Friday, May 12, 2006

Albert Norman, '05

The rain cascaded down from a template-grey sky. In the distance lightning flashed, illuminating silhouetted buildings. The figure in the garden stood motionless, seemingly oblivious to the torrential rain, arms outstretched as if to embrace the falling sky. On closer inspection one could see that he was naked. Hair plastered over his face, he grinned with closed eyes as the droplets buffeted his face and drenched him from head to toe. Water rose and arched around him as the wind punctuated the rain with a steady rhythm. Lightning flashed again, and the figure turned his back on the city and walked back inside. Albert was his name, and he had tasted the naked world.

Albert sat at the table, elbows propped on the surface in front of him, hands together, fingertips touching. The steeple effect pleased him. He often sat in this position, spending up to an hour with eyes half closed, feeling the warmth of his fingers and the energy collecting between his cupped hands.
He felt hungry, so he stood and headed for the cupboard. The fridge was empty as usual, but this didn’t bother him - he was used to making do with the basics. Inside the cupboard was an assortment of tins and dried foodstuffs: desiccated banana chips that he’d made himself and chickpeas left in sealed containers full of water.
He wasn’t a vegetarian, he just couldn’t be bothered with the complexities of meat preparation. Vegetables and fruit always tasted right to him, no matter how they were prepared.
Albert took a tin of artichokes and opened it, then carefully pored the contents into a bowl, separating liquid from solid. He drank the liquid from the tin, then tossed it over his shoulder into the special bin he had constructed. It sank a metre into the floor, the boards pulled back to expose the vacant earth beneath. The area below was contained with plywood and lined with tarpaulin; a trapdoor has been constructed to close off the small pit when so desired.
Albert hated rubbish.
He looked at the bowl in front of him, then stabbed an artichoke and lifted it up to eye-level. He paused as he directed the fork toward his mouth, examining the vegetable mass with its flowery perfection and smooth root base.
As a physical entity born of the earth, Albert was compelled, daily, to take it into himself. This gravitational mass of quarks, atoms, molecules and countless other components had formed him from its own chimerical substance. Now, to support his continued existence it was necessary to replace his waning form with the appropriate materials gleaned from the surface of the planet.
He looked at the artificial, processed packaging that his food had come from and then looked at the object on his fork. It was severely lacking. He tossed it into the bin and stood up to leave.

Some time later, Albert was outside digging up potatoes with his bare hands and trying to eat them raw. That didn’t work.
Then he took a boot to the temple from the old boy whose allotment he’d broken into and was wantonly ravaging. The Doc Martin collided with his head, sending sparks and dizzy white flashes across his vision.
“What the fack d’ya thank you’re doing?! Get the hell out of my allotment you crazy jigger!!”
“I just wanted the spud mush! I just wanted a taste of real earthy fruit, baby…” He faded out dismally, lost and confused.

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