Friday, July 13, 2012

What does it take for your character to lose control?


  1. The Loom

    As the beast continues to inch backwards a shower of rocks and dirt rains down into the abyss. There is a deep rumble from the engine as the tires of the rusty orange Ford pickup truck inch closer to the edge of the cliff. A large section of the cliff face under the passenger side rear tire breaks loose causing the truck to heave towards uncertain doom. “Close enough” says the driver. There is another rumble from the engine before it slumbers. A soft breeze does nothing to alleviate the humid air. The driver removes his ball cap to wipe the sweat from his forehead. He runs his fingers through his hair several times; each time giving a light tug. His hands move from tugging his hair to fumbling about the seat next to him. There is a grinding noise, and then a click as his thumb grates the thumbwheel across the flint. The cab of the truck is briefly illuminated as he lights a cigarette.

    As his eyes readjust to the darkness he notices for the first time haunting shadows cast by the sage brush and juniper trees as they sway in the moon light. He questions his own resolve; “you will regret this”, the voice in the back of his mind tells him. “It will be damaged beyond all repair” the voice whispers. “It’s what I think I need to do…” he says out loud. “Is it what you feel you need to do?” his subconscious pokes. “Feelings and sentiment have done me no good thus far” he whispers into the smoke filled cab. “Neither has ‘thinking’, step back – focus on something else for a while” his mind pleads. “It is logical…” he mutters. The situation is precarious; if he wanted to turn back he couldn’t. It’s out of control.

    Hours earlier in a well lit room there was the jingle of keys unlocking a door. The driver made joyful haste down the stairs. He almost skipped as he moved across the dimly lit basement to the room in the back. He reached for the door knob of the back room. The same familiar feelings of jubilation filled his soul as they had done countless times before when he stood in this spot. With seemingly a mind of its own his hand twisted the door knob. When the door knob would twist no farther he gave pause; the feelings of jubilation had been overtaken by a now familiar sensation of fear and uncertainty.

    The door swung open. He could see it. The very first time his eyes beheld its picture in that catalogue he knew. He had waited patiently, saved his pennies, and wrote to the makers to inquire for more information. When he learned a local shop had one he would go to admire it. In the shop of course he could never weave beautiful tapestries with it. He was content to admire it, to glide his hands across the beautiful wood, to pluck his fingers gently through the reed.

  2. He entered the room that housed the loom. Once again he stroked the supple wood; for a moment he thought he could feel a hand run up his arm. The majesty of this machine filled him with awe. If Platonic Forms exist then this loom surly must be the Form of beauty and creativity. The tapestries he had woven on this loom were beautiful, always perfect. Of course at times a thread might be loose, but these minor imperfections brought perfection to these exquisite articles of cloth.

    With care he moved the shuttle through the shed. He grasped the beater and gave it a gentle tug. For a brief moment the beater felt functional as it moved ever so slightly towards him. Then as it had done for several weeks it jammed. In frustration he stood up toppling the chair behind him. With a deep breath he resolved to examine the loom one last time. Everything seemed in place, no parts were warped or missing. He took measurements and everything was exactly as the day he brought it into this room. He pulled the beater with a little more force and it only seemed to jam harder. He stood in silence, still admiring the loom. Had he broken it, that night, the night he allowed outside frustrations enter the weaving room? The same night he had jerked the beater with much frustration. He had damaged the loom; the loom that had woven so many beautiful things. He knew that there must be more to the puzzle then his own actions; but he couldn’t help but feel that what he had done was too much for the loom. Remorse, so intense that it frightened him, filled his soul. His logic was polluted by raw emotions as he decided that he had to rid himself of the loom.

    The door of the pickup truck swung open with a rusty squeak. The man stepped out flicking his cigarette carelessly into the dry sagebrush. He watched as its embers left a streak of light across the darkened landscape. Soon this too would be a streak of light fading into the night he told himself. As he moved towards the bed of the pickup pain and fear surged across his brain. The emotions were so powerful that they drowned out all voice of reason. He was out of control. An observer might comment that the way he climbed into the bed of the truck seemed purposeful and deliberate, but everything was autonomous.

    Standing in the bed of the pickup, between the cab and the loom, he allowed his polluted logic to poison his reasoning again. He examined the loom as it sat in the dark humid night, he never touched it. Perhaps if he would have touched its smooth, polished wood one last time he would have made a different choice. Instead he bent over and pushed the pallet the loom rested on. It budged a little, the shifting weight made the truck teeter on the edge of the cliff. He had passed the point of no return. With more might and anger he shoved harder on the pallet, the scraping of wood against steel rang in his ears. The truck shifted more. He paid no attention to how close to the edge the loom and the pallet it rested on were. He was lost in his own mind. One last push, one last earful of that horrific terrifying noise.

    The truck surged as the weight of the loom pivoted on the edge of the truck much like a seesaw teeter-totters on its fulcrum. As physics took over the man could feel the pallet lift away from his fingers; instantly he regretted this choice. What had caused him to make such a foul decision; what had brought him to such actions? He lunged for the loom, his hand grasping its cold hard wood. With every ounce of strength he pulled. He desired nothing more but to pull the loom back, to place it gently and safely back into the pickup. All his strength, all his knowledge, all his pleadings, all his remorse, all his apologies, not even the desire to go into the abyss in place of the loom could stop gravity. The loom pulled out of his hand and disappeared into the night.

    There was nothing, no noise, no breeze, no moon light, just the abyss.