There’s hearing, and then there’s listening. It’s a distinction that I have lived with. I can only listen to what is important and worthy of my attention, words and sounds of only such a prestigious decor that may enter my royal court mind. The rest of the sound is thrown outside by my perception’s guardsmen. Occasionally the sound echoes against the emptiness of the air to find no one to give it a listen, and begging, it bangs on my eardrums once again desperately to see if I might show mercy upon it, that I might give its simple bread and water, attention. I haven’t the time for mercy. Can’t they see that? I am close to getting rid of my ears altogether, destroying the gate and dismissing the guards and digging a moat to isolate me from all of the jibber that comes to crowd my brain and make any of my attempts to process my life slow and shuffling like a line at a DMV. Quiet is what I need, and I might be able to figure something out, but the incessant rapping of life at my chamber door is too much to try and ignore. The only way to stop the knocking was to open the door, give whatever beggar is on his knees in front of me his due, a good heave out the door, and finally I could rest myself down into my throne and think.
Heaving the doors open from my breast, I saw him with surprise. Didn’t expect Perry Allen to show up at my door, but here he was, knocking steadily, patiently, rhythmically not trying to cause a fuss, but nothing’s a small matter for me now. Everything’s a big deal. I showed him my forearm in gesture to enter, generally dissatisfied with everything. I began to notice all of the little things that weren’t perfect: the grey slabs of stone slightly crooked and off kilter in their construction of the walls, the folds in the redvelvet carpet leading up to my throne that I would stumble over, the splotchy wood of my seat of power varnished unevenly. When we had made our way sufficiently inside, I let him speak his mind. Love songs…sentimental love songs. Why did I even bother.
My stare was backing him up towards the door, and I was ready to push him through the oak before the hinges had time to open, to dismiss his experience and life from which his lyrics drew before I even listened to them. He walked backwards only for his safety, but kept his sound coming steady like a good performer. His songs were now nothing more than the crooked bricks or the tarnish-varnish wood, and I couldn’t worry myself about them, I had to shove them out of my consciousness, deal with them another day. At my moment of strength, mustering the most threatening blank stare I could with my arms back ready to give him the good shove, my toes caught the fold in the red carpet. I tripped, all the while Perry’s song still playing
Recovering from my fall, I had time to pause, and listen to the love songs. After all of his singing, only now did I realize Perry’s voice; light and beautiful, even though he was a man, but it was grounded at the same time, filled with variances that showed his character in its strained highs and lulled lows. His songs had a rambling tone to them, a sense of communication instead of teaching. The lyrics were not neatly packed proverbs that told me how to live my life or what things were, but were enjambments poking out of the boxwork frame of music that shared with me a story of how things were for him. The rhythm stood still, keeping regular in contrast to the meaning behind the lyrics, the images, violent in tesion between the narrator and a loved one, and pride, and people, and war, and himself. I found more than just love songs once I finally could stop worrying and enjoy the music.
I got up, and I showed him my forearm in gesture to enter, generally satisfied with everything. I took the break that Perry offered me: to sit down and listen for a while. As we walked deeper into my alcove, we stepped on the fold in the carpet, and it flattened.
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Adam Arcuragi – Adam Arcuragi
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