Monday, October 3, 2011

The Thought Collector excerpt by Anel Viz

In the short story "The Thought Collector" by Anel Viz, a man's mind goes blank, because the person sitting next to him on the park bench has "collected his thoughts". That night an odd, mousy-looking fellow tells him they have met before and are both mole men ... "Don't you remember?" He can't; his memories belong to the thought collector.

The Thought Collector
Silver Publishing 2011
ISBN: 9781920484620


We'd been talking for barely ten minutes when he said it. For reasons which will soon become abundantly clear, I cannot remember what we were talking about. I suppose, when you get right down to it, we had been talking about nothing, one of those idle conversations that pop up between two people who happen to be sharing a park bench. The topic doesn't matter; what matters is that as far as I remember, what he said did not in any way follow from what we were talking about. Out of the blue he up and says in the most matter-of-fact tone imaginable, "You know, I'd really like to have sex with you."

He caught me totally unprepared. It had never occurred to me to chat him up, nor had I thought he was hitting on me. I didn't know how to respond. Sex with a stranger—what gay man hasn't done it one time or another in his life? But you always have some clue. I didn't exactly hesitate; rather, I discovered that my mind had simply gone blank.

"So? How about it?"

"Just give me a moment to collect my thoughts."

"Take your time."

This was not a cruisy park. I'd come to read my newspaper, not to look for sex, and I had no clue what could have prompted his remark. Sex with him was about the last thing I had on my mind, so he couldn't have been reading it, could he? He put it so bluntly, too. It sounded more like an observation than a proposition, not at all your typical pick-up line, and he delivered his follow-up question just as noncommittally, as if it were all the same to him. What do you make of a person like that? I could detect nothing sinister in his manner, but one does have to be careful.

He was pleasant enough and not bad looking, a few years older than myself. Not what I'd call my type, but what the hell? As they say, if he had the place, I had the time. Under different circumstances I might have gone to bed with him. (I'm only speculating on how I would have assessed the situation. As I said, my mind went blank, and I just sat there.)

"So what do you think?"

"I don't think. I'm trying to collect my thoughts, but it's as if I didn't have a thought in my head."

"That's because I collected them for you."

"You what?"

"Collected your thoughts. It's sort of a hobby. I collect thoughts."

"You collected my thoughts? You collected MY thoughts?"


"I want them back!"

"Sorry, finders keeps. Besides, I can't give them back. I threw them out, all except that bit about the moles. I may hang on to that. The rest was all rubbish, a bunch of pseudo-intellectual gibberish that had nothing to do with me."

Moles? What kind of moles? — spies? skin blemishes? little burrowing animals? And weren't they also something from high school chemistry that had to do with weight or mass or some other measurement? Whatever I might have been thinking, it sounded too trivial to bother insisting he return it, even on principle. He'd probably made it all up, anyway.

"It was very rude of you," he went on, "letting your mind wander like that."

"You go picking my brain — no, pickpocketing my brain—and you accuse me of rudeness?"

"Oh come now! Lots of people are willing to share their thoughts."

"This isn't sharing. This is theft!"

"Well, if that's how you're going to be about it. Here." He reached into his pocket and handed me a coin.

"What's that?"

"A penny. For your thoughts."

"This is outrageous!"

"You're not going to ask for more, are you? I already told you what I think they're worth."

"Who are you, anyway? I demand you show me some identification! I've half a mind to sue you for theft of intellectual property, and I will, too!"

"Intellectual? Really now, isn't that an exaggeration? Besides, I've paid you. Just for your thoughts, mind you. I don't pay for sex. Nor do I ask to be paid."

"You take away my thoughts, rob me of the very essence of my personality, and you expect me to go to bed with you?"

"Why not? You're in the perfect frame of mind for it. Not calm perhaps, but collected. And without a lot of trivial, self-indulgent thoughts to get in the way,
you can become one with your body. It will be a tantric experience."

"For me maybe, not for you."

"For me too. I haven't a thought in my head. That's why I have to collect them."

"You mean you throw everybody's thoughts away?"

"Yes. I hardly ever come across a thought worth keeping. Unlike most collectors, I hate clutter. It's amazing, the nonsense that goes through most people's heads."

"You… you're nothing but a psychic voyeur!"

"Admit it. You're intrigued."

"I admit nothing of the sort!"

"There you go letting your intellect take over. You're resisting me."

"You're damn straight I'm resisting you!"

"You shouldn't, you know. Not if you want the sex to be good."

"What sex?"

"The sex we're going to have together."

I stared at him, but couldn't stare him down. He just returned my gaze, not even blinking. I got up and walked away.

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Victor J Banis said...

Splendid - Anel's way with the English language is a joy to behold. And, as always, entirely unlike anyone else's work.

Mykola ( Mick) Dementiuk said...

Damn, a sexual mind reader. We'd all be doomed if we met up with him. Good work Anel!

Jardonn Smith said...

What a clever concept. I'd pay far more than a penny for someone to clear my head before bed. Amazing excerpt, Anel, and thank you Eric for posting it.

AlanChinWriter said...

Intriguing. I love the tone you cature so effortlessly. What I enjoy about this consept is someone robbed of thoughts, memories, being forced to live in the now.

My protag in Simple Treasures had to deal with that same hardship. Not sure why that fasinates me so.

Well done.