Swimming: The Search For Frankie
If anyone ever wrote the story of my friendship with Frankie, people would probably say it sounds too good to be true. But that's how special our friendship has always been, and that's why the worst day of my life was the day Frankie fell. I'll never forget hearing that splash, and then just watching in horror as he slipped deeper and deeper into the darkness of the water. Even though I desperately wanted to try to save him, I'd always had this terrible fear of the water. I've never felt so helpless, or so scared, or so alone in my whole life. And just like that, he was gone.
Everyone kept saying that he's in a better place now, but I knew that couldn't be true. I knew that wherever he was had to be a scary place, and I knew that I would have to be the one to go and save him. That's why the moment I got home I locked myself away and started working on my plan to rescue Frankie. It took every ounce of my strength and all of the ability that I could muster, and as the hours passed I never even thought of stopping to rest. My big plan gradually took shape as the night wore on, until at last I was finished with my creation. It was the thing that could take me on the most important voyage of my life. I called it the big fish. When I finally made my way back to my room, all I could think about was finding Frankie. I shut the door, turned out the light, and tried to wait as long as I could for mom to nod off to sleep. Then I took my big fish out to the dock and shoved it into the water. For the first time in my life, I was ready to go swimming.
I was exhilarated to discover that my big fish worked better than I could have ever hoped. I made my descent into a world like I'd never seen before, as the world I knew disappeared into the distance above me. As I encountered the inhabitants of this underwater world I was surprised by how welcoming they were of my presence there, and that they did not seem to think it so strange to see me in the belly of this big fish I had made. But despite the friendly encounters I had with these creatures, none of them seemed to be able to help me find Frankie. So I left my new friends and descended further into the unknown depths.
At one point I felt a tremendous shock, like I had landed on the ocean floor. But it turned out to just be a cliff that overlooked a vast expanse plunging even further below. Before I could even decide what to do, my big fish tumbled over the cliff into the expanse. Little by little the last rays of light faded out as my big fish was swallowed up by this bottomless hole. The darkness all around made it impossible to tell how fast I was falling, and it seemed like I was caught in a free fall for hours and hours. I felt just as helpless and alone as I had felt when I was on the dock after Frankie fell.
Eventually I noticed that the darkness gave way to a light that seemed to be coming from below. The sensation of falling came to a stop, and I could see that I was no longer alone. I was now surrounded by these strange-looking creatures. I swam closer only to discover that these were not creatures at all, but instead were creations not very different from the big fish that I had built. In the belly of each creature was someone just like me, looking for someone just like I was looking for Frankie. We continued our searches together, swimming throughout this faraway world, exploring every bit of it in hopes of finding our friends.
And then all of a sudden we could see something swimming toward us, like a group of travelers that had lost its way. Overjoyed, we approached each of these lost swimmers, hoping to find the friends we'd feared might be lost forever. One by one, each lost swimmer found his way through the crowd to his searching friend, and the sight of each of these reunions made my heart sing. But among all of these lost swimmers I was unable to find Frankie. As the reunited friends began to disperse from the group of searchers, my heart despaired for finding him. It wasn't long before I was the only one left still looking for my lost friend. And just as the tears were welling up in my eyes, I could see him swimming toward me.
I never told my mom about the big fish, or the voyage, or finding Frankie in the bottom of the ocean. I don't know if she ever figured out how I got over my fear of the water. I don't think I would ever be able to explain how on these dark nights after everyone is asleep I go out with my big fish to visit Frankie from time to time. But I get the feeling that she understands the things that I'll never be able to tell her. Maybe she has a big fish of her own that takes her to visit friends she loves as much as I love my best friend Frankie.
Here is a reading of Metaphoreset's Russell the Dragon 2.0, for the Little Dragon collab
Once there was a boy named Linus. Linus and his family lived in a cottage near a great forest. Every day Linus would run about and play in the edge of this forest while his father worked in a modest lumber yard nearby. He longed to go exploring deep into the forest, but he was never allowed to go so far that he could not hear the great saws at the lumber yard where his father worked. So Linus loved the dark hours of the night, because during those hours he could sneak into the back yard and pretend that he was exploring the dark heart of the forest.
