Saturday, February 28, 2009

Sledge Hammer Part 1

This is part 1 of a two part fictional conversation. At least as fictional as any writing can ever be. There is always the grain of truth in words put to paper. OK, not paper, but you know what I mean. To me, the joy of reading is forming your own opinion about what rings true and what does not.

Written as a small part of a much larger piece, I've struggled with this conversation for months. And I continue to struggle with it now. I am hoping that putting it out there on display will allow me the chance to discover it anew and a fresh perspective will give me the push I need to finalize it and move on.

“How does it help?”

Raising her eyes slowly, she swept him into focus. Shoes, dark cordovan, buffed bright. His knees bent, relaxed, slightly spread. The crease in his slacks - where hips meet groin - and the angular lines of his frame in the chair move again from horizontal to vertical. Glancing at the zipper; regretfully noting no strain of fabric or pressure pushing against the fly. Upwards to his chest, the white dress shirt, so cool, so crisp; begging to be tugged, twisted, crushed. Rep tie, no jacket.

Arriving at his face, her eyes dart to each feature, in an effort to postpone what she knew must come next. Finally recognizing there would be no further delay, her eyes met his. She saw no demand, no command, merely the forward march towards the inescapable conclusion he alone would dictate. He had asked. She would answer. And in those eyes she found the strength to forcibly pull her words up from the back of her throat and propel them out of her mouth.

“I have no idea. Nor, can I say where the need comes from, only that it exists.” She paused and realized her breath was shallow. Forcing herself to fill her lungs she went on. “I’ve spent most of my adult life trying to prove that it doesn’t. I’ve finally accepted, at least theoretically, that it does.”

She hoped that admitting her acceptance, her need would be enough. She should have known better. Information was his commodity, his weapon of choice. Never satisfied with just the final decision or essential facts, he required all the background, the details, the whys and wherefores. And since he required, she would provide.

“I can try and explain, but my explanation makes little sense, even to me.”

“Well then, let’s see if I can’t make some sense of it. Sometimes you just need a fresh perspective.” He smiled as if to reassure her that his words were innocent, kindly. She knew better.

Recognizing that the inevitable always occurs eventually, she determined it was in her best interest to be done with it. Get all the facts out, subject everything she felt to the cold, hard light of his disapproval. She’d always hated confessions; hearing or giving them. She just wanted this one over. Taking another lung-full of air, willing her voice to remain calm, she began, bound and determined to expel the words as quickly as possible.

“First, there is the ‘control’ factor. I know this sounds trite, but, there it is. I’ve spent my life controlling everything around me. I was born managing, dictating, delegating. Exerting control has always come naturally to me. Other people seem to sense this and generally fall in line.” She smiled deprecatingly, recognizing the sound of her own ego. “I used to kid myself into believing that people accepted my overreaching control because my ideas or decisions were obviously correct. But I’ve reluctantly been forced to admit that most of the time people go along with me because I am such a pain in the ass when they don’t.”

She thought about this last statement for a minute then went on. “Actually that’s not entirely correct. I think most people are always looking for someone to lead them. Someone stronger, who will make the decisions so they don’t have to. So they never have to be wrong.” She could have continued down this vein, but sensed this was a digression he would not tolerate for long.

Pushing forward in her seat, as if to give impetuous to her words she got back on subject. “To me, every moment of every day is consumed with managing the minutia of my life and the lives of those around me.”

She recognized she was speaking to a fellow traveler. Someone who’s need to not just control but actually dominate every situation and every person was even stronger than her own. It was what she found so fascinating.

“But how this impacts my proclivities? Well … sometimes, everybody needs to not be in charge. Their brain needs time to ask, not tell. They need to not be the dependable one. They need to be the dependent one.

I’ve always assumed most people with my temperament find this down time naturally in some aspect of their lives. But, I don’t seem to be able to shift into that natural, not-in-charge downtime. At least not on my own. I think my brain is missing an ‘off’ switch that comes standard in most minds.” She sighed, feeling suddenly exhausted. She hated talking about this. It zapped her energy and played hell with her emotions. One brief glance at his face told her there was no option except to forge ahead.

“What appeals to me ... what I find alluring … is placing myself in a situation I absolutely cannot control. To know in advance that decisions will be made by someone else and that their control will not be ceded back to me. To accept, because you have no choice. And you will not act, just react.” She smiles almost wistfully, recalling the sensations. “The liberation of not having to think three steps ahead all the time is a heady notion. To just focus on the sensations of the mind and the body as they occur. In the moment. In that instant.”

She stopped. Relieved. She’d done it. Wasn’t sure how much sense she’d made, but she’d said it. She sat back in the chair, surprised at the sharp flair of pain along her spine and the tension in her shoulder and upper back muscles. Her confession had been more stressful than she’d realized.

“And the second?”

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