Story -- Stephen-Paul Martin

This is not the story of a man with a huge head who finally gets weary of propping it up with his neck and steps out from under it, leaving the head to crash with a sound that spreads for more than a thousand miles, causing mass destruction, stripping books of what they mean, nor is it the story of a woman crucified on the coast of Nova Scotia, howling in pain from the nails in her writhing arms and legs, an event that has gone unrecorded until right now, and might well be enormously significant in ways that have nothing to do with religion, nor is it the story of a teenage girl from Denmark trapped in a Balkan country torn by revolution, responding to an explosive situation in such a provocative way that the leaders of the insurrection all go to bed with her, and she fucks them so wickedly that soon they become her slaves, and the revolution takes a new direction, surpassing the original plan in serving the needs of the poor, nor is it the story of a sentence written only to reach a point where its meaning slips on a banana peel without making anyone laugh, nor is it the story of a bureaucrat who learns to love his job, becoming so immersed in banal duties and procedures that they're not banal anymore, but begin to function like mansions with many rooms, all decorated in lovely unexpected ways, offering many surprising forms of comfort, nor is it the story of the Devil, struggling through a protracted identity crisis, losing track of who he is, finally redefining himself as a character called God, who still feels insecure and decides to create a place he calls the world, and everything goes quite well until the creator becomes unstable again, redefining himself as an ape that walks erect and speaks, blurring the meanings of words like devil and god and world and human, nor is it the story of a detective in a sleazy bar, drinking one beer after another, knowing his reputation as a dick is still impressive, though the reputation of his dick has long been suspect, and he plays with himself as he looks at a woman he likes three barstools away, pretending she's the woman who drove him to drink when she fell for another man, a woman he's still in love with even though it's been ten years, nor is it the story of a war against officially sanctioned bullshit, a terrorist group enacting a plan to cut out the tongues of all politicians, achieving amazing results in less than a year, banishing millions of silenced men and women to Wyoming, building a tall and carefully guarded wall around the state, nor is it the story of a Vietnam veteran getting discharged prematurely from an asylum closed by budget cuts, barely knowing who he is and living on the streets for years, finally volunteering for an experiment in a research lab, getting reduced in size until he's about six inches tall, and he can't be restored to his previous height but finds that he likes being small, living in a shoebox, feasting on the scraps he gets from guilty lab technicians, bits of food that fill his tiny stomach several times a day, the best conditions he's had in years, nor is it the story of lovers fucking so loudly that their credit rating gets destroyed, nor is it the story of someone who tells a joke at the wrong time, creating a wound, a vacuum sucking everything into itself, everything from cells and bones to continents and galaxies, leaving the universe empty, finally sucking itself into nothing at all, which doesn't exist and therefore quickly gets replaced by laughter, nor is it the story of a man who likes nothing more than getting slapped in the face by the woman he loves, a woman who slaps him hard enough to knock him flat on his back, nor is it the story of an abandoned second-hand bookstore, dark and dusty and empty except for a telephone on the wall, and the phone rings twenty-five times at precisely 3:19 each morning, making the street of tenements look emptier than it already is, making the moon appear to be an egg with nothing inside, or making it appear to be a balloon, as a clever poet once wrote, though in this case the balloon comparison would be misleading, unless the balloon were popped and made a sound so loud the buildings collapsed, slowly decomposing until they became an expanse of desert sand, haunted by the sound of wind and a phone off the hook in the distance, nor is it the story of an assassin losing his nerve, letting a dangerous ultra-conservative President survive, letting him keep spending taxpayers' money on nuclear warheads, and the would-be assassin decides to kill himself because he chickened out, but chickens out again when he tries to shoot and later hang himself, finally getting himself to see a therapist, improving, doing yoga three times a week, falling in love with himself and the world, getting up his nerve again and blowing the President's brains out, quickly becoming a regular on the afternoon talk-show circuit, nor is it the story of a jolting interruption, a process halted right before it gets an appropriate name, cut short so abruptly that it only seems to have been cut short, continuing in the guise of a thousand possible situations, narratives that exist in the same way past and future time exist, not insisting on taking up space but insisting on getting attention, drawing so much attention to themselves, in fact, that reality fades, deprived of the attention it needs to make itself seem real, becoming instead a thousand intersecting stories left untold, nor is it the story of a waitress getting fired, having been accused of flirting too much on the job, something that only became problematic after she started enticing girls, most of them much younger, all of them crazy about her physique, the result of meticulous training and a career as a TV wrestler, years at the top destroyed by an