Article: 261474 of talk.bizarre
From: chutzpah <>
Newsgroups: talk.bizarre
Subject: indigo blur
Date: 1 Dec 1995 20:17:20 -0500
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Status: O

=09i didn't fulfill my ftsd pledge; the us government has lost my=20
passport; suddenly, my plans of graduating have become very futile.  here=
it is, though: not terribly bizarre in and of itself, and at times=20
incredibly derivative of other things i have written; regardless, happy=20
fail-to-suck day.


    The elevator doors swish open, letting in a wall of hot, moist air that
almost knocks you to your knees--a tight, dense wave that makes you
think, for just a moment, that you are back in the depths of the jungle,
back amidst the gnarled trees and clinging green stink.  You tense,
instinctively, and then relax, aware once more that there is no danger
waiting for you here; you grin and shake your head, and chuckle at your
childish fear.  The last time that you were so afraid of a swimming pool
was in the second grade, when you first learned how to swim, and then, as
now, it wasn't fear insomuch as a momentary twinge of excitement, when
your brother threw you in--just a momentary twinge as you sank into the
chlorinated deep, rotating head over heels with your knees pulled up to
your chest, before some primal instinct pushed at the back of your skull,
telling you to exhale, ever-so-slightly, until you were upright, to kick
your legs and move your arms, to go towards the light, and then you broke
through the surface and laughed at the look on your brother's face when
he realized that you weren't fazed in the least, laughed and grabbed his
foot and pulled him in with you.
    You grin again at your overactive imagination and the warm memories
it calls up, and strut out of your brass-and-teak enclosure, while using
the towel that lies across your shoulders to wipe your face clean of the
sweat that begins to bead on your brow; your grin grows even wider as you
climb a short flight of stairs and look through the glass double doors at
the top. You find yourself almost running through the doors to get to the
shimmering pool on the other side--you haven't been to the pool since you
moved into your new condo, but you have been looking forward to it all
week.  Perhaps a quick swim will do what a year of feverish nights and
unproductive days has failed to do; perhaps a quick swim will break you
out of this blue funk, will cure your creative constipation.
    It was, in fact, the pool, perched atop the building inside an elegant
chamber with walls of blue glass, that convinced you to buy the condo; it
was the sight of the pool, calling up a vague hint of your lost purple
majesty, that made you believe that you could find your center once more.
You haven't been swimming in years, but your fondest childhood memories
have always been ones of floating face down in the public pool--drifting
peacefully until your lungs felt as though they would burst, then kicking
mightily and trying to cross the entire length of the pool before you had
to surface.
    The doors swing open as you hit them, and you stop dead in your tracks
on the other side, almost overcome by the heat.  It wasn't this hot when
you last saw the pool, but it wasn't summer then--the glass walls, you
realize, act like a giant greenhouse, trapping the heat and turning the
pool into a virtual sauna; even now, long hours after the sun has gone
done, the heat remains to envelop would-be swimmers.
    Three quick steps across the sky-blue floor, and you are at the pool's
edge, staring lovingly at the man-made pond in front of you.  Indelibly
man- made, you realize: the pool itself is lined with some sort of
bluish-grey ceramic, more metallic in sheen than a real metal lining
would be.  Four feet deep along its entire length--a legal precaution to
obviate the need for a lifeguard, you assume--the pool is filled with a
crisp, clean water that catches the color of the lining and shines with a
crystal-blue clarity unrivaled by any but the most picturesque of
Caribbean coasts.  The Navaho, you often used to tell your students, have
a language centered around action, and devoid of adjectives; instead of
saying that a tree was "old," for example, they would use a verb that
could best be glossed as "olding."  Somehow, this mindset strikes you as
particularly appropriate for describing the water before you: it is not
blue; rather, it is bluing.
