James LePore: Project 52/2015: The Philosopher

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14814_1858773lImage: Woman at Bar, © James LePore

People bring their troubles to bars, and those troubles, when there are enough of them of the opposite sex, have intercourse with each other. They don’t need to get drunk, or to be taken home, or out to a car, the way people do. They do it right there in the bar, hovering near the ceiling, like humming birds, or finding an uncrowded corner, where they go at it, some languidly, some frantically, like humans in that respect. Their offspring, baby troubles, fly off into the night and wander the earth until they’re old enough to mate with each other and bring more troubles into the world. No trouble is happy until it finds lodging in a human heart. Some of them are so greedy that they kill their host. This we humans call suicide. Most feed on our souls until we figure out a way to get rid of them. Time is usually what does it. It dries up their food source and they leave.

I tried to explain this to the sad woman sitting next to me. A philosopher by nature and training, I often expound in this way, usually at bars, usually when I’m drunk. Was she listening? Did it sink in? I don’t know. She smoked and drank until closing time, then called a cab and left.

I live nearby. When I got into my bed I thought about the letter I had gotten that morning from Los Angeles County Social Services, telling me that my brother, who I hadn’t seen or talked to in ten years, had died in a mental institution in Pasadena. His troubles had driven him crazy. His four children, the letter said, were being placed with foster families. If I was interested in helping, I could contact so-and-so. I keep a bottle of cheap whisky by my bed, which I take a healthy swig from every night before I fall asleep. I looked at this bottle, and thought, who are these kids, what should I do?

james

About Project 52/2015: I like to take pictures and I like to write fiction. This Blog will combine the two in what I am calling Project 52/2015, one of my images mated with a piece of very short fiction each week in 2015. Enjoy.

James LePore is the national bestselling author of numerous novels, most recently, God’s Formula, which he wrote with Carlos Davis. Visit his website.

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