I’m not sold on divine inspiration. The inspiration that comes to your desk as you sit there, rocking back and forth, banging your forehead on the keyboard, cramming blood out of stone; that’s surely not it.
“Divine inspiration is the concept of a supernatural force (…) causing a person (…) to experience a creative desire” (Wikipedia).
Ah, yes. This is the kind of inspiration we’re looking for. The uncontrollable gush where colorful ideas and images snap, crackle and pop inside your brain like Rice Crispies. Where a heavenly light shines down on you and the angelic choir strikes up a tune. Where whole rows of light bulbs spark to life like an airport landing strip, bursting into fireworks out of pure overcharge. Of course it’d have something to do with religion: It leaves you hanging, waiting and praying to the point where it’s easier to doubt its very existence.
As I’m saying “meh” to divine inspiration, I truly believe in other things. Like that my brain is holding out on me. Dodging, teasing, faking dead, only to jump me with violent flashes of activity. Like in The Old Man and the Sea, I’m locked in an exhausting battle trying to rope a wild and merciless beast.
I am granted moments of true inspiration. They just never happen at my desk. Those moments come, without fail, at the most inconvenient times and places. Like in the shower. I can use up all the hot water just trailing a fun idea. My brain also likes car drives, long flights and dark cafés. Common for all these settings is that it’s not easy for me, technically or socially, to bring pen and paper into them. The brain knows this. You go about your business, then, BAM, lights are on and the cherubs are strumming their vocal chords. You’re so relieved you could cry. Banging the steering wheel (because you’re driving, of course), laughing excitedly. But you still have to get out of traffic and find pen and paper, because you got to write it down. All the experts can tell you this. If it’s not nailed down onto paper, it’s gone.
The stakeout gig was getting old. Max Wagger cracked open the window on the driver’s side just enough for the rain not to reach the leather interior of her car. She took another sip of the coffee to stay awake and adjusted her rear mirror. Something was bound to happen, and this was the place. The small airport with the ground lights turned on. She had pen, paper and lukewarm shitty coffee. She took another swig. Damn, she needed to pee.
Max jumped in her seat as a man in overall rapped on the glass. The coffee sloshed over her lap.
– Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you, but you need to move your car, ma’am. We’re expecting an incoming aircraft and you’ve parked right where it’s supposed to land.
– That was kinda the point, Max grumbled under her breath as she started her car and backed it up next to a hedge so fast that the wet tires gave a scream.
“Incoming”, said the man. Just when she thought it’d never happen! Max tried to control her breathing. The lights from above were approaching fast with thunderous engine sounds. A helicopter! And from West, not East. Ok. Alright. Not what she expected, but she’d still make it work. The papers in the passenger seat were soaked. The car reeked of spilled coffee. No matter. Quick now! Max rummaged through wet candy wrappers, clothes and equipment, salvaging her gun and holstering it before she tumbled out of the car.
The rain came straight down like a cold shower. The chopper was slowing up. Max dived into the bushes, getting in position with her gun drawn. C’mon, you sonofabitch. Finally. Just you and me. Let’s do this.
Something in the bushes stirred. A growling sound reached her through the engine noise. Turning her head, Max saw a tense ball of teeth and fur, hissing and sputtering at her. A raccoon! Max had accidentally stumbled upon his hideout from the rain and he was not the sharing sort. The beast threw itself at her like a killer shark, chomping down on her gun-arm as she raised it in protection. She felt a pressure, but its sharp teeth couldn’t pierce through the leather jacket. For a moment, everything else was forgotten. Even the approaching helicopter had to take the back seat for a while. Max scrambled frantically, trying to shake the animal off. The raccoon had alligator jaws.
Finally, she managed to writhe out of her jacket and leaped away from her attacker out onto the runway. She found herself caught in one of the light beams from the chopper. Max froze. The helicopter made a slow turn, its lights sweeping across the ground. Now what? Why wasn’t it landing? The aircraft had not even touched ground. Instead it was moving away. Lifting higher and higher into the air.
Max rushed forward, drawing her gun from the shoulder holster. The wet fabrics were hampering every movement. She quickly rubbed the rain and dirt out of her eyes before clamping the gun in a two-hand grip. She started to shoot. The chopper was still moving away. Max emptied her clip. She kept on shooting until she heard the dull clicks of the hammer hitting nothing. The helicopter disappeared, melting into the dark and rainy horizon.
Going. Going. Gone.
Her arms dropped to her sides. If she’d had any more ammo she’d shoot the raccoon. Then maybe herself.
Instead, Max Wagger dragged herself back to the car. She picked up her jacket on the way. The raccoon was long gone, just like the chopper. She was wet and muddy. The cream leather interior made squelching noises as she slid in behind the wheel. She tossed the jacket in the back along with the coffee-soaked papers. Then she took her good and deliberate time adjusting the rear mirror again, wiping at the runny mascara, picking twigs and leaves out of her hair, noting vaguely that she didn’t need to pee anymore. The encounter with the raccoon had taken care of that. Well, there’s that. Thank God for small favors. Max started the car and sat off in the general direction of where the helicopter was going. Sooner or later, she and that chopper would meet again, and that day would be one for the books.
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