I believe in pen on paper – an abstract liquid bleeding out across the ether, creating entire worlds whose origin lay in the abstract. A fifth of Jack and a fedora all wrapped in a black-and-white dream. The clack-clack-clack of a typewriter pounding hard-boiled fists of dialogue. Quick-witted jabs of lines said in an inner monologue by a Sam Spade type in the midst of a melee.
My beliefs lay in the free-flowing smoke, sultry and alive, of a dance hall as Shaw or Goodman or Dorsey swing rhythms around two people talking – talking about everything and nothing at once, spanning eternity, meaning every word like it was their last. In their own world — a world going dark around them.
They exist in an era almost forgotten, when good and evil weren’t shades of gray but stark contrasts on pulp and gelatin. Where a dime bought you a month’s worth of education you could only find on the newsstand. Fantastic stories and amazing adventures throughout streets filled with shadows in black masks.
I believe in the raw power of human emotion. Love. Hate. Anger. Happiness. In those words, my eyes see layers of a story. One in which people need to say what they feel, because life is too short to live it otherwise: “I love you, Slim.” The End. Fade out.
I’m an old soul at home in a decade thirty years before I was born. Too young to truly know what life is, yet too old to ever fit in. I sit and dream of what I could have been. (Not even sure I could have made it through those war-torn times – an era when men were men and not enlisting genuinely meant something.)
So I keep my faith in the power of words on paper, that thing I’m told is so unfashionable and out of date in these digital times. I write what I know. I write what I am. I write what I could have been.
The images come and go as glimpses through a foggy window. A flash of memory I didn’t know existed until the right moment brings it into focus. The right conversation. An interesting face. A Kentucky Bourbon aged 12 years. So I turn the dial on the old radio a little more to the right, past the static, and it comes in crystal, my black-and-white world. The stories write themselves. I just dictate.
I’ll keep pounding away until my fingers are as bloody as the pulps. To do otherwise would deny my soul and everything that I am.
If you enjoyed this essay, please consider making a tax-deductible contribution to This I Believe, Inc.