ego-shattering defeat, nor is it the story of a miraculous adventure, written with a needle in the corner of an eye, serving as a lesson for those in search of wisdom, that the eye interprets everything in purely visual terms, even things like listening, shitting, fucking, breathing, and eating, things that in themselves have little or nothing to do with vision, nor is it the story of a pre-adolescent girl tossing and turning, kept awake by a bird who talks compulsively through the night, a parrot whose name is the same as her mother's recently deceased father, and the girl can't stand the way the bird keeps calling out his name, so she finally grabs her cat and jams it in through the door of the parrot's cage, and soon the noise of panic, struggle, and death give way to a silent night, punctuated only by the sleeping girl's relaxed breathing, nor is it the story of Aladdin and his magic lamp, genies appearing with special effects whenever the tale gets boring, nor is it the story of a mathematician hooked on smack, forehead drooping slowly toward a page of strange computations, numbers that might have been fish or birds at some point in the distant past, illuminated now by moonlight slanting in through tossing drapes, French doors opening out on a flagstone terrace facing the Baltic Sea, the sound of notebook pages in the wind on a wicker chair, the very same chair on which his lover sat with a gun and the trace of a smile, blowing out her brains because he repeatedly went limp in bed, falling short because of all the numbers in his head, nor is it the story of numerical aberrations, two appearing after five and seven after nine, nineteen after twenty-three and thirty after fifty, but not always, not at the same time, not in the same place every day, and no one can say where these numbers really are because they keep changing, becoming a woman crucified on the coast of Nova Scotia, becoming a miniature ex-Vietnam corporal in a shoebox, becoming a lunar mirror turning blank, becoming a moron, becoming a cell phone buried in a sudden Arctic blizzard, becoming a dictionary page and becoming the fire that burns it, finally becoming a lion pacing back and forth in a circus cage, terrified by the sound of a plane approaching with an atomic bomb, the year 2000 followed by the end of World War II, nor is it the story of a coffee shop in Topeka, where a 75-year-old woman wolfs down bacon and eggs each morning, furiously working on a screenplay set in cyberspace, pens and pages cluttering a table facing an empty lot, the site of a movie house torn down soon after she began writing, five years before on her birthday in the grip of a terrible headache, and she knows the other customers are amused by what she's doing, but she doesn't care because she knows they're all morons, because she knows how powerful her plot and characters are, how the world is a better place when she can live in the flow of her language, how it doesn't make any difference if the movie is ever made, since after all the director would no doubt cut the parts that she cares about most, nor is it the story of a story untelling itself, leaving only the echo of its narrative on the page, nor is it the story of a young nurse during World War II, limping through the charred and smoking remains of a bombed-out city, wandering for days before collapsing with a blanket, curling up under a bench in a ruined cathedral, falling asleep and having perhaps the most beautiful dream of her life, nor is it the story of a mirror on the moon, slowly losing its grip on what it mirrors, turning blank, becoming transparent, something that might easily be a window, except that it's not in a roof or wall or door, and never will be, nor is it the story of a woman taking revenge, strengthened after eighteen months of martial arts and lifting weights, pretending to move back in with a man who violently abused her, getting him in bed and wrestling him into painful submission, breaking his arms with hammerlocks, breaking his ribs with her powerful thighs, leaving him partially conscious in bloody twisted bed sheets, and she gets up and smiles at herself in a floor-length mirror, loving how big and sharply defined her upper arms and shoulders are, nor is it the story of a man who stumbles for days across a desert after a plane crash, surviving only by accident, finally finding rest in a huge unfamiliar city, slowly falling apart, horrible flashbacks into burning wind, and soon he's on public assistance, diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, required by people with impressive credentials to seek psychiatric assistance, a therapist who decides that the man's ordeal is all in his head, that recovery means replacing imagined pain with imagined pleasure, with carefully supervised fantasies based on a questionnaire the man filled out, and before too long the pain and pleasure cancel each other out, leading the man to believe that nothing happened, that all he needs now is a little vocational training, an ongoing therapeutic relationship, and perhaps a few good hobbies, nor is it the story of a sixties radical who becomes a disco chick and decides to get an MBA in finance, then becomes disgusted by the onset of the Information Age, turns back into a hippie, smokes lots of dope and listens to Jefferson Airplane albums, performs elaborate acts of sabotage against cut-throat corporations, refuses to settle down, lives with friends all over the nation, carefully avoiding all TV and Hollywood movies, keeping her eyes and ears away from advertising of any kind, visiting national parks and second-hand bookstores for amusement, and living her final twenty years in a small hut on the coast of Maine, meditating her way to full detachment from the material world, from anything like a strong belief, and finally from