I’m told you’re a writer.
What do you do then?
Do you do chemistry?
Then why teach it?
I guess because I can, because I did do it for a while.
Sounds like an excuse.
You must’ve not enjoyed it enough.
That could be right.
And you didn’t find interest enough to keep titrating and polymerizing and synthesizing.
And you just couldn’t keep going.
Aren’t I in a way?
No. And thinking about it, you’re wrong.
You teach your students how not to do chemistry.
Couldn’t I just be teaching them the elemental stuff?
No. Your biases come into it.
Oh. I see.
No you don’t.
What do you mean?
Your regrets and couldn’ts and those experiments that probably didn’t work out – all of them precipitate out in a lesson.
By shaping your language, by suggesting what’s important to know and what isn’t. By using words like precipitate.
You used it, though.
So you could hear what you might sound like.
That’s a bit far-fetched, don’t you think?
Not really. Think about it. Even if it is just a science, you’re lecturing on how you understand it, how you can grasp, weigh, contextualize the content. What you don’t know, they don’t know. Your unknown unknowns are known. They are theirs.
Well, I did alright when I was doing it.
Not alright enough to go on, though.
No I don’t think that’s it.
Then what is?
A tale, something more than the words being said or heard.
Of course – a story for a writer is like water for fish.
What do you mean?
The story is too long to tell.
Not much of a story then.
To some, probably not.
Not much of a story.
What do you mean?
I don’t know how to tell it exactly.
But aren’t you a writer?
There are many writers but little writing.
What does that even mean?
I think that… I don’t know how to explain it.
Then why say it?
Because it came out that way. A feeling. Kind of just burped out of me.
I’ve belched a few times, yes. Particularly after drinks and love and beans.
In that order?
You’re a whole melancholic writer, then?
You’re one of those drunk writers just boozing on the page. What do you do – remold chunks of your vomit into letters? Or do you take your hand, squeak it into the corner of your pants, and squeeze for ink?
I don’t know what you’re getting at.
Hey, just gabbing. Besides, I thought the sentences sounded pretty good.
I do that often. Sound good.
In fact, I have a few ideas for a novel.
Ya. Good ones. Unbelievable, jaw-dropping, shit-in-your-pants ideas.
That doesn’t even describe them. I could probably spawn three Pultizers. I expect more, of course.
Have you started them?
No. I want time to let them cultivate, you know? Don’t rush genius. Genius rush don’t. Get it?
No doubt about it. Took a while to think of the ideas too.
Every day I just add to them like a painter.
Great. Start when you need to start. You know Bukowski –
You know Bukowski? Great you can get me a publication with him and he can write my preface. I just need an in, you know?
What you don’t know? What kind of writer are you that you don’t know about the inside networks, the one finger click and boom-bam-badaclang you’re on the best seller list?
No, that’s not what I’m saying.
What are you trying to say then? Spit it out already.
I don’t know Bukowski.
Then why did you say you know Bukowski?
Well I didn’t finish –
As a writer, you’re pretty careless with your communication.
I didn’t finish my –
What about the Finnish?
Nothing. Bukowski is dead, by the way.
The good die young. The title of my novel is “Young die good.” Get it?
Nice title, but he was old when he died.
When he died.
Yes, of course. I know, I know. I was just saying a phrase. Gosh. You need to understand more. Intreptation is a writer’s job, isn’t it?
Ya, you’re right. Sorry.
No worries. A common mistake. You’ve probably just gotten big in your briches is all. Those words in your head just get jumbled, tied together, story after story. That’s what happened to me.
With these ideas.
Yes. I was just sitting in a café, watching the sunset creep over a group of roofers with their silhouettes black against the dying sun and I took a deep breath, the aroma of the roasting beans and the people before me and after me too mixing, swelling, mating together in steam and lips on cups, soft kisses that are torn away, empty, until another drink or another person comes, sits, sees those roofers and wonders if the sun will come out again and if it doesn’t what will they do because roofing will be moot and this café on the hill wouldn’t have such a lovely view of the sunset and I thought what I’d do then too if the sun isn’t the sun with its rhythm and cycles, and then the ideas came quite suddenly. I had to grab onto my seat.
