In the Bagel Omnibus, Sweeney pumps his fourth mug of mocha java with his fist. On the walls loom pictures of surfers in dune buggies with bagel tires, lovers leaping into bagel volcanoes, and more trick photos that show lean physiques and lots of dough, suggesting you can eat all the cream-cheese-slathered goods in the place and not gain a pound. Sweeney comes here every day to write the Great American Creative Nonfiction Novel, which will win him the love of millions who yearn for enlightenment in this techno-dystopian world, and secure his status as the Global Village Bard.
He returns to his favorite table and trusts zoom of pen over page without stopping or reading what he writes or sweating punctuation grammar syntax or pedantic rules like when to use lie and when to use lay and boy, would he love to get laid, it’s been a long time, this dry spell he equates with the African Sahel drought from over-cropping, to ironically imply man’s rape of Big Mama Gaia!
But Sweeney doesn’t rely too much on metaphor, not wanting his future readers to mistake his moon-aimed finger for the moon. Clearly, Sweeney does not stink of Zen. Though he stunk of it once, he doesn’t stink of it now.
A very pretty girl enters and sits at the table in front of him, blocking his view of The Hula Bagel Chicks Get Down. Sweeney takes one look at her and knows he won’t try to describe her for fear of stretching his mythopoetic member from his lap to hers. He recalls Hemingway in A Moveable Feast, when Hem sat writing in a Paris café and a very pretty girl entered and Hem wished he could put her in his Michigan story. Oh the frissons of lust Hem felt but largely omitted, forcing readers to surmise the subtext! But unlike Hem, Sweeney won’t stingily compare his very pretty girl’s face and hair with a newly minted coin and crow’s wing, for he’s got the bigheartedness to let her divine aura flavor his magnum opus—besides, she’s a redhead.
Nevertheless, he partly steels himself to the telepathic kudos she sends him through the curling steam of her latte. She smiles and bites into her bagel. He chugs his mocha and hurries to the men’s room.
Now Sweeney is one to piss largely, having never divided his Rabelaisian visceral gusto from his transcendentally attuned Emersonian life, thus avoiding duality. But the trickle from his throbbing member drowns his union with the cosmos . . . Cosmos? Cosmos, indeed! He, Sweeney, will shake the last drops from his cock—Cock? No, DOWSING WAND OF THE IMMINENT RACE OF EARTH STEWARDS!—and march back out with a Buddha smile at his very pretty girl and everyone else. He will write his composed compassionate ass off, singing his story, her story, and the stories of all living beings in a marriage of body and soul that’ll make Billy Blake cheer from his grave.
Sweeney sits at his table, pushes his cup aside, and takes up his pen . . . Oh God, his very pretty girl is shooting him the sex eye, the ravish-me-on-the-spot eye, but she’s so young and vestal, no that’s not right. Rather she’s so beguiling in an insouciant sort of way that-that—hell, that’s not it either! Time for his Writer’s Block-Busting Mantra—
The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy zebra. The quick brown fox jumps over the lazy zebra. The quick brown fox almost jumps over the lazy zebra, but almosts don’t count. The quick brown fox lands on the lazy zebra where it’s black and white but better than a zoo. Goddammit, his mantra’s not working!
He looks up, she winks, and he dives back into the page. The quick red fox and the lazy zebra breed a black-and-white-with-a-slash-of-red unicorn. NO! The pole-vaulting fox clears the rearing giraffe, then examines his pole with the help of a huge mirror. NO! The caped fox flies over King Kong as he straddles the Empire State Building, flailing his fists and eating Air Force machine-gun bullets. NO! NO! NO!
Holy shit, she’s standing before him now, asking questions, so unlike Big Mama Gaia!
“Hi. Whatcha writing?”
“Baby zebra humps red fox,” Sweeney mutters, bent to his notebook.
“Erotica?” she giggles.
“Bestiality,” Sweeney says. His tongue burns, his heart pounds in his throat. He swallows hard and tries with all his might to stop his pen and look up at her.
Robert Hambling Davis has published his work in The Sun, Antietam Review, Homestead Review, Aura Literary Arts Review, Memoir (and), Santa Monica Review, Yoga Journal, and elsewhere. Bob has received three Delaware Division of the Arts Individual Artist fellowship grants, two for fiction in 1989 and 2002, and one for creative nonfiction in 2009. He was a semifinalist in the 2002 William Faulkner Creative Writing Contest, and his story, “Death of a Deer,” was nominated for a Pushcart Prize and published in On the Mason-Dixon Line: An Anthology of Contemporary Delaware Writers. Bob lives on his family’s farm in Newark, Delaware, where he teaches yoga and leads a monthly writing critique group. He looks forward to using his Philadelphia Stories prize certificate at the Belgian Café.