By Duane Hewitt
Copyright 2016 Duane Hewitt. All Rights Reserved.
A man sits in a little, barren room.
He has slept badly but then, he always does. There is no bed, no couch, and nowhere for him to lay his head. So, every night he curls up in a corner of the room on the floor and tries to sleep. He always looks forward to his dreams. The dreams are a source for inspiration.
He gets up off the floor.
There is one chair positioned in front of a desk in the middle of the room. On the desk is a typewriter. On the left side of the typewriter is a tray of blank paper. On the right side is another tray, titled “out” where the toils of his day’s labors go day-in, day-out.
The room itself is otherwise empty. It is painted white. There is one single lightbulb screwed into a socket overhead in the center of the room. There is one little window high up on a wall. The window is very small – way too small to climb through; it might be no more than 12 inches wide by eight inches high. It lets in what appears to be natural light but he cannot see out the window. There is no door. There doesn’t have to be. No one ever comes and he can never leave. He is committed to the room. For how long he doesn’t know: Forever perhaps.
There is nothing else in the room. Every day, he gets up from the floor and tries to understand what he is supposed to do. Each and every morning, a cup of coffee is there, waiting on the desk beside the typewriter waiting for him. He never sees who leaves the coffee or who removes the cup when he is done drinking. The coffee is okay; not great, just okay. He looks forward to drinking the coffee every morning. Then he gets to work.
There is nothing else for him to do but sit and type.
“Tap, tap, tap,” goes the typewriter: “Tap, tap, tap.”
He has written many things. He has written about his hatred for the room. That didn’t change anything, so then he tried writing about his love for the room. Still: nothing. He gave this some thought one day and then came to the conclusion that he should write a précis, an overview, first of the room and then about him. Still, it did nothing to change his circumstances.
He once pretended he was drunk and started writing poetry, then lyrics, and then he did a full musical libretto. Every time he writes something, it goes into the little outbox. He never sees how it leaves the room or who takes it, but it all goes somewhere.
“Somebody, somewhere, is reading my stuff,” he once muttered. “They must be,” and so he continued writing some more. He almost smiled – but only almost.
He wrote a novel and then another novel. He did letters, memoirs (boring but insightful), essays, articles… just about everything.
“I will figure this out,” he thought to himself. “I will figure out what I’m supposed to be doing, and I will do it. Then we shall see!”
After many hundreds of thousands or millions of words (he did not know how many) he was still sitting there writing. New paper always found its way into the room and all the things he had written had found their way out!
Once, he took the chair and placed it against the window wall. He stood on that chair, determined to see out the window to see the sky, or the sun, or if there was anybody out there in the world, any life at all; even a bird. He knew what a bird was. Then he had to think: “How do I know what a bird is?”
But it didn’t matter. Whenever he put the chair against the wall, the window seemed to always be out of reach. He could never see out the window. He would stand on his tippy-toes on that chair and still he could not see out. It was as if that wall was now 20 or 30 feet high. And the window was always too high for him to look out.
When he got hungry, something always appeared on the table with the typewriter. Today it was a can of beans with a plastic spoon. Yesterday it was a hearty-blend of vegetable soup. He never saw who left the food. He never saw who took it away.
“I will figure this out!” he declared out loud one day. Then there came a day when he thought he just couldn’t stand it anymore. He started screaming but it seemed that no one was there to listen. So he decided to write about it.
“That is because I am a writer,” he thought to himself. “I am not an orator; I write – and write I shall!”
And so once again he applied himself to his craft and began to write.
“Tap, tap, tap… tap, tap, tap.”
“I will write about the injustice,” he said. “I will write about the experience. I will write about every thought that pours into my mind and then I will write it down. I will fabricate things. I will make fiction and I will invent new philosophies and new sciences and new ways of thinking.”
But nobody was there to listen – and yet, his writings, his great works, always somehow disappeared.
Then came the day he decided he would kill himself.
“Yes!” he decided. “It is time. No more of this.”
But then he realized he had no way to do it – no way to end his life… just commas and semi-colons and periods.
“This is not fair!” he said. “This is not right.”
Then he realized it must be that he was supposed to write about suicide – to write about it personally, its causes, motivations, stuff like that.
He got sad, he got depressed, and he got morose. Then it occurred to him…
“Aha!” he said in his writer’s voice. “I am to use these feelings to write.”
And so he turned out many works about despair and sadness and hopelessness. Those many writings also disappeared. Then there was another can of beans, this time spicy beans and, with it, some very fine cheese.
“Now!” he declared again. “I will flip that coin over and write about survival and hope and the power of the human spirit!”
And so he wrote.
But that was not enough. How could it be? He was still captive in the room. But, after all, he was what he was, doing what he did: Now, again, yesterday, today, tomorrow, and probably forever.
Then, again he got angry, and standing, he shouted out…
“I will not surrender,” he belted. “I have much to say! Each new day is the message. Each day is a challenge – and an opportunity. I will overcome this! I will write my destiny and I will escape these bonds of imposed mediocrity!”
He waited. But there was only silence. No one answered. No one seemed to have heard, and so…
“Tap, tap, tap… tap, tap, tap… tap, tap, tap.”
Copyright 2016 Duane Hewitt. All rights reserved.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental. No part of this work may be copied or transmitted by any means whatsoever without the prior written approval of the author. Duane Hewitt asserts his rights as the author to this work and its plot, themes and characters, under International Copyright and Intellectual Property Laws.