Short Story No.8: Jack and Joseph

This short story is a lyrical and poetic narrative that centers in on two friends Jack and Joseph. It’s about their adventures together, and about life lessons learned and the wisdom  earned, a bildungsroman. 

Background to Jack and Joseph, their early pursuits, narrated by Jack. 

Staying in a car, it has seats that can be like a bed and there’s a roof. There’s room for possessions, but mainly geared toward movement and change. We feel that we should be getting somewhere, after all our travels here and there. I’ve clocked up some miles: He was thirty five now and I will be thirty six in January. If we can move up a gear and really get going then the screen of vistas will be filled with new pictures like a box brain, a car. These pedals are not the sort that wont get us in a jam. We used to live with others, now there’s new passengers on this ride. Being myself, fitting on a parking space on the roads you travel. Though you’ve learned of the road to read the signs to take good advice, you’ve been motivated to drive through the maps of your own making,your imagination, creating. To find your direction in life, not looking over our hard shoulders, the memories we have forged passed, creating momentum with the soundtrack to our lives.

He sells Rolls Royces in a showroom he wears a tie and suit and lots of people come just to see the cars and the interior. He had clocked alot of miles in his journey of life, if you were to walk in his shoes that stepped on the accelerators, his motivation was to progress: milestones . He was in his job after many shifts of gear: key paino salesman, where customers rummaged along the keys. Other times he was working in a 10 storey building in a hectic office. We were all gathered like we were in showrooms, when you were at a Cafe by the window seat, where everyone drove through their agendas: We were all on the road: a broad and an endless road for a Rolls Royce, big wheels and smooth drive.The interior was leather: his suede jacket hung on hanger in the passenger seat. He had his suit tailored to the centimetre. There was a photo dangling on the drivers mirror.

The manelpiece of the drivers interior had a built in sound system that is technical and hard to describe with words. The music spoke for itself. The music was varied and painted scenes in his imagination. His windscreen framed great vistas of the English landscape.

“Keep. Your. Word.” Joseph said to Jack.

“And what’s that supposed to mean?” responded Jack.

“Arrive on time when you should at work, be true to your word, be true to your beliefs as you word them, be consistent, follow through, create a legacy, stay true to your own style, keep those words you learned in Chinese, keep them, keep studious, keep your books, own your style don’t imitate, use language how you want to, stick to your way of describing things if you are going to script original material of your own if you still are writing that novel.” 

“Let me tell you about Chinese Characters”, Joseph, Jack said.

“Chinese characters remind me of houses, constructions along broad expanses and landscapes – starlit, singular, two in chatter, or the heavens above. A face of a house. Those Chinese characters! Chinese characters express heart and mind, not just the jargon of modern terms. I traverse it’s thousands of steps along a mountain. How cosmic in it’s tradition and lineage of great men. Thousands of characters fill a book.”

I

Jack is in Mexico chilling with friends,
and spends time with Penelope. 

Jack was at the Metropolitan Bar, in downtown Veracruz, shooting
pool. He set the triangle, as his opponent smashed the triangle all over
the table. A poster of a United Colours of Benetton Chinese girl was on
the wall. He contemplated his next moves, the pool table an oasis of
calm in the bustling bar. He thought on his life as his friend took his
shot. He saw each soul in each ball. Friends he was close with, who were
the guiding lights in his life, each attired in their own vibrant way.
This was Mexico, where Cowboys in colourful bandanas moved through the streets on their Harley’s skipping the Red Light, like the Texans on the
northern border. Their US counterparts with blonde women on their backs
and arms. Hair streaming in the wind. Blonde women that saturated the
Mexico TV screens, the promise of yellow gold, communicated in adverts,
if a Mexican would care to work for it’s American counterparts. The
widescreen in the bar was showing the World Cup. He and his friends
group together to do a mini mexican wave. Chuckling over the pints pulled
by the impetuous barmaid.

Jack was on Copacabana beach, walking with his crew. A pride of
lions, though more courteous than predatory. Gentlemen. Their senses
finely honed, who could sniff out a fraud in a few moments of
conversations. They had an animal instinct, a sixth sense for a good
business deal, with the lofty integrity of some Don Quixote.

The people on the beach darted this way and that way, like a pool game
freshly begun, scattering themselves over the sand. They exchanged glances, with a telepathic smile. She had a supernatural beauty, that mesmerized him, her eyes, pure blue. She was like a foreign mythical creature, a mermaid. He squeezed his right hand man, Domingo,
farewell. He departed hand in hand with Penelope. She led him on. His
mind was frantic like particles in hot water, he had no thought of his
friends by now, consumed in a heat of passion. The beach was cool, it
was midnight. The stars shone brightly. He took her to his beach house
opening the door with a key with a small world attached to the key ring
he was given as a present from an old friend. They played with the
telescope that was landed on the attic floor. Pushing from one side to
another between them. The roof was transparent glass. He said to her, me
and my crew, well each of us is a like planet round the Sun. And you are
my Sunlight. We share the same sun.

