Once this was a hill covered with scrubby bushes. Now look at it. Perfectly fitted slabs of grey rock of different sizes but all aligned and tall. It’s a tall wall.
Henry used to sit on that hill and read. The wall has become something of a gallery but Henry doesn’t pay much attention to the commentary. Everyone has an opinion, he muses, on his way over to the park. Reading there isn’t as good because there are people there. The hill was ideal because even though there were peacocks wailing up above the hill and people down on the sidewalk, no one actually came onto the hill.
“Why do you stay in the city if you dislike people so, Henry?” This from Margie, his neighbor.
Margie is one of the three people that Henry actually speaks to on a fairly regular basis. Now he’s reminded why even that’s something to avoid. Margie’s used to him so that look he shoots her before leaving gives her a giggle.
The wall went up about five years ago. Yes, he resents having lost his hill, but he doesn’t necessarily blame the wall. It’s a handsome wall, very well constructed. There were many times when Henry would notice the ongoing erosion of the hill and worry about what would happen to that medieval-looking building up behind him. It had to weigh a lot. Nothing to worry about now. That wall was going nowhere for many years to come.
Henry, however, was beginning to think he was going to have to go somewhere. The millionairization of the city had been a drag, but this pandemic business was the I-beam about to break the camel’s back. He’s making plans.
He’d been here since the days of staying in after dark and the sound of gunshots at night. That had all felt adventurous to young Henry with his typewriter and his manuscripts. It was material. He didn’t have to be out there risking getting hurt to pirate the lives that were getting hurt. When an agent picked him up he knew he’d made the right choice to live here no matter what friends of his mother back in Manayunk said.
True, “Distance as a Measure of Time” was a PEN/Hemingway finalist, but it still didn’t sell. The agent stopped returning Henry’s calls. In all these years, though, he’d never stopped writing. He just stopped showing anyone the work. He’d finish a new manuscript and put it out with the recycling never suspecting that Margie was rescuing every single one. Margie, the sly fox, wasn’t just piling those completed manuscripts in a closet. She made it her business to get more eyes, many more eyes, on Henry’s work.
The calls went unanswered and the certified letter was returned. This wasn’t the first time members of the Fellowship Selection committee had run into this situation. But it was sad every time. Wherever Henry Bishop was, the committee members hoped he was still writing.
© Remington Write 2020. All Rights Reserved.
In August 2020, AleXander Hirka set himself the challenge of creating a daily digital collage based on an image and a concept. The image is that of the antique Omega watch that belonged to his Mom and the concept is Time. In September 2020, the Anomalous Duo is challenging themselves to write a short piece of fiction for each collage — the Our Hours project.