Sunday, March 30, 2008

He Talks to Himself. Part 4

Part 4 of 4

For a few moments, Dennis was terrified. Finally, he answered Right. " did you learn that?"

Right answered again, with the same voice: "I don't know. I've been practicing a little while you've been asleep, but mostly it has just been coming to me."

Dennis was still not ready for it, and he clapped his right hand over his mouth in panic. The left hand reached up and gently pulled it away. “This is......this is......weird...”.

They sat in silence for a while. Then Dennis stood up and walked to his closet. He picked up a nice shirt and his least holey jeans from the rack, and began to undress. He put on the jeans and shirt, a belt, and some shoes and socks, all the while thinking about what had just happened. He walked to the bathroom. Dennis carefully removed his head bandage and combed his hair to hide his stitches. He was halfway through brushing his teeth when he suddenly had a thought. What in the hell am I doing brushing my teeth? And combing my hair?!? And is this a belt I am wearing? What did I change my clothes for?

Of course. He, Dennis, hadn't changed his clothes at all. Right had. It was his left hand holding the toothbrush. He had just sort of fallen into step with the mundane tasks while he was thinking about how Right could speak. "What are you doing?" he asked.

"We're going somewhere. We've got to look nice." Right answered.

"Where are we going? Wait, I mean, no we're not! We don't have anything to go to."

"Yes we do." Right was messing with the hairstyle some more now. "We need a haircut sometime soon."

"Where are we going?" Dennis demanded through clenched teeth.


"Tell me, or we're not going anywhere!" Dennis was felt so confused and helpless that he could feel anger and fear overtaking him.

Right put down the comb, and Dennis looked into his own eyes in the mirror. Silence. And then, a big smile, with Right's half of the mouth. "We've got a date!"

Resisting the urge to react, Dennis calmed down a bit, and then thought practically. Of course he couldn't go on a date. He was horrible on dates. And of course he liked girls, but up close they terrified him. No, no. He would not be going on a date. But right seemed very determined. If he could just somehow keep himself from leaving the house long enough, then it would be too late to go! Luckily Right was in his own world, going on and on about the girl they were supposed to meet.

"You'll like her, I think. She likes comics, and painting, and reading. And she's so beautiful. She sent a photo. We're way out of our league, heh heh. Her name's May. Don't worry about a thing. I'll do all of the talking if you want. And she's from Canada and says she has a bit of an accent. I haven't heard her speak, of course, because we've only chatted online. And, tell you what friend, if you don't like her, then neither do I! Does that sound fair?"

Dennis swung his graduation stein toward his own head like a wrecking ball. It shattered and the toothbrush and razor it had held clattered to the floor along with cheap ceramic shards. But he remained conscious, still holding the handle of the stein in his right hand. And man, did it hurt! Right must have recovered first, because the left hand reached over and grabbed his right hand around the wrist before Dennis could pick up anything else. "Wha...what the hell are you doing? That hurts, idiot! You ever heard of stitches? We're lucky you missed our stitches!" They locked hands. Each pushed on the other. Harder. Harder. For several long seconds, neither made any progress against the other.


"I'm not going on this date, Right! You know I hate sitting, trying to think of clever things to say, wondering where to look, wondering if she likes me or not, wondering if I like her or not..."

Right released the other hand. He said softly, "What did you call me?"

Dennis had to think back to exactly what he had said. "I called you 'Right'… get it? Because you're the right hemisphere."

"My name is Dennis, Dennis." Then silence. One of them, or both, felt the eyes they shared tearing. "I'm sorry", said Left-Dennis. "Of course. I didn't think--".

Right-Dennis sobbed. "I've waited so long. I've wanted to paint for years. I've wanted a girl in my life for even longer. I'm so lonely. So are you, but you never wanted to do anything about it, and you would always win. You were always stronger.”

Left-Dennis felt awful, like a lazy, oppressive tyrant. He hated himself at that moment, and tried to think of what to say. But there was only one thing he could say that would truly express his regret and apology.

"Alright............let's.............uh, let's go."


“Yeah, I mean it. I'll go. We'll go.”

Dennis straightened up and hugged himself. He wiped off his tears and washed his face one last time. "Don't worry friend. We'll be a great team."



"Jekyll and Hyde?"

"A complete person."

Whichever one of them had said it, neither wanted to follow that last one which he had said so reverently. And that was when Dennis looked across the room for the first time at the painting he had completed right before he started talking to himself. It was a beautiful brown horse in full gallop, with ears like mountain peaks, nostrils like caves; its tail thrashing like a whip; its skin was like a firm but fluid sea of velvet. He could almost hear the thundering of its hooves and smell the sand and sage it kicked and broke as it galloped across the desert. He wanted to stay and look at it for hours, but he was already running a little bit late.

Dennis hadn't been kidding. She was beautiful. And so easy to talk to that the nervousness wore off early on in the evening. After dinner and the movie, Dennis walked May toward her house, very slowly. But they decided to stop by a pond in the park for a little while before they let the evening end.

"Ta-da!" Said May. She took a small bag with three slices of bread out of her purse. Dennis laughed, a little more loudly than May had expected. They broke the bread up and scattered it around for the birds. Then Dennis sat down on a nearby bench overlooking the water, and gestured for her to join him. May walked briskly over and sat down too, a little closer to Dennis than he had expected. The both let out a quiet sigh.

"May", he said, "do you think you could sit on this side?"

The End.


jeremy said...

Good story. Some of it was better the second time.

Josh said...

Great story TR. I liked Lao Tsu a lot, but I liked this one even more. It's an interesting idea and I think you did some really clever things with it. I especially like the ending where Dennis asks May to sit on "this side". Well done.

T.R. said...

thanks guys! The fact that you finished reading it is the highest praise of all. Seriously, I really appreciate it.