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 Gotham Writer's Workshop Sample: appendix Cathedral PART 3

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PostSubject: Gotham Writer's Workshop Sample: appendix Cathedral PART 3   Thu Feb 26, 2009 7:51 pm

We gave our attention to the Tv. My wife yawned again. She said,"Your bed is made up when you feel like going to bed, Robert. I know you must have had a long day. When you're ready to go to bed, say so." She pulled his arm. "Robert?"

He came to and said, "I've had a real nice time. This beats tapes, doesn't it?"
I said,"Coming at you," and I put the number between his fingers. He inhaled, held the smoke, and then let it go. It was like he'd been doing it since he was nine years old. "Thanks, bub," he said. "But I this this is all for me. I think I'm beginning to feel it," he said. He held the burning roach out for my wife.
"Same here," she said. "Ditto, me too." She took the roach and passed it to me. "I may just sit just for a while between you guys with my eyes closed. But don't let me bother you, okey? Either one of you. If it bothers you, say so. Otherwise, I may just sit here with my eyes closed until you're ready to go to bed," she said. "Your bed's made up, Robert, when you're ready.It's right next to our room at the top of the stairs. We'll show you up when you're ready. You wake me up now, you guys, if I fall asleep." She said that and then closed her eyes and went to sleep.

The news program ended. I got up and changed the channel. I sat back down on the sofa. I wished my wife hadn't pooped out. Her head lay across the back of the sofa, her mouth open. She'd turned so that her robe slipped away from her legs, exposing a juicy thigh. I reached to draw her robe back over her, and it was then that I glanced at the blind man. What the hell! I flipped the robe open again. "You say when you want some strawberry pie,"I said.
"I will," he said.
I said,"Are you tired? Do you want me to take you up to your bed? Are you ready to hit the hay?"
"Not yet," he said, "No, I'll stay up with you bub. If that's alright. I'll stay up until you're ready to turn in. We haven;t had a chance to talk. Know what I mean? I feel like me and her monopolized the evening." He lifted his beard and let it fall. He picked up his cigarettes and his lighter.
"That's all right," I said. Then I said,"I'm glad for the company."
And I guess I was. Every night I smoked dope and stayed up as long as I could before I fell asleep. My wife and I hardly ever went to bed at the same time. When I did go to sleep, I had these dreams. Sometimes I'd wake up from one of them, my heart going crazy.

Something about the church and the Middle Ages was on the TV . Not your run-of-the-mill TV fare. I wanted to watch something else. I turned to other channels. But there was nothing on them, either. So I turned back to the first channel and apologized.
"Bub it's all right," the blind man said. "It's fine with me. Whatever you want to watch is okay. I'm always learning something. Learning never ends. It won;t hurt me to learn something tonight. I got ears," he said.

We didn;t say anything for a time. He was leaning forward with his head turned at me, his right ear aimed in the direction of the set. Very disconcerting. Now and then his eyelids drooped and then they snapped open again. Now and then he put his fingers into his beard and tugged, like he was thinking about something he was hearing on the television.

On the screen, a group of men wearing cowls was being set upon and tormented by men dressed in skeleton costumes and men dressed as devils. The men dressed as devils wore devil masks, horns, and long tails. This pageant was part of procession. The Englishman who was narrating the thing said it took place inSpain once a year. I tried to explain to the blind man what was happeneing.

"Skeletons,"he said. "I know about skeletons," he said and he nodded. The TV showed this one cathedral. Then there was a long, slow look at another one. Finally, the picture switched to the famous one in Paris, with its flying buttresses and its spires reaching up to the clouds. The camera pulled away to show the whole of the cathedral rising above the skyline.

there ere time when the Englishman who was telling the thing would shut up, would simply let the camera move around over the cathedrals. Or else the camera would tour the countryside, men in fields walking behind oxen. I waited as long as I could. Then I felt I had to say something. I said, "They're showing the outside of this cathedral now, Gargoyles. Little statues carved to look like monsters. Now I guess they're in Italy. There's paintings on the walls of this one church."
"Are those fresco painings, bub?" he asked, and he sipped from his drink.

I reach for my glass. But it was empty. I tried to remember what I could remember. "You're asking me are those frescoes?" I said. "That's a good question. I don't know."

The camera moved to a cathedral outside Lisbon. The differences in the Portuguese cathedral compared with the French and Italian were not that great. But they were there. Mostly the interior stuff. Then something occured to me, and I said, "Something had occurred to me. Do you have any idea what a cathedral is? What they look like, that is? Do you follow me? If somebody says cathedral to you, do you have any notion what they're talking about? Do you know the difference between that and a Baptist church, say?"

He let the smoke dribble from his mouth. "I know they took hundreds of workers or a hundred years to build,"he said. "I just heard the man say that of course. I know generations of the same families worked on a cathedral. I heard him say that too. The men who began their life's work on them, they never lived to see the completion of their work. In that wise, bub, they're no different from the rest of us, right?" He laughed. Then his eyelids drooped again. His head nodded. He seemed to be snoozing. Maybe he was imagining himself in Portugal. The TV was showing another cathedral now.

this one was in Germany. The Englishman's droned on. "Cathedrals," the blind mans said. He sat up and rolled his head back and forth. "If you want the truth, bub, that's about all I know. What I just said. What I heard him say. But maybe you could describe one to me? I wish you'd do it. I'd like that, If you want to know, I really don't have a good idea."