He told her how he was always the heart and soul of his group, and his
friend Domingo was the brains. Even still Jack was a physics major
when he graduated from Berkeley. He traveled to America, back in the
summer of ’88. Every state he visited he would find the top people in
that area. He called it the Pyramid Scheme. He would frequent the bars
in New Orleans, California, New York City. Smashing his opponents, who
broke sticks in frustration or dropped their brown beer glasses on wood
polished floors.

Jack made it a practice to meet with stellar characters. He had
left Penelope, who had rung him with a rude and impatient message. He
made the rules of the relationship clear from the outset. She screamed
obscenities in Spanish into her phone, pointing out he was spinning her
around like a yoyo. Her world was ruptured, though the world just kept
spinning. The beads of sweat she wiped away with her towel, mingled with drops of rain. He had messed with her emotion. His integrity scathed
where more than money was at stake. He sighed at his miscalculated
action. The sea’s horizon he gazed on, contemplating his next moves, in
conjunction with the sun moon and stars.

II

Jack is at the bowling club, nostalgic in his hometown. 

In an old town, ten pin bowling, his family moved away. He missed his
past with some of his family, and in anger he would go ten pin bowling kitted out in an eight ball jacket, bowling shoes, and he smash
the skittles, the ball his resolve to break through the figures of his
past that stood tall in his memory. Life was a game of chess, life was a maze and you had to work your way through. He was tired of the same part of town he knew so well. It hadn’t changed in years, it reminded him of his past too much. So he moved town. He had gone to the pictures every week. Look out the window like watching a movie. Chocolate cake and coffee pass road works digging the earth. Discuss directions. Wouldn’t go that road, shoulder to the wheel. build things brick by brick, architecture, road map. Their words were a city, one them carried a thesaurus with them. Discussing nuaces of things.

III

Jack and Joseph chill. 

They got to a Coffee Shop, leather seats. They look up websites on beach
huts in Hawaii. takes his laptop, swivels it round to his friend. 

These guys do their business on laptops and travel brochures
and writing and Derek Walcott poetry books,

Santander bank  with multi-pocketed Italian leather wallets.
They have shares and ISAs, use their banks for that. Yachts in Devon. 

They want a wider waterfront however. that tea shop in New York. Like a retreat, where they drink tea, relax, a creative space for the imagination..

Courses online where there are New Age writers. They visit a massive bookshop, with centuries old material and laddered shelves. One of them has a Kindle,

libraries archaic all in the palm of a hand. They are playing chess. They talk of family, holding down the fort, visiting Castles around England, Camelot.

Churches, bishops, Generals, Marcus Aurelius, really. They go to Burger King wearing those hats. Holiday snaps.

China plates, a watercolour artist invited, a Chinese man. Photos on mugs. Greenwich observatory where the longitude and lattitude is meridian point.

Stargazers. The equater has more tropical climate. Birthcharts done at College of Psychic studies, and aura photos at Psychic Fayre in the Town Hall.

They look at the galaxies this colour and that in books. So they go to the observatory, to look at their signs as they talk about their relationships, their nearest and dearest.

IV

Jack and Joseph go to Peru

Looking at their Grandmother’s carpet it has a design. They decide to go
Peru, for a few days, taking time off work suddenly buying a £2000
ticket per person for that day. There are other prices, £500, and £350
for a week and six months later on Expedia. that is most expedient for
them and take Ayahausca, it’s a DMT trippers thing people have been taking in clubs in recent years. They see fractal geometries that look like the carpet. Jack wrote a poem about his experience in Peru at the hotel they were staying at.

The boutique hotel is a self styled and unique kind of place. The rooms are decorated and even with a different theme: contemporary, traditional, ancient ayahausca inspired art, fractal geometries almost Islamic and other urbane styles. The interiors are lavish and decked with jewels, topaz, ruby, jade, crystal chandeliers. The service is great, and English tea and toast is served at dawn.

A girl who went out into nature to get into design was inspired by the fractal geometries seen on taking Ayahuasca, she wore a key around her neck, entering those worlds. Flowers and plants in the Amazon gave her abundant inspiration, and the Fibannaci ratio she had earnestly studied, which was found in Sunflowers, Seashells, and other things. She hand draws the flowers collects them in her knapsack. She once worked in a zoo feeding the tigers. she sought out strong people in life, one who had been behind bars, another played in them honing on his fretboard and all that elaboarate work he meticuoulsly attended to.