One night while he was rambling through the make-believe forest in his back yard, Linus accidentally stumbled over the boards and fell into the well. A strange feeling came over him as he fell, and in a moment Linus suddenly felt so light and...
I love RECording voice for this kind of writing, it's so much fun for me. So there's no way I could resist taking a shot at the Getting to Know Your Mom project.
I knew when I read Metaphorest's RECord this morning that I wanted to do a reading of it. So I took the bait, gladly.
Yo mama's so dumb that she thinks Verdi composed Der Ring des Nibelungen.
Yo mama's so dumb that she thinks Antonioni made films with just as much transhistorical interiority as Bergman's films.
Yo mama's so dumb that she sees no similarities between the "Scherzo" movement in Tchaikovsky's Piano Sonata in C-sharp minor and the "Spring" "Largo" movement from Vivaldi's Four Seasons.
Yo mama's so dumb that when anyone mentions historically significant librettists she only talks about Metastasio.
Yo mama's so dumb that she dismisses the artistic value of Greek vases because she thinks they actually originated in Etruria DESPITE the preponderance of Greek inscriptions.
Yo mama's so dumb that she thinks American Abstract Expressionism was just a politically-motivated response to Socialist Realism...
In a solitary room two children stand facing each other in silence. Their arms are outstretched towards each other, physically holding the darkness at bay to keep it from spilling into the world they guard. They are engaged in a constant struggle to balance the darkness between them as though they were metallic barriers opposing some unseen magnetic force. Young Olaf and Gelsomina were born to this unrelenting task, and they are locked into the darkness they hold between them. They are engulfed in the shroud they are sworn to keep at bay. Their small determined limbs circumscribe a gentle circle that conducts the surging current of night between them without letting it seep past them into the world that they have never yet seen with their own eyes.
A nightingale is perched in the east corner of the cramped room. She sings songs of sustenance that nourish the children as they perform their duties. The nightingale's song is their food and their sleep, their drug and their conversation. The bittersweet song serves as the umbilical cord for the children, and it permits them to be devoted ceaselessly and tirelessly to their duties. The wordless melodies paint pictures for Olaf and Gelsomina of the world that they protect and the people that inhabit it. The nightingale's voice is the most beautiful sound anyone from the outside world has ever known. But the nightingale has such profound respect and admiration for these two children that she only ever sings her songs for them.
In the west corner of this solitary room stands a giant hourglass. According to the legends portrayed in the nightingale's song, the hourglass measures the time that the children must continue to perform their duties. If and when the sands ever run out, the children will be freed from their lives of service so that they may live as honored heroes in the outside world. The nightingale's song foretells of another pair of children who will be born with the same gifts that Olaf and Gelsomina use to keep the darkness contained. It takes a great deal of strength to resist the urge to watch the sands trickle down in the giant hourglass, almost as much strength as it takes to fend off the menacing midnight fog that requires the children's full devotion.
Days pass unsuspectingly in the outside world as the sands continue to trickle slowly down, and the nightingale continues to sing, and young Olaf and Gelsomina continue to make their stand in the secret, solitary room of their young existence.
This is an expansion on mushr's wonderful ideas presented a few days ago in her RECord called The Century (volume one). I introduced the nightingale into that setting she created and elaborated on some of the other ideas. It has been too too long since mushr and I last swapped ideas through RECords like these.
Here is my first reading from the letters of Henry Adam Wood - this one of the 22nd by tootwofoursquare. I'm definitely making plans to read more of these letters - I'm a big fan of this collaboration.
Two customers are waiting to be helped in a small shop.
SECOND IN LINE: Excuse me?
FIRST IN LINE: (silence)
SECOND IN LINE: Excuse me?!?!
FIRST IN LINE: I... sorry, I don't work here.
SECOND IN LINE: Are you Bo Jack?
FIRST IN LINE: (anxiously looks for help)
SECOND IN LINE: I'm speaking to you ma'am, are you Bo Jack?
