One pretends to be happy, but never to be wretched
✎ Wayne K. Spear | April 17, 2018 · Fiction
MY NAME IS KALASHNIKOV, it is true. Some things said of me, in my absence, are true. But also in my presence, some things are true. And yet many things are not true, or are true only in a sense, which is to say only in one sense of the word true. For example: the manner of a fool’s speaking, which is a sense in the form of nonsense, can be said to be true. I am speaking of the fool in Shakespeare, not of the fools one encounters regularly, such as I encounter here. Yes, even now I find that I am surrounded by fools. There is truthful nonsense and non-truthful nonsense, perhaps also sense that is nonsense. There is the untrue which nonetheless is not without truth, not entirely. There are fools, and there are fools.
So much is said in my absence, and I am unable to comment on this, being absent. If I were present, I would comment. Of course I would comment, being present. The absence, the not-being-there, precludes the commenting. The—what is the word for it? Ah, but to use a word is to not name the thing, the absence, and that is the problem, the speaking of it, in the words. One can only speak of the absence wordlessly, in a kind of sleep, the sleep for which I long but which forever (or so it feels) eludes me, until of course it does not. And then what? The unspeakable thing, the wordless thing, the thing we can never describe so long as we can describe.
The things said in my presence are scandalous. Such as: “Kalashnikov is happy.” Yes, they have said this, in words, in my presence. The fools, I mean. Perhaps I am to blame, for it is true that I pretend to be happy. One can only pretend to be happy, and not miserable, obviously. Yes, the thing speaks for itself. For only misery, only pain, only the wretchedness is real. There is no doubting the pain, the reality of the pain, the truth of the pain. But happiness! Well, it is another matter altogether, obviously. The wretchedness is certain, as certain as I, Kalashnikov, am. There is no doubting the pain, the misery, the wretchedness. One pretends to be happy, but never to be wretched, because one has no need of such a thing. And yet they say I am happy, as if they could know. As if I were not dissembling. As if I were not a semblance of a thing rather than the thing itself.
It works as follows. The semblance, I mean. The simulacrum, if that is a word, of happiness. Here is what I do.
First, I show my teeth. I have heard that this is what the happy do. And so everyone gets to see all of my teeth, as well as my gaping mouth, and its hastily masticated contents (for rarely do I chew) at all times.
Second, I repeat the word HAPPY over and over again. Sometimes it is the voice in my head, but from time to time I shout the word HAPPY as loudly as I can. This appears to make a most definite effect. In the bar, in the coffee shop, in the theatre—a good, loud eructation of HAPPY does not go unnoticed. Often, it is rewarded, by recriminations or ejections. Sometimes with joyful banter e.g.: SHUT THE FUCK UP YOU FUCKING CUNT.
Third, I speak loudly. Even when I am not shouting my HAPPY I am loud. The happy ones, the others pretending to be happy, seem to do this, and so I, too, speak loudly. It seems to make the proper effect, which is to say the effect of appearing to be among the happy ones.
Fourth, I carry about with me, at all times and places, a sign saying I AM HAPPY.
Fifth, I cannot recall. I have written it down, I think, in my book. The book where I write all things down, as I am even now writing.
Sixth, I am in continuous motion. Or continual. I confuse these terms, the continuous and the continual, please forgive me. What I mean to say is that I am forever in motion. One might even call it a gyration, if that is a word. If it is not, one may still say it. For once it is said, it is a word.
There appears to be no seventh. I thought I had written seventh in my book, but perhaps not. Perhaps I only imagine it. Or perhaps seventh is merely sixth restated, in which case why bother committing it to memory? If seventh is only sixth restated, as I suspect that it is, then to hell with seventh! Yes, I mean literal hell, the place of eternal burning. There is no need of metaphor here. Let us say no more of this infernal eternal business of the burning seventh, the destroyer, the very Beelzebub of my schemata.
And yet there ought to be a seventh, 7 being a sacred number. Why there is no seventh is a mystery, unless there is a seventh and I am simply unaware of it, which is likely, very likely indeed. So let us say there is an unknown seventh, and perhaps even an unknowable seventh, for aesthetic and schematic purposes. To do otherwise is a scandal and an outrage, an offence against those who pretend to know god, who pretend to believe in god.
I am speaking of the happy times in which we live. The President is happy, the world is happy, and the people are happy. Which people? Well, all of the people, of course! They move and speak, all of the people, as the happy do. I can say no more of it, it is a matter of national security. They have whispered to me in dark corridors of the President’s happiness, but I can say no more of it. They assure me the President is happy, and I have no reason to doubt it, beyond the reasons I have adumbrated, above, or have not adumbrated, which are many. Nor can I say who They are—they, the ones who whisper to me from the happy places. It may be the voice in my head. Yes, it has occurred to me that the whisperings may all be in my head. It has occurred.
Yes, everyone is happy. All of us together, pretending to be happy, are what we appear to be. That is what I meant to say earlier, before the unfortunate derailments, if that is a word. Before the digression, the perambulation, the odyssey, the peripatecian, the excursion, the circumlocution, the fucking around. Did I not say I was forever in motion, the happy one? No, perhaps not. And perhaps in not saying so I failed in my duty, the highest duty of a patriot, to dissemble at being happy, along with all the others, pretending to have the desires (desire!) of one’s heart fulfilled, pretending to believe that all is well, that all will be well, Amen.