Did you grab onto a pen?
No need. All up here.
Good place to keep them.
Yes. Though in time, in time.
Understandably not. Everyday I have the utmost wish to compose but everyday, being everyday, also pulls me away.
I understand. Happens to me too.
Oh, but I’m not nearly a writer like you.
Well, I never said I was –
And I can imagine that you have techniques of going on with it?
Well I’d hope so. Certainly better techniques than those you employed in chemistry, eh?
Speaking of, let me guess what you wrote.
Well I mean I haven’t –
Oh. Like Tom Wolfe, Truman Capote and Gay Talese. Cutting edge investigative journalism, putting the subject in the middle of a story.
Never heard of it.
And I guess never wrote it either. So what did you write, then?
What do you mean?
I am not a writer.
Oh, this hodgepodge again. A writer’s self-effacement. You know, you don’t have to be so modest.
I’m not. It’s just –
Ha, something just came to me.
Well chemistry and writing are the same.
What do you mean?
Little fundamentals – a letter, an element – compose something bigger – a word, a molecule – which interact – a sentence, a reaction – to develop a whole – a paragraph, a polymer – and comprise a being – a book, a human. The last two react together to make us.
Didn’t think of that before.
See? I’m always coming up with things like that.
Must be nice.
A pain. Can never get all the bustling out because I’m hustling.
Well, it sounds like you enjoy it.
It takes me away but it also makes me want to write.
What is it, by the way.
Ha. It gets me through the day.
I bet. Healing and all?
Never mind. Bad joke.
Shouldn’t a writer have a store of quips and witticism?
Maybe but I wouldn’t call myself a –
I have a good joke.
Yes. Want to hear it?
Well, it’s late and I must –
Excellent. So a woman lost her husband at sea some twenty years ago but every day she goes out to the end of the pier where the light house is and looks out at the ocean. She never misses a day. Rain or shine. Snow or sleet. Thinks that if she shows up he’ll show up too. The stuff of tears, you know? But she gets sick, and can’t go for a few days. This makes her sicker. She imagines that he shows up and doesn’t know where to go. It breaks her. She nearly dies. But she recovers out of her strong will to see him and races over to the edge of the port with a cough-cough still in her. There’s immense fog. Can’t see very much but that won’t stop her from standing there. She stares and stares even though she still is feeling a bit woozy. Then she hears a rustle behind her. She doesn’t want to take her eyes off the few waves she can see just in case he might be under one, but it rustles again and she looks. She sees that the light house door is opened and a man is standing there smoking. She can’t believe it. It looks like her husband. The hair. The beard. It’s no trick of the fog – it is her husband. After twenty years and there he is, behind her. She runs to the man. He looks startled. She says, “I knew you weren’t gone. I knew it. Everyone didn’t believe me.” He’s silent. She goes on. “Oh, hunny. I am so happy. I love you so much. My love brought you back.” He still hasn’t said anything. “It’s okay. I wouldn’t know what to say either dear. It must’ve been so hard.” Nothing still. “But I don’t understand it, really. How did you find the light house after your ship sank?” He looks at her, scruffs his beard, and says, “My wife told me you died so I thought I could come out.”
Very dark. Where’d you hear it?
Made it up. It’s part of the novel.
The rest is better.
I can’t tell you much more, though.
Tell another writer? At best you’ll steal the idea; at worst you’ll poison it.
That deadly, eh?
No offence meant. It’s just I don’t want you to get your muddy fingers on the piece.
Good. That self-effacement again. I’d be offended if it was said to me, but then again, I’m not a writer yet.
Well, it was a pleasure to meet you Kacper. I need to get some drinks. Don’t have to convince a previous chemist that ethanol is a solution.
And I wouldn’t mind some of those burps you mentioned earlier, you know?
Ya. Wait, before you leave: who are you?
What a foolish question.
I’m your audience, writer.