FIRST IN LINE: No, I'm not... I'm actually a... male. A man. I'm not Bo Jack, I'm waiting to be helped.
SECOND IN LINE: (cutting him off) Hello! Is somebody here?!
POP: (emerging) Hello, yes! I'm Pop, may I help you with something?
SECOND IN LINE: Finally! A little service! Actually, this mailman was here first.
FIRST IN LINE: I'm not...
POP: Hello good sir, welcome to Bo Jack's Lollipop Repair, may I help you with something?
FIRST IN LINE: I'm not a... mailman. I'm just a... regular... man.
POP: Isn't that wonderful!
SECOND IN LINE: He told me he was a mailman.
FIRST IN LINE: I didn't mean... I was just trying to say that I'm not a... you called me ma'am so I...
POP: Can't I help you with something, sir?
FIRST IN LINE: Yes of course, sorry. I'm a producer for the midday show on channel 7. From time to time we...
SECOND IN LINE: Is this an exposé on a rat problem?
FIRST IN LINE: Well no, this... rat problem?
POP: We don't have a rat problem.
SECOND IN LINE: Last week you did an exposé on the rat problem at Shaky's Science Center.
FIRST IN LINE: Oh, you saw that! That was one of my segments.
SECOND IN LINE: It was awful. (to Pop) It turned out there wasn't a rat problem, those were Shaky's own pet rats. He uses them to demonstrate science.
POP: Oh dear.
FIRST IN LINE: There was a lot of... I'm not so sure... I'm still working on getting to the bottom of that incident.
SECOND IN LINE: Oh you're at the bottom all right. How much longer is this going to be?
FIRST IN LINE: Excuse me?
POP: (to Customer 2) Please bear with us just one more moment. (to Customer 1) Sir, I'm afraid that Bo Jack isn't available, he was recently hospitalized due to a frightful welding accident.
FIRST IN LINE: Oh dear, I'm so sorry! Was he... well... was it work-related?
SECOND IN LINE: Are you asking if he was welding a lollipop?!
POP: Oh sir! No! I assure you, we use only the finest glues in our repair process!
FIRST IN LINE: Oh thank goodness! For a moment I... did you say that you use glue to repair these lollipops?
POP: Oh yes sir! It's a powerful industrial adhesive, guaranteed to make the lollipop stronger than ever!
FIRST IN LINE: Really? Is this industrial adhesive safe to eat?
POP: Oh, sir! We strongly recommend against attempting to eat a lollipop once it has been through the repair process. A repaired lollipop is meant to be a keepsake, a memento, a souvenir if you will!
FIRST IN LINE: Oh I see. Of course! Ha,now that you say it, it seems ridiculous... repairing it and then eating it. (turns to Customer 2) I guess I'd have to be a real... horse's ass, wouldn't I?
SECOND IN LINE: (sheepishly opens her mouth) Not necessarily.
And So It Begins
First there was a Ringmaster, and before anything else he set up a tent with three rings. The rings were empty, and the Ringmaster strolled quietly throughout the tent. The Ringmaster went to the first ring, and in the first ring he evoked wonder, and the wonder made a distinction between the unordinary and the ordinary. The Ringmaster found this sense of wonder to be delightful, and he pondered this as he stepped out of the first ring.
The Ringmaster went to the second ring, and in the second ring he evoked amusement, and the amusement made a distinction between the funny and the serious. The Ringmaster found this sense of amusement to be enjoyable, and he pondered this as he stepped out of the second ring.
The Ringmaster went to the third ring, and in the third ring he didn’t evoke anything in particular, but he did reflect on the sense of wonder he had in the first ring and the sense of amusement he had in the second ring. As he reflected on these things he was inspired by the unordinary and the funny, and this gave him a new perspective on the ordinary and the serious. His head was filled with all sorts of ideas when he stepped out of the third ring.