    Your hand grasps the railing that runs along the broad, shallow steps
leading into the pool; you kick off your flip-flops, let your towel drop
on the tiles behind you, and gently lower one foot into the water.=20
Leaning lazily against the railing, staring blankly at the glowing red
exit signs mounted at all four corners of the room, you can remember that
taste of the purple that gripped you when you first saw the pool; not
even the real thing, this time, but a derivative--a taste of a taste,
aesthetic experience one step removed, and still somehow almost adequate.
 The purple hasn't come back to you in twenty-seven months; you remember
vividly, violently, the day it left--how could you forget it: the day you
first gave birth, and in a sense almost died yourself--the day you
finished the manuscript for your first novel.
    You had written a little before: a few stories, written spasmodically
during the odd free hour over the course of months, and published in
local journals and school rags--even one piece accepted by the _Carolina
Quarterly_.  Your writing had been put on hold, though, when you had lost
your job as a high school social studies teacher, and the quest for
employment had consumed every last moment of your time; no one, however,
seemed to have any use for a tired man with a bachelor's degree in
Anthropology.  Finally, desperate, and with an ever-shrinking savings
account, you had accepted the advice--and loaned money--of a trusted
friend, and granted yourself a few weeks off from the job hunt to take a
serious stab at writing.
    Closeted in your little apartment, you sat down in front of your
computer and began writing about what you knew best--writing about those
two horrid years of your life that the history books from which you used
to preach had called Vietnam.  After two days of fitful starts and angry
rewrites, something clicked: you found yourself churning out chapter
after chapter, setting out your darkest dream for all the world to see;
each word flowed out of you, guided instinctively from some depth of your
brain that you didn't know you had, guided unfailingly down your hands,
into the keyboard, and onto the screen.  You were, in the language of
your compatriots in Vietnam, in the purple.
    The purple fields were, you had learned so many years ago, what
soldiers had come to call that special sixth sense that so many of their
kind seemed to develop--a  protective aura they loved and lusted after
more than any of the drugs on which they seemed to subsist; to your ears,
however, it had an ominous tinge, recalling more than anything else the
mythical Greek resting place for the souls of dead warriors.  You had
joked around with them as though you knew their obsession, had made mock
silent prayers to the purple before entering a hot zone, but secretly you
had feared the purple, feared it and denied its existence--until, of
course, the day it had come to you, wrapping you in a warm shroud of
    A four-day forced march, under strict orders to ignore the Viet Cong
snipers nipping at your heels--for 96 hours, your platoon had trekked
across a wet, hostile wasteland to secure a hill no one wanted but that
for some reason still could not be relinquished.  A hasty firefight at
the foot of your Olympian goal--over almost before it started, five shots
to put down a lone, injured VC atop the hill--was but a momentary
distraction, an insignificant justification for the exhaustion that hung
from you.  Still, you had seen the lifeless, enervated stares of your
fellow soldiers; when the call came for someone to run recon, you had
volunteered.  You set out, barely conscious, coasting on the tail-end of
an agonizing adrenaline high; struggling to keep your eyes open, you
wandered, unsure if you should be more afraid of the numbness that dulled
your senses and almost begged for you to fall prey to an ambush, or of
the numbness that made you not care if you did.
    Oozing along on legs of tar, you found yourself stopping, again and
again, to stare at the warm, orange sun as it set, sending sinewy
tendrils into the gradually darkening sky that, silky and salmon,
surrounded it.  You wouldn=D5t have even noticed the faint crack of a
snapping branch behind you, had it not been accompanied by the violent,
violet whipcrack of the purple, enveloping you, embracing you, hurling
you down; exhausted, you gave in to it and dropped to the ground,
flopping down like a sacrificial lamb as a priest slits its hamstring;
then, as though being moved by unseen serpahim, you found yourself
rolling over and bouncing up again, two feet to the left and pistol
firing madly.   Shattering worlds echoed in your ears--the crazed,
hateful shouts of a young VC soldier, the high-pitched yips of his rifle,
the dull, deep thuds of your own weapon, all blurring together for one
quick moment, and then ending in a flurry of sharp silences.  Time
stopped as he teetered back; his eyes caught yours for a brief moment and
you could see, reflected deep within them, the imperial velvet of the
twilight sky; even deeper still, you imagined, you could have--had you
had the chance--seen your own eyes, feral and glowing with that same
purple majesty.  With no concern for cinematic grandeur, however, time
started again; his body, a limp and lifeless sack, plummeted and hit the
ground with a flat and empty slap.