I stared hard at the shot of the cathedral on the TV. How could I even begin to describe it? But say my life depended on it. Say my life was being threatened by an insane guy who said I had to do it or else.

I stared some more at the cathdral before the picture flipped off into the countryside. There was no use. I turned to the blind man and said,"To begin with, they're very tall." I was looking around the room for clues. "They reach way up. Up and up. Toward the sky. They're so big some of them, they have to have these supports. To help hold them up, so to speak. These supports are called buttresses. They remind me of viaducts, for some reason. But maybe you don't know viaducts, either? Sometimes the cathedrals have devils and such carved into the front. Sometimes lords and ladies. Don't ask me why this is," I said.

He was nodding. The whole upper part of his body seemd to be movind back and forth.
"I'm not doing so good, am I?" I said.
He stopped nodding and leaned forward on the edge of the sofa. As he listened to me, he was running his fingers through his beard. I wasn't getting through him, I could see that. but he waited for me to go on just the same. He nodded, like he was trying to encourage me. I tried to think what else to say. "They're really big."I said. "They're massive. They're built of stone. Marbel, too, sometimes. In those olden days, God was an important part of everyone's life. You could tell this from their cathedral-building. I'm sorry," I said, "but it looks like that's the best I can do for you. I'm just no good at it."

"That's all right, bub," the blind man saud. "Hey listen. I hope you don't mind my asking you. Can I ask you something? Let me ask you a simple question, yes or no. I'm just curious and there's no offense. You're my host. But let me ask if you are in any way religious? You don't mind my asking?"

I shook my head. He couldn't see that though. A wink is the same as a nod to a blind man. "I guess I don't believe in it. In anything. Sometimes, It's hard. You know what I'm saying?"
"Sure, I do,"he said.
"Right," I said.
The Englishmanwas still holding forth. My wife sighed in her sleep. She drew a long breath and went on with her sleepying.

"You'll have to forgive me," I said. "But I can't tell you what a cathedrallooks like. It just isn't me to do it. I can't do anymore than I've done." The blind man sat very still with his head down, as he listened to me. Nothing. Cathedrals. They're something to look at on late-night TV. That's all they are."

It was then that the blind man cleared his throat. He brought something up. He took a handkerchief from his back pocket. Then he said,"I get it bub. It's okay. It happens. Don't worry about it," he said. "Hey listen to me. Will you do me a favor? I got an idea. Why don't you find us some heavy paper? And a pen. We'll do something. We'll draw one together. Get us a pen and some heavy paper. Go on Bub, get the stuff," he said.

So I went upstairs. My legs felt like they didn't have any strength in them. They felt like they did after I'd done some running. in my wife's room, I looked around. I found some ballpoints in a little basket on her table. And then I tried to think where to look for the kind of paper he was talking about.

Downstairs, in the kitchen, I found a shopping bag with onion skins in the bottom of the bag. I emptied the bag and shook it. I brought it into the living room and sat down with it near his legs. I moved some things, smoothed the wrinkles from the bag, spread it out on the coffee table.

The blind man got down from the sofa and sat next to me on the carpet. He ran his fingers over the paper. He went up and down the sides of the paper. The edges, even the edges. He fingered the corners.

"All right," he said. "All right, let's do her."
He found my hand, the hand with the pen. He closed his hand over my hand. "Go ahead bub, draw." he said. "Draw, you'll see. Draw." The blind man said.

So I began. First I drew a box that looked like a house. It could have been the house I lived in. Then I put a roof on it. At either end of the roof, I drew spires. Crazy.

"Swell,"he said. "Terrific. You're doing fine,"he said. "Never thought anything could happen in your lifetime, did you bub? Well it's a strange life, we all know that. Go on now. Keep it up."

I put in windows with arches. I drew flying buttresses. I hung great doors. I couldn't stop. The Tv station went off the air. I put down the pen and closed and opened my fingers. The blind man felt around over the paper. He moved the tips of his fingers over the paper all over what I had drawn, and he nodded.
"Doing fine," the blind man said.
I took up the pen again, and he found my hand. I kept at it. I'm no artist. But I kept drawing just the same.

My wife opened up her eyes and gazed at us. She sat up on the sofa, her robe hanging open. She said, "what are you doing?Tell me, I want to know."
I didn't answer her.
The blind man said, "We're drawing a cathedral. Me and him are working on it. Press hard," he said to me. "That's right. That's good." he said. "Sure. You got it bub. I can tell. You didn't think you could. But you can, can't you? You're cooking with gas now. You know what I'm saying? We;re really going to have us something here in a minute. How's the old arm?" he said. "Put some people in there now. What's a cathedral without people?"

My wife said,"What's going on? Robert, what are you doing? What's going on?"
"It's all right," he said to her. "Close your eyes now," the blind man said to me.
I did it. I closed them just like he said.
"Are they closed?" he said. "Don't fudge."
"They're closed,"I said.
"Keep them that way," he said. He said, "Don't stop now. Draw."
So we kept on with it. His fingers rode my fingers as my hand went over the paper. It was like nothing else in my life up to now.
Then he said,"I think that's it. I think you got it," he said. "Take a look. What do you think?"
But I had my eyes closed. I thought I'd keep them that way for a little longer. I thought it was something I ought to do.
"Well?", he said. "Are you looking?"
My eyes were still closed. I was in my house. I knew that. But I didn't feel like I was inside anything.
"It's really something,"I said.

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