Yet for all of his ambitions, the desires and drive for achievement about which he was so happy to espouse, what had he done? He had made few friends. He had conquered no islands, charmed no women, and of his fortune he dared not think.
The bus emerged from the sick light of the tunnel into the bright afternoon glare, temporarily blinding him and causing him to reflexively raise his arm to shield his eyes. As he lowered his arm the spire of an old church came into view, the great bronze bell cracked on one side, and missing a portion on the other. It swung back and forth to celebrate a marriage, perhaps, or a death, but no sound came from it. What men, he thought, what fine, dedicated, upstanding men that they would ring the bell even though nobody could hear it, and almost nobody, truly, would be aware if they never even bothered at all, for who dared raise their eyes to the sky?
The bus stopped. To the left a man lay face-down on the street, a bottle in his hand, the liquid threatening to spill, but never quite doing so as it tipped and swayed in the man’s sleeping grip. He was a true drunk, experienced – for even while sleeping he knew to protect what remained of his drink, that he would need it to quench the foul bubbling pit of his stomach upon awakening.
What fine men this country has produced, he thought. What fine men.
* * *
The above piece of writing comprises part of my fragments project, some of which are available on this website. I intend to add new fragments piecemeal, not in any particular order, and as the occasion take me.
This particular fragment was inspired by Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano.