Saturday, June 25, 2011

Conversations with Bill: Supposition of a Dream-Aftermath


Published with permission.


The repercussions of the piece I wrote over the last weekend has created a backlash that was rather unforeseen both by me and the person who commissioned the piece. So with permission, I am affixing the following conversation to clear the matter, although the results are probably irreparable as of the time of this writing.

This is for Bill and Mira. May you find the happiness you both desire. And for Bill, you should’ve told me the purpose of why you’ve requested me to write it. To Mira, my sincerest apologies. Know that it was never my intention to further complicate things between the both of you.

Bill: You’ve wrote one hell of a story, kid.
Me: Only as you requested…
Bill: You’ve got a gift
Me: Thanks…
Bill: I mean, if I didn’t know any better, it almost feels like it’s the truth you know.
Me: I’ll accept that as a compliment, I guess
Bill: I’ve also read the posts you’ve made. You really have the gift. I mean, you could have fooled me.
Me: Still learning, though.
Bill: (after a long pause) and fool that I am, I actually sent it to her…
Me: (smirking) You did? That’s kinda foolish don’t you think. I can’t imagine her reaction.
Bill: Yeah… (he grows pensive)… she took it hard…
(Silence fell)
Me: Are you sure you’re making the right decision though? I mean… life should be good for you here…
Bill: (snorts)
Me: When are you going, though?
Bill: This month end.
Me: Hmm.
Bill: Yeah…
(Another long silence)
Bill: Let me ask you something though (he looks at me inquisitively)
Me: …sure… what about?
Bill: I’ve been reading through the stuff you wrote and something odd strikes me –
Me: (I smile) about?
Bill: (ponders for a moment. He looks me up like he was sizing me) …you’re a liar.
Me: (startled. It’s not usually that I am thrown such an accusation. It stings to be honest and I grew defensive). Pardon?
Bill: You are a liar. (he looks at me pointedly. I felt threatened, honestly at that point)
Me: About what?
Bill: Stuff…
I stare at him, unsure how to react. We really don’t know each other that much although the last two months meeting at the central library has forged a bond of sorts between us but for him to accuse me of being a liar was unexpected and quite rather pointed.
Bill: (he sees my discomfort)  like the posts you write about yourself and your convictions. You’re a liar
Me: (I relax a bit. There is truth there). Hmm
Bill: Like the stuff where you choose to be alone… (he looked at me, the question in his blue eyes. I dropped my gaze) or the stuff about your life… mostly lies
Me: (I smiled at him but I didn’t utter a word.)
Bill: (he scans my face, gauging my reaction then he smiles) I knew it.. (he gulps down his beer and slaps his thigh. I remain silent and took a draught of my own drink)
Bill: You know what gave you away?
Me: What?
Bill: The fact that I asked you to write that story for me.
Me: The blog post?
Bill: That one.
Me: What about it?
Bill: It seems so vivid, you know (he paused, all the time staring at my reactions. I felt really uncomfortable) I mean you know my story, right?
I nodded.
Bill: (continues). If you remove the year, one can almost imagine it is true, you know?
I nod.
Bill: so as I’ve said, you have a gift.
Me: They are just words.
Bill: But you could make it convincing. (He grinned as if he just made a discovery.) I mean, I read your other stories and if you remove those, uh (he scratched his head) you know, those ‘works of fiction, blah blah bullshit’, you could probably convince me.
I laughed.
Bill: I mean, like the story you have for example about that encounter with that woman… you know that unfinished ‘confession’ thing?
I nodded.
Bill: That’s bullshit.
A long drawn out silent fell. I wondered what i should be reacting. The one thing about westerners is that they are direct to the point and as a brown man with Asian sensibilities, I was put into a spot.
Me: Maybe…
Bill: You are good with words. Utterly convincing.
Me: (After finally getting what he meant) Thanks, I guess. (If I can convince a reader that what he is reading is the truth, then I am a successful writer. That’s how I understood it. Writing often blurs the difference between what is real and what is imagined, fiction wars with actual truths. I play with words. That’s what writing is. To be successful as one, one must be able to interchange one with the other, to present fiction as truth or truth as fiction. When the reader is utterly convinced either way, that’s success)
Bill: But you’re a liar.
I let the comment slide with a smile. In a way, it touched a raw nerve.
Me: So are you really going to leave her behind? (I tried to change the topic)
