On Saturday, I walked ten miles and ran the Boston College stairs ten times. Yesterday, I did the same. Today, I walked five miles, and ran the stairs at Government Center thirty times. There are only fifty stairs there. The heat was sweltering. All three days, really, but today especially. You could have stripped me naked and chucked me in a glacial stream, and I'm not sure that would have cooled me down. A guy walking by told me to be careful and make sure I hydrated, given that I was running stairs in this heat. I don't know how people live in the South. Just walking around I felt like I was in a Faulkner novel--not the part when Quentin goes to Boston in The Sound and the Fury. This is after the stairs today:
What was important was that yesterday I wrote the majority of a major story in my head on my walk called "Captain Enclave." Magical, brilliant, radical. Nothing like it. I will still think some more.
I also did more head work on "Mount Edifice," one of those stories that would explode, like a "Fitty," an "Eyejaculator." The story is about a Black guy who has this distressing experience. He walks away from the experience, and he wants to clear his head. He goes to the Bunker Hill Monument, which is where he sometimes works out. It's Thursday and Christmas Eve. He's thinking that what happened to him that day was racially motivated. He's devastated, because it also involves someone crucial to him. He's going to run up and down the Monument, sweat, clear his head. He's in there a long time, and the ranger downstairs hasn't seen anyone come out in quite a while. The hours are different, because it's Christmas Eve. The guy doesn't know that, and he's near the top of the 300 stairs so he doesn't hear the token shout from the ranger below to see if anyone's in there, because they're closing the metal door of the Monument, which won't be open again until Monday. The weather is freezing. He finds out he's trapped in there. His phone isn't powered up. There's no one coming for him. He can't shout out. There is no way for anyone to hear him.
This almost actually happened to me once, at Christmas 2019. So now he has to survive, for more than three days. How would you do this? You'd have a real problem. You can't sit there--you'll freeze to death. You have to go up and down the stairs. So what he does is, he strips out of his clothes, because your clothes can't get all wet with your sweat--that will make it worse. And this guy is faltering. He's exhausted the longer this goes on, and he has all of these thoughts, and then all of these memories and his reason is becoming increasingly faulty. It's like he's hallucinating, but he's not on any drugs.
And he starts playing through these incidents--key incidents--in his life. Racial incidents. Some. Some, maybe not. He doesn't know what is what. He's lost the ability sometimes to tell. And that's the nature of discrimination. Or it can be.
He's climbing and climbing, up and down, up and down, and he starts encountering these people--or so it seems, or he thinks--from these memories on the stairs. They're in his way. And it's going to play out until Monday, if he lives until Monday, when the door is opened again.
And maybe it's not the ranger or the park staff who opens that door.
More work on the Beatles book as well, with the first take of Lennon's "God" and the Beatles' "She's a Woman" being discussed in connection with the first take of "A Day in the Life."