The First Ring
The Ringmaster found himself swimming and soaring inside his own head, afloat and adrift in the ideas that were coming to life in his mind. He was startled into an awareness that he was not alone, but he was reluctant to leave the cocoon of his thoughts. Eventually his awareness grew irresistible, and he began remembering his own form, and then suddenly he plummeted back into his body. He opened his eyes and saw his brother dancing about, and he remembered what he wanted to tell him.
“I just had the dream again where I was flying. I never feel more confident than I do when I have that dream. Is there a way that we could recreate that here?” said the Ringmaster.
The Ringmaster’s brother nodded and said, “I can’t remember the last time I met anyone this side of the angels who was even willing to fly. If you could find someone who is willing, I could give them the ability.”
The Ringmaster pointed to the first ring and asked, “Could we do it over there?”
The Ringmaster’s brother grinned and said, “I’ll go get the rope.”
The Ringmaster started out by demonstrating to his brother all of the maneuvers he had dreamed up while flying among the ideas in his head. At the same time his brother was hurling great lengths of rope into the air to get a good look at it from that perspective. As their experiments began to take shape, the shape that they gradually took was that of a trapeze. The Ringmaster and his brother examined the trapeze that they had created, and it sparked in them a sense of wonder.
As the trapeze swung toward the Ringmaster, he became aware that the movement was as graceful as it was powerful. It was an angelic display of beauty, and in awe he called out, “Who are you?”
She didn’t know what had happened or how she got there. A faint feeling of recognition flashed across her face when she thought she saw a lion out of the corner of her eye, but she decided that it must have been an apparition or a trick of light. It took her a second to realize that she was flying, and a second more to realize that someone was speaking to her. Without thinking she said, “I am your acrobat,” as she waved to The Ringmaster.
The Ringmaster clapped his hands, and the acrobat recognized instantly that this was her first memory of music. She climbed down to the ground with the same natural ease that she had when she was maneuvering in the air. The trapeze continued stirring overhead as other acrobats arrived in the same manner after her. The Ringmaster approached her and began telling her how wonderful it was to have all of them there in the first ring of the circus. The ring was bustling in such a way that it seemed it had always been bustling, and so it was that the ring took on a life of its own.
The Second Ring
The Ringmaster was distracted as he approached the second of his three rings. Though he was intending to work on plans for the second ring, he couldn’t help noticing that his brother was involved in some kind of commotion just outside the tent. The Ringmaster went outside and saw that his brother was yelling and throwing things, but he didn’t seem to be particularly angry.
The Ringmaster approached his brother and said, “What is going on out here?”
His brother picked up a tomato, threw it at a rowdy crowd of people, and said, “Shenanigans! This group of ne’er-do-wells was wandering by, and when I asked what they were doing they challenged me to a snowball fight.”
The Ringmaster took a moment to scan the area and said, “I can’t help noticing that there’s no snow anywhere in sight.”
His brother jumped out of the way of a rapidly approaching clod of dirt and said, “It’s somewhat unorthodox, there’s no question about that. But this doesn’t seem like a group that would let that kind of detail interfere with the progress of a good snowball fight.”
The Ringmaster laughed as the so-called snowball fight continued, and he began hatching a new idea as he watched. He approached the group of ne’er-do-wells and said, “I can see that you are a harmless bunch of characters, and most likely a misunderstood bunch at that. But I also know that this type of behavior is usually frowned upon in the normal course of things. Have you ever thought of looking for a place where things don’t always follow such a normal course?”
The group of ne’er-do-wells liked the Ringmaster’s idea, and they responded very enthusiastically to his premise. At that point he said, “I want to show you a place that I think would be perfect for you. If you want to see it, just follow me!”
The Ringmaster led the group of ne’er-do-wells into his tent and introduced them to the second ring of his three-ring circus. As they entered the second ring and resumed their usual antics, they discovered that the Ringmaster’s brother was an expert at designing projectiles, crafting mallets, and inventing props like they had never imagined before. The group of ne’er-do-wells told the Ringmaster that they were now his clowns, and he told them that they were already creating a wonderful sense of amusement. Even as he turned to leave the second ring, the Ringmaster laughed at the thought of the gags and the stunts that the clowns had already perfected.
