Doubt’s Shadow – David Aghram

“I don’t think there’s a single thing in the entire world that I think about less than literature.”

     First off, everything about him, from his wrinkled and ill-fitting clothes to the tired sympathy in his eyes, suggests that this man is a genius.
     He is sitting with his elbows on the bar. He won’t stop talking about the St. Matthew Passion. He claims to know each word in the original German, and says that he can recite them from memory.
     Outside, the afternoon is reaching its peak. An undercover policeman is looking for someone. The windows of the cafe are filthy, coated in a layer of dirt kicked up by the cars in the street. The scene, all of its different elements, makes you asthmatic.
     Silent, you feel the lisp you tell yourself you grew out of come back. Mortified, your mouth freezes. The moment is infused with a harsh light shining dully in from the outside. It is a testament both to order, and to chaos.
     You think about leaving. After all, its not as if you’re the person the undercover is looking for. But as you finish your tea and pack your bag, an unexpected desire makes itself known: you want to talk to the man.
     Or rather, because his voice and manner of speaking is terribly annoying to you, to read about him if possible.
      You begin scribbling on a bar napkin.

     “There is no conspiracy, only society.”

     Later, you are at home, one hand clenched around your other wrist. You are searching for veins. In your search you feel something foreign under the skin. It feels hard, like a small glass bead. You can move it around with your fingertip, but it refuses to stray too far from where you found it. It doesn’t hurt, not even when you press it as hard as you can.

     You can’t help but think to yourself how dangerous bodies can be.

     It is dark inside your apartment. You have closed the windows and blinds, and turned off all the lights in the hopes that doing so will keep your home cool in the summer heat.           You can tell from the rays creeping in from the edges of the curtains that outside the sun is beating down mercilessly on the city. It is barely noon.

     Your mind drifts to the man from the cafe. You wonder if he’s still there. As if on cue, your phone lights up.
     “What would you do for thirty pieces of silver?”
     Before you can respond, another message appears.
     “This is the only question that matters.”

      They are all like this, open-ended and somewhat cryptic. He sends four or five a day, generally spaced out at fairly even intervals. You hardly ever respond.

     “There’s not always a lot of distance between the past and the present.”

     “No matter what, you always have to keep on fighting.”

     “To hell with it. We’re all illegalists now.”

David AghramDavid Aghram is a multi-media artist currently residing in Olympia WA. He has been actively writing for a year and has been published in the Big Sky Journal Magazine.