He wrote upon his matchbook. He was laying in his bed. Maybe he had no paper; more than likely he had no other paper within reach. There is very little space on the matchbook, but many great ideas can be distilled into very few words – or the writer can squint, and attempt to squeeze another barely legible line at the bottom. Whatever he was writing, it had the immediacy of something you don’t want to forget.
He looked out the window of the bus, as the scenery smeared by like a never ending stream of Monet‘s or Manet‘s or tie-dyed mayonnaise. The woman across the aisle stared back with the same sunken dead eyes he had come to know so well. The eyes that spoke of death, of loss, of a life filled with poverty, never knowing excess or luxury.The bus jolted violently upward, catapulting his head into rain of the falling luggage.
The bleached uniform hung loosely off of the nurse’s sweaty sunken shoulders. She wearily smiled – his emerging consciousness was a win in this place. So many slip away here; it is oppressive to count how many losses each day. You learn to appreciate even the smallest wins. Every day you beat the house, is a good day. But the devil always collects his due; and he is due everything. One way or the other, the house will win in the end. Still, she straightens and smiles again at his blinking eyes, seeing light for the first time in weeks. She gets him some water, and helps him sit upright to drink it.
He looks at a tomato, and takes a bite, tossing the boy a dollar. He lets his fingers dance over the corn husks, as the ripe tomato juice spills down his lip. A car bounces down the dirt road, kicking up a cloud of dust in it’s wake coating the tomato and the rest of the harvest stand. He drops the tomato in disgust, and pulls his fedora low, before shoving his hands into his slacks pockets and slouching on.
What was that thought that was so important? The matchbook was long gone, and with it – the precious concept. Thoughts unrecorded vanish like smoke on the breeze; you may faintly sniff the passing, but that full impact is gone forever. Maybe he will wander the streets and buses forever, never remembering but always seeking that singular flash of brilliance he had that one night, so many nights ago. Perhaps he will recall the ghost of the memory, with the full thought hanging just out of reach, behind the misty veil. Possibly he will run into someone who had a similar thought, while though not genuinely his truth, will do as some sort of makeshift proverb or concept that will scratch the itch of his curiosity and longing just enough that he can function without obsessing over the lost diamond – his one chance at immortality or greatness.