The Third Ring
A desolate silence was sweeping and swirling around outside the tent. Occasionally the dull rumble of pandemonium would roll in from beyond the horizon, echoing with the chaos that was swimming and soaring in every direction. The Ringmaster was discouraged to see that everything outside seemed so hopeless and dark. Doubts about whether his circus was worthwhile crept into his restless and wandering mind. His acrobats and his clowns noticed his distraction, and so they too started to feel a little distracted. They watched anxiously as the Ringmaster walked with slow, heavy steps to the third ring of his circus.
Once inside the third ring he dropped to one knee, lowered himself to a seated position, and then reclined slowly back onto the ground. He folded his hands across his chest and let his eyes wander slowly about the tent. As the Ringmaster remembered everything that he and his brother had done to create the trapeze and usher in the acrobats and wrangle the clowns, he started to feel as though his whole body might be floating ever so slightly above the ground. He found himself rolling gently down a hill, and he giggled as he turned and bounced and turned and bounced on the lush, grassy slope. He began imagining the clowns running ahead of him, racing like horses to keep from being steamrolled by their leader. He imagined the acrobats flying overhead and making nosedives directly at him, and then pulling up just before colliding with him. The acrobats would buzz the heads of the clowns, causing them to dive for cover and then flip quickly back onto their nimble feet. Gradually the clowns mustered the courage to ignore the acrobats buzzing overhead. So the acrobats began grasping the heads of the clowns firmly in their hands, and then as they soared back up into the clouds the necks of the befuddled clowns stretched out into long rubbery lines from their heads down to their bodies that were still running down the hill. As they reached the clouds, the acrobats would then release the clowns’ heads and watch as they were reeled back in to rejoin the bodies that continued to run as though they were oblivious to the plights of the exasperated clown heads that were plummeting back toward them.
The Ringmaster awoke suddenly from his dream to the sound of trumpets blaring throughout his tent. He jumped to his feet and began spinning in every direction, looking frantically for the source of this stupendous sound. But the trumpeting had stopped, and there were no trumpets to be found anywhere in the tent. He noticed his brother putting up torches throughout the tent, and he ran over to see if he knew what had happened.
“I was just having a dream like I’d never had before, and the last thing I remember hearing sounded like trumpets. Did you hear those trumpets just now?” said the Ringmaster.
“I did hear them, but I don’t think it came from any trumpets,” said the Ringmaster’s brother. “I’ve been hearing more and more music like that since I started setting up these torches.”
The Ringmaster began walking slowly from torch to torch, listening carefully for the sound of music. He said, “It feels almost like the music is running in circles around these torches, but the torches aren’t making any of the music.”
A faint feeling of recognition flashed across the Ringmaster’s face when he thought he saw a lion out of the corner of his eye, but when he turned there was no lion in sight. A torch flickered on the opposite side of him, and for a moment he thought he saw a great elephant illuminated in its flame. These flashes triggered the memory of familiar voices of trumpeting elephants, purring lions, whistling monkeys, and thundering horses. He recognized that this was the music he was hearing now. He turned to his brother and said, “This tent is full of invisible musicians. There’s an orchestra of ghostly animals performing a symphony of their very own.”
His brother nodded and said, “I think this band of ghosts is drawn to the flames of these torches. When I look at you standing in the center of the ring surrounded by all of these torches, I can see them dancing from flame to flame out of the corners of my eyes.”
The Ringmaster swayed confidently within the third ring of his circus as he began conducting his newly found band. The animals followed their new leader through the melodies and rhythms that they discovered together as they each performed their parts. The form of each animal became clearer as the parts that they performed became more unified.
The band continued to play on through the night. The animals no longer seemed to be ghosts at all. The acrobats continued to fill the first ring with wonder, and the clowns continued to fill the second ring with amusement. The Ringmaster was inspired to see what his circus was becoming, and he leaped out of the third ring as he ran to share some more new ideas with his brother.
If you're interested in remixing this, the higher resolution can be found here: