The Journalist

Lola R. Moore

© Copyright 2023 by Lola R. Moore


Photo by kychan on Unsplash
Photo by kychan on Unsplash
 The journalist always smelled of bitter tea and tobacco because he never was doing fewer than two things at once. He liked music in a minor key so he could think and long books with short chapters to keep himself from thinking too much. He adored leather shoes with leather laces and despised yellow cabs with yellow drivers and he tried to quit smoking much too often to consider himself determined.

That upside-down feeling of being alone in a place that had so often been filled with strangers suddenly filled him, as it did the previous Monday afternoon. The church was empty on Mondays– save for the crows who frequent its roof, cawing to one another in the dimming sunlight.

Isaac Corus sat outside the decaying white church these recent afternoons with somewhat sanguine hopes for inspiration. The newspaper that employed him had asked him rather rudely last month to leave and not return until he wrote something original. Corus spent a week or so incredulous, searching the papers for job openings, convinced his former employer had gone mad.

In the following week, he realized that maybe he wasn’t a good writer– tiresome and thoughtless, as creative as his teacup, as dim as a dying candle. This prompted two days of chain smoking in the dark, followed by an effervescent motivation. If I am not a good writer now, he had thought, I’ll make myself into one. For he didn’t know who he was without a pen in his pocket.

He came to the conclusion several days later that all he missed was inspiration. Of course he was uninspired; nothing was interesting anymore. Every song sounded the same and every story had the same plotline and every word spoken after another was as predictable as cold nights and warm days.

He had rode the bus for hours the next afternoon; searching the windows relentlessly, looking for his inspiration. He didn’t know what he was looking for exactly, but he felt he would know once it presented itself.

Distracted as he was, he didn't see an older man take the seat beside him at a stop downtown. When the bus began to move again, the man signed, catching Corus’ attention. He looked past Corus out the window. “World’s movin’ too fast these days, ain’t it?” he asked. “Everythin’s just too damn tiring.”

Corus looked at him. He didn't appear tired; his fingers fidgeted and his left foot rocked back and forth. But Corus was struck by the exhaustion in his eyes, as if he had seen everything there was to see, and nothing was quite worth it. “I suppose so,” Corus replied.

He had gotten off at the next stop for fear that the man would attempt to engage him in further strange conversation. He walked for several blocks with his hands in his pockets, his mind too busy replaying his former boss's criticism of his last article to take in his surroundings. He was still staring at his shoes when a woman knocked into him, passing him on the sidewalk. She continued quickly past after muttering, “pardon me sir.”

As he watched her hurry away, he recognized the faint ringing of church bells coming from the direction ahead. So he had followed her from a distance as the bells became louder and louder until they finally reached their peak at the top of a small white church. The woman was shutting the door behind her by the time Corus arrived in front of the building.

He wasn’t religious, nor had he ever been, but there was a sort of obsessive fascination with the church itself in the back of his mind– a faint curiosity at the bells, a wondering of how the place came to be so corroded.

The service let out soon after and a string of people quitted the church. There weren't many of them, maybe twenty, and they all appeared to be noticeably elderly.

Corus wondered what the church was like when these people were younger. He pictured them running around in its grassy field, holding their parents' hands as they walked up the steps into sunday school. Corus eyed the graveyard to the left of the building. Small and ill-kept, maybe, but Corus could almost feel the macabre melancholy of services for church members. He could see the now-grown children at their grandmother's funeral wondering why there wouldn't be Sunday dinner that night.

And Corus knew: This was his inspiration.

That was two weeks ago, and now he sat on a wooden bench under a thick oak tree watching the crows become silhouettes as the sun disappeared behind them.

Corus hadn't written anything in weeks which always made him considerably paranoid. So he lit a cigarette to soften his suspicion from a pack he meant to throw away days ago and began to walk home to his one-bedroom apartment to write a story about people who grew up and never left home.

I’m a creative writing student at Elon University. I have never been previously published, though I won several of my High School’s writing contests. I currently reside in Elon, North Carolina, USA

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