Issue 4/1987 | Archives online, Fiction, Prose

Maskuja (‘Mickeys’, WSOY, 1987). Introduction by Erkka Lehtola

When I was on a trip with my friend and there was a wide enough bed in the southern night for the two of us to sleep easily side by side, it was a big shock when, even so, I sprang up suddenly at midnight, and my friend did too, and there was a thud as our heads banged together and we saw stars, and in the morning no one could understand why we were so stupefied.

Micky ran to the barber’s. ‘Are you free? Could you do something with my hair?’ He took his cap off. ‘Look, all the hairs are loose at the other end.’

Once, out of sheer absent-mindedness, he was officiously helping someone onto a tram from behind; he grabbed their bottom, got a furious look, and spluttered,’ Sorry, but I thought it was your bag.’

This woman on the bus, she thrust her head out into the dark winter night at a stop, turned to the other passengers and announced to one and all. ‘Not getting off here!’ At the next stop it was the same, she peered out again, ‘Not getting off here!’ And it went on and on, how long I don’t know, I didn’t wait.

She went round to Micky’s. There were six cups on the table. ‘You do get a lot of visitors,’ she said.’Do I?’She pointed to the cups. ‘But don’t you remember?’ Micky said. ‘You gave them me yourself when I’d only got one. Now I use the lot.’

Turning the street corners in the city where he lived, Micky sometimes wondered whether people had natural curves any more. Even their bowels must have become rectangular. Better to take to the forest paths, while it was still possible. Actually, he didn’t contrast the town with the country, that was stupid, the contrast didn’t exist any more. Now and then, though, it just came to him that there was somewhere you could dance and pound the floor without disturbing anybody. Somewhere the sound should unfold from the soles of your feet to the crown of your head so as to make the atmosphere vibrate in a new way. Somewhere you could sing so as to make the stones of the earth, the water and the trees respond polyphonically. They were healing sounds, Micky knew. And if no one sent them out, no one would be healed.

Every cabin had its own rowing boat, but there was one extra as well. Micky always went rowing with two boats. We asked him why. Just in case, he said; that’s what it’s there for, isn’t it?

In the morning everyone took a header smartly into the cold sea. Not Micky. Till he hit on the method. Every morning, he puffed and blowed and rolled a heavy boulder up the rocky shore, let it go, turned his back on it and sprinted helter-skelter, with it rumbling after him, into the water, and always got in first and bobbed up to look back and see where it had got to, that boulder.

The holiday camp had lots of cabins but only one sauna. Sauna duties would have to be allotted. ‘No, no, you can’t do that,’ Micky said. ‘You can’t schematise a holiday.’

But when it was decided to go ahead, Micky volunteered to be first. In the evening we were hanging about to see whether he’d manage to get it alight and heat it up. Someone looked out of the window to see if there was any smoke.

‘Oh yes. It’s caught fire all right.’

Let me hear one of the funny stories I’ve been telling, I’m always thinking them up when I’m out walking and I’ve never written any of them down.

‘The one I remember is about how he burnt the sauna down.’ But I’ve just written that!

‘They’ve all disappeared into the unconscious, those stories, I can’t remember them.’

I shrieked for joy. The world’s the unconscious and dreary with it. If you’ve got those stories into it, what luck! It’s been transformed!

Time after time Micky went to have a look at a portrait, it was from an early period, painter unknown, model unknown. Coming out of the gallery and walking through the park, he suddenly thought of a mirror, why hadn’t he thought of it before, the picture might be a self-portrait, mightn’t it? Then from a park bench under the lime trees a low leisurely voice was heard saying, ‘Yes indeed, it certainly is.’

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1 comment:

  1. Arty 'Arty

    Bloody ‘ell – blind man groping for words in the dark, man!

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