• Friday, July 25, 2014

FABLE FACTORY

A Portrait of the Artist as a Fishbowl

Hasan Shahriar

“Oi, are we supposed to do something?” asked the boy whose name was Girl.
“Beats me. I know as much as you do,” answered the girl whose name was Boy.
They were both installed in a setting still patchy and under construction. Nevertheless, my limited imagination permitted them to look at it as a room bathed in off-white light with no sight of any wall.
Boy had red hair, Girl had dark. She was wearing a green blouse, he had a chequered blue shirt on. Her eyes were brown, his black. They were both sort of puzzled.

“Perhaps, we're in a short story,” Girl offered, though he seemed unsure.
“If so, where is the plot?” Boy asked.
“Maybe the writer is still thinking one up.”


“Maybe all of this is just a joke to him. Put two amateurishly created characters in a story with no story and be done with it.”
“So? What do we do?”
“Call him up, I say,” Boy said. She seemed almost angry.
“You mean call the writer?”
“Yes.”
“You do realize we're just his characters, don't you? He is the 'god'.”
“Just call him.”
“What makes you think he'll come up if I do?”
“I have a strong feeling that he wants us to call him. Perhaps he's a Norman Mailer-ish flaunter.”
“We seem to have knowledge of Normal Mailer, yet we don't know what our plot is supposed to be.”
“Just call him, dumbo.”
“Okay. Doing it. Mr. Writer! Mr. Writer! Please show up. Please do!”
My entry.
“Hello.”
“You're really here. Where is your head?”
“What do you mean?”
“You don't have a head. There's a fishbowl in its place.”
“Really?”
“Yes.”
“Can I get a mirror? I want to see.”
“There is no mirror here. There is nothing here. It is an empty setting.”
“Oh, I see. Anyways, I'm Hasan Shahriar, I'm the writer, and you guys are…”
“You don't know our names?”
“I do. I just want to hear it from you guys.”
“Boy,” said the girl.
“Girl,” said the boy, “Why are you laughing? You're the one who named us.”
“Sorry. So, what can I do for you?”
“Give us a story.”
“Don't you already have one? The story of two characters who call their writer because they don't think they have a story.”
“If this stuff that we are doing now is the story, then it's a pretty lame one, man.”
“What to do? I am not a very good writer,” I answer.
“Don't act modest, it is narcissistic to be in your own story.”
“I am not completely here. My face is gone, remember? There's just a fishbowl.”
“Right. Can we get another story?”
“You really want another?”
“Yes.”
“Ok. You guys are in some park. It is evening, the sky is orange-ish. You two are seated on a bench”
The setting changed and the alterations I uttered took place.
“—So we just sit here?” They both ask.
“No, goddamit, you are supposed to hold hands. You guys are dating”
“We are what?”
[Interlude. I fix the emotional malfunction of my characters.]
“Girl, I am seeing you in a new light.”
“You too, Boy.”
My job is done.

Published: 12:00 am Thursday, June 12, 2014

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