The wind whirls about the house.  Snow comes down in great gusts.  I am alone, except for my black lab, Jude.  I cannot breathe.  Even the most simple task exhausts me.  I am desperately afraid that I am going to die and nobody will know my work.


I lie in my bed, dreaming fantastical schemes.  My plays will be done in repertory.  There will be a retrospective show of my paintings.  I will have a book published that will contain not only the story of my life, but my plays, my photographs, my set designs.  I want it to be such a book of wonders that no one has ever seen the likes of it before.  At last people will know the full range of my talents.


I feel as though I have gone mad, and the knowledge of that only compounds the madness.  I see very few people for only very brief moments of time.  None of them seems to know that I have gone mad.


I'm an old man picking obsessively through the rags and bones of my life – the few moments of triumph, the more frequent moments of failure.  Why should this record be of interest to anyone?  Only because I lived.  Only because, in spite of my own personal demons, I have created a body of work that I am determined will survive.  In spite of loneliness and confusion, I have made plays and paintings.  I have built a theatre.


(Can you believe it?  I have lost a page.  I am sitting right here.  I haven't moved. 

And yet I cannot find the missing page.)

(Did I write it?  I know I must have written it.  I remember it quite clearly, and yet

I don't think I could reconstruct it.  You see how totally mad I am.)

(I cannot find the missing page!  Damn!  I am going stark raving out of my mind!)

(I found it!  I had thrown it in the trash can.)


In all human relationships, I count myself a failure.  I did not love my mother and father and brother.  Because they wanted me to conform to a set of values that was not my own, I felt they were my enemies.  I have had few close friends.  I tried to love James Price, but I see clearly now that he, like my family, with all the best intentions in the world, was bent on destroying me.  The destruction that my parents, especially my mother, and he left behind has hobbled me through my whole life.  And all in the name of love.


And yet here it is – a ramshackle house that is my life.  I have nailed each board in place.  I have set the doors in their jambs; I have put the windows in their frames.  People passing by might think, “Who could live here in this eccentric mansion?”  I live here.  Me!  I have lived a double life.  I am a secretive man.  I have revealed very little of what I actually felt – I must have learned this lesson from my mother.  But all the while, in spite of myself, I have been building this edifice.  Behold!  It is mine.  The old man who opens the door to receive the unknowing stranger, is bent and broken.  He is enough to frighten anyone away.  But come and stay a moment.  Take my hand.  I won't hurt you.  I have a lifetime of accumulations I would like to show you.  I am so relieved to have someone to whom I can speak.  A friend at last.


No, I haven't built a house at all!  That knock on the door was the wind whirring.  I am standing here watching a howling blizzard surrounded by the boards with which I hoped to build my house – my books, my paintings, my photographs, my plays.  They might look like only a pile of lumber to you, but to me each one is precious.  They were hand-hewn.  Each painting.  Each play.  Precious.  I have spent a life-time of hard toil accumulating them.  If not me, perhaps someone else can build a house of them.  I bequeath them to you.

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All writing, photography and illustration ©2016 John Wulp unless otherwise noted.