    A voice in the back of your head whispered something about remorse,
about irony, about symbolism; safe in the confines of your purple hubris,
you brushed it aside with the other gnats that swirled around you.  It
was like a drug, the purple, only more so; you could feel it coursing
through your veins like some divine transfusion.  The world was alive and
you were a part of it, able to tell where you were and where everyone and
everything else was, and most importantly to tell _where you and
everything else should be_; when you were in the purple, you knew with a
certainty only religion could come near what you were supposed to do, and
    You couldn't count the number of times the purple saved your life--the
number of times that a strange itching in the back of your head warned
you of a VC ambush, or that a heated firefight was ended by a shot fired
into a pitch black night, guided unerringly to its target--but it never
failed to come when you needed it, and often even when you didn't.  Even
after your tour was up, it would pay an occasional visit; years later
your friends had waited in silent anticipation of those nights when you,
like a manic- depressive at the top of a high, would explode into a
reality of your own, moving, thinking, and acting at a pace so far beyond
their comprehension that they felt as though they were moving in
slow-motion--at a level of perfection so intense that it ceased scaring
them and became a sort of parlor trick.
    In a sense, that was all it was after the war; the purple became a
trick and a show, something that existed not out of necessity but rather
out of desire, an object of curiosity to be analyzed and reported on in
traditional anthropological manner, with appropriate references cited
afterwards. And what a field of references to be cited; in the years
after your return to the states, you read account after account of that
other world you had visited, read and studied and committed indelibly to
memory a multitude of stories, each a little different and all somehow
the same.  Some mentioned the purple by name, others merely hinted at it,
but it was there in all of them; not one, however, seemed to get it quite
right--to capture the essence of what the purple felt like; deep down,
inside, you had always known--even before that night that it all came
together on the page in front of you--that you would have to make your
own stab at doing it right, at recreating a world that deserved better,
deserved to be more perfectly reformed.
    That last night, when you finished the novel, when you made your own
attempt to capture that inspired frenzy--that was the last time you felt
the purple; it was, in fact, the last time you wrote successfully.  Your
success, though, was painfully long in coming; you spent just over a year
working odd jobs at a little above minimum wage while waiting for the
novel to be published.  When it finally came out, though, it was worth
the wait; you found your life altered, abruptly and indelibly, as you,
disbelieving, were thrown into a whirlwind of celebrity and success;
nominated for the National Book Award and on the New York Times
Bestseller List for eight weeks, _Indigo Blur_ was hailed as the
"riveting debut" of one of "America's most gifted new novelists."
    A "debut," ironically enough, that has yet to warrant that
chronological distinction: the purple has stayed away, and with it your
inspiration.  You have been living for the last year on royalties and
speaking fees; a new car and a new condo have not helped hide your
inability to produce that next work of genius for which the public
patiently waits with baited breath.
    You snap out of your reverie, remove your tee-shirt, and slowly descend
the stairs into the pool.  You pause on each step, a little deeper in the
blue water, and twist your feet around, intrigued, on the ceramic lining:
a curious substance, smooth enough to not scrape your feet yet somehow
porous and rough, just tacky enough that slipping on it would be harder
than on the tiles outside the pool.
