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Or is it? Maybe it’s just a huge cement rectangle. Could you consider them to be the same thing? I mean, a wall ends at some point. In a rectangular or trapezoidal shape?
Let’s just say a wall. An ongoing wall. A relatively insignificant seeming wall; red bricks, graffiti here and there, mold.
The strange thing about this wall is that it’s been here more or less forever. I didn’t know it was here until a few years ago, but it’s always been there. No one seems to know why it’s there or how it got there, but it’s just there. And apparently, no one knows what’s behind it either.
I saw a picture of the wall from 200 years ago. Not a picture, actually, a painting. It looks exactly the same. It hasn’t eroded as far as I can tell, it hasn’t faded, and it seems as though there are weeds growing in the same places.
The funny thing about that is that the painter is from France, and I’m from California. I’ve never left the states and as far as I know, that painter never left France. The only difference I can see is that the graffiti is in French rather than English. It still reads “F*** you.”
I bought a ladder in an attempt to climb over it. It wasn’t tall enough for me to even see how far up the top was.
I could not climb over the wall.
One day, I took the day off from work and took a short walk alongside it. Or, rather, I decided sitting at a typewriter was not terribly productive, and a mini-adventure may inspire me somehow.
That short walk became a nervous jog; that nervous jog became a slightly anxious sprint; that slightly anxious sprint became a fully panicked run.
I ran for hours that day. To a professional athlete, that may not mean anything, but as a child, I couldn’t even run a whole block without running out of breath. But by the end of the day, I ended up calling a cab because I was too tired to get home.
So I could not walk around the wall.
I thought about it for weeks on end, and it drove me crazy. What was behind that f***ing wall? Why couldn’t I get around it? What supernatural force could be keeping me out?
Finally, I figured the only other way to find out would be to knock it down. And I did precisely that.
When I got to the wall later that night, I sat in my truck for a few minutes, staring, hoping for a sign of weakness, a lack of consistency. There was nothing. Every inch looked as solid as the next.
I climbed out and stood in front of the wall with a sledgehammer in my right hand. Slowly, I pulled it up behind my back, ready to smash. And then did so. With a single, quick movement of my arm, a four inch long crack appeared. A rush of excitement ran down my back, and then fear. I dropped the sledgehammer and spun around, making sure no one was around to see me in this moment of insanity. And no one was there.
Feeling silly, I picked it back up and threw another blow at the wall. The crack grew another three inches, and a smaller, inch long crack came across the middle of the first one.
Another. Another. Another. Each hit enlarged the cracks and made new ones.
After many, many smashes, I dropped the now useless hammer and trudged back to my truck. I lit up the headlights and admired how weak the wall now looked. It only needed one final hit.
It was dusk. The sun was setting and I was losing light. I turned the key in the ignition and the truck roared to life.
For a moment, I considered not smashing through. That maybe there was some unspeakable horror that was behind the wall for a reason. That it was possible I would unleash some terrible, evil creature unto the world by knocking it down.
I considered this for a very brief moment before hitting the gas and ramming into the wall.
The airbag blew up in my face and punched the breath out of me for a moment. Gasping, I looked up at where the wall had been. Now, a pile of bricks had fallen on the hood of my truck and there was a five-foot black gap where the wall once stood, strong and solid. It was completely un-impressive.
This is what I wanted to see so badly? Night? screamed a voice in my head. I raised a hand to my unshaven cheek and felt the past three weeks of stubble. I realized that there hadn’t been this much hair on my face since I was 19. Who was the last person I had spoken to? I wondered.
But now you know what it is! Now you can die with that bit of knowledge! sang a second voice.
I waited for some sort of evil creature to jump out at me and slash my throat. Instead, a small woman appeared from the darkness and stepped into the remaining rays of light. No, small is an understatement. This woman could not have been any more than five feet or weigh more than 100 pounds. But despite her tiny figure, she looked quite fierce. She stood before my trashed truck and crossed her arms, glaring at me with black slits of eyes. I wondered if she was the reason for the wall. Perhaps she was an evil creature.
