Something More Tangible Than Words

     “Life goes on,” Og said, “and when we stop now and then to look back, it's the good times we see. It's the good times you see that make us who we are... the what when where why and how are interchangeable- wait, maybe not.”
     “You sir, are disqualified. Literary guards! Remove that writer  from the podium. I demand pandemonium! Ostracize him!”
     The crowd went absolutely mad as Og was banished from the auditorium. Thereafter he was treated even worse than the homeless lepers that skulked throughout the city. These lurking lepers lurched along in well thought-out patterns, each being a member of the secretive faction of deformed creatures known as “The Monks.” They continuously traversed the city with one goal and one goal only- to wear down the sidewalks with shoes made of concrete and nails.
     “You suck, Og,” a leper hissed as it clunked by. This one had a particularly bad limp that would surely in the long run leave it’s mark upon the streets of Guild, North Dakota. Clunk, scrape… “Life goes on- maybe not!” mocked the leper.
     Og had tried to join the lepers, thinking such an experience could somehow provide material interesting enough to help him write his way out of his sad predicament. They, however, did not welcome his presence, and were in fact quite insulted to think a writer should deem himself worthy of the mission.
     Later, in the park, a little girl came to Og and asked why he was crying. Her mother quickly called her away with a shrill, trembling voice so full of fear it was no doubt heard throughout the land. The beautiful day immediately turned unpleasant and even the animals sensed something was dreadfully wrong. Time stood still, if only for a moment. A wary patrolman  approached Og, his hand wavering near his gun, and demanded that he move on. Elsewhere. Anywhere but near the townsfolk. Og sniffled and slunk away- almost tripping on the worn down walkway. The people in the park laughed.
     “Could it possibly get worse than this,” Og wondered. He then caught a nasty stomach bug that took him weeks to get over.
     Then he had a vision- he would travel to the neighboring city of Mecca. His passion for communication combined with his understanding of the finer arts would certainly enable him to unite the local artesians and rouse their spirits! He would incite rage towards the writers of Guild. They would listen, for Og was once a highly regarded art critic. In fact, he was quite the man about town before his disastrous performance at the poetry convention. He would share with the artists his dream. The conquering of Guild! The writers will know Og’s pain. It will be a battle worthy of many a ballad! As he trudged towards Mecca he had visions of painted arrows and fancy swords, of things much more tangible than mere words.
     There was a flaw in his plan that stood out like a simple word, misspelled.
     Og had written a less than favorable review of the annual Mecca art festival back in thirty-eight, and though they were a lighthearted and free spirited people, they could hold a grudge with the best of them. Also, they had gotten wind of the fateful poetry convention. Og was labeled a brave fool for attempting to go against literary convention at a literary convention. The residents of Mecca did not want the city to gain a reputation as a haven for fools, so they chipped in to buy Og a one way ticket to Louisville, Kentucky. It was an act of kindness born of pity. “The heart and soul of your city does not easily succumb to the darker emotions it seems, fair Mecca. I take the rage I brought with me away now,” Og said pensively, though no one was listening.

     Life in Louisville was good to Og, it went on. When he looked back at the events and consequence that brought him to where he eventually found himself- it seemed a natural path. He had long since lost his rage, and had even gained a reputation of note as a local critic before retiring. He even wrote a play based on the lepers of Guild- “Monks with shoes of concrete and nails.” It was well received and even rewritten as a musical by the local dinner theater. “Life is good,” thought Og, even though he had a cold.

A short story by Scott C. Stuart

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