The rain had come to soak everything. There was lightning. A plastic bag had blown up against a discarded newspaper. The two tangoed in the alley amidst a storm that had blown them into a pile of soiled, old clothes that had an air of mystery about them. Shadows moved in around the lights of passing cars on their way from the forgotten to the unknown. The mass could have been anything by morning.
The mass of the mess was moving in a slow amble in and within the boundaries of perception for just long enough to start to gain the kind of rhythm that forms into a momentum. By the time night had fallen again, the mass of plastic and paper and clothing was moving along with an even, practiced efficiency that sliced through another wind-blown evening.
By morning its movements had conjured an exhaustion which called for a rest that lasted well beyond noon. Bits of it picked itself up and began moving again around the edges of perception in the crowd passing by on overcast sidewalks. For the first time it had begun to notice that the others weren’t quite as it was. It started to mirror their movements. Drifting gave way to a quaintly grotesque approximation of ambulation.
In the winds of afternoon the mass of the mess had started a limp that had turned into a walk by early evening drizzle. It had come to be noticed by passing strangers who assumed it to be someone living in a home with no roof. They passed on without thinking about it too much as such things are difficult to stomach for those who have become rendered in the tidiness of the fortune that brings civilized life.
The mass of the mess had begun to notice something on the faces of passing people. It had been given to receiving gazes that were different from the gazes that others had given each other. Before long it had begun to understand that what it was that others were looking at it with was something less than affection. It did not know what to do with this understanding as it did not understand what understanding was.
When it had come to reflect on things in a shattered mirror in an alleyway it had begun to truly think for the first time. In the thought it had found it discovered awareness of itself and awareness of its qualities. It had come to understand disgust, which had come to be something that it had come to find in its reflection. An unseen shadow had come to greet the mass of the mess that did not leave for many days.
One evening a large discarded pair of scissors had come to slice through the unseen shadow. The mass of the mess fashioned a pair of hands and got to work, brushing and slicing away what it did not like that it could see in the image found on shards of mirror in the alley. By the light of morning, the mass of the mess swung its arms casually as it adjusted its shoulders on its way out of the alley, holding the scissors in its hands as it emerged.
It had come to see a bit less of the disgust in the faces of passing others as it ambled about in the light of dawn. Halfway into the hum of morning it had come to notice there was something missing until someone had asked it to do something with the scissors that it was still carrying around. It trimmed a little bit of something for someone who then handed it some money. There was another who had seen it working and asked it to use its large scissors on something else in exchange for money. Before long it was being directed to a new job at the end of each completed project. It exchanged some money for some presentable clothing. The following week it would buy a pen, a notebook and watch. It started keeping a schedule. People kept calling it “Barry” for some reason. And for some reason it had decided to spell its name “Bury” on its business cards.
Bury had soon made enough money with its scissors that it could afford an apartment. It started styling its hair and wearing cologne to cover up an odor that had emanated from it. Attracted by the cologne and mystery of a stranger, Bury had begun to catch the eye of young women. Having seen a commercial for jewelry on an old television, Bury knew a little bit of something about the happiness that might be had with a woman and he started dating.
When Bury was on dates, he was often asked by women about where he had come from. He didn’t want to lie, but he knew that his past was scarcely understandable so he asked his dates where they think that he might have come from. Over the course of many dates with a series of women, they had begun to assemble a story for him that they had come to assume quite without him saying a word about his actual past. In time he would forget all about the alley he had come out of and would come to accept their stories as memories that he carefully crafted in the back hallways of his imagination.
Years had begun to pass and Bury had gotten serious about dating a particular woman. He had purchased a few more pairs of large scissors and took on a few apprentices. Within a couple of years, he had hired a number people. Those who had been homeless and unemployed went to work for Bury’s growing business in scissor-based services.
Bury had bought a ring. The morning before he was to propose marriage he had taken out the trash. It was an overcast morning. There was a plastic bag drifting about in the alley as he placed his trash in the dumpster.
Russ Bickerstaff is a theatre critic and aspiring author living in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with his wife and two daughters. The central hub for his fiction can be found at: http://ru3935.wix.com/russ-bickerstaff