We stood in silence for a very long time, when finally, she uncrossed her arms and asked, “Can I help you?”
I’d been told to shut the f*** up with more warmth than that single, simple phrase.
“I suppose so,” I replied. “Er... Can you tell me why this wall is here?”
She rolled her eyes as though this was the stupidest thing she’d ever heard. With a swift spin on her heels, she turned to the gap and walked back into the darkness.
“Come on,” she called.
Stupidly, I clambered out of my truck and walked over to the wall. I wasn’t sure if following her was really a good idea.
Suddenly, a hand shot out and grabbed the front of my shirt.
“I said come on.”
And with this, the hand pulled me into the black hole.
“He broke through the wall. Took him long enough.”
“S***, I thought we’d be waiting fer eternity or sumthing.”
“I know. He’s a scrawny little thing, though. I’m surprised he could pick up that sledgehammer.”
I felt cold, callused fingers pinch at my arm. “Scrawny is right. Skin ‘en bones, really.”
“Excuse me...” I mumbled. “Ow.”
I opened my eyes and a tall, red-skinned man and the aforementioned woman stood before me. “He’s alive.” she announced. She did not sound terribly pleased.
“Hey, man.” said the red man, grinning and offering a hand to pull me up. “You bin passed out a whahl now.”
“So I gathered.” I accepted his hand and quickly and without warning, he pulled me straight off the ground as easily as a paper doll. It was extremely painful.
“Where you from?”
“California,” I told him, massaging my shoulder.
At this, his eyes narrowed and he glared at me suspiciously. “You a hippy, boy?”
I chuckled at the thought. “No, god no. Me? Hippy? No. Ha ha. I smoked pot one time and I got all paranoid.” I remembered unpleasant experience quite well as one I did not want to relive. “It’s.... Yeah, no, hippy isn’t really the right word for me. I like showering.”
The red man began grinning again. “I like yer sense uh’ humor.”
I looked around. The land was completely flat and the grass was even and perfectly trimmed. In fact, the landscape was quite boring, except for the white signs placed everywhere. They didn’t seem to be put down in any obvious order and each one had a message written on it, the length of which seemed to depend upon the intensity of the message. A few had paper taped onto it continuing on whatever words of wisdom would not fit on the 2x3 boards. The one nearest to me read:
“The KING was here.”
And beneath that,
At that, I giggled. The red man watched in curiosity as to what I was giggling about and evidently saw that I had been looking at the sign.
“Yew hate Meyer too?”
“Oh yeah. I don’t think hate is a strong enough term to describe my detestation for her and everything she seems to stand for.”
“You’ll do well here then,” the small woman spoke.
“Hah, yeah, y’will. Most of us is pretty anti-Meyer too. Right, Trish?” he glanced at the petite woman.
“We’re anti-bad writing, for the most part.” she responded.
I grinned. This was beginning to seem like a good place.
“Where are we, then?” I inquired.
Trish and the red man looked at each other. Tucking her short, auburn hair behind her ear, Trish looked into the horizon. The red man stuck his hands into his coverall pockets. Neither seemed to know the answer to my question.
“Eddy, why don’t you try and explain it? I need to get some food.” and Trish ran off, leaving the red man and me alone.
“S’my name. Listen, this here place is hard to sort of explain. It’s... It’s a place for writers.”
Writers? I thought. Does that mean Eddy is a writer? He looks like the average, illiterate redneck. He sounds like the average, illiterate redneck.
“Specific types of writers?”
He shuffled his feet uncomfortable. “Nah, just... Well, yeah, writers with writer’s block, if yuh wanta say that’s a type.” I nodded and he went on. “See, it’s like this. You broke down that wall. That’s step number one. Breakin’ down the wall. The literal wall.”
And that was all he had explained before a white sign came spiraling through the air and stabbed the ground mere inches away from my right foot. I gasped and fell over, which Eddy found absolutely hilarious.