on his fingers, and they’re crushed.”

Elaine thought back to Jake on her front porch, hunched over his arm, his shirt drenched in blood, his face colorless and damp.

“How awful.”

Jake looked up sharply her reaction, but his annoyance was tempered by the sorrow he found. Her reaction was genuine, and held ages of experience. She felt the loss for Jake’s character, for Eileen, for the two of them sitting on that couch. Jake began to find details not yet on the page.

“Yeah. It was. There were plenty of colleagues around, though, who came to his aid. His good friend, uh, Steve, the Quarrymaster, bandaged him up perfectly.”

Elaine chuckled. “Steve?”

Jake smiled. “Yeah. Short for ‘Stevius’.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Okay. What happened then?”

“Well, he went home.”

“No doctor?”

“Nope. Well, yeah. The doctor came to his house. Stitched him up.”

Elaine reached for Jake’s hand. “I bet he was terrified.”

“He’s a pretty tough guy. But yeah, he started to doubt everything. Had no idea what the future held.”

“The Middle Ages were not kind to invalids. And he had a young family to take care of.”

Jake nodded. “Hmm.”

Elaine let the situation sit with them for a moment, then spoke again. “Nero has been through a lot. How about we come back to him tomorrow? Do you feel like going down to Sal’s with me?”

Jake looked to Elaine’s sandals and the sock loop rug they rested on. Sal had been serving locals the best huli-huli chicken for twenty years, and had been his favorite local dive before the accident. “Oh – I guess not.” He folded his arms again. “Think I’ll just turn in tonight.”

Elaine nodded. “Suit yourself. Mind if I stop over for lunch tomorrow?”

Jake smiled. “Sure.”

*****

I am a man endowed with certain talents. And I have, to the best of my ability, pursued and perfected those talents, to the glory of my Creator. I have eschewed pride and sought humility. Where others in my station may have chosen to focus on the fineries of the work, I maintained my interest in all its aspects, sometimes most especially in the meanest facets of the work.

And for that I have now paid, with the price of pursuing that work and perfecting those talents any further. No longer will I wield hammer and chisel, thanks either to capricious fate or my Creator’s ineffable will.

Days pass. My suffering wanes. I can hold a spoon, but little else. I have no delusions of resuming my work. Even fully healed, it would be blasphemy to force my crippled efforts into stone. My esteem of life’s richness has degraded to one of meaningless jest. I pray for my family’s security. The Emperor’s obelisk will surely be completed by other, less capable hands.

Aulus visited me today. My best student, at one time a beacon to my efforts, now a further source of grief in potential misplaced. He entreats me to maintain hope. I force on him the full evidence of my deformity and reject him as a fool.

It has been a week since Aulus’s visit. I had thought him lost to another carver, as any student should rightly proceed. But today he returned. He had spent his time on designs for the obelisk, and begged me to look at them. They showed promise, as his work often does, but a clumsiness with articulation. It is a skill which only comes with time.

I congratulated him on his efforts, and wished him luck in presenting them to the Emperor’s staff. But he had no wish to pursue the work independent of my guidance. He has the special wisdom of acknowledging his limitations. I told him I had no interest in becoming a second-hand contributor, patronized and permitted to have his say while the real work was done by able hands. But he persisted. He alternated between cajoling praise and needful entreating. He began to draw further repetitions of his existing inarticulateness, until I tore the pencil from his hand to correct his missteps. The ideas flowed unsteadily onto the paper, but I was able to convey to him their meaning. Several hours later, we had a workable premise for the design, and blood was flowing to regions of my heart I had begun to forget.

Now I find myself tutoring Aulus and the other apprentices daily. They have become my hands, imperfect extensions that they are. They are their own selves as well. They come to learn from me, and in that learning do our work. My previous claims to humility have become clear, as I accept the ready help of equally passionate souls around me.

*****

Elaine set the notebook down on her dining table. Through a veil of tears, she looked at Jake, seated to her left.

“It’s beautiful, honey. I think Nero’s going to be alright.”

Jake sat with his arms crossed. “Yeah, I think so, too. But I’m not sure how it helps me.”

“Really?”

“Yeah, I mean – I don’t have any cadre of disciples around, waiting to help out.” He checked himself, and continued, “I’m grateful for everything you’ve done, I really am. But – you’re not a sculptor, right?”

Elaine smiled. “No, I’m not. I could never understand how you were able to see the beauty in those rocks, much less bring it out. But I think you’re being too literal. I didn’t end up doing the exact things that Eileen did, I mostly admired her spirit, her willingness to keep growing and learning.” She paused and leaned forward, looking at the notebook as she raised her eyebrows. “Her ability to accept the help and love of the friends that surrounded her. And I wasn’t able to have children after my journey with Eileen, either. I learned new things about myself, and moved on with them.”

