My name is Bleek. This is not my real name. But, I can no longer remember my real name, nor do I care to try. All the people I know call me Bleek because of the world I live in.
I try to be happy, but I cannot. People tell me what a wonderful time they’re having, and ‘Ain’t life grand?’ But, I can’t see it. I can’t agree with them.
They speak of sunshine. Even now, as I look through the broken-glass windows of my rotting apartment, up toward the sky– I see no sunshine– only buildings, smoke, and pigeons; and slow approaching storm clouds.
Where is this ‘other world’ everyone else lives in? I do not understand. If I manage to talk with anyone for a minute or two, it feels like receiving a postcard from some exotic paradise.
I creep my yellow skin into a t-shirt, and shuffle out of the apartment. At the end of the hallway, the stairs begin to crumble. I hurry to catch steps before they break; slipping on splinters, cutting my feet wide open. A deep suck of breath and I fall over dizzy– hitting my head on the floor.
I cry out. My face throbs against linoleum.
“Oh, Bleek, you poor thing!” It is Mrs. Porter, my downstairs neighbor, “What happened to you now?”
She drops her purse, and struggles to get me to my feet. “How are you such a clumsy, clumsy man?” She studies my face with a worried smile once I am upright again.
“The stairs broke,” I try to explain, “I cut my feet.”
She looks down at my legs, which are bloodied. I see I have lost a shoe somehow. My foot is scratched and gorged; red and disgusting.
“We best get you to the hospital,” she ushers me toward the front door.
I slink outside. Mrs. Porter is right behind, one arm around me to make sure I don’t go down. Loud claps of thunder rumble toward us. I stand still for a moment. Lightening flickers on the horizon. Heavy beads of water begin their assault on my body.
“Mr. Bleek,” Mrs. Porter says with familiar amazement, “You seem to be completely wet!”
She looks around, and then up toward the sky– toward the windows of all the apartments around us. I look up too. I can just see the cloud. I can tell it is beyond her range of vision.
Mrs. Porter shakes her head. She is astonished. She regards my soaked body, “Some fool upstairs must’ve dumped a bucket of water on you!”
“No,” I shake my head slowly, “It’s just the world I live in.”

© Robert Emmett McWhorter


featured story on Eat, Sleep, Write:

Abraham Presley

Abraham Lincoln and Elvis Presley happen to run into one another in a barbershop. The barber is so surprised to see the both of them together, he accidentally chops off both their heads, and nervously tries to sew them back on; but ends up switching them around.They leave and go their separate ways without noticing the mix up of heads. The Abraham Lincoln body with the Elvis-head makes it halfway to the park when he notices what happened. After a minute of apprehension and confusion, he becomes excited at the potential and possibilities made available by this combination of Lincoln-body, and Elvis-head.

He rushes around the town performing great deeds; bounding with energy he zips from tragedy to crisis, overjoyed by the thrill of assisting them all. He rescues a cat from a tree; saves children from a burning building; helps an elderly couple across a busy intersection; and then reroutes the road to make it less crowded. He builds a library; streamlines the towns financial structure, saving the towns people tax dollars; and clubs a group of seal clubbers.Filled with the immense sense of accomplishment– not ego driven, a pure feeling of joy from doing good– he walks back into town toward the barbershop, to thank the barber; sincere gratitude for the serendipitous slice and swap.

On the sidewalk near the barbershop, he sees his other half– the Lincoln-headed Elvis-body– slowly shuffling along, with his head down, staring at the ground. It turns its head up toward him in asks, “Where did you go off to?”

Elvis-headed Abraham-body tells his other half of all the things he’s done since discovering the change; regaling in the good he’s done. “I saved a cat from a tree, some children from a burning building, helped an elderly couple across the busy street, and redirected traffic to ease constriction on the road. I built them a library and restructured their finances, and also I pounded some poachers. So, please tell me,” he says to his opposite self, fully anticipating some equally fulfilling stories. “What have you been doing since discovering this wonderful mishap?”

“I went to a theater,” the Lincoln-head with an Elvis-body spoke meekly, grinding a shoe into gravel. “I spent the whole day watching replay after replay of a movie called ‘Dude, Wheres My Car?’.”

 © Robert Emmett McWhorter (feb 11,2004)