Dear Reader, I wish to report that I have just returned from the Post Office. And I barely made it back alive. It was quite harrowing, Dear Reader, and for a while there the outcome looked all but favorable. I would have to say I consider myself extremely lucky to have survived my ordeals, especially the one involving the sidewalk, yes, the sidewalk, which contrived to suck at my feet like a municipal Charybdis, or rather, like a small black hole, such that I was scarcely able to progress. Likewise, the sun beat down on my hatless head and effected to throb surprisingly behind my eyeballs. And that’s to say nothing of the general quivering and shivering and shaking and quaking of my skeletal edifice amongst the fibrous coils of ligaments etc., nor of the gasping for breath and the tears streaming down into the corners of my mouth, such that I found it necessary to spit and to wipe my face with the back of my hand, which soon became quite moist and watery therefrom. And the worst of it is––can you believe it?––no one came to my rescue. Or even momentary assistance. No, Dear Reader, I regret to report that our fellow human beings were pleased instead to avoid me, as if I had been a sort of leprous prodigy or an apparition which might appall the devil. They seemed, in fact, quite prepared to endure the ignominy of appearing rude in public by transporting themselves as quickly as possible and without so much as a beg-your-pardon to the other side of the street, with the result that I soon had the whole sidewalk to myself, or rather, it had me all to itself, as I dragged my mortal frame long its non-arable geography, alone and undefended, trying not to fall into the gaping abysses that yawned there beneath the metatarsals of my consciousness. How mightily did I struggle, Dear Reader, alone and, as I say, undefended, against the powers that assailed me and sought my engulfment! How desperately, and yet with what astonishing will to live did I avail myself of the native strength of my lungs to keep my blood well-oxygenated despite the rapacious owl perched atop my ribcage, with its talons firmly planted in my cardiac muscle! Nor, finally, were the tears that exploded hotly and with renewed fury from my tear ducts any match for my invincible shirt sleeves, which arose as of their own volition to blot the teary deluge long before it managed to overwhelm my beard and embarrass my bow-tie. And even the mopey Leviathan that reared up from the depths of my throat as if demanding to be kissed by the blond woman crossing the street up ahead of me, even him did I vanquish, albeit only after a mortal struggle, in which I swallowed and swallowed and swallowed like a Nipponese hotdog-eating champion, until I overpowered him, and with a vague burble he sank back into the catastrophic dark from whence he came, and I, well, I stumbled on, aiming myself more or less along the pitiless white curb–– toward what? I could no longer have said. But I was on my way there, by Heaven, I was on my way there.
Born in Austin, Texas, and raised in Boone, North Carolina, John Crutchfield is a writer and theatre artist now based in Berlin, Germany. His poems, essays, translations and reviews have appeared in a variety of journals, including *Shenandoah*, *Seneca Review*, *Southern Review*, *The Appalachian Journal*, and *Zone 3*. His one-man show, *The Songs of Robert*, won an award for Outstanding Solo Performance at the 2009 New York International Fringe Festival. He has also created and performed interdisciplinary work with X Factor Dance, Sans Pointe Dance, G. Alex and the Movement, Asheville Contemporary Dance Theatre, and Legacy Butoh. He has been Artist-In-Residence at the Djerassi Artists Foundation, Headlands Center for the Arts, the Association d’Art de La Napoule (France) and the Pädagogische Hochschule Karlsruhe (Germany). At present, he serves as Associate Artistic Director of The Magnetic Theatre, teaches creative writing and drama at the Free University of Berlin, and works freelance as a literary translator. More info at: johncrutchfield.com