Jake’s forehead was creased, his eyebrows and lips tight. He ran his fingers through his hair and rested his hands on the table. “I still don’t know what to do, though.”

“Well then, keep writing. But don’t let it stop you from trying to work. I don’t think it’s time for you to give up on sculpture yet. You might have designs you want to draw out, for others to work on. You might try other tools. Maybe a longer handle would allow you to tie off against your forearm. I don’t know. But you’re open to the idea of working again, and that’s a start. You may have to relearn everything and implement completely new techniques, but six months from now you’ll be better off than where the last six months have gotten you.”

Elaine grasped Jake’s damaged hand. It had become a familiar sensation to them both, but Jake now returned her grip with a surprising strength.

“You’re right,” he said, still pondering. “I think,” he added with a smirk. “Who knows. You want to help me go dig out some old tools?”

“Absolutely.”

 

Copyright Cole Bennett, all rights reserved.

 

 

14 Comments to “5/31/11-PETER HRABAK”

  1. Cole Bennett says:

    Where do you guys come up with this stuff! My world is verdant with friends and fantasy. Thanks, Pete!

  2. Pat Bennett says:

    Will Elaine and Jake become a couple? Sounds like they already had the beginnings of a romance before the accident and now it’s cemented. I really like both of them as people and I would be intrigued to read the book!

    • Cole Bennett says:

      I see it happening, very slowly and naturally. These guys took so much time talking about the writing I couldn’t put anything else in!

  3. ben says:

    love it – the best one yet!

  4. Adam Gillett says:

    This is the longest story yet – it took me two weeks to read! :-)
    I really enjoyed the quasi-meta device of Nero’s tale. It’s appropriate, and it partially explores the territory of “writing about writing”, which is appreciated in this series of yours.
    My only criticism is the story starter & beginning – when the starter contains obvious spoilers, it should be placed after the story. I read very quickly through the beginning because I knew what was coming.

    • Cole Bennett says:

      Thanks for picking up on the meta-stuff, Adam. It struck me as the perfect method for bringing the two together – not just showing each, but somehow binding one to the other. And it was interesting to me: the idea that one might see Nero’s experience as less “real” than Jake’s. Is a character created by a character within a story any less relevant than the original character? If so, why? Our perception of levels of reality in *fiction* can be very telling about our experience with the process of reading.

      Did that make sense to anybody? If so, could you explain it to me? :)

      I agree with you about the starter spoilers. I forget that readers are not as familiar with them as I am, and need to give myself more freedom to hide them. In this one, I didn’t see the loss of his fingers as a surprise, or any moment to save up for, but rather as a given. Michelle and I have had discussions about whether these stories should be intended to stand on their own in the traditional sense, or whether being presented with the starter (before or after) is an inherent part of the experience. It depends on how far outside the norm I’m willing to ask the reader to go with me. Some may be happy to experiment, and go along for the ride. Others may see it as a crutch, that I’m unable or unwilling to write a standard story without the starter setting some part of it up for me. I haven’t decided on that answer yet.

  5. Joe says:

    I’m getting to this late. Explication is always tricky. I like the story of Nero, but I think the beginning of Jake is a bit dry, a bit outliney. Maybe it’s a novel instead of a story.

    • Cole Bennett says:

      It’s interesting: I did get into a totally different voice with after Jake and Elaine started talking, so I can see how it would feel dry, more like a statement of facts than something as involving and drawn out as their conversations on the writing. Thanks as always for your honest opinion, Joe! I count myself very lucky to have your regular input.

  6. Peter Hrabak says:

    Cole!
    I like it! I don’t know what to say about it since my literary criticism skills are non-existent. I certainly enjoyed the character study and thought the way you incorporated the medieval ancestor as a focus for emotional healing was a great way to handle my awkward premise. Perhaps I should have floated the idea of a LiDAR technician suffering from extreme weltschmerz to see what sort of cathartic direction you’d have taken that. :P
    I need to read more of your stories.

    • Cole Bennett says:

      Pete!
      Glad you liked it. Your mind is fecund with provocative juxtapositions, truly! I had to look up “weltschmerz”, and – thank you – it’s a tragic concept, full of potential, and one I’m not unfamiliar with myself.

  7. Eric T Morrow says:

    “Honey, I’m not sure you know what catharsis means.”

    Funniest line I think I’ve read In quite some time. Probably because I can totally relate to Jake on that at times.

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