The Noisy Hand

Atop the Stairs, mixed media on paper, 1992 copyright GPD



Sadness circles

One day, then two

Obsessions make you do strange things.


What’s going on?  I asked myself finally: is that your hand making that sound?

When I looked around, there was a group of elders in wheelchairs.  One old man with a hearing aid said, “Better check it out, kiddo.”  I knew then that it was coming from the end of the appendage in question.  My skin flushed bright red and I shoved the hand into the pocket of my thick, new trousers, but that didn’t muffle the annoying drone.  If anything, the din became louder.  Another bellicose old fart angrily wheeled himself out of the room muttering something under his breath.  The sound was flowing out of my pocket like the roar of a jet engine; I couldn’t shut it off.  The remaining people in the room started throwing things at me (like their used tissues and juice boxes), verbally recriminating me, casting their reproachful eyes upon me as if to say, you are the biggest of small monsters.  I looked at all the rubber skid marks on the industrial linoleum floor and fought back tears as best i could, but, it didn’t seem to make any difference.  The old guard were here to stay… I knew they would trap me in this space forever.  So, I fought dirty.  I spilled my contents all over the floor.  When I looked down again, the floor was covered with my dark sludge, that sucked at my feet when I attempted to move; it made a gushy, shlupping sound.  The clatter of their varied mobility devices and crotchety, gutteral rumblings echoed through the space as they aggressively attempted to charge me- but, the chair wheels and rubber stops on the legs of their walkers skidded and slid in the muck, stalling any progress, and left me with the perfect opportunity for escape.

Outside, my hand was still in my woolen trousers as the voices of birds and beasts tried hard to drown out the increasingly discordant noise issuing from within.  Then, all the flying creatures stopped chattering and took flight leaving the trees and eaves, encircling me a few meters above my head.  They generated so much activity, I could feel rushes of air from their wings on my face, shoulders and neck.  The other creatures wailed and chirped, cheering them on.  After circling me for a minute or so, and as if on cue, the flock dove… covering me with wings, feathers and shrill screams.  The leader was first to rip into my face, my eyes.   I was debrided in strips and chunks.  I disappeared, as they devoured me.


After what seemed like an eternity, they converged into formation above the shreds of the former me, hovering there as if to admire their handiwork.  I was without eyes- without much of anything left to speak of- but in my spirit I saw them.  They emerged as a graceful synchronized assembly in their perfect V and returned to the blue.  Birds never look back.


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