Shibboleth Strings.

The wrinkles in his skin were much more than his finger tips could sense. The body hair once so manly has mostly withered away. Tiny patches of shiny skin layered around the bends as a poorly knit fabric around a camel rider’s shin guard. He was an old warrior.

The damp house in the outskirts of the city was all dark but cozy. It was build with his savings of a lifetime and was meant to be the place where David would spend his last days with Helen. Years ago, when he was about to quit the military service, he would picture it as a dole house complete with wine and romance.

Half a century later, the home is filled with David’s geriatric tantrums as one grumpy old man hated by the kids who play over the street. He blowed an old 60’s airhorn when they start the banter from the other side of the street. If they wouldn’t stop, he would blow the trumpet. Then the kids know that nobody messes with the good old David.

Helen planned out the home top to bottom before they laid the stones and got the plans drawn. She knew where exactly each piece of art will stay in the completed house. When David playfully brushed his fingers across his large mandarin guitar with silver strings, she would be finishing her porcelain princess who was supposed to sit silent at on corner of the house when David and Helen made love forever.

Such was the dreams on which the house was created. A house of joy and love. One that was lit up with light at night, but covered with sweet deafening love at day. They dreamt of one love that would make the ears blind, eyes deaf and the hearts bleed.

And now that man with large dreamy eyes is a shadow of himself being slowly consumed by the rages of old age. He was the fuel, he never really understood whose life he was lighting up.

When the love has dried up from our lives, what is left is hardly discernible. When the honey is gone, beeswax is no longer a sweet home. When the love is gone, body loses it’s marrow only to be burned to feed the lovers of the new age when they are born again.

The death of Helen would come before David set his foot on the manhattan on his way back from Vietnam. He was done with the piling dead bodies of fellow human beings and lonely heroin shots at the jungle. The mites or malaria didn’t kill him, but his longing to be with Helen almost killed him.

Still he didn’t break apart when he learned that he had lost her. He was one human with remarkable resilience. He slid across a lot of emotional breakdowns and music and drugs over his youth. He was as solid as a man can get, remarkable. So normal.

But he was the grumpy old man for the world around him that locked up their lives around the tiny screen that connected them with the rest of humanity. The cool kids of today would never know what he was in person, he was a grumpy old man for the world that is today.

But love had touched this man once. When he was consumed in the music he created with his fingers dancing across the silver strings, Helen would return from her backyard pottery experiments. Her fingers would be still soiled and her wrist still smelling of earth.

She would slide her hands across his shoulders and kiss him on his neck and over the hair. He has long lost his long shiny hair to pattern baldness that has made his scalp one big shiny reflector of sorts.

For them, love was something lost in the faint air between them. So materialistic, so real. In the numerous sleepless nights, Helen would search for his fingers in the darkness. When she would finally find them, her sharp nail would wander between his fingers. Then his toes would find her poplit. Without them knowing, they filled each other.

When David got new silver strings for his mandarin guitar, they celebrated by immersing themselves in music and did sums on their least significant digits. The digits were not about their occassional spurts of podophilia, but about the vision of love and life.

When you are in love, the world looks so deterministic - all set with probabilities tending to one or zero all around you. You feel that sudden urge to break the head of that unworldly moron who urges you to look at how fickle the world is in general.

You always look at the pleasant love stories from books and people and places. Submit yourself to their surreality and besides the lack of evidence in real life, you idolise the chase and loose your tongue at the uncouth eloquence of the sweethearts.

In the nights when pain becomes unbearable, David leaves the bed and lie down in the floor with his chest pressed to its cold reality. He would want to change himself, leave this world and go to some other place where he might find Helen.

David met Helen for the first time when he (over)heard her taking to her friend in a subway.

“I can’t really understand why some fine men and women fall for these overly self-centred narcissistic douches who are too cool to love anyone other than themselves. The bitchest bitches are the ones who invest their time and effort to look cool. If you are not cool and try to look cool, you are whore - a man whore or a woman whore, a whore is a whore, Mariee!”

Then she raised her eyes and a shot a glance to the David, a lonely college freshman sitting at the opposite seat. His eyes were buried in some hippie music book. He had a gig bag clinging to his shoulder. She slowly retracted her eyes finding nothing noteworthy. She went back to her life.

But David would see her through his thick rimmed spectacles and the glance would travel straight to his heart through his already weak optic nerves. He wouldn’t forget that glance for next fifty years and his life would never be the same again.

[An unknown chapter from a book unwritten. They are waiting in a far away land for their fellow characters to arrive.]

Written on January 27, 2016