Librarian of Alexandria

III: The Unbearable Chasm In Which The Lost Goat Bleats The Lost Symphonies Of Forgotten Composers, or, Doctor Medved and The Band

Doctor Medved was a funny sort of guy. I wanted to write man there, but I couldn't. That's not what he was. He was a guy.

There's nothing wrong with that, but you know, someone gets tired of feet-on-the-desk-cheap-beer-in-the-fridge-birds-in-the-thicket kind of living. That's why I left Doctor Medved that day, back in the summer of Ten-and-Seven Sorrows.

I remember it like it was yesterday. "There's something wrong with this birdhouse," he said, fidgeting with his toolset, in between grunts of exertion and aggravation. "It's not housing properly."

"It doesn't take much to house," I told him. "I actually house rather often."

"Well..." he said, and dropped the wrench. "What is it that you house?"

"Right now?" I said, and leaned backwards, considering the slow-moving clouds and nearly dropping the mint julep that perspired in my cold clammy hand. "Well, right now I think I must house serenity and melancholy."

"Like a pond?" He was one of those guys who couldn't concieve of serenity. Everything he knew about serenity he read in faux-Asian pamphlets and TV Guide blurbs about Bruce Lee. He wouldn't know a Zen garden from the Cottington School for Boys.

"Serenity is like when you're drunk, and you sit down on the curb and let the sound of the bar disappear and you feel the curb and the cold grit of the asphalt and the warm weave of your coat and the slow growth of your hair that you keep forgetting to shave and you forget that you're the only one drinking to remember and not forget. Serenity is the cold air that comes in the almost-closed car window as you travel, slowly in all but speed, from a place you don't really belong to a place you don't really want to go to. Serenity is finding a kitten and saying hello and asking it how it is and showing it a good time with some tin cans and plastic tea cups and boxing magazines and then leaving it where it was without bringing it home to your mother (or mother-substitute that you fuck in a way you deny is Freudian) and trying to own it. Those things are serenity."

Doctor Medved picked up the tool again and began making the birdhouse into a bird-house. "Serenity is getting back to an empty apartment when everyone is gone and the bags make the scratchy plastic noise as you take the milk into the fridge and pause for just a moment?"

"No, not at all," I said as I stood up and left. "That's not it at all."