Short stories


When I am doing my daily walk, I empty my mind, the flame dances and incinerates, I throw things, I hammer things to nothing, I do all kinds of things destructive, use all kinds of WMDs, I toss the fear of the world being swallowed by a huge bumble bee or the sun being kicked like a football by a super centipede footballer or that all my money will dissipate like the smoke from a cigarette or that I am not really walking and instead I am home worrying about all these things and more, lots more and I am getting fat and ruddy and smell like blue cheese, all these I rid myself of. When I am not walking, I worry. I worry about cancer and what would happen if they started to sell fake cancer. I don’t know who they are but I know a dozen or more people that would buy fake cancer and parade the fake cancer as if the fake cancer was an expensive handbag. I walk every day and I walk always at the same time and I pass the same people and we nod and sometimes we say hello but we never say goodbye. There is a house I pass that always has the windows open. For months I thought there was a perpetual orgy in the house and then I thought the house was full of fascists, they are ubiquitous now, there are so many now of them that when they receive a punch we feel sorry for them, and then I thought the house was full of people that hated me and they waited for me to get near to the house so they could berate me and laugh at me. It turns out it’s a rental and it’s full of students, movie buffs. I started walking because of Kant. I read that Kant always walked the same route at the same time every day and he only stopped the walk when in that strange period they call moribundity. I do not know who they are. I know they come up with some fancy words and fools like me use these fancy words. When I am walking, I throw away words like moribundity because words I feel as I walk are like diseases. They appear, they do damage, and if you are lucky afterwards you say to yourself maybe I should have kept my mouth shut. I do three miles. I do not know how many miles Kant accomplished. I could easily find out. It would take me a second, maybe three. But I don’t want to know. I want to come over slightly ignorant. Is ignorant the right word? You know I am not lazy? I walk three miles every day. A man who walks three miles every day cannot pick up the appellation lazy. I worry that the aliens that will eventually find us will think we are terribly boring and they will prefer our cats or they will simply eradicate us. I fear that the horse I put money on is a donkey. I fear the gin I drink is really water. I fear that my head is full of cotton wool and behind the eyes and between the ears it is black. I know that Kant started his walk at twelve O’clock, after a few cups of tea and a smoke. I only drink tea. I don’t know anybody that smokes a pipe. I don’t know anybody that wears a smoking jacket. I don’t know anybody that wears a cravat. I worry about my penury. I worry that I do not know a poet. I worry that I am all center and no circumference. Kant lived in a big city. The city was once called Königsberg but now it is called Kaliningrad. I live in the city ___________________. The Russian writers used this device, I am told, to create a feeling of realism. I never run. Well, I only run when I am being chased. I run away from police, dogs, and rain. I fear the blue sky will get fed up and leave a Dear John letter or that all the boxers will take a dive or Geza Csath’s books will go out of print or the bass parts of Jaco Pastorius will simply disappear. I was near the end of my walk, drowning in sweat but penurious of worry and fear, when I was stopped by two eighty plus year old women. I stopped because they seemed affable and without a hint of violence. I saw no smashed bottles and sharp knives in their skeletal tanned hands. Their mouths were full of teeth, white and even. They emanated a smell of the Garden of Magalíluismili. I was intoxicated. We see you walking all the time, they said. I told them about my ritual. They were both in better shape than me. What is fear? What is worry? I don’t know. I told you early on that I know nothing. I told you early on, at the very beginning that I throw away all fear and worry.

Paul Kavanagh