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Welcome to SENTINEL LITERARY QUARTERLY

Vol.3. No. 2. January 2010

 


CONTRIBUTORS

FICTION

SECTIONS

Andrew Campbell-Kearsey
Claire Godden-Rowland
Dike Okoro
Dominic James
Emmanuel Sigauke
Mandy Pannett
Noel Williams
N Quentin Woolf
Olu Oguibe
Paul Jeffcutt
Sharma Taylor
Susanna Roxman
W Jack Savage

 

BUMPING

by

W. Jack Savage

 

           There was something different about the sense of urgency I felt that morning.  Having lived with the anxiety for some time, I began to notice a certain positive influence it had on me in some areas.  For example, while it made me somewhat scattered at times, I seemed less forgetful.  I had always been forgetful.  It was as if going to the car had no relationship with having the keys to operate it.  I would simply get there, pause, and realize the next step would be impossible without keys.  It annoyed everyone but me.  The truth is that I became somewhat good-natured about it.  Id even laugh.  Then, Id go back to the house and get my keys.  Often, Id repeat the process with my briefcase or something else Id need.  But that morning it occurred to me that preparation had somehow become a byproduct of the stress.

 

        It would only be fair to say that the ominous feeling that came with the urgency probably began with the dream.  Suffice to say, if Im not going to find my way through thesethese problems in some way, its only natural to at least consider some sort of final solution.  That is, before these things become the province of others to decide for me.  Ill not be forgotten to death in some institution or wander off, only to be absorbed into the ranks of the homeless.  Be that as it may, the point is that dreams of ending my life should not be looked upon as anything other than a logical progression in the cavalcade of what ifs which are still mine to ponder.  So, in getting back to the dream, the list of what I would not do in such a case seems endless.  No guns, knives, razor blades, ropes, and heights could be involved. Death by car or train, or in any manner likely to cause pain, however momentary, could not be given any consideration. Upon eliminating all possibilities of a scene where people might gather, we are left with pills or some kind of asphyxiation or suffocation.

 

        In some way, the pills Im taking have kept me just this side of the next step in the process of being dealt with, I suppose.  To that extent, theyve bought me time.  By that reasoning, and still acting upon the hope that my condition may improve, it would, somehow, seem ungrateful for me to seek my demise with the very medications that have allowed the time and reasoning to affect it.  Therefore, cessation of breathing functions in one of its forms is what we are left with.

 

        Im not sure, having never been there, but Santa Catalina has always seemed more to me like Bali Hai from South Pacific.  Not Bali Hai itself, of course, but the picture of the tropical paradise painted on some flat in some community theater production. State of mind rather than a grid coordinate.  And, it occurs to me that for my state of mind, deteriorating though it may be, to seek an ideal on the horizon, never to be achieved, smacks of a poetic lucidity that soon may be well beyond me.  In the simplest of terms, Id go for a swim from Huntington Beach to Catalina.  Id never make it, but Id die trying.  It could be a last quiet struggle, the kind I used to enjoy such as college, marriage, the service, and my other demons.  Some won; some lost, but with all the motivational tools brought to bear in achieving an end from a beginning, or finding a beginning after an end, as the case may be.

 

        And so I dreamt that I was swimming to Catalina, and it came to me like a revelation.  But then I felt it.  As soon as I did, I told myself that I didnt.  Then I felt it again, and it seemed so impossibly unfair.  All I wanted to do was swim to Catalina for Gods sake!  I certainly couldnt make it.  Id drown, but Id spend myself in a final celebration of splendid nonsense.  But now this!  I felt it again, and the next thing I would feel, or perhaps the thing after that, wouldnt feel like splendid nonsense at all.  It would feel like death by shark and, before it was over, would make me wish Id been run over by some Orange County prick in a speedboat.  It was a bump.  They bump before they bite most of them.  Not the big ones, of course.  Theyll suck you down whole or cut you in half or any damn thing they want.  But nearly all the rest of them bump into you to see if you might be something to eat.  They dont see well, I heard once.  I woke up murmuring to myself, Well, its always something. It made me laugh.  I laughed about it later, too, but couldnt remember the reason for the laughter.  That stopped it!  But I find this condition more curious than sad at the moment.  In the time I have left, if I dont improve that is, I need to follow that curiosity to a conclusion.  Im just not sure about Catalina anymore.  I did like the idea though, thinking it to be masculine and extroverted.  Two things Ive never been, sadly, but theres no point in becoming deranged if youre going to stand on ceremony.

 

        Quite a bit had changed by that time.  I was still driving my car but not on the freeway.  Actually, I was driving less and less, and it seemed my gas gauge had broken.  It never appeared to go down;

 

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JANUARY 2010 INDEX
COMPETITIONS
DRAMA
EDITOR'S NOTE
ESSAYS & REVIEWS
FICTION
INTERVIEWS
POETRY

Walter Jack Savage is a career broadcaster, veteran stage actor and a writer of fiction. He is a graduate of Brown Institute and Mankato State University in Minnesota. He is also an Associate Professor in Telecommunications and Film at California State University, Los Angeles. Jack's first novel, More With Cal and Uncle Bill is due out this summer. He and his wife Kathy live in Monrovia, California. Learn more at wjacksavage.com.
 

JANUARY 2010 INDEX | COMPETITIONS | DRAMA | EDITOR'S NOTE | ESSAYS & REVIEWS | FICTION | INTERVIEWS | POETRY

 

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