He stares at me then he smiles as he realizes my ploy.
He nods.
Bill: Up north is not a place for a woman
Me: You actually broke with her?
Bill: (gulps another mouthful of beer) Yeah. Used your story.
I stared at him. He requested I write that blog piece ‘Supposition of a Dream’ a while back. That he would actually have the guts to send that to Mira was beyond me. She’d be devastated. I mean that was not the purpose of that piece.
Me: You did?
Bill: Yeah.
That was cruel. If you are a woman and you get sent that kind of piece as a breakup piece, that was something else. I mean, if I had known it, I should have rewrote the piece. It was supposed to be a ‘supposition’ only: a mind game.
Me: That’s cruel.
Bill: (nods)
I felt guilty. That piece was never meant for Mira. That was a low blow. I suddenly had a low respect for the man before me.
Me: I should apologize.
(Mira did send me an email to which I hope my apologetic response was enough. I’m really sorry about that Mira. I truly am..)
Me: You really are going aren’t you?
Bill: Yeah. (he finishes his beer and peers at me). You should come. I can hook you up with my workcrew in Manitoba.
Me: (I must admit that his offer was tantalizing, good pay – though manual labor. The chance to learn a trade… I felt like accepting before – but I couldn’t) I can’t
Me: I’m sticking with Calgary for a while. Try to upgrade and find a stable job and I’m waiting for my family, you know my reasons…
Bill: I know, kid… but should you change your mind, just give me a ring.
I nod.
Me: You want me to bring down the post?
Bill: (he looks at me) It’s already there. (he shrugs)
Me: I’m posting this conversation, though…
He shrugs.
Bill: But not the previous ones…
Me: Just this and the first one.
He laughs.
Bill: You know something… You could probably write that you are a murderer with such clarity that I would believe you. Or you could convince me that you are a madman and I’ll believe you… I mean, the way you write is dangerous, kid. I don’t know anything about writing stuff but your manner of writing is wicked. You’re bound to hurt people.
Me: (I smile weakly. I kinda realize a bit what he is trying to say). If I can blur the difference between what is real and what’s not, that’s probably success for me. (which is sadly true)
Bill: That is dangerous, kid, I tell you.
I smile.
A long pause ensues.
Me: Are you really leaving Mira behind?
Bill: For the moment, yes…
Me: Then you really are leaving her. (I said with finality)
He looks at me, and smiles as he realizes he’s been found.
Bill: Yeah.
Another long pause settles. I often wonder you know how tenuous and fragile human relationships are. We exist to hurt each other. That’s a part of our humanity. Pain is the fruit of Adam’s original sin and the constant reminder of our being alive. One wishes to go through life not ever hurting anyone but that is a wish that cannot be granted. In one way or another, you hurt people, some more than others; simply by your existence and your actions and your choices of words.
And once done, the actions and words created cannot be undone. That’s the tragedy of it. Bill is guilty, I am guilty… Everyone is… to someone. Apologies can never do it justice… ever. But it helps a bit to say sorry.
So I am sorry. I’m sorry Mira. For Bill, for the words and the post. For a man to abandon you for something else is probably one of the most painful things that a woman has to go through. Sometimes, it may have been better if he is leaving you for another woman. Somehow, that would be better. But he isn’t. That’s the tragedy. I’m sorry for him, for the both of you.
Me: I should be going.
Bill: Hmm. (we shake hands) As I’ve said kid, you’ve got a dangerous gift… and don’t lie…
I laugh.
I walk away.
Bill: (calls out). I’ve been wondering, what the hell was that writing prior to the post?
I turn.
Bill: Is that your native tongue or something?
Me: (I shrug) Nope.
Bill: What was it?
Me: Bad Japanese about politics. I’ve been sitting on it for a few years without the right piece of writing to attach it to. You want me to translate it?
Bill: Politics huh?

I shrug. 

I guess it was better that way.

So Bill is out of Calgary now. I’m gonna miss the conversations we’ve had since we first met. The only thing I have are transcripts of those conversations (which I cannot post because he asked me not to). This is the reality of human relationships. They are transient and often brief. The friendship is real though. Sometimes it is up to us to work to make the relationships we like happen. That’s the challenge. And we often fail…

This is life, indeed…

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