December 2023

Sad Men Write While They Cry - Part II

Altenir Silva

I was in the Public Library in New York, looking at all the readers and thinking about myself and my choices when suddenly, I saw that taciturn man sitting in a corner, reading my book "Look Homeward, Angel." Yeah, it was my book with all the words translated from my soul onto the paper. Looking closely at that man, a thought came to my mind, and I couldn't resist. I got up and went next to him, saying softly, "I noticed that you're reading my book, huh?"

He looked at me, completely astonished, maybe because my hair needed a cut or because I'm totally unkempt. I know what I am, but I think I am hot shit. Anyway, he shouted back, "What?"

Then, I grabbed a chair and sat down beside him. He asked again, "What are you talking about?" I looked at him with a little bit of fear and whispered with the intention of not drawing the attention of other readers, "You have my book!" He responded with a lot of confidence that the book was taken with the proper permission from the librarian.

I went on, "Some things will never change. Some things will always be the same. Lean your ear down upon the earth and listen."

Meanwhile, still very confused, he appealed, "Sorry, but I don't understand what you mean." I decided to extend my thoughts and said, "Make your mistakes, take your chances, look silly, but keep on going. Don't freeze up." He responded quickly with this masterpiece, "Man is born broken. He lives by mending. The grace of God is the glue."

I pondered for a moment and then declared, "The whole conviction of my life now rests upon the belief that loneliness, far from being a rare and curious phenomenon, peculiar to myself and to a few other solitary men, is the central and inevitable fact of human existence." He seemed to engage in the dialogue game, and in response, he offered, "Life is for each man a solitary cell whose walls are mirrors."

At that moment, I got up from my chair and concluded, "Naked and alone we came into exile. In her dark womb we did not know our mother's face; from the prison of her flesh have we come into the unspeakable and incommunicable prison of this earth." And then I left the library room.

While I was walking in the corridor, suddenly, a hand was placed on my shoulder. I turned around, and the taciturn man was there, looking at me and saying, "The librarian said you are the writer who wrote that book I was reading, is that it?" I attempted a response, but it didn't come out as I intended. He continued, "Are you the writer?" I simply nodded in affirmation. He inquired, "Why didn't you say who you are?" 

Overwhelmed with emotion, I replied, "Because I love your work! And any good words said to you would be less than all my feelings." I had nothing more to say to Eugene O'Neill, and I couldn't even reveal that he was my alias in "Look Homeward, Angel." I said goodbye and etched that meeting in my mind forever.

On that Christmas, I remembered my childhood when, night after night in late autumn and early winter, I would scrawl petitions to Santa Claus. There were so many gifts that I wished for, but I never thought I would receive one of them in the form of an encounter with a playwright who gave me the right words to navigate inside the imagination and always try to go further, because all our certainties have a final stop, but our doubts are endless.

Merry Christmas!


Part I


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Altenir Silva is a Brazilian playwright and screenwriter working in mass media and communications, including Cinema, Theater, Television and the Web. His texts and scripts - both fiction and reality-based - have been presented , produced and performed in the US, the UK, and Brazil.
For more of his writings in Scene4, check the Archives.

©2023 Altenir Silva
©2023 Publication Scene4 Magazine




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