While listening to The Cure’s song ‘Hot Hot Hot!!!’ I found my imagination was at work. I was trying to write a comedy play at the time (this is the play transformed into a short story). This song always makes me smile, because I imagine Robert Smith, The Cure’s singer, being very excited by lightning, as I am myself. My writer’s brain wondered why he described in the lyrics that he liked the lightning to come, but left as soon as it came. I began to imagine a man who ran around the world, feverishly chasing The Lightning in a dark storming sky, always in search of something important to himself that he could never quite capture.
As dark clouds keep looming hesitantly this Friday evening, I have decided to encourage them by choosing the story ‘The Lightning Man’ as the story this week. I hope that you enjoy this!
The Lightning Man
‘Another time, another day, that is the reason why we stay; to find—‘ The pen was laid down on the desk with a sharp ‘thwack!’ I stared dubiously down at the man in a grey fedora and long black raincoat. He looked about himself, as if searching for his shadow or some other thing that is rather significant to a human being. His excited mutters echoed up to me: “This is here. I must be here. The day is grey and dark, summoning me.” He paced in a complete circle, whilst turning his head to frantically search from side to side, and came back under my window to tilt his head up, put a careful hand on his fedora, and attempt to stare through at me. I snatched the white curtain beside me and hid behind it, veiling all of myself up to my nose.
Delirious with his excitement, what did the man do next, but crawl about in my lovely garden, among my dark bluebells and other strange plants. ‘How dare he touch it!’ my thoughts seethed in my brain with the writhing man. I hoped that my thorn bushes were stabbing this uninvited guest to death. The snake soon slithered out, holding something in his hand which looked suspiciously like a rock. He stood and drew back his hand with the thing in it, studied the location of my window very carefully, and threw the thing precisely in the middle of the pane, emitting a sharp bang.
“Excuse me!” he exclaimed to my window. He waited a brief moment; he launched the stone again. This time my garden claimed the stone back. “Excuse me, I am the lightning man!” he announced. “I am here on my urgent business. Hurry up, will you?! This is now, and I must be in it!”
At this outburst, I threw the window up. “What is your name, sir?” I enquired in a hot and cold tone: I hoped that the combination of these extremities of vehemence and indifference would cause his brain to melt from embarrassment, and then freeze in horror.
“Ah finally,” I heard the man mutter, unaffected by my hot and coldness. “I must enter your residence on my dire business!” he said gravely.
I pretended to consider his predicament rather carefully; instead I rather carefully considered dropping my pysanki egg on his head. The little monster sat right next to me, on my desk. It was swampy in colour, and the designs had not shown, so I was not fond of it, and I knew that if broken, it was capable of smelling of an extremely putrid rotting egg at this point in time. The only reason that it was there was because ever since I made it, I had a feeling that it ought to be there. My fingers crept across my desk to it longingly and hovered over it, as I said, “It is true, oh nameless one: time waits for no man, and it seems, especially you. But it is I who must take this moment to write an important story, of greater significance than I deem either you or the idea that you suggest.” I suddenly thought that I wouldn’t do it after all, and instead closed the window forcefully and forbiddingly.
“It is not time that cannot wait for Jasvinder Sparkjum!” the man cried, hurling the stone back at my window.
I was the firebird in the heart of a volcano, and he had disturbed me. I opened the window and dropped the egg precisely on Jasvinder Sparkjum’s head in eruption. Jasvinder Sparkjum felt the stuff on his head seemingly in shock, lifting the yolk away as the white clung to his hat.
I cackled down at him, and declared, “I am Lucy, the supplier of what is deserved!”
I heard Jasvinder Sparkjum mutter, “What an unpleasant lady.” I realised it too late: his thoughts were in reality shifting like a mechanism of the insides of a machine, and he bolted to the front door while I stood foolishly cackling. He twisted the door handle with ease, and entered my house, for I had forgot to lock the door.
