Saturday, August 13, 2011
117/365 -- Playlist Story -- inspired by "Eager to Find It" by melpo mene
"You going to draw all day?" asked Connie. She stirred a ragout on the stove and took a long drag on her cigarette. I sat back in my chair and sucked on my own. I watched the kids laying on the shag carpet watching Sesame Street. 'M' was the letter being discussed.
"Yeah," I said.
"Can you at least clear the table when it's time for lunch?"
"Fifteen minutes." She took another drag then extinguished her cigarette in the kitchen sink before tossing the butt in the garbage.
"Fine," I said. I turned back to my drawing. It wasn't anything yet meaningful, but was all too familiar. I'd been drawing the the same shapes and lines for years, trying to get them exactly right. The form shifted subtly each time as I made revisions and refinements. I hid the habit from Connie when we first dated but she knew before we got married. She still married me. She said it was a pretty harmless thing to be obsessed about it. She said it was better than chasing women behind her back. I don't even know what it was that I was trying to draw. It was just stuck in my brain and I needed to get it out.
I have several binders filled with the drawings. They go back to when I was seven, but I knew I was drawing it before then. I'm not sure why I saved them all. Sometimes I go back and look, to see the progression, but it doesn't help tell me what it is or why it's embedded in my brain.
Part of it looks like paisley. It's a fanciful blob. It's surrounded by a grid, slightly twisting. I know it's not in three dimensions. Whatever I saw was definitely flat, like a diagram for a circuit board. The grid isn't just squares, but paths that intersect. I know the space in between is important. I don't know why.
"Come on hon, clear the table will you?"
"All right," I said. I pressed my hands to the table and sighed. My daughter got up and came over.
"Em," she said.
"That's nice," I said. "Are you learning how to read?"
"Em," she repeated. She pointed at the drawing.
"Don't honey, you're going to smear it."
"Em." She pointed above the picture at a spot in the paisley. She sighed heavily and then ran off to bother the dog.
I looked at the spot. I turned the paper upside down. There was an M there. Just lines, I thought. Then I saw more letters. I and B, but the B was in reverse. MBI.
"IBM," I said aloud.
"IBM?" asked Connie. "That computer company?"
"I don't know," I said. I got up and took the paper into the bathroom. I turned on the light and held the paper up to the mirror. IBM. I curved the paper inward. The paisley deformed and turned into the IBM logo with the letters lined up properly. My heart jumped. The grid straightened out, and imbedded in the paths were several dates. Two had passed. The rest were in the future. I memorized the dates.
I turned off the light and wandered back in to the kitchen/living room. Connie had stacked my drawings neatly on one end of the dining table. She was doling out lunch for the kids on their plastic plates. I sat down and wrote down the dates on a clean sheet of paper.
"I don't know," I said.
The next day I called my neighbor's stockbroker. I asked him about the expired dates and if there was a relationship with IBM. He said he'd call me back. Two days later he did. They were both days the stock had gained significantly. I asked if I could be his client and the next day I transferred our entire savings account over to him.
Connie didn't find out until the next month's statement but by then we had doubled our money. I told her what I found in the drawing, and we spent the evening and night searching through the binders, holding up drawings to the mirror, looking for stock tips, but all we saw was IBM.
"You can't draw something new, can you?" she asked. We were both flopped on the sofa, exhausted. The dog laid in my easy chair chewing on the hair between his paws. He looked over at us, as if to say, when are you going to sleep?
"No," I said. "It was always just that."
"It's so strange."
"Maybe it's for the best," she said, patting my hair. "Money can be a curse sometimes. I don't think being filthy rich is all it's cracked up to be."
"I think you're right," I said. "We'll have enough money to put the kids through school. That's good enough."
"And to retire at fifty-five."
And we did. I never drew another one of those drawings again, and the binders gathered dust and mold in the basement.