    You finally reach the bottom of the pool, and stand, statuesque, water
lapping gently at your chest; then a quick breath, and you slip into a
warm wet world you have not visited since your youth.  Your eyes slip
open instinctively, as though they cannot bear to be deprived of contact
with the water.  In the depths of your memory, you remember always having
had to close your eyes when you swam, but age seems to have strengthened
your tolerance for chlorine, and after a momentary sting and a slight
blur you can see.  Your feet drift off the floor and you start to tumble
forwards, ever so slowly, your back rising up as you do so until you find
yourself floating on your stomach, head plunged firmly underwater.
    A few minutes, and you can feel the pressure in your chest, oddly
sharper than you remember it having been; startled, you swing your feet
back under you and stand once more.  _I am an old man, now_, you think to
yourself, _or getting there_.  Staring down at yourself, your weathered
flesh hanging ever-so-slightly off a frame that was once slightly larger,
slightly more muscular, you are struck by how different the water feels
now than it did when you were a child; it once felt so natural, like a
second skin over the first, then-taut one you had worn.  You shake your
head ruefully, and are about to drop back beneath the water when your
world seems to implode around you with an audible crack.
    A moment later, you realize what has happened: the flourescent lights
in the ceiling have gone out.  A quick glance out of the glass walls show
nothing but dark windows all around; the power, you realize, must have
gone out for the entire block.  A few seconds pass, and then you feel a
faint humming coming up through the floor; the red exit signs flicker
back to life, and you realize that the emergency generator for the
building has kicked in.  You contemplate following the signs out, but
after a moment decide against it; their light is enough to see by, and
the pool _is_ only four feet deep.
    You wait a few more seconds, as your eyes adjust to the red glow, and
plunge back under the surface of the water; what greets your eyes when
you open them this time, however, sends you shooting straight up to the
surface: the water, backed on all sides by the blue-grey walls and
illumined from above by the exit signs, has taken on a deep, murkily
violet hue, almost impenetrable to your sight.  You stare down at the
water, which looks from above like a thick black pool reminiscent of
nothing so much as congealing blood, and try to slow your racing heart;
still, you aren't sure that you can stay under that surface for very
long--you aren't sure you could stand staring out through that indigo
    Another few moments, and you begin to laugh, recognizing your childish
fears for what they are; still, you decide to stop floating and just swim
for a while.  You inhale sharply, and jump forward, fluttering your legs
and bringing one arm up over your head to begin the cycle of strokes and
kicks that will propel you through the water; the moment your head goes
under the water, however, you seem to lose all control of your body.=20
Your arms refuse to follow the pattern you have set them; your legs start
kicking independantly, as though they were following separate metronomes;
you find yourself trying to inhale before you finish turning your head
above water.  Sputtering and coughing, you stop, and stand once more.
    Swimming is like riding a bike, you think to yourself.  You never
forget how.  Or do you?  What had once been a simple matter of instinct
has now become a complicated task that is beyond your grasp.  You have
never heard of anyone forgetting to swim; the thought is as unthinkable
as that of a bird forgetting to fly, a snake to slither; to not know how
to swim would be but a short step from not knowing how to breathe.