She went to the forest where charcoal was made, to write of ancestral things, a chacoal sketch of the past. The wool from folds of Sheep in Warkwickshire, and other farms across the fields of England. The cotton fields in the sunnier climes. The downstairs restuarant is based on the splendid menus of the great restaurants across the Western Hemisphere. An abundant eclecticism, dishes from Europe, including Italy and the Mediterranean, France and Spain.

The hotelier could tell at a glance the type of people his guests were, he peered out of his glasses worn at this nose level. He wasn’t overly curious just perceptive. Sometimes he would feel bothered about: why the guy with Porsche couldn’t get the flowers right in his painting; why the statesman had to always be so stubborn, other times he minded his business, and his paperworks, photocopies of documents and worked on his excel sheet on the mini laptop. Back to the scene where Jack wrote:

A dream of the room in Iquitos where I slept
We flew to the scene like an albatross
Cup of Ayahuasca in the room of the dream
Perched on the edge almost losing myself
To the undercurrent my knees were bent
Voices in my head dust from Pandora’s Box
Scattered to the sea and washed clean
Polish the heart a true diamond gleam.

Jack was reading a section from a book, he wrote out the section in his journal.

On Maths, Art and Painting.

Ramanujan, an Indian mathematician, saw visions of equations in his dreams given by Hindu Gods, as he claimed. It seems visions have such detail and precision as this. It’s no surprise, given the formats of Renaissance paintings, that are also mathematical in structure, and some of which are also about the artist’s celestial visions which are conveyed through mathematical means. Indeed, the Kubla Khan minarets of our friends in the East, and their geometric art echo the fractal domes seen on a typical Ayahuasca vision. In the film PI, the concept of the Golden Mean is depicted through a protagonist in the film PI.

They bring their own food to the flight. A picnic hamper, with Moet
Chandel. First Class. Guitar. And they bluetack a painting that they
bought at an antique auctioning they got on for £20. A window to the
soul.

Jack rang up Joseph to borrow £500 for a project he had in mind. He was working in two jobs: one as a cashier at a big bank, another at a pizza parlour in the evening decorating pizzas and taking calls. He was at home watching a DVD on his widescreen TV. He paid his bills at the newsagent, he had a pay point card, three credit cards, with £3,500 overdraft limit. He kept all his receipts in a ledger. He paid his bills on time, as the government would no doubt realise, and at 7.30am each morning he bought the paper from the paper shop. and made himself a cup of fine blend coffee.

On fridays he was out, sometimes the guys would collect in his house, they would be blasting music chatting noisily, laughing and chilling. The housekeeper would be tidying up after the evenings partying. They caught up on where he’d got his projects moving, and the various errands he was busy running. There was a lot to discuss, but they would laugh off the more tedious details. He was quite the movie buff. He had a mini fridge by his TV, like his pal Chad in Ohio,who could be found doing the same thing at the other side of the world. He met him at the tower of London tourist site. They struck up a great friendship, shaking hands enthusiastically at the airport.

He would typically watch all the latest interviews on the films he was watching, follow the actors, he was well versed in that world. He wanted to rent out a bigger property because he needed more space for his vinyl collections, and his wardrobes for the guests. They went off to discuss the projects further, so they went for a drive. It was three am. They got some fresh air, whilst the crew stayed in the house. They kitted out the car with subwoofer stereo in the boot. The bass and treble shook the car, but did not stir the locals.

They would go to play tennis on Saturday, after Jack made run to the bookstore, there was a paperback he ordered from work, called Inner workings of the human mind. Nimesh was taking time out with his book, reading at the coffee shop that was independently run, found commonly around the world. He knew all there was to know about coffee, his old flatmate, a European woman made it the proper way taught him the subtleties of coffee, that the crass Americans hadn’t really been able to keep up with.

V

Joseph throws out Jack’s things for a new beginning. Jack confronts Joseph, ending in a pub brawl and fight. It comes to light that Jack needed the wake up call, to get passed Penelope. 

Jack is out to work, and Joseph was lounging in Jack’s apartment, he had
dual keys to. Joseph worked on music, he added musical ideas to the protools set up and recorded for when Jack came back from work, they could start on their music project. Jack had not been able to get over his relationship with Penelope, his room had a collection of her photos,
and gifts she had sent, and a cuddly bear.