detachment itself, leaving herself without a self to leave, without a word to speak, nor is it the story of three men with blue shirts and green hats who stop for ham & eggs in a diner thirty miles from Denver, where the mountain view from the plate-glass window is so expansive, the food so delicious, that they sit there talking for the rest of the story, and nothing happens, nor is it the story of a woman folding her blue jeans after a night of orgasmic splendor, trying to remember the name of the man who took her virginity, twenty-five years before in the dark of a high school principal's office, an abandoned building torn down ten days later, and her current lover watches her folding her jeans and wants to make love again, then looks at the city lights across the bay in the casement window, trying to forget that his mother died four days before, nor is it the story of a severed head floating slowly down a river singing, music so compelling that the blue sky turns to stone, nor is it the story of a huge white dome that suddenly appears in Death Valley, measuring nearly a thousand feet in diameter, attracting scientists from all over the world, along with military personnel, media teams, and UFO fanatics, and they all assume initially that it must be a flying saucer, but careful examination shows that the dome is just the top of a buried object shaped like an egg, and all the astonished experts crease their brows and stroke their beards, but a bald man dressed in long white robes appears with an explanation, claiming that it's the egg of a giant predatory bird, a creature that visits the earth every ten thousand years to lay a single egg, then feeds its monstrous chick on whales and elephants and redwoods, and of course this notion is quickly dismissed by the experts, but since they fail to come up with anything better, the big bird theory soon becomes the definitive explanation, nor is it the story of a copperhead in a cradle, nor is it the story of a man who tries to abolish anger in all his love relationships, insisting on preserving the initial phase of shared idealization as long as possible, and of course at a certain point the romantic high begins to fade, so he tries to maintain a state of pleasant unreality, simulating the amorous mood that's not quite there anymore, becoming offended when his partners get mad about anything, since after all if they were truly worthy of him they would be enthralled by the kind and tender feelings he constantly offers, and most of his involvements crash in about nine months, and he knows exactly why and thinks he better change the pattern, but in his next relationship he does more or less the same thing, nor is it the story of a tyrant going mad, imagining himself in a story made of other stories, none of which refer in any way to the realms he once controlled, so he's left with nothing familiar, nothing to tell him who he is, nothing to unite the stories he can't stop telling himself, nor is it the story of someone who talks all the time, never listens, and finally gets his throat cut in a street fight, losing his voice for the rest of his life but never quite learning to listen, nor is it the story of a man on a bench in a lakeside park, watching sailboats turn and glide in late spring afternoon sunlight, watching young couples kiss in the grass, thinking back on his own wild past, remembering the woman he left eight years before, feeling alone, but feeling better than when he was involved with someone else, better than when he was arguing with lovers whenever they weren't in bed, and sometimes when they were, nor is it the story of an ex-accountant with a hearing aid and a grudge against the IRS crashing a private plane into the White House, nor is it the story of a woman getting stronger than her boyfriend, building muscle power in a gym, relentless workouts, expecting him to feel threatened, but instead he loves her pumped-up arms, loves the way she pins him when they wrestle each other in bed, and he doesn't think she looks at all unfeminine, but rather that she's developing a new definition of beauty, one that turns him on far more than the one that runs the world, nor is it the story of an Arctic expedition, an exploration team that bravely fights through dangerous conditions, only to find the Magnetic North Pole a major disappointment, so they all get drunk, take pictures of each other standing beside an American flag, listen to Motown classics on a battery-powered CD player, trade stocks on their wireless laptops, make idiotic cell phone calls, then get destroyed by a violent storm, God's way of showing how bored he's become with the postmodern condition, and similar negations begin to occur all over the world, nor is it the story of a mad scientist who works fitfully for a decade, succeeding at last in planting a beagle's brain in a banker's head, a banker's brain in a beagle's head, and soon the banker barks and soon the beagle wears a business suit, but as the cackling scientist quotes from Edgar Allan Poe, gazing from his laboratory window at a crescent moon emerging from a cloud in the shape of Thailand, his elation at the incredible result of his research grows to such mammoth proportions that his head falls off and spatters all over the floor like spilled beef stew, nor is it the story of a blue sky made of sky-blue birds, finally waking up and taking off in startled flight, leaving only the sound of turbulent wingbeats where the sky once was, leaving only a three-letter word in place of a huge blue dome, no massive hand or vast erection coming down from shattered space, no cyclone made of human eyes, no ultimate tsunami, no question mark or exclamation point, no molten fury, no lips to kiss the universe goodbye, and of course no story.

Table of Contents
Titanic Operas Home Page