    A kernel of panic, irrational yet irrefutable, begins to grow in your
mind-- a nagging doubt, gnawing at the corners of your consciousness:
what if you _never_ knew how to swim?  Another laugh, at the
ridiculousness of the idea--a laugh stopped short, as you recall the
clumsy flailing that accompanied your failed attempt at a simple forward
    _No_, you mouth silently, shaking your head; your eyes close, slowly,
pleadingly, but the surreal vision cast by the exit signs is replaced by
one infinitely more nightmarish: in your mind's eye, you can see
yourself, as a child, being pushed into the water, tumbling over until
you kick your way towards the light; you can see yourself breaking
through to laugh at your brother; you can see yourself, comfortable and
safe in your living room, closing a book and secreting it away under a
sofa--closing a door on a fictional world, a world in which a boy was
pushed into a pool and, agile and otter-like, began to swim through the
water as though he were born to it; closing a door on a fractured world
that was vividly real, but that deserved to have been more perfectly
    A strangled cry escapes your lips.  You want to flee, run away from
yourself and a set of memories that you no longer trust; instead, you
take the only course of action left to you.  Your lips open wider, but
instead of another cry, you suck the air in, a harsh, throaty
gasp-in-reverse as you try to take in every last bit of oxygen that your
lungs can hold; exhaling ever-so-slightly, you close your eyes and kick
yourself forward into the water, tucking your legs up to your chest.=20
Tumbling slowly forward, head over heels, you wait for that primal voice
in your head to speak once more, to tell you what to do, but the voice is
    You feel yourself slowing, rotating less and less every second, until
you are almost stopped, upside-down, hair brushing the shallow bottom of
these indigo depths; it is only then that you notice the pressure of the
water in your nostrils, pushing the air back into your lungs, pressing
against the insides of your sinuses like a demonic psyche trying to
escape its cerebral prison.  Your eyes pop open and your mouth opens in
fear, and suddenly the floodgates are cast open.  Water rushes down your
throat, warm and tangy, and you try to swallow it before it gets to your
lungs; all you succeed in doing is bringing more water into your mouth.
    You hang there, frozen between moments, one thought running through
your mind: five minutes--five minutes without air before the brain begins
to die.  Or is it three?  How can you be sure anymore, you wonder, as you
hang upside-down in the indigo deep.
    _Indigoing deep_, the voice in the back of your head says.  _To the
Navaho, it would be an indigoing deep_.
    I am not a Navaho, you remind yourself.  I don't have to think like
    _You think like a swimmer_, replies the voice, _but you aren't a
swimmer either.  You think like a veteran, but--_
    Time seems to start again, as your arms and legs twitch about in an
orgiastic fit, thrashing about as though there is no tomorrow--or,
perhaps, as though there is no yesterday; eventually, your feet touch the
floor, and you extend your legs, pushing your torso above the water,
gasping and spitting.  Water and phlegm dribble steadily out of your nose
and mouth; you stagger blindly towards what you hope might be the edge of
the pool, as you hack up still more fluid.  You finally reach the tile
floor and heave yourself up onto it, all the while marvelling at how
unlike reality the descriptions of drowning you have read seem--not an
icy touch, not a fiery burn, not even a sharp stabbing pain; rather, it
is a dull, throbbing pressure, pushing inwards as though someone were
kicking you in the chest, and pulling out, as though someone were
stretching the skin across your ribs.  You collapse, wheezing and
gasping, coughing up water and bile, and making silent prayers to
whomever is listening to save your soul.  Your body, as though mocking
your pleas, goes limp and calm for an imperceptible moment, then explodes
once more into a frenzied barrage of coughs.
    As you lie there, barely conscious, you are struck by how much your
waterlogged barks sound like the screams of a young VC soldier as he
tried to kill you: short, stabbing screams in a language you didn=D5t
comprehend, but which your fevered imagination understood nonetheless; an
unknowable song with an unmistakable message of hatred--a hatred bred
from birth, a hatred of you and everything you represented.
    A few minutes later, the coughing subsides, and you climb wearily to
your knees.
    _Indigoing_, intones the voice in the back of your head.  _Indigo,
indigoing, indigone_.
    With another audible crack, your world explodes; the lights snap back
to life, projecting an artificial day once more, then flicker and dim,
until they barely outshine the exit signs.  You raise your head, and
stare at your reflection in the glass wall ahead of you: an old, tired
man with faux-pearl eyes staring out from a limp-handshake face; a
shadowy image cast in muted greys and blacks.
    Another fit of coughing seizes you, and you drop back to the floor,
exhausted; you lie there, your body wracked by convulsions of a reified
pain so overbearing that by its very nature it is rendered ineffably

=09existentially uncertain,

<>  because sometimes chutzpah doesn't cut it.
<a href=3D"">.</a>