Thursday, July 02, 2009

“SOUL IN A CAN – The True Story”


c. 2009 Rod Ice
All rights reserved
(6-09)





Note to Readers: A writing exercise can be inspired by nearly anything. It is part of the magic associated with this craft. Even the most unimportant detail of an average day might eventually serve to cause a manuscript of consequence to be born. One needs only to maintain an open mind… and believe in the art of wordsmithing.

It was somewhere the middle of a long, summer night.

After planting flowers, building a campfire, roasting hot dogs, and feeding most of the kids in our neighborhood, my wife had finally succumbed to fatigue.

Liz lay sleeping amid piled blankets, pillows, and household pets.

The busy evening had sapped her energy. Yet it produced the opposite effect on me, as the dark hours progressed. I was wide awake, and restless.

An echo kept repeating from wordsmithing oblivion. Something from many months ago. An idea unsuccessful and forgotten, yet still so persistent…

It was my tongue-in-cheek attempt to vend the essence of a human spirit on eBay - a life force contained within the cylindrical confines of a Genesee Beer container.

After our household success in selling a ‘mouse shaped’ piece of Italian bread on the site, I had grown more bold. Temptation made me lust after this new source of income.

I originally listed the item as a "Human Soul In A Can" after seeing many similar entries online. It seemed like a way to earn extra cash while poking fun at the human ability to be duped by a good line of nonsense.

But the ‘World's Online Marketplace’ began to crack down on this sort of off-the-wall fare as I was submitting my item.

The Genesee can listing was canceled, pending a revision. My carefully crafted plan for an easy buck had backfired!

In the interest of preserving my good name as a seller on the network, I did a re-write that softened the tone and character of my listing. Instead of claiming that the can literally contained a human soul, I composed a description that was more politically correct and legally defensible.

The result was to promise a 'dream artifact' to potential bidders. Something guaranteed to entertain eBay participants with a bit of fanciful, otherworldly lore.
It made the text even more surreal than before:

EBAY ITEM - SOUL IN A CAN (# 140253745931)

**** ATTENTION – THIS IS A REVISED LISTING. MY APOLOGIES TO EBAY AND ANYONE WHO BID ON THIS ITEM BEFORE. THANK YOU! ***

HERE WE HAVE AN ITEM WITH AN UNUSUAL STORY - A 2008 GENESEE BEER CAN. I MAKE NO CLAIM ABOUT ITS VALUE. BUT READ ON IF YOU WILL.

THE TALE HERE IS INCREDIBLE, BUT TRUE - I PURCHASED A TWELVE-PACK OF THIS TASTY BEVERAGE IN RECENT MONTHS, AT A STORE NEAR LAKE ERIE.

AT FIRST, I WANTED TO SHARE THE CONTAINERS WITH OTHER COLLECTORS WHO, LIKE MYSELF, CHERISH SUCH THINGS.

BUT AFTER CONSUMING MULTIPLE CANS OF THE STUFF, I HAD A DREAM... OR PERHAPS A BREW-FUELED VISION... OF A VAGRANT FROM BYGONE DAYS.

TRUTH OR DRUNKENNESS? YOU DECIDE.

THIS SPIRIT CALLED HIMSELF "RIVERSIDE RED" AND CLAIMED TO HAVE BEEN FROM CENTRAL NEW YORK, WHERE HE LIVED THE LIFE OF A HOBO.

HE FATHERED SEVEN CHILDREN, BUT HAD LITTLE PRESENCE IN THEIR LIVES. AS A DRIFTER HE LABORED IN FACTORIES, LOADING DOCKS, AS A HANDYMAN, AND EVEN AS A TRAVELING SALESMAN.

"RED" HAD A ROWDY SENSE OF HUMOR, AND AN EVER-PRESENT TASTE FOR GENESEE BOCK BEER. HIS PASSION WAS SO STRONG THAT AS HE LAY DYING IN A RAILROAD YARD NEAR BUFFALO, HE OFFERED A FINAL WISH TO ETERNITY: "CARRY ME HOME WITH MY FAVORITE DRINK."

THUS, HIS SPIRIT ENTERED A CONTAINER OF GENNY BOCK THROUGH THE WARPED SPACE OF PSYCHIC REALITY.

EVEN THOUGH THE CAN HAS BEEN BOTTOM-OPENED, "RED" INDICATED THAT A HUMAN SPIRIT CAN ONLY EXIT SUCH AN ITEM THROUGH THE TOP SEAL. THEREFORE, I DREAMED THAT HIS SOUL-ESSENCE REMAINED INTACT.

IN MY VISION, "RED" REVEALED HIS DESIRE TO TRAVEL IN THE CAN I HAD PURCHASED. SO TO HONOR HIM, I DECIDED TO SELL THE CONTAINER HERE, IN HIS IMAGINARY MEMORY. BY BIDDING, YOU ARE PAYING HOMAGE TO A WILD, INDIVIDUALISTIC FELLOW WORTHY OF HONOR.

DID HE REALLY EXIST? OR DID I JUST OVER-IMBIBE? YOU DECIDE.

I WILL INCLUDE A CERTIFICATE OF AUTHENTICITY TO THE WINNING BIDDER THAT INDICATES MY DREAM OF "RED" BEING IN THIS COLLECTIBLE CAN.

NOTE: THIS ITEM IS SOLD HONESTLY AS A KEEPSAKE AND NOT FOR ANY OTHER PURPOSE.

**** FOR ENTERTAINMENT PURPOSES ONLY ****

TO AVOID ANY INSULT TO THE VISION OF "RIVERSIDE RED" THERE WILL BE NO REFUND. THANK YOU!

BID OFTEN TO AVOID MISSING OUT ON THIS ODD TREASURE!


I started the artifact at ninety-nine cents. Amazingly, not one offer surfaced from the vastness of eBay’s consumer network.

The entire exercise had been a failure.

Later, other ideas appeared to gain useful income from selling on eBay. I opened a cup of Italian Ice and discovered that the swirl inside looked amazingly like an ‘Obama’ campaign logo. This seemed certain to attract lots of bids on the site. It constituted another ‘miracle artifact’ to present for sale. But like my canned soul, the operation didn’t work out as planned.

Yet all of that was a long time ago…

As I sat before our household computer, echoes of these exercises continued to reverberate. I wondered if any of my eBay text had survived?

Being a writer, it was very likely that I had saved a copy of the listing for posterity. Yet a quick search through my files produced only a mood of frustration.

I rummaged around in our file cabinets. Nothing had been burned onto a disc, or printed out on paper. Even a check of the ‘Thoughts At Large’ cyberspace blog failed to produce any results.

Then, in desperation, I checked a social-networking site where I had once been active. Buried there was an entry from July 30th of last year. It finally yielded the text I was seeking.

A quiet cheer broke the silence. My wife mumbled in her sleep, but did not awaken.
I reveled in the solitary moment of triumph!

Once again, the truism was proved: that inspiration can come from anywhere.
Even the ‘World’s Online Marketplace.’

Comments about Thoughts At Large may be sent to: icewritesforyou@gmail.com
Visit us at: www.thoughtsatlarge.com

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