I stood in indignant shock; the only thing that I did at that moment was widen my eyes. Then I darted away from the window to see what Jasvinder Sparkjum was doing inside of my house. I halted on the stairs as he charged down the hall.
“Aren’t you a bit confrontational, forcing your way into peoples’ houses who you have never met or seen before in your life?” I demanded quietly, with a dark and contemptuous tone.
Jasvinder Sparkjum rushed to the kitchen and came back, while saying matter-of-factly, “Oh yes, we have met before—or rather, my eyes met you because you were there three storms ago.” He added distractedly, “No good, no good, no rubber.” He stood and looked about the living room in distress.
“What?” I said in a small voice of bewilderment, for that was all that I could manage.
“Do you have a loo?” asked Jasvinder Sparkjum in abrupt further excitement.
“Yes, over there,” I said, pointing behind him down the hall. “Do you need it?”
“Indeed, it will be of very good use to me if it is a true loo! I used a tea pot the last time because it did not like it, but it broke with all of the running about that I do. I must taunt it with dark sarcasm of how it cannot catch me as I am completely attached to the ground,” Jasvinder Sparkjum said. He rushed into the loo, and charged out again and out the front door, brandishing a toilet plunger high and gallantly in the air.
I wandered out after him. I looked up at the dark clouds above. I heard the deep bellowing sound of thunder, and smelt the faint whiff of petrichor as a few rain-drops pattered on the ground.
Jasvinder Sparkjum jumped and shivered with excitement, as a wide grin spread across his face. He began to thrust the toilet plunger about at the sky with sword-like movements. He declared to it, “Flee, you fiend, for I know you are a coward! Dare you come, it is not I who shall be struck down!” He began to run up and down the lane, howling challenges and waving the sword-plunger threateningly. When he ran out of insults, he merely repeated, “I am the lightning man! I am the lightning man!”
Suddenly he stopped, and stared and searched the twisting black clouds. “You will not even show yourself? What is evident is your true power! You cannot even tickle one silly man with your long and quickly twisting fingers!” he bellowed. He turned around as lightning raced across the sky over us. I stepped closer to him as he stared ahead of himself. I could see something bright fading out of his eyes. Everything that was Jasvinder Sparkjum seemed to be going with that light. He seemed to be muttering something, so I leant closer to him and heard, faintly, “I have tired of electrocuting you. It is against my nature to follow a man when I should obey the laws of Fate and Physics and grasp whatever is closest to my reach. Now I am gone. Wait!” Jasvinder Sparkjum screamed abruptly in response to this.
In disbelief, Jasvinder Sparkjum pranced to the puddle by my cottage, and said, “Here is a conductive body of water.” He strenuously and energetically plungered it, becoming increasingly more distressed. I knew that it was because The Lighting had refused to strike him.
I walked over to stand beside Jasvinder Sparkjum. He whippped around with the toilet plunger and I dodge out of its way.
“You!” he choked. “Your toilet plunger is faulty. It would have been better if you had had a teapot,” he said, his voice heavy. He seemed to be disguising his misery arousing inside of himself with making his words forceful. He dropped the toilet plunger there, by the puddle, and walked over to the middle of the road, where he sat, and slumped over.
I sat down beside Jasvinder Sparkjum in the middle of the road, and placed my hand gently on his shoulder. “You run from the lightning because you need a purpose for your life,” I said softly, letting my writer’s voice pour out of me. “The lightning represents the power of your shocking ignorance, and you are haunted by it.” I smiled. “But I will give you a new purpose.” I took Jasvinder Sparkjum’s hand, and looked at the palm like fortune tellers do, as I began to remember how I had met Jasvinder Sparkjum. “I will write you into a story named ‘The Lightning Man.’ You must stay at my place for a bit so that I may observe your character and mannerisms. You will catch the lightning in the end, and it will become forever a part of you,” I said.
Jasvinder Sparkjum silently smiled at me as the sky above grew light, the dark clouds running away. And now, Jasvinder Sparkjum, you see that the lighting is there inside of you, for you have captured it by being your very self: The Lightning Man.