Friday, December 26, 2008

Whisper-Man

We stand upon the brink of a precipice. We peer into the abyss – we grow sick and dizzy. Our first impulse is to shrink from the danger. Unaccountably we remain.
-“The Imp of the Perverse” by E.A. Poe

I almost never listen to Whisper-Man. He tells me to step free of the bridge and see what happens. He says bad things when I’m outside the animal’s cage, when I handle a gun, when I notice the grinder’s spinning blades. I’m sure you’ve heard his voice as well.
Now we’re driving together – you, Whisper-Man, and me – on a long two-lane road. Ahead there’s a dip, so we see the onrushing truck duck down beneath the ridge as I’m popping into its lane, just for a moment, to pass another car.
But why don’t you linger? Whisper-Man asks me.
Linger, linger. And I can’t say no.
My spine electrifies as you make a comment... and then bark an order... and then grab for the wheel. As the truck’s driver punches his horn and pounds his brakes, and everywhere there’s the smell of scorched rubber. But somehow we make it through and you hit me on the shoulder, almost crying, and I laugh like it was a joke. Like I could control myself, and I knew we would be alright in the end.
Whisper-Man laughs too. He knows we have far to go.

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