Wednesday, August 3, 2011

My Beginning Story: When Harry Lost His Mind

Here is the story I wrote based on my own beginning paragraph writing prompt...


When Harry Lost His Mind


Harry had nothing better to do than to sit and watch television. His wife had left him three months ago, and she took with her their sixteen year old son and twelve year old daughter. Harry hadn't published anything in the past two years and his royalty checks would soon be coming to an end. And last but certainly not least, he was beginning to think that he was losing his mind.

He came to the conclusion that he had gone insane on a gloomy Sunday afternoon. He had just hung up from speaking to his daughter on the telephone. She had gotten on the honor roll and her mother had bought her a pet rabbit, but she had not made it on the eighth grade basketball team. Harry did not speak to his son. He was not home but at his friend's house, practicing in his garage band.

After Harry hung up the phone, he grabbed a beer, turned on the television, and sat down in his lazy-boy chair. This had become his ritual on a Sunday afternoon. But this time was different. This time he spontaneously went insane.

He was watching a football game. A player threw the ball, but instead of another player catching it, Harry caught it. The ball flew out of the screen and landed right in Harry's lap. He was shocked. He was appalled. He was utterly confused.

He sat there frozen for what seemed like hours but for what was actually only about fifteen seconds. He stared out into space, looking at nothing, seeing nothing. When he snapped out of it, realizing that there was a football in his hands for which there was no plausible reason how it got there, his eyes flicked back to the TV screen. Instead of a football game, the television displayed an unusual image of a purple creature dancing around, though there was no music playing.

Harry narrowed his eyes, trying to make sense of the thing he was seeing. He'd never seen this creature before in his life. That was the first thought that come to his mind. The second, which took a few moments before it arrived, was a thought of terror. He had not touched the remote, yet the TV had changed. And this was definitely not a commercial.

After another dozen or so seconds, his focus finally returned to the football in his hands. He moved his gaze to it, but as he removed his eyes from the TV screen, the world around him became distorted. Everything was swirls of color. It reminded him of the LSD trip he had taken in the seventies.

He stood up, but he thought he was going to vomit, so he sat back down. He looked into the kitchen at the telephone. If he could walk over to it, he would phone emergency. He needed a doctor as soon as possible. But his legs felt like rubber. He couldn't stand. The colors twisted and twirled around him. He lost feeling in his hands; he could no longer feel the football he held. The purple creature continued to dance.

Then the phone rang.

It all stopped.

The creature disappeared and the football game returned to the screen, the ball included. Everything returned to normal. It was as if nothing happened.

The telephone rang again. Harry jerked up out of his lazy-boy and scrambled to the kitchen. He answered it. It was his estranged wife. She said that his son was home now and wanted to speak to him. He told her to put him on. She did, and he could tell by the sound of his son's voice that his mother had left the room. He was quiet and calm and relaxed.

"Hello Dad."

"Hello son."

"Um, I have a question."

"Okay."

"Do you believe in God?"

"Wow, this is out of nowhere."

"I know, but I was thinking, Mom said that you don't believe in God. She said that's part of why you guys split up."

Harry tried to think for a moment, but no thoughts came to his mind. Then he tried to think of a reason why he couldn't think, but still there was nothing.

"I don't know why she would say that," he said. "I do believe in God."

"Oh, okay. That's all I wanted to know. Bye, Dad."

"Bye son."

Harry hung up the phone and returned to his lazy-boy. He flicked off the television, closed his eyes, and enjoyed the silence. There was nothing there in his brain, but the funny thing was that he liked it. He had finally lost his mind.

4 comments:

  1. The turn at the end is fantastic if not profound in the image of a man entirely alone left to contemplate the great unknown.

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  2. Thank you Jaye! That's sort of what I was going for; glad it came across. :)

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  3. Your piece reminded me of a quote from the movie Con Air when the character Garland Greene says, "What if I told you insane was working fifty hours a week in some office for fifty years at the end of which they tell you to piss off; ending up in some retirement village hoping to die before suffering the indignity of trying to make it to the toilet on time? Wouldn't you consider that to be insane?"

    The twist at the end made me even contemplate the possibility that the son's call was imaginary.

    I guess one could say that insanity is a relative state of mind that is defined by culture, peers and situational experiences.

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