Posted: October 5, 2010 in Uncategorized
It being October and counting down to Halloween, I thought it apropos to write something scary.

But I can’t think of anything scary.

Or maybe I can. Like all writers, I suppose, I’m occasionally asked where I get my ideas.
I know a lot of fellow writers and not one of them has the least idea where he/she gets his ideas. “In the shower,”
is the usual smug reply and not, at least for me, a bad one. When I’m actually aware I’m beginning to get an idea for a book or story
it’s often in the shower. But just as likely it’s taking a walk or riding in the car or something that happens while watching
a TV show or movie, during which I abruptly come up with a different and much better narrative thread than the movie itself. When this happens I feel every right to immediately steal it. Damnit, I’m a writer, Jim, not a walking idea catalog. 

That’s right, swiping. Copying. But isn’t everything in some way plagerism? Even something you think you just plucked from the blue or rent from whole cloth is at least in some way part of a fractured memory or rumination. We start to copy very young, it’s how we learn
to walk and talk…and, eventually, write the Great American Novel. An experience I’m personally awaiting with great anticipation.

Oh–just thought of something really scary!
All the more so because it’s true. Surely the best kind of scary!
I had a science teacher in Jr. High (what they now call middle school) who knew of this inventor, I don’t recall how or
when but it’s isn’t germane to the story anyway. This inventor was enthralled with the way the brain receives information from
the optic nerve in both mankind and the so-called lower animals. The zebra and the lion, for instance. The zebra is a prey
animal so its eyes are positioned on either side of it’s head; it can’t see in three dimensions as we do but on the other hand it has an
overall wider range of vision. Which comes in handy for locating the predatory lion, whose own eyes face front allowing it to see depth…which in turns is nullified when zebras stand or run in a group because all those stripes are confusing even in three dimensions–but that’s a whole other story.

Anyway…this inventor, fascinated by vision in general as he was, invented himself a pair of glasses that, once donned, inverted everything he saw,
essentially turned the world upside down through a series of trick mirrors and wires. Seems he was curious to find out if he could “see” like a zebra, or something like that.

 At first he had a time of it, banging into furniture, blundering down stairs, tripping over the cat, lucky if he didn’t piss on the ceiling. After a few hours he got a rudimentary grasp of it and was even able to navigate his house and indeed the corner block with a modicum of problems. Still,
to prove he’d really mastered this thing he wasn’t satisfied until he could actually ride a bicycle while wearing the curious upside down glasses. At this he failed continuously the sensation apparently akin to peddling  in the clouds while the earth stretched somewhere above. The biggest problem was evaluating which side of the street he was on, not to mention which way to turn the handlebars–left being now right, etc. He gave up several times but in due course realized the only way he was going to perfect upside down locomotion was to stick by it with full tenacity. Thus he kept diligently at it for hour after hour, all day and up to and including wearing the glasses to bed at night so that he awakened in the morning to an upside down world in which he promptly sprang back on his bicycle with renewed effort.

After a period of several week he discovered he could move about the town’s streets nearly as well as he could navigate his own home. You can imagine how thrilled he was at his accomplishment and how eager to show off for his friends! He soon gathered a gaggle of them  on the sidewalk and proceeded to peddle proudly up and down the avenue before expect cheers. To his dismay, the best he got from his cronies was an indifferent shrug, and muttered suggestions  he was faking the whole thing. Mortified, the inventor promptly told his friends that not only was the feat real but if by God, they were so pig-headed and jaded they could just try doing it themselves. Where upon he promptly removed the glasses to hand them to the nearest fellow. And–you guessed it–once the glasses were removed his world remained upside down.

Sounds mildly humorous when I relate it here… or maybe it’s this ridiculous antiquated prose I’ve affected for no apparent reason– whatever the case, one can only imagine the degree of shock and devastation the poor fellow endured–followed shortly by a bone-chilling realization this was going to wreak havoc on all future endeavors! It must have been like experiencing a really bad joke gone horribly wrong–one he’d unwittingly played on himself.

You’ve already surmised the happy ending, of course: in a few days his brain–free of the distorting lenses–realigned things again properly with his pupils and the inventor went on to live a long and happy life…at least until he married.

I know another really scary story we don’t have time for now but which also happens to be true. Maybe the true ones are always the most frightening, what do you think? Certainly grist for the ole writing mill.

Meantime, happy dreams…

Bruce Jones


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