Joseph was frying up some food in the kitchen with the chef’s apron on.
The radio was playing, he went into his room with a bag, and disposed of his photos, momentos of gift and cuddly bear, and took them out to the garbage. He took out the collage of photos he had of her framed on his wall. He ordered in some expensive mirrors to take their place, on each wall facing each.

After Jack come back from work, he saw that his room was without all the
past relics. Joseph said a robber had come in. He expressed his dismay, and somewhat perplexed. Joseph excused himself saying he left him some recording ideas on his laptop.

He would spend nights out, drinking in the scene, and after there was a fullness to the scene, he would convey it all in beats, in a kind of exhilaration from a busy day, nonetheless. Jack went out to the bar, there were folks playing darts, capturing parts of the board of life, like territories, scoring numbers A bird outside posed in his image, but the man had a dart by his visage.

The darts player loses his poise as he was once an architect hanging out in the bar, he overdrinks. His particular drinks are Dubonet (1846) France; Cincano (1757) Italy, Bells (1825) Scotland, as his mind wandered out. He over overdrinks and loses his focus as he staggers around drunk in a kind of dance. The dartboard world, he loses his sense of longitude, lattitude, on a flight as his brow clouds with a thunder – he had taken drugs to add to the mix, and he explored his dream-visions which eventually led him into meditative inner journeys where he learned about himself and other worlds other than this one.

His grandfather worked in NASA as a aeronautical physicist in 1969. He had a spacesuit, he used to wear as a kid, when he put his bedcovers on top of himself to fly out as a rocket his heart dreamed and flew. Where Joseph was drinking with two bottles of lager, he was drunk and laughing. Jack punched Joseph to the floor, as he was on those wooden stools that you get and he felt and the bottles dropped with him, smashing to pieces on the floor.

Jack went back home and the two did not speak to each other for three
months. Jack was upset but what had happened. He was a real stickler for the past. Joseph knew Jack had to be jolted from his stupor, the haze of nostalgia slurred his movements he was piddling in a puddle.

The emptied room was zen in it’s minimal beauty. It still had a few of
his favourite things. It brought him emotional release and freedom, it fit well with the beach view outside. His infatuation with the past was a love of dust and old wood of which the old frames of Penelope were made. The old frame had to go and the frameworks, to construct and configure a new way of being, the person he was today. That he should build with fresh chopped wood on the daily, and work his plan and put a spanner into the works.

”Let me spell it out” said joseph. ”You needed to get past Penelope
push the envelope out a bit, and throw those letters away” explained
Joseph. You’ve made those letters that were once blue ink and white paper yellow with antiquity.

‘Sometimes, I hold onto stuff like it was my church, except it’s been
made brown and muddy as a river bank of memory. You kind of lose sight
of yourself and who you are, holding things so heavily in one’s heart,
the mud of heavy emotions.

‘Exactly’ quipped Joseph. ”Keep those memories golden, let go, that’s
why I threw those out. You want to keep your room neat and zen, it’s
like if your room didn’t think of the past nor do you.’

Jack sighed. ‘That’s insane, Joseph!’
Joseph fell silent. His brow furrowed which then changed to an
expression of anger.

‘Look. Don’t be a stick in the mud with all those heavy feelings. Keep
the memories golden, look at the sunrise.’ You have to keep the elements in the balance, too much old wood no good. Pace yourself and turn a new leaf.

‘Dont worry about Penelope. She was too cerebral, Jack. People are
different. Others are mirrors or shadows or smokescreens. Her spectacles
magnified everything out of proportion and you weren’t nailed down, you
see.

She went to the Tate, you said there was no ‘s’ in Tate. You thought it
tasteless to go and look at that grey and opaque art. Those rooms were
like levels of hells Dante wrote lyrically of. The trees outside the
place outside the place were splinterish. It was rootless. It wasn’t
cool so much as cold.

Yep. There was nothing like a hearty old oak grand and broad based roots
there, was there in that scene you describe was there?

‘Later.’ Jack had to leave.

Joseph sat in his room wondering out the window. there was a hammock in his garden where he pondered the movements of all things.

© Zubyre Parvez 2017 All Rights Reserved

The EaghamsWRITER BIO: Zubyre Parvez (BA hons) studied English Literature at Hertfordshire University. He writes song lyrics, poetry, short stories, reviews, and articles for The Taoist Crucible.  His poetry won runners up in a competition judged by Simon Armitage and Margaret Atwood. His poetry has been published in Kobita. His articles have appeared in The Epoch Times as a journalist for the newspaper. He has worked for New Tang Dynasty Television as a journalist. You can catch up with his tweets @TheEaghams

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