I made my way to Insp with the meter near green, an electronic ticket that tracked my hands arcing in blank night beneath fluttering rain. The last drops plopped on my head as I pushed into a tinkling bell.
The store sold draped shadows and sharp-edged boxes, and thin books with grasped titles: Axioms of a Framework. Iambic Hymns. Seven Grand Arguments. Catching the Muse.
“Haady,” spoke a silhouette shaded above an amber lamp. He put aside a glittering cylinder and rested a cloth above it. “Help you?”
I approached the counter and held up my ticket. The inks were bright, new as Revi had made it, best he could with the fluoro for which I had bid. Stranger faiths had elected a no-rep newbie to a height a step higher by providence. Now it curled along its slender wire-spine, half-rolled as it had been in my pocket, but dry despite.
“I’ve got my ticket,” I said, creeping toward the orange hued man. “It’s close now. I was wondering if I could make a purchase.”
“How long?” he asked.
“Tomorrow will make it two weeks,” I replied.
“Two weeks,” he said. “This is all I got.” And he brought the cylinder back to the light. It was a small telescope.
“That’s it?” I asked. “You can’t muse with that.”
“Son, you’ll be lucky to make it that far. You walked in with a dribbled paycheck. What were you expecting?”
“My own muse,” I exclaimed. “Been nothing like what I’ve been expecting, and I’ve waited so long as I can. You know how I’ve bent words – I hammered them out and put them all care-worn in pages. I believe them.”
For a second, he said nothing. Then:
“And what did you write?”
“Anything important’s got layers,” I started. “And relationships are fundamental.”
He rolled his eyes – or that’s what I felt like he had done.
“Last time I went this long, I wrote about all the girls I never got to know,” I continued. “This time, I want Insp. She’ll make everything easy.”
“Take it or leave it,” he said, sliding the thing forward. The ticket vanished in his hands and he walked into a back room. The rain stopped and the awning dripped.
I gazed through the telescope and saw crimson threads. They swam in an ether of trolling wisps, murky snakes of beige, cream and gray.
And no hope came to me, or upon me, or beside me: it was merely me.
Tomorrow, Muse, when I wake – unfurl in me a burning map and grant me one of your quickened keys. I shall show loyal words and not abandon them. Fourteen days have nearly passed; I have marked each one. Now it is my due: let this be a good start!