So here's one of the stories from "The Mourning Papers"
It wasn’t a very special radio. Not at first. At first it was a small, unimpressive radio. Sleek and plastic, at home in any modern magazine devoted to the selling of office furniture. The same radio that sat on the same desk of every single sales rep/team leader/marketing director in the country.
It sat on his desk, utterly at home amidst the orderly chaos of an impeccably displayed desktop; a monument of achievement in the arena of conforming individuality. A statement of individuality so strong and undeniable that it could not possibly be made by any individual actually confident of his or her individuality. A tragic beast; the mundane that aspires to creative distinctiveness, instead becoming an object of some little derision.
Simply put, Derek was a sad, lonely, man. His dreams of creative expression – his novels, his poems, his paintings, his screenplays – had all fallen un an unappreciative world. The little critical notice he had ever gained hand been incineratingly insightful, and of decidedly low opinion. The word “sucks” had been bandied about much more often that Derek felt befitting of a legitimate critic.
The radio was never played. Derek was sure of that. He remembered unpacking it, and disposing of the neatly formed Styrofoam casings. He always felt a little guilty doing that; the Styrofoam packing seemed a marvel to him. Superbly formed, literally molded to do one job, and one job alone. Hold some little fragile thing safely. And when it was done, when it had performed its job admirably, it was immediately then crumpled up and thrown into a garbage bag filled with other debris.
He remembered plugging it in. He remembered setting the time, and the alarm time. And he remembered not turning it on. Because when he turned it on for the first time, he wanted Donna to be there with him. But after the radio was prepared, the telephone rang. It was Donna, telling Derek that she wanted a divorce. Fuck.
So the radio was never played.
Despite that, Derek slowly came to realize that the radio was playing. Not in any audible sense, but rather in a sub-audible sense – if that makes any sense. All he knew was, he could sense the music, faintly, as if heard from a great distance. The whisper of music, he called it. The ghost of song.
Derek found these thoughts strange, for the were strange, and unique. He could not remember anyone ever speaking these words to him. He couldn’t think of a TV show or a movie where the lines might have been delivered by a devilishly humorous comedian-turned-actor, to tumultuous audience appreciation. Not in any commercials, or song, or poem. Never spoken aloud before.
Oh, shit, Derek thought, so that’s an original thought!
The radio was playing, but only he could hear it. Sense it. Fuck it, you know what I mean. He sometimes hinted about the radio when others were in the room, but no one reacted. So Derek decided that either only he could hear it, or he was going crazy. And he knew, from knowledge gleaned from watching hours upon hours of televised psychiatrists, that if you were worried about going crazy, you were definitely not going crazy. And Derek knew he was not going crazy, so he was not even worried about the possibility.
So he turned it on, to see if the whisper of music would get louder. It did, but not in any way that could be properly understood. Given power, the ghosts of songs from the radio grew powerful, radiant! They swelled and burst, a torrent of creation too pure to allow comprehension. His receptionist described the sound as “fifty-seven cats, fed slowly, one-by-one, into a wood chipper”. Derek felt that 57 was a bit of an exaggeration.
All agreed from that the sound that came from the radio was unpleasant. So the radio was never played. But the whispers and ghosts continued to slide through his mind. Tantalizingly familiar and known, yet simultaneously elusive, ephemeral echoes. The aural equivalent of the faded photograph of a dead loved one.
Sometimes, the voice sounded like Donna.